Recently, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX – Lefebvrists) published two books attacking the teaching of the Church on Baptism. They spend their time trying to figure out ways for people to be saved without baptism – but to no avail. Baptism of Desire by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau was published by the SSPX in 1999, while Is Feeneyism Catholic? by Fr. Francois Laisney was published in 2001. I will examine both of these books in detail. I will break up the examination of these books into separate topics of omissions, lies, contradictions and heresies. This will enable the reader to identify the dishonesty and unorthodoxy of these authors and the group they represent.
I will begin with the book Baptism of Desire by Fr. Rulleau.
- The book Baptism of Desire by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau pretends to be an examination of the Church’s teaching on what is necessary for salvation: the necessity of baptism, the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, etc. Yet amazingly, in the entire book, the author does not quote one (I repeat, not one) of the ex cathedra (infallible) Papal statements on Outside the Church There is No Salvation! I guess he didn’t feel they were relevant? He probably didn’t feel that they were relevant because he does not believe in them.
- Despite having an entire section on the necessity of explicit vs. implicit faith in Jesus Christ (pp. 53-62), Fr. Rulleau fails to quote, in the entire book, the Athanasian Creed, the dogmatic symbol of faith which defined that faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity is necessary for all who wish to be saved. If he had simply quoted this creed, Fr. Rulleau could have settled the whole issue which he spends pages examining. Unfortunately, he does not quote the creed, probably because he does not believe in it.
- Canons 2 and 5 from the Council of Trent’s Canons on the Sacrament of Baptism are not quoted anywhere in the book. This is interesting, because one would think that what the Council of Trent defined about the necessity of baptism might come up in a book about the necessity of baptism.
Notice that the major omissions of Father Rulleau concern the Church’s dogmatic teaching: on no salvation outside the Church, on faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity, on the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism. The Society of St. Pius X, unfortunately, is not interested in what the Church teaches dogmatically.
While failing to quote key dogmas, Fr. Rulleau did feel it important to mention that:
- it is an error to attribute infallibility to every document of the Magisterium (p. 9). – heresy.
- justifying faith can come from the Christian elements present in false religions (p. 61).- heresy.
- it is difficult to say whether belief in God who rewards is all that is necessary to be saved (p. 63) –
- it cannot be granted that justifying faith occurs normally in every religious tradition (p. 63), which implies that it can occur in every religious tradition, just not normally. –
- Baptism of Desire can occur among paganism (p. 64). – heresy.
- Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 63: “This baptism of desire makes up for the want of sacramental baptism… The existence of this mode of salvation is a truth taught by the Magisterium of the Church and held from the first centuries by all the Fathers. No Catholic theologian has contested it.”
This is an utter lie! As I have shown, the whole early Church rejected the idea that an unbaptized catechumen could be saved by his desire for baptism, including the 1 or 2 fathers who seemed to contradict themselves on the matter. This is why, throughout the whole early Church, prayer, sacrifice and Christian burial were not allowed for catechumens who died without baptism. To assert, in the face of these facts, that “no theologian has contested it” is outrageous – as proven in the large section on “Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood: Erroneous Traditions of Man.”
- On page 39, Fr. Rulleau misquotes the crucial passage from the fourth chapter of the Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification: “and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be effected except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it…” The Latin original of this passage from Trent does not translate to, “except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it...” It translates to, “… without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it…”
Introducing “except through” in the place of “without” changes the entire meaning of the passage to favor baptism of desire (as shown in the Section on Sess. 6, Chap. 4 of the Council of Trent). To do it deliberately is a mortal sin. Fr. Rulleau may have made an innocent mistake (by quoting this horribly misleading translation from Denzinger), but the point is that the Society of St. Pius X as a whole continues to use this horribly misleading translation all the time to deceive their readers even after they have been made aware of it. Fr. Peter Scott, former United States District Superior of the SSPX, in a recent Regina Coeli Report, misquoted this passage again in the same way to favor baptism of desire. This type of obstinate misrepresentation of Church teaching is mortally sinful.
