From the official website of the SSPX
The three errors of the
Fr. Francois Laisney
Originally printed in the September 1998 issue of The
Angelus magazine, this article is a follow-up to Fr. Joseph
Pfieffer’s article in The Angelus of March 1998. It seems
that some of the followers of Fr. Feeney took objection to
his convincing dissertation proving the Catholic teaching
concerning "baptism of desire." In fairness, the purpose
of this article by Fr. Laisney is to clarify the three
principle errors of the followers of Fr. Feeney which
explain why they refuse the common teaching of Catholic
theologians concerning "baptism of desire."
Lionel: According to Fr. Francois Laisney
subjectivism is a known exception to
the Feeneyite version of the dogma
extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS).
The 'baptism of desire' is a
practical exception to EENS.
There are known exceptions
to the general rule on salvation.
A similar error is being made in
Misrepresentation of the dogma, "Outside
the Church There Is No Salvation"
The first error of those who take their doctrine from Rev.
Fr. Leonard Feeney, commonly known as "Feeneyites,"
is that they misrepresent the dogma,"Outside the
[Catholic] Church there is no salvation." The
Feeneyites misrepresent this as, "Without baptism
of water there is no salvation."
In practical terms all need the
baptism of water for salvation.
This was the dogmatic teachings
for centuries.I cannot meet 'an
exception' on the streets of Rome.
St. Cyprian (c.210-258) was the first Catholic saint to
use in writing the expression "extra ecclesiam nulla
salus," ("Outside the Church there is no salvation").
In the very passage in which he uses this phrase, St.
Cyprian also expresses that baptism of water is inferior
to baptism of blood. Since baptism of blood, he says,
is not fruitful outside the Church, because "outside the
Church there is no salvation," baptism of water also
cannot be fruitful outside the Church. The reason
for this is that it would imprint the character of
baptism but would not give sanctifying grace, i.e.,
justification, which opens the gates of heaven.
In the very next paragraph, St. Cyprian teaches,
with all the fathers, doctors, popes and
unanimously all theologians, that baptism
of blood, that is, dying for the Catholic Faith,
is the most glorious and perfect baptism of all,
explicitly stating "even without the water."
Lionel: O.K! But it is subjective!
It cannot be a practical exception
This is similar to the subjectivism
used in Amoris Laetitia.
Fr.Matthias Gaudron SSPX,
Germany says what is subjective
cannot be known.There are
no known exceptions to traditional
moral theology.For Francis Laisney,
the baptism of desire is relevant
to the dogma EENS, since it refers
to objective cases.So for Fr.
Laisney there are known
exceptions to traditional
In the paragraph following this one, St. Cyprian teaches
that Catholic faithful who, through no fault of their own,
were received into the Catholic Church without a valid
baptism, would still go to heaven. This is to say
that they would die with the requisite Catholic faith and
charity, necessary to go to heaven, though without the
waters of baptism. These requisites are exactly the
conditions of "baptism of desire."
O.K but the baptism of desire
is still hypothetical, theoretical,
accepted in principle only,
invisible for us and not practically
known.So how is it related to EENS ?
Zero cases of something cannot
be exceptions to the dogma extra
ecclesiam nulla salus says
the U.S apologist John Martignoni,
who has a program on EWTN.
Why not then believe the dogma "outside the Church
there is no salvation" "...with the same sense and the
same understanding - in eodem sensu eademque
sententia" - as the whole Catholic Church has
taught it from the beginning, that is, including the "three
He means the Church has
always assumed that the baptism
of desire refers to known cases,
practical exceptions to the
dogma EENS.This is false.Since the
Church Councils which defined
EENS do not mention a baptism
of desire.An explicit baptism
of desire was brought into the
Church with the Baltimore
Fr. Leonard Feeney and his followers give a new
meaning, a new interpretation, to this dogma.
They were saying there
is no known baptism of
desire.The same thing
was said by Fr.Leonard
Feeney. It was Cardinal
Cushing and the Jesuits
who were saying there
is known salvation outside
This traditional interpretation of this dogma,
including the "three baptisms," is that of St.
Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Fulgentius,
St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine,
St. Peter Canisius, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Pope
Innocent II, Pope Innocent III, the Council of Trent,
Pope Pius IX, Pope St. Pius X, etc., and
unanimously all theologians (prior to the modernists).
They referred to 'the desire
thereof'(Council of Trent)
but did not consider it
explicit and known like the
baptism of water.
St. Thomas Aquinas for example,
does not say that these cases
are personally known, or can be
No one in the past could have
known someone saved without
the baptism of water and with
the baptism of desire.This was
not physically possible.
The SSPX is confusing what
is invisible as being visible,
what can only be implicit
as being explicit.
This is the reasoning of Cardinal
Schonborn with reference to
N.301 etc in Amoris Laetitia.
St. Alphonsus says: "It is de fide [that is, it belongs
to the Catholic Faith - Ed.] that there are some men
saved also by the baptism of the Spirit."
The traditional interpretation of "Outside the Church
there is no salvation,"was approved by the Council
of Florence (1438-1445). The Council Fathers present
made theirs the doctrine of St. Thomas on baptism
of desire, saying that for children one ought not to
wait 40 or 80 days for their instruction, because for
them there was "no other remedy." This
expression is taken directly from St. Thomas
(Summa Theologica, IIIa, Q.68, A. 3) and it refers
explicitly to baptism of desire (ST, IIIa, Q.68, A.2).
Despite the fact that the Council of Florence espoused
the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas, it is astonishing
to see Feeneyites opposing this council to St. Thomas!
None of the arguments of the Feeneyites have value
against the rock of Tradition. But, to be consistent,
let us refute two more of their major errors.
Fr.Laisney is still mixing up
what is invisible as being
visible and is reading the
saints with this irrationality.
He is saying there are known
exceptions to EENS.
The doctrine of baptism of desire is optional
The Feeneyites present the Church’s doctrine of baptism of
desire as a question to be freely discussed within the
Church: "...what amounts to an academic difference to be
settled by the Church." If this were the case, each school
of thought would then have to be accepted until the pope
later defined this doctrine. This is false. The error here is
to claim that only that which has already been defined
belongs to the deposit of Faith, and everything else is
opened to free discussion. The truth is that one must
believe everything which belongs to the deposit of Faith,
that being what has already been defined and that
which is not yet defined but is unanimously taught by the
Such is the case for the doctrine on baptism of desire,
by the Feeneyites’ own admission. They write:
"This teaching [on the "three baptisms"] indeed was
and is the common teaching of theologians since
the early part of this millennium." However, this
was not only the "common teaching of theologians,"
but also that of popes, Doctors of the Church,
and saints! In addition, it is found even before this
millennium in the very early years of the Church
without a single dissenting voice.
Therefore one ought to believe in the doctrine
of "three baptisms," as it belongs to the Catholic
Faith, though not yet defined. That is why St.
Alphonsus can say, as we have already reported: "It is de fide...."
O.K there is the baptism of
water, desire and blood.Why
should the baptism of desire
and blood exclude the baptism
of water ? Why should it also be
a visible baptism instead of an
invisible baptism ? Since the
baptism of desire and blood,
for Fr.Laisney contradicts
the Feeneyite understanding
of the dogma, it implies these
cases are visible and known
for him and so they are exceptions
to EENS.How can they be visible
For me they are not exceptions
to EENS so I imply that they
are not visible and personally
We can concede that if a point of doctrine is not yet
defined, one may be excused in case of ignorance
or may be allowed to discuss some precisionwithin the
doctrine. In the case of baptism of desire, for instance,
we are allowed to discuss how explicit the Catholic
Faith must be in one for baptism of desire. But one is not
allowed to simply deny baptism of desire and reject
the doctrine itself. Rigorism always tends to destroy the
Lionel: For me the baptism of
desire is also invisible and
so I can affirm it as a hypothetical
case. So I can accept hypothetical
baptism of desire alongwith the
Feeneyite interpretation of EENS.
It is not contrary to the Principle
of Non Contradiction.
This is not possible for Fr.
Laisney since the baptism of
desire is explicit .
If he is asked if the baptism of desire
is de fide because it is
explicit or implicit, visible or
invisible, hypothetical or defacto
known, he will not answer.How can
he simply say that this
teaching is de fide without
clarifying the distinction?