Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/313

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BAPTISM
BAPTISM
267

Eugene IV, in the Profession of Faith prescribed for the Greeks by Pope Gregory XIII, and in that au- thorized for the Orientals by Urban VIII and Bene- dict XIV. CathoHc theologians are unanimous, con- sequently, in declaring that infants dying without baptism, are excluded from the beatific vision; but as to the exact state of these souls in the next world they are not agreed. In speaking of souls who have failed to attain salvation, theologians distinguish the pain of loss (pccna damni), or privation of the beatific vision, and the pain of sense {pcena sensus). While it is certain that unbaptized infants must en- dure the pain of loss, it is not at all certain that they are subject to the pain of sense. St. Augustine (De Pecc. et Mer., I, xvi) held that they would not be ex- empt from the pain of sense, but at the same time he thought it would be of the mildest form. On the other hand, St. Gregory Nazianzen (Or. in S. Bapt.) expresses the belief that such infants would suffer only the pain of loss. Sfrondati (Nod. Pra?dest., I, i) declares that while they are certainly excluded from heaven, yet they are not deprived of natural happi- ness. This opinion seemed so objectionable to some French bishops that they asked the judgment of the Holy See upon the matter. Pope Innocent XI re- plied that he would have the opinion examined into by a commission of theologians, but no sentence seems ever to have been passed upon it. Since the twelfth century, the opinion of the ma- jority of theologians has been that unbaptized in- fants are immune from all pain of sense. This was taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, St. Bona- venture, Peter Lombard, and others, and is now the common teaching in the schools. It accords with the wording of a decree of Pope Innocent III (III Deer., xlii, 3): "The punishment of original sin is the deprivation of the vision of God; of actual sin, the eternal pains of hell. " Infants, of course, cannot be guilty of actual sin. As to the theorj' of some writers that infants may be saved also from the pain of loss by the faith of their parents, it is sufficiently evident that it is not in accord with the mind of the Church. It has been urged that, under the law of nature and the Mosaic dispensation, children could be saved by the act of their parents and that consequently the same should be even more easy of attainment under the law of grace, because the power of faith has not been diminished but increased. But this ignores the fact that infants are not said to be deprived of justification in the New Law through any decrease in the power of faith, but because of the promulga- tion by Christ of the precept of baptism which did not exist before the New Dispensation. Nor does this make the case of infants worse than it was before the Christian Church was instituted. While it works a hardship for some, it has undoubtedly improved the condition of most. Supernatural faith is now much more diffused than it was before the coming of Christ, and more infants are now saved by baptism than were justified formerly by the active faith of their parents. Moreover, baptism can more readily be applied to infants than the rite of circumcision, and by the ancient law this ceremony had to be deferred till the eighth day after birth, while baptism can be bestowed upon infants immediately after they are born, and in case of necessity even in their mother's womb. Finally it must be borne in mind that unbaptized infants are not unjustly deprived of heaven. The vision of God is not .something to which human beings have a natural claim. It is a free gift of the Creator who can make what conditions He cliooses for imparting it or withholding it. No injustice is involved when an undue privilege is not conferred upon a person. Original sin deprived the human race of an unearned right to heaven. Through the Divine mercy this bar to the enjoyment of God is removed by baptism; but if baptism be not conferred. original sin remains, and the imregenerated soul, hav- ing no claim on heaven, is not unjustly excluded from it. As to the question, whether in addition to freedom from the pain of sense, unbaptized infants enjoy any positive happiness in the next world, theologians are not agreed, nor is there any pronouncement of the Church on the subject. Many, following St. Thomas (De Malo, Q. v, a. 3), declare that these infants .ire not saddened by the loss of the beatific vision, either because they have no knowledge of it, and hence are not sensible of their privation; or because, knowing it, their will is entirely conformed to God's vill, and they are conscious that they have missed an undue privilege through no fault of their own. In addition to this freedom from regret at the loss of heaven, these infants may also enjoy some positive happi- ness. St. Thomas an II Sent., dist. XXXIII, Q. ii, a. 5) says: "Although unbaptized infants are sepa- rated from God as far as glory is concerned, yet they are not separated from Him entirely. Rather are they joined to Him by a participation of natural goods; and so they may even rejoice in Him by natural consideration and love." Again (a. 2) he says: '"They will rejoice in this, that they will share largely in the divine goodness and in natural per- fections." While the opinion, then, that vmbaptized infants may enjoy a natural knowledge and love of God and rejoice in it, is perfectly tenable, and indeed the more common opinion of the schools at present, yet it has not the certainty that would arise from a unani- mous consent of the Fathers of theChiu-ch, or from a favourable pronouncement of ecclesiastical authority. We may add here some brief remarks on the discipline of the Church in regard to unbaptized persons. As baptism is the door of the Church, the unbaptized are entirely without its pale. As a con- sequence: (1) Such persons, by the ordinary law of the Church, may not be buried in consecrated ground. This includes the infants of even Catholic parents. The reason of this regulation is given bv Pope Inno- cent III (Deer., Ill, XXVIII, xii): "It'has been de- creed 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. " By a decree, however, of the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore (No. 390), catechumens may receive ecclesiastical sepulture. This council also decrees (No. 389) that the custom of burying the unbaptized relatives of Catholics in the family sepulelu-es may be tolerated. (2) A Catholic may not marry an unbaptized person without dispensation, under pain of nullity. This impediment, as far as illicity is concerned, is derived from the natural law, because in such unions the Catholic party and the offspring of the marriage would, in most cases, be exposed to the loss of faith. The invalidity of such marriage, however, is a con- sequence only of positive law. For, in the beginning of Christianity, unions between the baptized and un- baptized were frequent, and they were certainly held valid. When, then, circumstances arise where the danger of perversion for the Catholic party is re- moved, the Church dispenses in her law of prohibi- tion, but always requires guarantees from tlie non- Catholic party that there will be no interference with the spiritual rights of the partner of the miion. (See Impeuijients of M.trimoxy.) In general, we may state that the Church claims no authority over unbaptized persons, as they are entirely without her pale. She makes laws concerning them only in so far as they hold relations with the subjects of the Church. XII. Effects of B.^ptism. — "This sacrament i,s the door of the Church of Christ and the entrance into a new life. We are reborn from the state of slaves of sin into the freedom of the Sons of God. Baptism incorporates us with Christ's mystical body and makes us partakers of all the privileges fiowinfe