Lumen Scholasticum

Elucubrations, translations, and commentary from a Scholastic and Catholic integralist perspective

Category: Manualist Monday

Fr. Salaverri on whether heretics, apostates, schismatics, and excommunicates are members of the Church

The following text is from the well-respected and voluminous manual of dogmatic theology, Sacræ Theologiæ Summa (which has been translated in full by Fr. Kenneth Baker SJ, though it seems available only through some obscure sellers; we cannot decide whether we want the English set or not). It was put together and published at the start of the 1950s for Biblioteca Autores Cristianos by the Patres Societatis Iesu, Facultatum Theologicarum in Hispania professores, Scholastic Jesuit professors of theology in Spain. (These Patres nobilissimi atque doctissimi have in fact released several splendid such sets via BAC, including one Philosophiæ Scholasticæ Summa, which we have consulted with great profit.) It is certainly the manual that we consult the most on dogmatic questions, and in order to discover where certain great Scholastics and Fathers have treated on matters of dogmatic interest. In particular, we have dipped into Fr. Ioachim Salaverri’s De Ecclesia Christi, a treatise which helped earn him high praise from Msgr. Clifford Fenton in a March 1953 article of the American Ecclesiastical Review. (Fenton asserted that Salaverri “holds very much the same position in the theological world of the mid-twentieth century that Cardinal Billot occupied in that of fifty years ago.”)

Though the footnotes for this particular excerpt are already quite dense and informative, we hope to extend their usefulness even more for the curious and Latinate, by adding as many links to the works cited in there as we can find online (which is indeed a considerable number). Since we are at the time of posting strapped for time, we shall do this later this evening.


Ioachim Salaverri, De Ecclesia Christi lib. III, cap. 2, a. 3. Causæ quæ baptizatum ab Ecclesiæ corpore separant. Thesis 26, nos. 1045-1067. In Sacræ Theologiæ Summa vol. I, tract. 3, pp. 872-882.

ARTICLE III

CAUSES WHICH SEPARATE A BAPTIZED PERSON FROM THE BODY OF THE CHURCH

Thesis 26. The heretic, apostate, and schismatic are ipso facto separated from the body of the Church; but the excommunicate is separated by the legitimate authority.

1045. St. Rob. Bellarmine, De ecclesia militante lib. 3, c. 4-6;[1] Franzelin, th. 22-23;[2] Wilmers, th. 111-114; De San, n. 338-344, 360-374; Straub, th. 33-34; Muncunill, n. 637-653; Billot, th. 11-12;[3] D’Herbigny, th. 32; Dieckmann, n. 960-961; Dorsch, p. 488-499;[4] De Guibert, th. 21; S. Fraghi, De membris Ecclesiæ (1937);[5] Stolz, p. 27-34; Vellico, th. 14; Journet, vol. II, p. 1056-1081; Sauras, El Cuerpo mistico p. 616-631; Zapalena, vol. II (1954) 389-397; K. Rahner, Die Zugehörigkeit zur Kirche nach der Encycl. «Mystici Corporis»: Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 69 (1947) 129-188.

1046. Nexus. In the preceding thesis, we have seen that Baptism constitutes one a member of the Church. But now, Baptism impresses upon the soul an indelible character, nor can it be repeated; whence it is asked, whether the nature of “member of the Church” is also incapable of being lost, or whether some causes are given by which the baptized might be able to be separated from the body of the Church. This thesis responds to that question.

1047. Notions. The notion of member has been explicated in the preceding thesis.

A heretic is one who, after Baptism has been received, pertinaciously denies some of the truths to be believed with divine and catholic faith, or entertains doubts concerning them.

One is called an apostate who, after Baptism has been received, pertinaciously recedes totally from the Christian faith.[6] The same divisions which follow concerning the heretic are entirely valid for the apostate.

A material heretic is one who indeed denies a truth to be believed with divine and catholic faith, but from invincible ignorance or from error accepted in good faith. Good faith in one who errs is the prudent judgment by which the errant one thinks himself not to err, but on the contrary, to adhere to the truth. A formal heretic is one who denies a truth to believed, out of vincible ignorance or from error accepted in bad or doubtful faith.

A manifest heretic is one whose error or doubt in faith cannot be concealed by hiding. But an occult heretic is one whose error or doubt in faith remains sufficiently concealed.

A public heretic is one who openly adheres to one of the heretical sects. But a private heretic is one who openly adheres to none of the heretical sects.

The same divisions and definitions can be made concerning the apostate.

1048. A schismatic is one who, after Baptism has been received, refuses to be subject to the Roman Pontiff or declines to commune with the members of the Church subject to him.[7] A schismatic can also be material or formal, occult or manifest, private or public. The same definitions of the varieties of this sort which we recently gave concerning heretics can also be applied to the concept of the schismatic.

1049. Excommunication is a censure or penalty by which a baptized person who is delinquent and contumacious is excluded from the communion of the faithful, until, receding from his contumacy, he should be absolved. It can be called formal, which pertains to a man in fact delinquent and contumacious. But it can be called merely material, which is brought to bear upon a subject who through invincible error is considered delinquent and contumacious, though in fact he is not such. It can be total or partial inasmuch as it excludes the excommunicate from the communion of the faithful in all, or only in some goods which fall under the Church’s jurisdiction. But internal supernatural goods, such as sanctifying grace and the infused virtues, are not lost by means of the censure itself. The excommunicate is called vitandus (to be avoided) who has been excluded by name by the Apostolic See from the communion of the faithful, and either by right itself or by a public decree or sentence has by name been denounced as vitandus.[8]

We call perfect excommunication that by which the Apostolic See properly intends to separate a delinquent and contumacious man from the very body of the Church. Therefore, besides the privation of spiritual goods which fall under the jurisdiction of the Church, perfect excommunication implies, as its proper and characteristic aspect, this manifest intention of separating from the body of the Church. But because the prevailing intention of the Church is “to induce excommunication unto a cure and not unto ruin,”[9] thus, if through contrition the excommunicate should return to grace and charity, ipso facto his excommunication ceases to be perfect, although juridically he in fact remains an excommunicate vitandus, nor may he licitly participate in the communion of the faithful until he is absolved.[10]

1050. We have deliberately said that heretics, apostates, schismatics, and excommunicates of this sort are separated from union with the Church; by which we wish to signify, that heresy, apostasy, schism, and excommunication are as obstacles merely impeding union. For this reason, these obstacles having been removed, Baptism, by means of the efficacy which it enjoys for incorporating men to the Church, itself suffices for again restoring union.

