The Magisterium of the Church
In order to understand Baptism of Desire and Blood, Catholics must first understand what the Magisterium of the Church is, which is defined as "the Church's divinely appointed authority to teach the truths of religion". In other words, Our Lord gave His Church the authority to teach the faithful about what is expected of them. The Magisterium of Catholic Church teaches the faithful in two ways;
1. Solemn Magisterium: Defined as Church teaching “which is exercised only rarely by formal and authentic definitions of councils or Popes. Its matter comprises dogmatic definitions of ecumenical councils or Popes teaching "ex cathedra." (Definition from “A Catholic Dictionary”, 1951)
Examples of the Solemn Magisterium would be decisions of any General Councils of the Church, or certain papal encyclicals, such as that defining the Dogma of the Assumption in 1950. Note that it is only in extraordinary circumstances that the Catholic Church teaches in this manner, which historically has been to combat heresy. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as the “extraordinary magisterium”. For examples of the Solemn Magisterium, here is a list of all solemn teaching during the first 7 centuries of the Catholic Church:
· Council of Nicaea I (325): condemned the heresy of Arius, and defined the Divinity of the Son of God and the Nicene Creed.· Council of Constantinople I (381): condemned the heresy of Macedonius, and defined the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, confirmed and extended the Nicene Creed.· Council of Ephesus (431): condemned the heresy of Nestorius, and defined that there was one person in Christ, and defended the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.· Council of Chalcedon (451): condemned the heresy of Eutyches (Monophysitism); declared Christ had two natures, human and divine.· Council of Constantinople II (553): condemned, as savoring of Nestorianism, the so-called Three Chapters, the erroneous books of Theodore of Mopsuestia and the teaching of Theodoret of Cyrrhus and Ibas of Edessa.· Council of Constantinople III (680-681): declared against the Monothelites, who taught one will in Christ, by defining that Christ had two wills, human and divine.
Here we can clearly see that in the first 7 centuries of the Church, the Solemn Magisterium was not used often, and very little was solemnly defined. So at least 7 generations of Catholics lived and died during this time with very little solemn teaching by the Church. This is because the majority of what Catholics believe comes from the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church .
The dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) was defined by the Solemn Magisterium in three Church Councils.They did not claim that the baptism of desire(BOD), baptism of blood(BOB) and being saved in invincible ignorance(I.I) referred to objectively visible cases saved without the baptism of water in the Catholic Church. So for the three Councils there could not be any practical exceptions to EENS.
2. Ordinary Magisterium: this second form of Church teaching is “continually exercised by the Church especially in her universal practices connected with faith and morals, in the unanimous consent of the Fathers and theologians, in the decisions of the Roman Congregations concerning faith and morals, in the common sense of the Faithful, and various historical documents, in which the faith is declared.” (Definition from “A Catholic Dictionary”, 1951)
So, according to this definition, the Ordinary Magisterium (also referred to as the Universal Ordinary Magisterium) is Church teaching that is continuous and unanimously consented to throughout the Church.
"A Commentary on Canon Law" (Augustine, 1918, Canon 1323, pg 327) states: "The universal and ordinary magisterium consists of the entire episcopate, according to the constitution and order defined by Christ, i.e., all the bishops of the universal Church, dependently on the Roman Pontiff". It also states, "What the universal and approved practice and discipline proposes as connected with faith and morals must be believed. And what the Holy Fathers and the theologians hold unanimously as a matter of faith and morals, is also de fide."
The Ordinary Magisterium is where the majority of Catholic beliefs are taught and learned; through unanimous teaching by preaching, by any written means, the approval of catechisms, the approval of textbooks for use in seminaries, etc.
Some examples of the Ordinary Magisterium would be that of Guardian Angels, or the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (before 1950). While neither were solemnly defined by the Church (before 1950), they were always universally taught and believed, and it would be considered heresy to deny them.
For example, Arius was considered a heretic before his condemnation at the Council of Nicaea in 325, because the Divinity of Christ (which he denied) was part of the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium before that Council. The same applies to Nestorius regarding his denial of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, where he was later declared a heretic by the Solemn Magisterium at the Council of Ephesus.
So in a nutshell, the Solemn Magisterium (used rarely) plus the Ordinary Magisterium (used continuously) equals the complete infallible teaching of the Catholic Church. The article "Science and the Church" from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1917) states it well: "The official activity of teaching may be exercised either in the ordinary, or daily, magisterium, or by occasional solemn decisions. The former goes on uninterruptedly; the latter are called forth in times of great danger, especially of growing heresies."
Finally, the most frequent reason why the Solemn Magisterium is used is in order to confirm a doctrine which already belongs to the Ordinary Magisterium, but which has come under attack, usually by heretics.
The popes in the ordinary magisterium affirmed the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus according to the three Church Councils, the Solemn Magisterium.They mentioned BOD, BOB and I.I but did not state that they referred to objectively visible cases saved without the baptism of water in the Church.This was also how the saints in different centuries interpreted EENS.
So in the Solemn(Extraordinary) and Ordinary Magisterium the Church affirmed EENS without assuming that BOD, BOB and I.I referred to visible instead of invisible cases.Hypothetical cases were not inferred to be defacto and personally known in the present times.
However this was before the 1949 Boston Case.After 1949 the Ordinary Magisterium assumed that BOD, BOB and I.I referred to visible instead of visible cases saved outside the Church i.e without faith and baptism. So the ordinary magisterium assumed that there was known salvation outside the Church.
The Letter of the Holy Office 1949 stated that not every one needs to be incorporated into the Church as a member for salvation. The new doctrine was repeated in the ordinary magisterium of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church(1995).
The practical result now is that Vatican Council II can be interpreted as a rupture or a continuity with the past, depending upon the use of the irrational premise; invisible cases are visible or not visible in 2017. So the baptism of desire could refer to an invisible or visible case in the present times and the conclusion would be different, there would be different interpretations of the same text in Vatican Council II with reference to EENS.