De Fide vs Sent. Fidei Prox. And ECNS


I would imagine similar questions have been asked countless times on this forum, but my question is specific. My question is not specifically about the nessicity of baptism but what happens when Dogmas are in conflict with one another.
I am reading The Fundementals of Catholic Dogmas and it would seem like there are two dogmas that are in conflict with each other. The first is “Baptism by water is… necessary for all men without exception, for salvation (De Fide.). The second is “in case of Emergecy Baptisim by water can be replaced by Baptism of Desire or Baptism of Blood. (Sent. Fidei prox).
It would seem like these dogmas would fit nicely with each other sans the words “without exception.” Reading about the different classifications of the dogmas the “de Fide” dogma is higher than the “Sent Fidei prox” dogma. My specific question is as follows:
I see three options:

  1. The first dogma is authoritative sans the words “without exception.”
  2. The first dogma superceeds the second dogma and the baptism of desire and blood are not exceptions to the first dogma because “without exception” carries a higher authority than the exceptions listed.
  3. The two dogmas do not conflict and I am misunderstanding the words “without exception.”
    What option is true? Please defend your answer.


#3 based on the authority of Holy Mother Church.:grinning:. Honestly, I’m no canon lawyer but this issue has been debated on these forumns before. Just use the search function. Here is one example:Trent on Baptism and Baptism of Desire


The title that is given in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma is incorrect. In the commentary it quotes from the Council of Trent “after the promulgation of the Gospel … except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it,”.

  • Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception, for salvation. (De fide.)
  • In special circumstances the actual use of the prescribed means can be dispensed with (hypothetical necessity).
  • [Denzinger 796] Council of Trent, Session VI (Jan. 13, 1547), Chap. 4. A Description of the Justification of the Sinner, and Its Mode in the State of Grace is Recommended In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the “adoption of the sons” [Rom. 8:15] of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior; and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be effected except through the laver of regeneration [can. 5 de bapt.], or a desire for it, as it is written: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” [John 3:5].
  • In case of emergency Baptism by water can be replaced bv Baptism of desire or Baptism by blood. (Sent. fidei prox.)
  • Baptism of desire works ex opere operantis. It bestows Sanctifying Grace, which remits original sin, all actual sins, and the eternal punishments for sjn. Venial sins and temporal punishments for sin are remitted according to the intensity of the subjective disposition. The baptismal character is not imprinted. nor is it the gateway to the other sacraments.
  • blood-Baptism operates not merely ex opere operantis as does Baptism of desire, but since it is an objective confession of Faith it operates also quasi ex opere operato. It confers the grace of justification, and when proper dispositions are present, also the remission of all venial sins and temporal punishments.

Ref: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott, pp. 356-357


This makes the most sense to me at least. The Dogma is that baptism by water is necessary for all men for salvation. Reading further about the topic it is important to note that baptism of desire or baptism of blood are not intended to be a substitute for a water baptism, and they do not have all of the same effects of the water baptism, but they can in cases of real emergency have a salvific effect.

It seems like the issue for me, especial in these contemporary times, is the presentation of these dogmas. When many Catholics are asked “can a non-beliver, or a person who has not been baptized be saved?” the answer is “of course!”. They lead with the exception not the rule. It is a rare thing when someone who wants to be baptized is really prevented from such graces.


Where is this Taught?


It is because of invincible ignorance that the unbaptized with the use of reason may be saved through baptism of desire. For unbaptized infants, there is hope however.


1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” [63] Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

[63] Gaudium et spes 22 § 5; cf. Lumen gentium 16; Ad gentes 7


In the first place we must go back to study the word of Jesus:

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8

Jesus mentions no exceptions. This was after Jesus presented this idea to Nicodemus and was challenged. Jesus did not change, nor did he water down his teaching on baptism. Jesus clearly teaches unless a man be baptized, he can not enter heaven.
St. Augustine writes:

If, therefore, as so many and such divine witnesses agree, neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s body and blood, it is vain to promise these blessings to infants without them.


Augustine of Hippo, “A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants,” in Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Peter Holmes, vol. 5, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 28.

Also, St. John Chrysostom:

For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful. He hath not the same Head, he hath not the same Father, he hath not the same City, nor Food, nor Raiment, nor Table, nor House, but all are different; all are on earth to the former, to the latter all are in heaven. One has Christ for his King; the other, sin and the devil; the food of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes; one has worms’ work for his raiment, the other the Lord of angels; heaven is the city of one, earth of the other… for if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated, though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell.


John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Gospel of St. John,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of St. John and Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. G. T. Stupart, vol. 14, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 89.

The majority of times that it is taught that Salvation is achieved through Baptism, and through the sacraments of the Church (The Church and the Sacraments being the means of, not the cause of, salvation.), it it taught without exception. The exceptions of desire and blood are in the minority.


Although Trent introduced a Baptism of Desire, the council also proclaimed the follwing:

861 [DS 1618] Can. 5. If anyone shall say that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation: let him be anathema [cf. n. 796].

Henry Denzinger and Karl Rahner, eds., The Sources of Catholic Dogma, trans. Roy J. Deferrari (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1954), 264.

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