1051. Adversaries. In particular, all schismatics and Protestants who adhere to the theory of the three branches of the Church, or who argue for the doctrines proper to Panchristians, deny that heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Body of the Church. For they recognize the supreme necessity of Baptism; but in what remains, they hold that no conditions for pertaining to the Church ought to be established by which there might in any way be impeded the just liberty and equal right of Churches which rightly call themselves Christian: “The Church is one,” writes Zankow, “and comprehends all who have been baptized in Christ; in truth, the hedges of the Churches shall not reach heaven.”[11] The Irenists agree, whose opinion we have explained in n. 1007.

1052. Opinions of the Theologians. About the particular points and ulterior questions which occur in this matter relative to the separation of the baptized from the Church, Catholic theologians put forth various opinions, the chief of which, for the sake of information, we review.

1) That formal and manifest heretics are not members of the body of the Church, can well be said to be a unanimous opinion among Catholics.

a) That formal, but occult, heretics are not members of the Church, is defended by some authors, such as Suárez, Molina, Billuart, Franzelin, Michelitsch, Stolz, Fraghi, Journet, Zapalena, and a few others. But the contrary opinion is more common.[12]

b) That merely material heretics, even if manifest, are members of the Church, is argued by Franzelin, De Groot, D’Herbigny, Caperan, Terrien, and a few others. But the contrary opinion is more common.[13]

1053. 2) That formal and manifest schismatics are not members of the Church, is an opinion nearly unanimous among Catholics.[14]

a) That formal but occult schismatics are members of the Church, is commonly conceded by Catholic authors.

b) That merely material and manifest schismatics are members of the Church, is held by authors who defend the same concerning merely material and manifest heretics.

1054. 3) That those who have been excommunicated by the Church with perfect excommunication are not members of the body of the Church, is the common opinion among Catholics.

a) That the Church indeed wishes to punish by excommunication delinquent members, but nevertheless does not de facto intend to separate the excommunicates from the body of the Church, although she declares them to be avoided, is held by D’Herbigny, Dieckmann, Spacil, and Sauras, with Báñez, Valentia, Suárez, and Guarnieri.[15]

b) That those excommunicated with partial excommunication are members of the Church, is the common opinion among the theologians who also commonly hold that merely material and occult heretics are members of the Church.

1055. State of the question. We are treating of the Church in the strict sense, that is, concerning that which has been instituted by Christ and inasmuch as it is such, and concerning those who, not merely putatively, nor only in desire, but in fact have at one time been constituted members of the Church through Baptism. We divide the thesis into two parts. In the first we say: heretics, apostates, and schismatics formally and manifestly such are ipso facto separated from the Church. In the second part we hold: those excommunicated by total, formal, and perfect excommunication, or legitimately promulgated with this intent, are also separated from the body of the Church.

We abstract therefore from the ulterior questions which are disputed amongst Catholic authors, concerning merely material or occult heretics, apostates, and schismatics; we do not deny them to be members of the Church who have been punished only by material, partial, or imperfect excommunication.

1056. The doctrine of the Church. The first part is implicitly defined in the Council of Florence’s decree for the Jacobites: D 714. But concerning heretics and apostates, we deduce our teaching also from the formula of faith “Clemens Trinitas”, from can. 23 of the Second Lateran Council, and from the Bull Ineffabilis Deus of Pius IX: D 18 367 1641.

The second part, in which we hold that those excommunicated by perfect excommunication, which the Supreme Pontiff can determine, are separated from the body of the Church, is taught as Catholic doctrine by Pius XII in the encyclical Mystici corporis: AAS 35 (1943) 202ff.

1057. This whole thesis of ours is clearly taught by Pius XII and the Catechism of the Council of Trent.[16]

Pius XII writes: “But in truth, only those are to be numbered amongst the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration and profess the true faith, who have not miserably separated themselves from the community of the Church or through most grave crimes been separated by the legitimate authority…For this reason, those who are divided from one another in faith or government are unable to live in the one Body of this sort and in its divine Spirit…Nor should it be thought that the Body of the Church, because it is insigned with the name of Christ, consists, even in this time of terrestrial pilgrimage, only of members outstanding in sanctity, or that it is constituted only of the company of those who are predestined by God to sempiternal felicity…Indeed not every crime, even if a grave wickedness, is of such kind that of its very nature it separates man from the Body of the Church—as do schism, heresy, or apostasy.”

In the Catechism of the Council of Trent we read:

“Only three sorts of men are excluded from the Church: firstly, infidels, then heretics and schismatics, and finally excommunicates: pagans indeed, because they have never been in the Church, nor ever known it, nor been made partakers of any Sacrament in the society of the Christian people; heretics and schismatics, because they have revolted from the Church, for they no more pertain to the Church, than do deserters to the army from which they have defected: yet it must not be denied that they are in the power of the Church, as ones who may be called to judgment by her, punished, and condemned by anathema. Finally also excommunicates, because by the judgment of the Church have they been excluded from her, and do not belong to her communion until they come to their senses. But concerning other men, though they be wicked and criminal, it is not to be doubted that they yet persevere in the Church.”

1058. Dogmatic value. The first part, concerning heretics, apostates, and schismatics, is implicitly defined, particularly in the Council of Florence: D 714. The second part, on excommunicates by perfect excommunication, is Catholic doctrine, especially from the words of the encyclical of Pius XII, Mystici corporis Christi, recently cited by us above.

1059. The first part is proved. Heretics, apostates, and schismatics are not members of the Church.

It is proved by a common argument. Those baptized persons who formally and manifestly have severed the social bond of faith or of government established by Christ as essential in his Church are not members in reality of the body of the visible Church. But formal and manifest heretics, apostates, or schismatics formally and manifestly have severed the social bond of faith or of government established by Christ as essential in his Church. Therefore formal and manifest heretics, apostates, and schismatics are not members in reality of the Body of the visible Church.

For the major. a) The social bond of faith and of government is established as essential in his Church, because it is necessarily included in the powers of teaching and of governing which Christ placed as essential in the Church, as has been proved in thesis 3.

For the major. b) They are not members in reality of the Body of the visible Church who have formally and manifestly severed the essential social bond, because from the very nature of a society of men qua society, they cease to be members of its body who formally and manifestly break some essential social bond.