Fr. Rulleau’s treatment of St. Thomas Aquinas is where his dishonesty really begins to shine through.
- On page 11, Fr. Rulleau makes the absurd statement: “Quite simply, to refuse St. Thomas Aquinas is to refuse the Magisterium of the Church.”
St. Thomas is one of the greatest doctors in the history of the Church and one of the most brilliant men to have ever lived; but it is well known that he erred on a number of points, as discussed in the section on “St. Thomas Aquinas.” St. Thomas did not believe that Mary was conceived immaculate (cf. Summa Theologica, Pt. III, Q. 14, Art. 3, Reply to Obj. 1). According to the absolutely ridiculous assertion of Fr. Rulleau, to believe in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is to refuse the Magisterium, because St. Thomas didn’t believe in it! Such a position is equivalent to heresy. Why does Fr. Rulleau assert such nonsense? Simply because St. Thomas believed in baptism of desire and Fr. Rulleau wants to prove that that fact alone requires Catholics to submit to it. But notice how, when presented with a doctrine of St. Thomas which Fr. Rulleau is not ready to accept, he quickly abandons his ridiculous principle that “to refuse St. Thomas Aquinas is to refuse the Magisterium of the Church.”
- Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 56-57: “From this survey it appears that St. Thomas opts for the necessity of an act of explicit faith in the Incarnation and the Trinity, and, more generally, in the mysteries of faith. To the question of how a man can be saved if he has not been evangelized by missionaries, he replies that God sees to it by giving an interior inspiration or by sending a missionary. How should this doctrine of St. Thomas be interpreted? What weight should it be given. The theologians have not been unanimous.”
In this paragraph, Fr. Rulleau is analyzing St. Thomas’s clear teaching that no one can be saved without explicit faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity – in other words, no salvation for the invincibly ignorant and no salvation for those of non-Catholic religions.
St. Thomas, Summa Theologica: “After grace had been revealed, both the learned and simple folk are bound to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed throughout the Church, and publicly proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation, of which we have spoken above.”
Saint Thomas, Summa Theologica: “And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity.”
In regard to the objection about one who had never heard of Christ, St. Thomas replies:
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, 28, Q. 1, A. 4, ad 4: “If a man, born among barbarian nations, does what he can, God himself will show him what is necessary for salvation, either by inspiration or by sending a teacher to him.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solut. 2: “If a man should have no one to instruct him, God will show him, unless he culpably wishes to remain where he is.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, A. 11, ad 1: objection- “It is possible that someone may be brought up in the forest, or among wolves; such a man cannot explicitly know anything about the faith. Reply- It is the characteristic of Divine Providence to provide every man with what is necessary for salvation… provided on his part there is no hindrance. In the case of a man who seeks good and shuns evil, by the leading of natural reason, God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him…”
St. Thomas repeatedly and unambiguously refuted the heresy that “invincible ignorance” saves. He affirmed that explicit faith in the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation is absolutely necessary. If Fr. Rulleau is honest, he should not refuse this position of St. Thomas, for that would be, according to his own words, “to refuse the Magisterium of the Church.” But no, Fr. Rulleau demonstrates remarkable dishonesty by asking:
“How should this doctrine of St. Thomas be interpreted? What weight should it be given. The theologians have not been unanimous.”
So much for “to refuse St. Thomas Aquinas is to refuse the Magisterium of the Church”! Fr. Rulleau quickly abandons this position when presented with a doctrine from St. Thomas with which he and his heretical cohorts don’t agree. The Society of St. Pius X rejects the necessity of explicit faith in the Trinity and Incarnation, as the quotes from Lefebvre prove – so, in an act of astounding hypocrisy, they abandon St. Thomas when he teaches this, and bind others to St. Thomas’s opinion when he teaches baptism of desire!
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 63.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 39.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 11.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 56-57.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 2., A. 7.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 2., A. 8.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, 28, Q. 1, A. 4, ad 4; quoted by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 55.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solut. 2; quoted by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 55.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, A. 11, ad 1; quoted by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 55-56.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 56-57.
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