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BAPTISM


271


BAPTISM


part of the body, baptism is indeed to be conferred, but it must be conditionally repeated in case the child survives its birth. It is to be noted that in these last two cases, the rubric of the Ritual supposes that the infant has partly emerged from the womb. For if the foetus was entirely enclosed, baptism is to be repeated conditionally in all cases (Lehmkuhl, n. 61). In case of the death of the mother, the foetus is to be immediately extracted and baptized, should there be any life in it. Infants have been taken alive from the womb even forty-eight hours after tlie mother's death (Dub. Rev., no. S7). .\fter the Csesarean in- cision has been performed, the foetus may be condi- tionally baptized before extraction if possible; if the sacrament is administered after its removal from the womb the baptism is to be absolute, provided it is certain that life remains. If after extraction it is doubtful whether it be still alive, it is to be baptized under the condition: "If thou art alive". Physicians, mothers, and niidwives ought to be reminded of the grave obligation of administering baptism under these circumstances (Coppens, Lect., VI). It is to be borne in mind that according to the prevailing opinion among the learned, the foetus is animated by a human soul from the very beginning of its conception (O'Kane, III, IS, etc.). In cases of parturition where the issue is a mass that is not certainly animated by human life, it is to be baptized conditionally: "If thou art a man".

(4) The perpetually insane, who have never had the use of reason, are in the same category as infants in what relates to the conferring of baptism, and consequently the sacrament is valid if administered. If at one time they had been sane, baptism bestowed upon them during their insanity would be probably ini'alid unless they had shown a desire for it before losing their reason. Moralists teach that, in practice, this latter class may always be baptized conditionally, when it is uncertain whether or not they had ever asked for baptism (Sabetti, no. 661). In this con- nexion it is to be remarked that, according to many â– WTiters, anyone who has a wish to receive all things necessary to salvation, has at the same time an im- plicit desire for baptism, and that a more specific desire is not absolutely necessary.

(.5) Foundlings are to be baptized conditionally, if there is no means of finding out whether they have been validly baptized or not. If a note has been left withja foundling stating that it had already received baptism, the more conunon opinion is that it should nevertheless be given conditional baptism, unless circumstances should make it plain that baptism had undoubtedly been conferred (Sabetti, no. 662, 4). O'Kane (no. 214) says that the same rule is to be followed when midwives or other lay persons have baptized infants in case of necessity.

(6) The question is also discussed as to whether the infant children of Jews or infidels may be bap- tized against the will of their parents. To the general query, the answer is a decided negative, because such a baptism would violate the natural rights of parents, and the infant would later be exposed to the danger of perversion. We say tliis, of course, only in regard to the liceity of such a baptism, for if it were actually administered it would undoubtedly be valid. St. Thomas (III, Q. Ixviii, a. 10) is very express in denying the lawfulness of imparting such baptism, and this has been the constant judgment of the Holy See, as is evident from various decrees of the Sacred Congregations and of Pope Benedict XIV (II BuUarii). We say the answer is negative to the general question, becau.se particular circumstances may require a different response. For it would un- doubtedly be licit to impart such baptism if the children were in proximate danger of death; or if they had been removed from the parental care and there was no likelihood of their returning to it; of if they


were perpetually insane; or if one of the parents were to consent to the baptism; or finally, if, after the death of the father, the paternal grandfather would be willing, even though the mother objected. If the children were, however, not infants, but had the use of reason and were sufficiently instructed, they should be baptized when prudence dictated such a course (Sabetti, no. 662). In the celebrated case of the Jewish child, Edgar Mortara, Pius IX indeed ordered that he should be brought up as a Catholic, even against the will of his parents, but baptism had already been administered to him some years before when in danger of death.

(7) As to children of Protestants in the United States, Kenrick (no. 28) and Sabetti (no. 662, 2) declare that it is not licit to baptize them against the will of their parents; for their baptism would violate parental right, expose them to tlie danger of per- version, and be contrary to the practice of the Church. Kenrick also strongly condemns nurses who baptize the children of Protestants unless they are in danger of death.

(8) Should a priest baptize the child of non- Catholic parents if they themselves desire it? He certainly can do so if there is reason to hope that the child will be brought up a Catholic (Cone. Prov. Bait., I, deer. x). An even greater security for the Catholic education of such child would be the promise of one or both parents that they themselves will embrace the Faith.

(9) Concerning baptism for the dead, a curious and difficult passage in St. Paul's Epistle has given rise to some controversy. The Apostle says: "Other- wise what shall they do that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not again at all? Why are they then baptized for them?" (I Cor., xv, 29). There seems to be no question here of any such absurd custom as conferring baptism on corpses, as was practised later by some heretical sects. It has been conjectured that this otherwise unkno^Ti usage of the Corinthians consisted in some living person re- ceiving a symbolic baptism as representing another who had died with the desire of becoming a Christian, but had been prevented from realizing his wish for baptism by an unforeseen death. Tliose who give this explanation say that St. Paul merely refers to this custom of the Corinthians as an argvmentum ad hominem, when discussing the resurrection of the dead, without approving the usage mentioned.

Archbishop Mac Evilly in his exposition of the Epistles of St. Paul, holds a different opinion. He paraphrases St. Paul's text as follows: "Another argument in favour of the resurrection. If the dead will not arise, what means the profession of faith in the resurrection of the dead, made at baptism? Why are we all baptized with a profession of our faith in their resurrection?" The archbishop comments as follows: "It is almost impossible to glean anything like certainty as to the meaning of these very ab- struse words, from the host of interpretations that have been hazarded regarding them (see Calmet's Dissertation on the matter). In the first place, every interpretation referring the words 'baptized', or 'dead' to either erroneous or evil practices which men might have employed to express their belief in the doctrine of the resurrection, should be rejected; as it appears by no means likely that the Apostle would ground an argument, even though it were what the logicians call an argumentum ad hominem, on either a vicious or erroneous practice. Besides, such a system of reasoning would be quite inconclusive. Hence, the words should not be referred to either the Clinics, baptized at the hour of death, or to the vicarious baptisms in use among the Jews, for their departed friends who departed without baptism. The interpretation adopted in the paraphrase makes the words refer to the Sacrament of Baptism, which