For the minor. That formal and manifest heretics, apostates, and schismatics formally and manifestly have severed the essential social bond of the Church’s faith or government, is clear from the notions themselves. Thus they are not of the Church, which is the congregation of the faithful, because schismatics are not congregated and heretics are not faithful.

1060. The same doctrine is confirmed by the authority of testimonies of the holy Fathers.

a) On heretics. Tertullian: “If they are heretics, they cannot be Christians” (R 298). St. Hilary: “I am a Catholic; I do not wish to be a heretic. I am a Christian, not an Arian.” St. Jerome: “Heretics pass judgment upon themselves, receding from the Church of their own will.” St. Augustine: “Sever yourselves from the members of the Church, sever yourselves from its Body. But what still might I say, in order that they might segregate themselves from the Church, since they have already done this? For they are heretics; they are already without.” The controversy on the rebaptizing of heretics, which was agitated thence from the middle of the third century, supposed as recognized by all that heretics are outside of the Church.[17]

b) On schismatics. Cyprian: “But what pertains to the person of Novatian…you know that we in the first place ought not to be inquisitive of what he taught, since he taught from without. Whosoever he is and of whatever condition, he is not a Christian who is not in the Church of Christ…he who neither held fast to fraternal charity nor ecclesiastical unity, has lost even that which he was previously.” St. Jerome: “Between heresy and schism, we think there to be this difference, that heresy imports perverse dogma; schism, on account of episcopal dissension, separates from the Church…moreover, no schism does not fabricate for itself a heresy, so that it might seem to have receded from the Church rightly.” St. Augustine: “Heretics and schismatics call their congregations churches. But heretics, thinking falsely about God, violate the faith itself; but schismatics burst free of fraternal charity through hostile divisions, although they believe those things which we believe. For this reason, heretics do not belong to the Catholic Church, because she loves God, nor schismatics, because she loves the neighbor” (R 1562). St. Fulgentius: “Most firmly hold and doubt not at all, that every one baptized outside of the Catholic Church is unable to become a partaker of eternal life, if before the end of this life he has not returned and been incorporated to the Catholic Church. Most steadily and in no way doubt, that not only all pagans, but also all Jews and all heretics and schismatics, who finish this present life outside of the Catholic Church, are to enter into the eternal fire” (R 2274-5). Pelagius I: “Pollute not a mind ever Catholic by any communion of schismatics. It is clear that the Body of Christ is one, the Church is one…our Savior taught: a vine separated from the grapevine cannot be good for anything, but fire for burning…Do not think that they either are or can be called the Church. And indeed since, as we have said, the Church is one…it is clear that there is no other but that which is founded in the apostolic root.”[18]

1061. Reason urges the same doctrine; for if formal and manifest heretics and schismatics were members of the Body of the Church, it would detract from the visible unity and unicity of the Church; which is repugnant. The Church is the congregation of the faithful: schismatics cease to be congregated, heretics cease to be faithful.

1062. The second part is proved. Excommunicates by perfect excommunication are not members of the Body of the Church.

a) De iure. The right is for the Church of making it so that those excommunicated by perfect excommunication be no longer members of the Church’s Body. We deduce this from Matt 18:15-18. For it is clear from the immediate context, that in this place it is chiefly concerned with the correction of delinquent faithful, and with the faculty given to the Church of separating the contumacious from the ecclesiastical community through judicial sentence.[19] Wherefore I argue thus: in Matt 18:18, by the power of binding and solving, there is given to the Church the right of separating contumacious sinners from the ecclesiastical community through judicial sentence, by force of which they become as heathens and publicans. But a separation of this sort is perfect excommunication, by which it happens that contumacious sinners no longer are members of the Church’s Body. Therefore the right is for the Church of making it so that those excommunicated by perfect excommunication are no longer members of the Church’s Body. The major is drawn from the analysis of the text of Matt 18:18 in the context of the verses of Matt 18:15-17. The minor is clear, because if by excommunication it happens that sinners become as heathens and publicans, therefore in other words it happens that the same are no longer members of the Church’s Body.

The same teaching is confirmed as it were a priori. For to the Church, which is a true and proper society of men, the right cannot be denied which belongs to every society of men, namely the right of completely ejecting delinquents from the social Body who pose grave harm to the common good of the citizens. But this is the right of excommunicating them by perfect excommunication, by which the Church determines to separate delinquents from her Body.

1063. b) De facto. Perfect excommunication de facto will be that in the decree of which it is manifestly clear, that the Church indeed intends to separate the excommunicate from her Body. For as St. Thomas says, “Excommunication is a certain punishment and medicinal remedy.”[20] But now, insofar as it is a punishment, it supposes a true moral bond subsisting between the Church and the delinquent; but insofar as it is medicinal, it does not properly intend death, but rather the healing of the delinquent. Every excommunication, according to the law presently established (cf. CIC 2257ff, 2241), takes on this character of medicinal punishment. Indeed it is certain, that any excommunication deprives the delinquent of spiritual goods of the Church, and obliges his soul not only externally, but also internally (D 763, 1546). Nevertheless, because “the Church introduces excommunication for healing and not for destruction,”[21] thus it is not the case that every excommunication of its very nature separates from the Body of the Church. But it can separate de facto by the intention of the Church, according to the right which we have proved belongs to her for doing this.

Therefore de facto it is properly to be seen, whether by excommunication the Church intends to cast out the sinner from her Body, or only either to heal him as one who is sick, or to punish him as a delinquent, so that he might recede from his contumacy. It should be said that perfect excommunication is determined de facto, since from its decree it is manifestly clear, that the Church in fact intends to separate the excommunicate from her Body.

De facto, this intention of the Church of separating the excommunicate from her Body has often been recognized, as the testimonies which follow prove.

St. Cyprian: “By the spiritual sword are the proud and contumacious made to perish, when they are cast out of the Church. For they cannot live without, since the House of God is one, and no one can be saved except in the Church.” Origen: “Not only through his Apostles has God handed the delinquent into the hands of enemies; but also through those who rule over the Church, and have the power not only of loosing, but also of binding, are sinners given over to the destruction of the flesh, when for their offenses they are separated from the Body of Christ…and are driven out of the Church by the Priests.” St. Ambrose: “And thus the good Teacher…comes with a rod, because he removes the guilty one from the sacred communion. And well is he said to be given up to Satan, who is separated from the Body of Christ…For it is necessary also to sequester one gravely lapsed, lest a little leaven corrupt the whole loaf.” St. Gregory: “Let there be nothing common for you with him, but he is to be segregated in all things from your fellowship and communion. For…better it is to cast out from the Lord’s flock the diseased sheep, than by the sickness of one to lose those who are healthy.”[22]

1064. De facto this same intention of separating the excommunicate from the Body of the Church seems to be included in the formulas of the most notable excommunications.

