“Cardinal” Ratzinger Disparages Infant Baptism, Questions Catholic Dogma

In his interview book God and the World, “Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger says the following:

The question of what it means to say that baptism is necessary for salvation has become ever more hotly debated in modern times. The Second Vatican Council said on this point that men who are seeking for God and who are inwardly striving toward that which constitutes baptism will also receive salvation. That is to say that a seeking after God already represents an inward participation in baptism, in the Church, in Christ.

To that extent, the question concerning the necessity of baptism for salvation seems to have been answered, but the question about children who could not be baptized because they were aborted then presses upon us that much more urgently.

Earlier ages had devised a teaching that seems to me rather unenlightened. They said that baptism endows us, by means of sanctifying grace, with the capacity to gaze upon God. Now, certainly, the state of original sin, from which we are freed by baptism, consists in a lack of sanctifying grace. Children who die in this way are indeed without any personal sin, so they cannot be sent to hell, but, on the other hand, they lack sanctifying grace and thus the potential for beholding God that this bestows. They will simply enjoy a state of natural blessedness, in which they will be happy. This state people called limbo.

In the course of our century, that has gradually come to seem problematic to us. This was one way in which people sought to justify the necessity of baptizing infants as early as possible, but the solution is itself questionable. Finally, the Pope [John Paul II] made a decisive turn in the [1995] encyclical Evangelium Vitae, a change already anticipated by the [1992] Catechism of the Catholic Church, when he expressed the simple hope that God is powerful enough to draw to himself all those who were unable to receive the sacrament.”

(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2002], pp. 401-402)

To prove that the quotation is accurate, we have scanned the two pages in question; you can access them here:


Reality Check: What does the Holy Catholic Church teach on the Necessity of Baptism, specifically Infant Baptism, and the Fate of those who die in Original Sin only?

“The punishment of original sin is deprivation of the vision of God….”

(Pope Innocent III, Apostolic Letter Ex Parte TuaDenz. 410)


“…the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but to undergo punishments of different kinds.”

(Council of Florence, Bull Laetentur Coeli; Denz. 693)


“Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people….”

(Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino; Denz. 712)


“If anyone denies that infants newly born from their mothers’ wombs, are to be baptized, even though they be born of baptized parents, or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which must be expiated by the laver of regeneration for the attainment of life everlasting, whence it follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is understood to be not true, but false: let him be anathema. For what the Apostle has said: ‘By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned’ [Romans 5:12], is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it.”

(Council of Trent, Decree on Original Sin; Denz. 791)


“If anyone shall say that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation: let him be anathema.”

(Council of Trent, Canons on the Sacrament of Baptism, Canon 5; Denz. 861)


“Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how griveously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require….”

(Pope St. Pius V, Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part II: The Sacraments: “The Sacrament of Baptism”)


“Baptism, the gateway and foundation of the Sacraments, actually or at least in desire is necessary for all for salvation….”

(1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 737 §1)


“But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith….”

(Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, Protocol Letter Suprema Haec Sacra)


Why is this important?

Because a man who preaches heresy is not a member of the Catholic Church but a dangerous heretic:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 22; underlining added.)

Since he who is not a member of the Church cannot be her head, Pope Paul IV declared in 1559:

If ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop … or any Cardinal of the … Roman Church, … or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy: (i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless…

(Paul IV, Apostolic Constitution Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, n. 6)