SPLIT: Emergency Baptism news item

I’m going to do my best here based on the discussion I’ve been having so far:

  1. Infants must be Baptized, otherwise we have no assurance of their fate; whatever it may be.

  2. If a grandparent Baptises a child contrary to his parents wishes it’s still valid but not recommended.

  3. If a child is in any immediate danger, only then should every effort be taken by anyone to get the child Baptized before death.

I would also like more opinions on what should have been done here:


Split from Infant Baptism - Laying out the facts

Carry on. :slight_smile:

It makes sense that they chose Baptism over hospitalization as a first move. It doesn’t imply that they didn’t want hospital care for the baby, just that they placed spiritual life over physical life. Makes perfect sense when you understand what they believe about Baptism, which is the same as the Catholic belief.

Instead of repeat what you’ve probably read over and over, and instead of link articles you may have already read, here’s a blog articel I wrote on the Catholic understanding of Baptism, which is best viewed via the doctrine on original sin:


And here’s the link to all 5 blog-articles I’ve put together regarding Baptism:


They could have chose to baptize the child themselves on the way to the hospital assuming, of course, they knew the child would not have lived any longer than he did.


But any delay could result in the child’s physical death. If the child has a chance to live and such is delayed in order to get the child Baptized, is this the right course of action? The parents basically took a chance and the child died.

Was this the right action taken?

I think one thing that needs to be factored in is deciding God’s mercy in this situation. Would God be understanding if the grandparents made every effort to get their grandson to someone who might be able to keep him from dying? I don’t want to sound like I’m undercutting the value believers place in baptism, but would God be willing to overlook it if the child died unbaptised if he passed away in an emergency room?

I would think the answer to those questions depends on one’s outlook on any infant that dies without being baptised (i.e. whether one believes in something like invincible ignorance).

Do you want ME to judge the actions of the parents? Sorry, can’t do. If you are worried about the decision of the parents, I have nothing. If you are wondering about the soul of the child, I think ahs spelled it out quite well above. Actually, I think his post pretty much covers the parent’s decision well also.


Both yourself and ahs are of the opinion that not Baptizing the baby could be considered the best coarse of action over taking every opportunity to save the baby’s life. Although this is the opinion of two posters I won’t assume this is the opinion of every person on this board because I do find it rather surprising.

I would think that saving the baby would be the best way to go by any means possible.

I have great interest in motive. May I ask you what is yours in regards to baptism?

From Fundamentals of Catholic dogma (p. 357) Ott, L. (1957).

  1. Necessity of Baptism for Salvation
Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception, for salvation. (De fide.)

The Council of Trent declared against the Reformers, whose idea of justification led them to deny it, the necessity of Baptism for salvation: Si quis dixerit, baptismum liberum esse, hoc est non necessarium ad salutem, A.S. D 861. Cf. D 791. As to the moment of the beginning of the baptismal obligation, the Council of Trent declared that after the promulgation of the Gospel (post Evangelium promulgatum) there could be no justification without Baptism or the desire for the same. D 796. The necessity of Baptism for salvation is, according to John 3:5 and Mk. 16:16, a necessity of means (necessitas medii), and, according to Mt. 28:19, also a necessity of precept (necessitas praecepti). The necessity of means does not derive from the intrinsic nature of the Sacrament itself, but from the designation of Baptism as an indispensable means of salvation by a positive ordinance of God. In special circumstances the actual use of the prescribed means can be dispensed with (hypothetical necessity).

Tradition, in view of John 3:5, strongly stresses the necessity of Baptism for salvation. Tertullian, invoking these words, observes: “It is determined by law that nobody can be saved without baptism” (De bapt. 12, 1). Cf. Pastor Hermae, Sim. IX 16.

  1. Substitutes for Sacramental Baptism
In case of emergency Baptism by water can be replaced by Baptism of desire or Baptism by blood. (Sent. fidei prox.)

a) Baptism of desire (Baptismus flaminis sive Spiritus Sancti)

Baptism of desire is the explicit or implicit desire for sacramental baptism (votum baptismi) associated with perfect contrition (contrition based on charity).

The Council of Trent teaches that justification from original sin is not possible “without the washing unto regeneration or the desire for the same” (sine lavacro regenerationis aut eius voto). D 796. Cf. D 847, 388, 413.