First Council of Orange, AD 441: “Mode and form of excommunication…We, by the authority of God and by the judgment of the Holy Ghost, do thrust out violators of the Churches of God from the bosom of the Holy Church, and from the consortium of all Christianity, until they should come to their senses, and make satisfaction to the Church of God.” St. Gregory VII: “We have excommunicated Stephan, invader of the Church and simoniac…and have separated him from the bosom of the Holy Church.” “Silvio, Duke, and the people of Venice…you are become outside the consortium of the members of Christ and of the Church, pursuing and receiving those who for their offenses have been excommunicated.” Pontificale Romanum: the words having been cited of Matt 18:8, 1 Cor 5:11-13, and 2 John 10ff, it proceeds: “Carrying out the Lord’s commands, and thus also the apostolical, by the sword of excommunication do we separate from the Body of the Church the putrid and irremediable member, which accepts not medicine, lest by so pestiferous a sickness, the remaining members of the Body should be infected as by a poison…Therefore, by the judgment of God the omnipotent Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, and of blessed Peter Prince of the Apostles, and of all the Saints, and of Our own mediocrity, by the authority and power of binding and loosing in heaven and on earth divinely committed to Us, We do separate him, with all his confederates and supporters, from the reception of the Lord’s precious Body and Blood, and from the society of all Christians, and We exclude him from the limits of holy mother Church in heaven and on earth, and declare him excommunicate and anathema; and We judge him damned, with the devil and his angels, and all the reprobate, into eternal fire; until he should come forth from the snares of the devil, and return for amendment and penitence, and should make satisfaction to the Church of God which he has wounded; delivering him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of judgment (1 Cor 5:5).”[23]

The explicit decrees of the Supreme Pontiff in which there occurs excommunication by name. Pius X: “The above-named Priests…by the authority of the omnipotent God do We excommunicate and anathematize, and we command and solemnly declare them to be separated from the communion of the Church, to be considered entirely schismatic, and to be avoided by all Catholics.” Under Pius XI, the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, “by express mandate of Our Most Holy Lord Pius XI, Pope by the providence of God, solemnly declares and proclaims, that the above-named Priests…are sentenced by name and personally with excommunication, they are cast out of the bosom of the Church entirely, are punished with all the penalties of the publicly excommunicate, are to be avoided, and ought to be shunned by all the faithful.”[24]

1065. Scholion. The nature of subject differs from the nature of member of the Church.

A baptized person remains always a subject of the Church, according to the edict of CIC 87, as is concluded from the doctrine of St. Thomas: “Because the baptismal character, by which one is added to the people of God, is indelible; thus the baptized always in a certain way remains of the Church; and thus the Church can always judge of him.”[25] Nevertheless a baptized person cannot simply be called a member of the Body of the Church who is a heretic or apostate or schismatic or excommunicate, just as has been proved in the thesis. For this reason, the notion of subject of the Church differs from the notion of member of the Body of the Church; and thus rightly it can be concluded with Eriberto, bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla in the eleventh century: “One Body indeed is the entire holy universal Church, constituted under Christ Jesus, namely her head…and just as the soul which vivifies the diverse members of the body is one, so does one Holy Spirit invigorate and illuminate the whole Church at once…The heretic does not live according to this Spirit, nor the schismatic, nor the excommunicate; for they are not of the Body. But the Church has the vivifying Spirit, because she adheres inseparably to her Head, Christ.”[26]

1066. Objections. 1. All heretics, schismatics, and excommunicates are always subject to the judgment of the Church (CIC 87). But those only are subject to the judgment of the Church who are within the Church (D 895). Therefore all heretics, schismatics, and excommunicates are members of the Church.

I distinguish the major. They thus are subject to the judgment of the Church because they always remain subjects of the Church, I concede the major; thus because they are members of the Church, I deny the major. I contradistinguish the minor. Those only are subject to the judgment of the Church who are the Church’s subjects, I concede the minor; only those who are members of the Church, I deny the minor. For all who are members of the Church, are also subjects of the same Church; but not all subjects of the Church are by that very fact members of her.

2. From Matt 13:24-30 with Matt 13:36-41; from 2 Tim 2:20; from 1 Cor 3:11-17; from 1 Cor 15:12, and other places of Scripture, there are some who, resting on the interpretations of some of the holy Fathers, attempt to infer that heretics and schismatics, according to these testimonies of Scripture, are members of the Church.

Yet from the obvious sense of the texts and the contexts, in the cited places, either it does not concern formal and manifest heretics, or it is not asserted that they are precisely members of the Church, as the notion of member differs from the notion of subject of the Church, or the discussion is not about the Church in the strict sense insofar as it is a visible social Body.

1067. 3. At least during the so-called Western Schism (1378-1417), there were factions or schismatic sects, many of which yet belonged to the same Church of Christ. Therefore schism does not ipso facto separate from the Body of the Church.

I respond. I deny the supposition, namely, that there was a schism separating from the Body of the Church. For during those disputes, in which all attempted to detect who in fact was the legitimate successor of St. Peter, so that all might give to him due obedience, there was not formal schism, that is, emanating from a spirit of secession, no indeed, neither was there material schism properly called, as we explain more in the Scholion to Thesis 31, nn. 1278-1283.

4. A formal and manifest schismatic, who is not formally a heretic, can be united to Christ by faith, in unformed (dead) faith, sorrow of attrition, and initial love. But by these supernatural principles is man actually united to the mystical Body of Christ. Therefore a formal and manifest schismatic is not ipso facto separated from the Body of the Church.

I concede the major. I distinguish the minor. A man, in whom there is not any rupture from the three essential bonds of faith, government, and communion of sacred things, by which members as such are united to the Head in the mystical Body—such a man is united to the mystical Body of Christ by such supernatural principles, I concede. A man in whom there is some rupture from the three essential bonds by which members as such are united in the mystical Body, I deny. And under these distinctions, the consequent and consequence are denied.

