OBJECTION- Pope Innocent II taught that a priest could be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism by his desire for it and his confession of the true faith (Denzinger 388):
“To your inquiry we respond thus: We assert without hesitation (on the authority of the holy fathers Augustine and Ambrose) that the priest whom you indicated (in your letter) had died without the water of baptism, because he persevered in the faith of holy mother Church and in the confession of the name of Christ, was freed from original sin and attained the joy of the heavenly fatherland. Read (brother) in the eighth book of Augustine’s City of God where, among other things it is written, ‘Baptism is ministered invisibly to one whom not contempt of religion but death excludes.’ Read again in the book of the blessed Ambrose concerning the death of Valentinian where he says the same thing. Therefore, to questions concerning the dead, you should hold the opinions of the learned Fathers, and in your church you should join in prayers and you should have sacrifices offered to God for the priest mentioned (Apostolicam Sedem).”
ANSWER- First of all, there is no such thing as a priest who has not been baptized. The Church teaches that one who has not been baptized cannot receive the priesthood validly. This problem alone demonstrates that the above statement is not infallible. Secondly, the date of this document is unknown, the author is unknown – it is by no means clear that it was Innocent II – and the person to whom it is addressed is unknown! Could such a document ever prove anything? No. It remains a mystery why a document of such doubtful authenticity found its way into Denzinger, a handbook of dogmatic statements. This is probably because Denzinger was edited by Karl Rahner, a notorious heretic, whose heretical bias caused him to present this clearly non-magisterial statement as Magisterial, for he is a believer in baptism of desire.
To illustrate the lack of magisterial authority of the previous letter allegedly from Pope Innocent II, I will quote from Thomas Hutchinson’s book, Desire and Deception (pp. 31-32):
“We speak of the letter Apostolicam Sedem, written at the behest of Pope Innocent II (1130-1143), at an unknown date to an unnamed bishop of Cremona. The latter had written an inquiry to the Pope regarding the case of a priest who apparently had died without being baptized. Of course, it has been defined that, in such a case, he was no priest, since the sacrament of orders may only be conferred validly upon the baptized.
---- Text of letter omitted because it has been listed already ----
“Now, there are more than a few problems connected with this letter. Firstly, it depends entirely on the witness of Saints Ambrose and Augustine for its conclusion. Its premises are false, as the Fathers in question did not actually hold the opinions herein imputed to them. (author: as noted a mere sentimental speculative utterance does not prove they hold to this as official teaching)…
“Lastly, there is even a question of who wrote this letter. Many authorities ascribe it to Innocent III (1198-1216). This question is mentioned in Denzinger. The letter is certainly not in keeping with the totality of his declarations either. In any case, a gap of 55 years separated the two pontificates. So a private letter of uncertain date, authorship, and destination, based upon false premises and contradicting innumerable indisputably valid and solemn documents, is pretended to carry the weight of the Magisterium on its shoulders. Were any other doctrine concerned, this missive (letter) would not even be given any consideration. As we shall see, however, mystification and deception are part and parcel of the history of this topic of Salvation. Perhaps this letter was attributed to Innocent III because of his statement that the words of consecration at Mass do not actually have to be said by the priest, but only thought internally --- a sort of Eucharist by Desire. Later Saint Thomas Aquinas took him to task on this point.
“But Innocent III is indeed the key to understanding the original teaching of the Church on this topic. It was in his time (as always until the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore) forbidden to bury the unbaptized (whether catechumens or even children of Catholic parents) in consecrated ground. He explained the rationale for this law, writing: ‘It has been decreed by the sacred canons that we are to have no communion with those who are dead, if we have not communicated with them while alive’ (Decr. III, XXVIII, xii).” - end of transcript from Desire and Deception.
These considerations dismiss any argument in favor of baptism of desire from this letter. The letter, while certainly not infallible, may indeed be a forgery.
 Denzinger 388.
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.