In re-reading your work on Baptism of desire I went to the law dictionary to look up the word "or".
Using Bouvier's Law Dictionary and Concise Encyclopedia, Third Revision 1914, we see:
"As a particle, 'or' is often construed 'and', and 'and' construed 'or', to further the intent of the parties.... So, 'break or enter' in a statute defining burglary, means 'break and enter'. (emphasis mine)
It goes on to talk about when "or" is used to indicate an alternative choice that its use is often bad because it causes uncertainty:
"Where an indictment is in the alternative, as forged or caused to be forged, it is bad for uncertainty."
Clearly the Council of Trent was using the word 'or' in its most precise, legal sense in order to further its intent in defining justification when it says that justification cannot take place "...without the laver of regeneration or the desire for it". The Council of Trent is teaching us that to be justified we must be Baptized and desire Baptism - the Council of Trent is not offering us an alternative choice as you have pointed out so well!
Again thank you for your excellent research and presentation.
That is a very interesting point. And what is perhaps most significant in this regard is the infallible declaration that Trent makes that John 3:5 is to be understood “as it is written” which comes in the very same sentence.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 6, Chap. 4: “In these words there is suggested a description of the justification of the impious, how there is a transition from that state in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of adoption as sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our savior; indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, CANNOT TAKE PLACE WITHOUT the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, AS IT IS WRITTEN: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).”
There is no way that baptism of desire can be true if John 3:5 is to be taken as it is written, because John 3:5 says that every man must be born again of water and the Spirit to be saved, which is what the theory of baptism of desire denies. The theory of baptism of desire and an interpretation of John 3:5 as it is written are mutually exclusive (they cannot both be true at the same time) – and every baptism of desire proponent will admit this. That is why all of them must – and do – opt for a non-literal interpretation of John 3:5. For instance:
Fr. Francois Laisney (Believer in Baptism of Desire), Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 33: “Fr. Feeney’s greatest argument was that Our Lord’s words, ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ (John 3:5) mean the absolute necessity of baptism of water with no exception whatsoever… The great question is, then, how did the Church explain these words of Our Lord?”
Fr. Laisney, a fierce baptism of desire advocate, is admitting here that John 3:5 cannot be understood as it is written if baptism of desire is true. He therefore holds that the true understanding of John 3:5 is that it does not apply literally to all men; that is, John 3:5 is not to be taken as it is written. But how does the Catholic Church understand these words? What does the passage in Trent that we just discussed say? It says infallibly, “AS IT IS WRITTEN, UNLESS A MAN IS BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND THE HOLY GHOST, HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
The passage thus teaches – as it is written – unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. If what baptism of desire proponents say were correct, we would actually have the Council teaching us in the first part of the sentence that John 3:5 is not to be taken as it is written (desire sometimes suffices without being born again of water), while simultaneously contradicting itself in the second part of the sentence by telling us to take John 3:5 as it is written (sicut scriptum est)! But this is absurd, of course. The passage does not say that justification can take place by water or desire; it says justification cannot take place without water or desire, AS IT IS WRITTEN, unless a man is born again of water… Those who obstinately insist that this passage teaches baptism of desire are simply wrong and are contradicting the very words given in the passage about John 3:5. The inclusion of “AS IT IS WRITTEN,unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5)” shows the true meaning and the perfect harmony of that passage in Trent with all of the other passages in Trent and other Councils which all affirm the absolute necessity of water baptism with no exceptions.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, canons on the Sacrament of Baptism, canon 5: “If anyone says that baptism [the sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn. 3:5): let him be anathema.”
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V: “By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death... so that in them there may be washed away by regeneration, what they have contracted by generation, ‘For unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [John 3:5].”
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, canons on the Sacrament of Baptism, Session 7, canon 2: “If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5], are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema.”
Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439: “Holy baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church. And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]. The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.”
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