5. Even an excommunicate vitandus (to be avoided), who is not formally a heretic or a schismatic, can still be perfectly united to Christ by grace and charity.[27] But the baptized one who is still perfectly united to Christ by grace and charity, is a member in act of the mystical Body, that is, the Church. Therefore even an excommunicate vitandus is not in fact separated from the Body of the Church.

I distinguish the major. An excommunicate by partial, or merely material, or imperfect excommunication, can be perfectly united to Christ by grace and charity, I concede; by total, formal, and perfect excommunication, I deny. The minor having been conceded, the consequent can equally be distinguished, and the consequence denied.


[1] Opera omnia (ed. Tri-Adelphorum, 1614), vol. II, coll. 110-118; Opera omnia (ed. Napoli, 1837) vol. II, pp. 76-81.

[2] Theses de Ecclesia Christi (op. posthumous, 1887), pp. 379-423.

[3] Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, pp. 291-311.

[4] Institutiones theologiæ fundamentalis (2nd ed., 1928), IIa pars, sect. 2, cap. ii, art. 2, §§3-4.

[5] Dissertatio ad lauream in facultate S. Theologiæ apud Pontificium Institutum “Angelicum” de Urbe.

[6] St. Thomas, Summa theologiæ IIaIIæ, q. 11, a. 2, ad 3; CIC 1325 §2.

[7] Summa theologiæ IIaIIæ, q. 39, a. 1; CIC 1325 §2.

[8] CIC 2241; 2257; 2258; 2343 §1 no. 1; St. Thomas, In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2; Suárez, De censuris in communi, disp. 8, sect. I, n. 177: Opera omnia (ed. Vivès) vol. 23, pp. 250-253.

[9] St. Thomas, Suppl. Q. 23, a. 1; In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 4, sol. 1.

[10] According to St. Thomas, that is called a minor excommunication by which the faithful “are separated only from the participation in the sacraments”; but that is called major excommunication by which the baptized are separated “both from the participation in the sacraments and from the communion of the faithful”: In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 1, sol. 1.

[11] S. Zankow, Das Orthodoxe Christentum 75ff: This dictum, “Die Scheidewände unter den Kirchen reichen nicht bis zum Himmel hinauf,” he attributes to the theologian and Moscow Metropolitan Philareto. Cf. F. Heiler, Urkirche und Ostkirche 227. Cf. Etudes oecuméniques, Désordre de l’homme et dessein de Dieu v. 1-5 (1949). Concerning Panchristians, see below, n. 1126ff.

[12] Those who exclude occult heretics from the Church: Ioannes de Turrecremata (Juan de Torquemada), Summa de Ecclesia, lib. 4, pars 2 c. 18, IIIa via; Francisco Suárez, De fide disp. 9, sect. I, nn. 5, 13, 18 (Opera, vol. 12, pp. 246, 248-249, 250-251); Luis Molina, Concordia (Ed. crit., Oniæ-Matriti, 1953), p. 3, q. 14, a. 13, disp. 46, n. 18, pp. 283-284; Charles-René Billuart, Summa sancti Thomæ (ed. Palmé, nova editio), vol. III, diss. 3, a. 2, §IV, pp. 299-301; Johann Baptist Franzelin, Theses de Ecclesia Christi, th. 23, pp. 402-423; A. Michelitsch, §202; S. Fraghi, De membris Ecclesiæ, 90; A. Stolz, 32; Journet, vol. II, 1064; Zapalena, vol. II, 389.

Those who include occult heretics in the Church: Melchior Cano, De locis theologicis, lib. 4, c. 6, ad 12 (Migne, Theologiæ cursus completus vol. I, coll. 261-268); Bellarmine, De ecclesia militante lib. 3, c. 10; Camillo Mazzella, Prælectiones scholastico-dogmaticæ de religione et Ecclesia, n. 604ff (6th ed., Prati 1905) pp. 470-472; Domenico Palmieri, Tractatus de Romano Pontifice cum prolegomeno de Ecclesia (3rd ed., Prati 1902), prol. §11, pp. 45-48; Van Laak, 190; De San, n. 355-358; Wilmers, n. 399; Pesch, Prælectiones dogmaticæ I, n. 329; Tanquerey, Synopsis theologiæ dogmaticæ (18th ed., Desclée 1921) vol. I, n. 903, pp. 587-8; Straub, n. 1285; Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, th. 11, p. 298ff; Muncunill, n. 648; Felder, 45; Zubizarreta, Theologia dogmatico-scholastica (3rd ed., 1937) vol. I, n. 546-550, pp. 445-446; D’Herbigny, n. 350; Schultes, De Ecclesia catholica prælectiones apologeticæ (1925), cap. II, a. 12, n. 7, p. 96; Dieckmann, n. 961; Vellico, 543; Parente, 171; Hervé, n. 453.

[13] Those who include material heretics, even if manifest, in the Church: Franzelin, Theses de Ecclesia Christi, th. 23, pp. 402-423; J. V. de Groot, De Ecclesia, q. 8, a. 3; D’Herbigny, n. 355; L. Caperan, Le problème du salut des infidels (1912); J. B. Terrien, La grâce et la gloire I (1901) 330.

Those who exclude manifest heretics, even material, from the Church: De San, n. 359; Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, th. 11, pp. 292-298; Straub, n. 1254; Muncunill, n. 653; Van Noort, n. 153; Zubizarreta, Theologia dogmatico-scholastica (3rd ed., 1937) vol. I, n. 548-550, pp. 446-447; Michelitsch, §201; Dorsch, 495; Lercher, n. 407; Dieckmann, n. 961; De Guibert, n. 187; Fraghi, 85; Stolz, 31; Vellico, 540.