According to the teaching of Holy Writ, perfect love possesses justifying power. Luke 7:47: “Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much.” John 14:21: “He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.” Luke 23:43: “This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”

The chief witnesses from Tradition are St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. In the funeral oration on the Emperor Valentine II, who died without Baptism, St. Ambrose says: “Should he not acquire the grace for which he longed? Certainly: As he desired it, he has attained it … His pious desire has absolved him” (De obitu Valent. 51, 53). St. Augustine declared: “I find that not only suffering for the sake of Christ can replace that which is lacking in Baptism, but also faith and conversion of the heart (fidem conversionemque cordis), if perhaps the shortness of the time does not permit the celebration of the mystery of Baptism” (De bapt. IV 22, 29). In the period of early Scholasticism St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Ep. 77, 100. 2 n. 6–9), Hugo of St. Victor (De sacr. II 6, 7) and the Summa Sententiarum (V 5) defended the possibility of Baptism of desire against Peter Abelard. Cf. S. th. III 68, 2.

Baptism of desire works ex opere operantis. It bestows Sanctifying Grace, which remits original sin, all actual sins, and the eternal punishments for sin. 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.

b) Baptism of blood (baptismus sanguinis)

Baptism of blood signifies martyrdom of an unbaptised person, that is, the patient bearing of a violent death or of an assault which of its nature leads to death, by reason of one’s confession of the Christian faith, or one’s practice of Christian virtue.

Jesus Himself attests the justifying power of martyrdom. Mt. 10:32: “Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in Heaven.” Mt. 10:39 (16:25): “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me shall find it.” John 12:25: “He that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal.”

From the beginning the Fathers regarded martyrdom as a substitute for Baptism. Tertullian calls it “blood Baptism” (lavacrum sanguinis) and ascribes to it the effect of “taking the place of the baptismal bath if it was not received, and restoring that which was lost” (De bapt. 16). According to St. Cyprian, the catechumens who suffer martyrdom receive “the glorious and most sublime blood-Baptism” (Ep. 73, 22). Cf. Augustine, De civ. Dei XIII 7.

As, according to the testimony of Tradition and of the Church Liturgy (cf. Feast of the Innocents), young children can also receive blood-Baptism, 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. St. Augustine says: “It is an affront to a martyr to pray for him; we should rather recommend ourselves to his prayers” (Sermo 159, 1). Baptism by blood does not confer the baptismal character. Cf. S. th. III 66, 11 and 12.

That was a wonderful read, thank you for posting it.

So it seems that Baptism of desire could be attributed to the family if they sought for their baby’s safety and then went on to Baptize after, even if the baby still died before Baptism.

So my question is; was it necessary for them to make sure the child was on his way to be Baptized? Couldn’t Baptism of desire be applied even if the baby died on its way to the hospital?

And I would think your actions should not be considered wrong. My wife and I had a still birth many years ago. We believe, and the church teaches, that my child received her baptism, by our desire, and was saved. But who are we to judge the couple in the link provided. Maybe they needed that extra personal experience (actual baptism) to comfort them in protecting their child for eternity. :shrug: Not sure what I would have done in the exact situation.


Only if you assume that the baby would have lived by going to the hospital. The duress of the accident and the imminent reality that your child is dying will greatly affect your actions.

We have to place ourselves in the parents’ situation and understand life in the same way as the parents were raised. We cannot judge the parents actions based on our understanding, and more importantly - after the fact and not being in the same sad situation. There is a term in football called “Monday morning quarterback”, it relates to fans and sportscasters criticizing the Sunday games’ quarterback’s decision on the field, after having a day to think about it and watching all the replays from different camera angles.

It seems that you keep spinning this situation in order to pin down that baptism is not necessary. If this is not the case, then I would greatly appreciate you explaining what the case is. And you motive.


Why jump to such a conclusion? It’s an important issue on a real event that just recently happened and I would like to know if Catholics would take the baby to the hospital if there is a chance the baby could make it and a chance the baby could not. Or, should a parent head straight for Baptism.

I’m not judging the parents, I’m asking what would make sense theologically.

I don’t believe baptism of desire can apply to infants. catholicessentials.net/baptismofdesire.htm

Baptism of Desire is one of the two possible substitutes for Baptism of water. When it is not possible thus to be baptized, an act of perfect contrition or pure love of God will supply the omission. Such acts are a perfect and ultimate diposition calling for the infusion of sanctifying grace, and at least implicitly include a desire and intention to receive Baptism of water should occasion offer. Infants are not capable of Baptism of desire. An heathen, believing, even though in a confused way, in a God whose will should be done and desiring to do that will whatever it may be, probably has Baptism of desire. It may reasonably be assumed that vast numbers of persons unbaptized by water have thus been rendered capable of enjoying the Beatific Vision.

Thus, the importance of an emergency baptism for an infant or child in danger of death.

The Church Teaches what?

The Catechism states

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"63 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

I would love to see your reference that a child received baptism of desire from the parents.

Sorry for the confusion. I’m sure you are most correct as it was many years ago and before I knew much about Catholic teaching.

Thanks for the correction. :thumbsup:

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