[14] Those who equally exclude formal and manifest heretics and schismatics from the Church: Kilber, n. 90; Franzelin, th. 22; Van Laak, 189, 191; Van Noort, n. 153ff; Mazella, Prælectiones scholastico-dogmaticæ de religione et Ecclesia, n. 600-603, 607 (6th ed., Prati 1905) pp. 468-470, 472-473; Tanquerey, Synopsis theologiæ dogmaticæ (18th ed., Desclée 1921) vol. I, n. 903-904, pp. 587-588; Wilmers, nn. 397-400; Zubizarreta, Theologia dogmatico-scholastica (3rd ed., 1937) vol. I, nn. 548-550, 552, pp. 446-448; Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, th. 11, pp. 292-298; Straub, nn. 1254, 1268; Muncunill, nn. 637, 645; Michelitsch, §201; D’Herbigny, th. 32; Dieckmann, n. 961; Schultes, De Ecclesia catholica prælectiones apologeticæ (1925), cap. II, a. 12, nn. 5-6; De San, n. 357ff; Felder, 44; Lercher, nn. 407, 410; Fraghi, De membris Ecclesiæ, 81, 101; Stolz, 30, 33, Vellico, 540, 545; Parente, 171; Calcagno, n. 288.

[15] Domingo Báñez, Scholastica commentaria in IIamIIæ, q. 1, a. 10 (ed. Douay, 1615, p. 44ff); G. de Valentia, De fide disp. 1, q. 1, punct. 7 §14ff; Francisco Suárez, De fide disp. 9, sect. I, nn. 5 and 14; A. F. Guarnieri, De Ecclesia militante, capite, et membris eiusdem, lib. 1, c. 9 (1694) 35-37; D’Herbigny, nn. 350, 3; Dieckmann, n. 960; T. Spacil, De membris Ecclesiæ: «Bogoslovni Vestnik» 6 (1926) 13; M. Peña, ¿Pertenecen los excomulgados a la Iglesia?: Revista Española de Teologia 5 (1943) 121-132. A. Gommenginger accedes to this opinion, Bedeutet di Exkommunikation Verlust der Kirchengliedschaft?: Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 73 (1951) 1-71, and E. Sauras, El Cuerpo mistico (1952) 629-631.

[16] Catechism of the Council of Trent, part I, on the twelve articles of the Creed, a. 9, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,” n. 8: Those who are excluded from the Church; Pius XII, Mystici corporis Christi: AAS 35 (1943) 201ff.

[17] Tertullian, De præscriptione n. 37: ML 2, coll. 59; St. Hilary, Ad Constantium Augustum: ML 10, 558; St. Jerome, In epist. ad Tit., c. 3, v. 10: ML 26, coll. 598; St. Augustine, Sermo 181: ML 38, coll. 981; on the question of the baptism of heretics, cf. D 46ff with the notes, and R 308, 591, 592a, 593, 600, 1636, 2273; St. Ambrose, “Know that all heretics and schismatics also are separated from the Kingdom of God and from the Church,” in Luke 11:24, l. 7, n. 95: ML 15, coll. 1723.

[18] St Cyprian, Epist. 55 ad Antonianum n. 24: ed. Hartel, CSEL 3.642; St. Jerome, In epist. ad Tit., c. 3 v. 10: ML 26, coll. 598; St. Augustine, De fide et symbolo c. 10, n. 21: ML 40, coll. 193; St. Fulgentius, De fide ad Petrum c. 37ff, n. 78ff: ML 65, coll. 703ff; Pelagius I, Epist. ad Ioan. Patricium: ML 69, coll. 411.

[19] Strack-Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch I, Das Evang. nach Matth. 16:19. Cf. th. 3 n. 135ff.

[20] Summa theologiæ, Suppl. Q. 23, a. 1; In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 4, sol. 1.

[21] St. Thomas, Summa theologiæ, Suppl. Q. 23, a. 1; In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 4, sol. 1.

[22] St. Cyprian, Epist. 4 ad Pomponium n. 4: ed. Hartel, CSEL 3.477; Origen, In lib. iudic. homil. 2 n. 5: MG 12, coll. 961; St. Ambrose, De pænitentia lib. 1, c. 15, nn. 78ff: ML 16, coll. 510; St. Gregory I, Epist. 74 ad Eusebium Thesalon. Episcopum: ML 77, coll. 1213ff.

[23] First Council of Orange: Mansi 6, coll. 441; St. Gregory VII, Epist. 18 ad Canonicos anicienses: ML 148, coll. 472; Epist. 27 ad Domn. Silvium Ducem et populum Venetiæ: ML 148, coll. 483; Pontificale Romanum, Ordo excommunicandi 3, Anathema seu solemnis excommunicatio pro gravioribus culpus.

[24] Pius X: AAS 3 (1911) 54; Pius XI: AAS 14 (1922) 593.

[25] Summa theologiæ, Suppl. q. 22, a. 6 ad 1. Cf. CIC 87.

[26] The Expositio in septem Psalmos pænitentiales was attributed to St. Gregory I (ML 79, coll. 602), but its author seems to be Heribertus, according to A. Mercati, L’autore della «Expositio in septem Psalmos pænit.»: Revue Bénédictine 31 (1914-1919) 250-257. Cf. O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur 5 (1932) 299.

[27] Cf. E. Sauras, El Cuerpo místico (1952) 629-631.

Manualist Monday: Garrigou-Lagrange on the compulsion of unbelievers

This is a somewhat short text taken from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.’s commentary on the Summa theologiæ of St. Thomas, IIaIIæ, q. 10, a. 8, Whether unbelievers are to be compelled to the faith? Our original interest in this text was occasioned by this very interesting paper by Thomas Pink. We first translated the text from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange as support for Professor Pink’s argument concerning the theological tradition on the jurisdiction of the Church over the baptized—and though we continue to think, as any Catholic ought, that the Church does indeed by right wield jurisdiction over all the baptized, even heretics, schismatics, and apostates, we are not so sure that Professor Pink’s principal thesis of continuity holds water in respect of Dignitatis humanæ. Nevertheless, a very great value lies in reading his article, on account of the fact that he brings to the fore an important and now-forgotten aspect of Catholic sacramental theology and ecclesiology which is much needed in this time of crisis in the Church.

This theme of jurisdiction over the baptized is one to which we plan to return several times in the course of our translations here.


Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., De virtutibus theologicis: Commentarius in Summam theologicam S. Thomae IaIIæ q. 62, 65, 68, et IIaIIæ q. 1-46 (Torino, 1949), pp. 267-9.

Art. VIII. Whether infidels are to be compelled to the faith.

One must distinguish insofar as the infidels have at one time received the faith, or not.

First conclusion: Infidels who have never received the Christian faith, such as pagans and Jews, are in no way to be compelled to the faith, yet they can be compelled, particularly in a Catholic State, in order that they do not impede the faith.

1. It is proved firstly from the authority of the Council of Trent, sess. 14, cap. 2 (Denz 895): “The Church exercises judgment over no one who has not first entered into her through the gateway of baptism.” Thus St. Paul says (1 Cor 5:12): “For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not you judge them that are within?” And this is clear also from the manner in which Christ sent the Apostles to preach the faith, not as armed soldiers, but as lambs in the midst of wolves, but if some should refuse to receive the Gospel, Christ does not command that the apostles should employ force, but that they leave and shake the dust from their sandals. And indeed the sons of Zebedee were called “sons of thunder,” because they wished to consume the Samaritan unbelievers with fire from heaven, upon which Christ rebuked these two junior Apostles, saying: “You know not of what spirit you are” (Luke 9:55).

2. It is proved secondly by theological argument: because to believe is of the will, as Augustine says, tract. 26 in Ioannem: “A man is capable of other things when unwilling, but cannot believe unless willing.”

It is confirmed by many declarations of the Church, which prohibit that infidels be compelled by force to the faith.

Nevertheless Constantine laudably destroyed the temples of idols; this was laudable, because to worship many gods is contrary to the law of nature, the custodian and defender of which every prince is for his subjects. But the law of the Christian faith is supernatural, to which the secular power does not extend itself.

But infidels can be compelled so that they do not impede the faith and its preaching by means of blasphemies, bad arguments, or open persecutions. For the Church has the right and the mandate from Christ of preaching the Gospel in the whole world. “And because of this,” St. Thomas says, “the faithful of Christ frequently make war against infidels…lest the infidels impede the faith of Christ.” And infidels cannot assert that probability may be less in favor of Christianity.

Second conclusion: Infidels who at one time RECEIVED the faith, such as HERETICS, and apostates, ARE ABLE even corporally to be compelled so that they might fulfill that which they promised. This considers at least the legitimacy of coercion.

1. It is proved firstly from ancient ecclesiastical law taken from the Fourth Council of Toledo. And also from the Council of Trent, sess. 7, can. 14 (Denz. 870): “If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent; let him be anathema.”

But with respect to the execution of temporal penalties, which according to the ancient law are able legitimately to be inflicted upon heretics, cf. the Code, can. 6, n. 5: “Any punishments of the ancient law whatsoever, of which there occurs no mention in the Code, are abrogated.” With respect to spiritual penalties, such as excommunication, cf. the Code of Canon Law, can. 2314-2316, 2372. Cf. infra, q. XI, a. 3: whether heretics are to be tolerated.

2. The legitimacy of coercion is proved by the authority of St. Augustine cited in the reply to the first objection. He says in Epist. 93: “My opinion at first was that no man ought to be coerced to the unity of the faith, that this should rather be effected by word, that it ought to be contended with disputation, lest we should have false Catholics whom we had known to be open heretics. But this opinion of mine is overcome, not by the words of contradictors, but by demonstrative examples; for at first my city was opposed, which since it was entirely in the party of Donatus, was converted by fear of imperial laws to Catholic unity.”

Likewise the passage cited from Augustine in the replies to the third and fourth objections says (Epist. 185): “For who of ours should wish not only that one of them perish, but even so much as lose something of theirs? But…the house of David did not otherwise merit to have peace, except that Absalon his son, in the war which he was waging against his father, had been slain…Thus the Catholic Church, if She collects all the rest by the perdition of some, heals the dolor of Her maternal heart by the deliverance of so many peoples.”

3. It is proved by theological argument: Subjects are able to be compelled by their superiors so that they might satisfy their obligation. But they who received the faith and have been baptized, have been incorporated to the Church as Her subjects, and have obliged themselves to preserve the faith. Therefore they are able to be compelled by their superiors so that they satisfy their obligation, and this by spiritual, or even temporal penalties by which they pertain to the secular forum, under the direction of the Church. Cf. infra, q. XI, a. 3: whether heretics are to be tolerated. Cf. Ius actuale, Code on penalties and delicts against the faith and the unity of the Church (n. 2314, §1, n. 1, 2, 3; 2315, 2316, 2372). “All apostates from the Christian faith, and all heretics or schismatics, incur ipso facto excommunication…If they should give name to, or adhere to, a non-Catholic sect, they are ipso facto infamous, and without prejudice to can. 188, n. 4, let clerics, the given warning having been made in vain, be degraded. One suspected of heresy, who having been warned has failed to remove the cause of suspicion, should be prohibited by legitimate acts, and furthermore a cleric, the warning having been repeated to no avail, should be suspended a divinis.”

Objection: Infidels who never received the faith are not to be coerced to it, because to believe is of the will; but the same reason serves for heretics. Therefore they are not to be coerced.

St. Thomas responds in the reply to the third objection: “Just as to vow is of the will, but to render is of necessity, so to accept the faith is of the will, but to hold it, having been accepted, is of necessity. And thus heretics are to be compelled so that they might hold to the faith.”

But this is understood: First, in a Catholic state, and secondly as something per se licit, but per accidens sometimes a greater evil would follow, cf. ad 1; thirdly, relative to heretics who personally received the faith, at least receiving baptism in infancy. But the children of heretics after two or three generations often become as infidels who never received the faith.

Manualist Monday: Louis Cardinal Billot on subjection to non-infallible decrees of the Magisterium

We take our text today from Louis Cardinal Billot, SJ, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi vol. I (3rd ed., 1909), q. 10, th. XIX, pp. 434-439. It is certainly a relevant topic today, given the prevalence of that sophism advanced again and again by many modern dissenters from either the left or the right, that the obligation by which Catholic teachers and writers are altogether bound is confined to those things only which are proposed by the infallible judgment of the Church as dogmas of faith to be believed by all (cf. Syllabus errorum, condemned prop. 22; cf. also the epistle Tuas libenter, from which prop. 22 is drawn). Relevant also is the 1998 CDF commentary on the Professio fidei, nn. 10-11, and Lumen gentium §25.


THESIS XIX.

Finally, it pertains to the power of the Magisterium to censure doctrines with censures of the practical order, as doctrines which are safely able to be held and taught, or not safely. And although decisions of this sort may not be, from the nature of the thing, irreformable, nor from the supreme doctrinal authority, but proceed for the most part from the Pontifical Congregations, yet Catholics are placed under obligation from conscience, such that they must subject themselves to them.

All those things which have been considered to this point regard the definitions declared by the supreme and infallible magisterium of the Church, and that from the whole plenitude of its power. Now the matter is concerning the other decrees equally pertaining to doctrine, which yet are not from the supreme power proffering a definitive judgment from the plenitude of its power, and hence do not contain in the speculative order an infallible proposition of truth. Things of this sort are, in the first place, the doctrinal decrees of the Sacred Congregations, concerning which Pius IX declared in his apostolic letter Tuas libenter to the archbishop of Munich, that if it is a question of that subjection by which all those Catholics are obliged in conscience, who devote themselves to the contemplation of the sciences, that they might produce for the Church new things of use, it is necessary that they subject themselves also to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are given by the Pontifical Congregations.[1] Concerning this genus of decrees, Cardinal Franzelin splendidly treats of it in his De divina Traditione et Scriptura, Thes. XII, schol. 1.

«The Holy Apostolic See, to which has been committed custody of the deposit of faith, and upon which has been enjoined the duty and office of feeding the entire Church unto the salvation of souls, is able either to prescribe as to be followed, or to proscribe as not to be followed, theological opinions insofar as they are connected with theological matters—not solely from the intention of deciding truth infallibly by a definitive sentence, but even without that, from the necessity and intention, either simply or for determinate circumstances, of providing for the security of Catholic doctrine. In declarations of this sort, although there be not an infallible truth of doctrine—because ex hypothesi there is no intention of deciding this—yet is there an infallible security, insofar as it is safe for all to embrace it, and it is not safe, nor can it happen without violation of the due submission toward the divinely constituted Magisterium, that the faithful should refuse to embrace it. — The authority of the Magisterium instituted by Christ in the Church, therefore, with respect to the matter about which we now speak, ought to be considered in a twofold manner. Firstly, as in individual acts it is under the assistance of the Holy Ghost for the infallible definition of truth, or as it the authority of infallibility. Secondly, it is considered as it were extensively, as the same Magisterium acts with the authority divinely committed to it, of feeding the sheep, yet not in its full intension—if it is permissible to speak in this way—nor ultimately defining truth, but so much as seems necessary or opportune and sufficient for the security of doctrine; which authority we might perhaps call the authority of doctrinal providence. — The authority of infallibility is not able to be communicated by the Pontiff to others, as if to his ministers as acting in his name. But the inferior authority of doctrinal providence, as we have called it, is not indeed independent of the Pontiff, but is communicable by the Pontiff with dependence, and is communicated by the Pontiff himself in greater or lesser extension to certain Sacred Congregations of Cardinals…But we opine that judgments of this sort, even without regard to definition ex cathedra, are so able to be disposed, that they require obedience which includes a submission of the mind: not indeed so that there be believed a teaching infallibly true or false, but so that it might be judged that the teaching contained in such a judgment is secure, and to be embraced by us with submission of the mind from the motive of sacred authority—the indubitable office of which it is to provide for the security of doctrine—and the contrary is to be rejected.» Read the rest of this entry »

Dominic Prümmer, OP on the duties of rulers and subjects

As something of an Election Day special, and in order to fill in the gap of yesterday’s missed Manualist Monday, we have a text from the esteemed pre-conciliar moral theologian and canonist Dominic Prümmer, OP, on the duties of rulers and subjects in civil society.

Dominicus Prümmer, Manuale theologiæ moralis vol. II, tract. XI, q. 2, art. 6 (13th ed., 1958), pp. 471-475

ARTICLE VI.

On the obligations of rulers and subjects.

Preliminary note. Here we speak only of civil leaders and superiors and subjects; for it is the custom to treat of the obligations of ecclesiastic superiors in canon law. The obligations of the faithful toward ecclesiastic superiors are love, reverence, and obedience in spiritual matters. In addition, the faithful ought to supply a subsidy for the suitable sustentation of the ministers of the Church, as has been said above in n. 499 concerning tithes and offerings.

Not only are emperors, kings, dukes, etc. called civil leaders here, but all those to whom falls the management of public affairs. Therefore in this sense, the House of Deputies is a civil leader.

599. a) The obligations of civil governors. All who have been charged with some civil community are held, under pain of grave sin, to procure the temporal common good, yet in such a way that the spiritual good is not endangered. This is clear in itself. Hence they are held, according to their powers, to avert all temporal evils, of which sort are wars, seditions, famines, contagious diseases of both men and animals, etc. They ought in addition to foster true religion, and not only to not impede the true Church in her actions, but rather to protect her against all the attacks of her enemies. They should furthermore strenuously enforce justice, both distributive and vindictive: distributive, namely, insomuch as they distribute offices and burdens in equity; and vindictive, in respect of malefactors, insomuch as they inflict just punishments for crimes committed, without any preference of persons. Read the rest of this entry »

Edouard Hugon, O.P. on baptism of children

We begin our (hopefully weekly) feature of Manualist Mondays with an excerpt from Edouard Hugon O.P., a prominent neo-Thomist of the first half of the 20th century. Among other things, he was involved in the drafting of the 24 Thomistic Theses, and wrote a course of Thomistic philosophy (Cursus philosophiæ thomisticæ) and a commentary on the dogmatic portions of the Summa theologiæ (Tractatus dogmatici). The following text is taken from Tractatus dogmatici vol. III (1927, 5th ed.), De sacramentis in communi et in speciali, De baptismo, q. 3, pp. 230-233.

ARTICLE THREE

ON CHILDREN

According to art. 9-12 of St. Thomas

I. There are many questions to be resolved concerning this matter. In the first place it may be asked, whether children require baptism, or whether they are able to be saved by some other remedy, and this question we have already given what is required in art. 1, where we have shown [baptism to be necessary by] the necessity of means for all, both children and adults. It is able to be asked, in addition, where children are capable of baptism, and whether it is expedient for them to be baptized, or whether one rather ought to wait until they have matured and desire baptism of themselves. To this there pertain many errors condemned by the Church. Already in the time of St. Cyprian, the bishop Fidus desired that infants ought not to be baptized unless after the eighth day; whose opinion Cyprian and the African bishops rejected. Then, in the Middle Ages, Peter de Bruis and the Waldenses contended that children are not able to receive baptism, because they are not able to believe. The Anabaptists also asserted this. Erasmus equally wished that children, when they should mature, ought to be asked whether they wish to ratify the [baptismal] promises made by their sponsors; and if they should not wish to do so, they ought not to be compelled to Christian life. Read the rest of this entry »