(LifeSiteNews) — The task of the Roman Magisterium, be it directly the Pope’s or mediated by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, is to faithfully preserve the truth of Divine Revelation. It is instituted by Christ and works in the Holy Spirit so that the Catholic faithful are protected from all heresies that jeopardize salvation and from any confusion in matters of doctrine and moral life (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 18;23).
The dicastery’s answers to various questions from a Brazilian bishop (November 3, 2023) on the one hand remind us of generally known truths of faith, but on the other hand, they also open up to the misunderstanding that there is, after all, room for a coexistence of sin and grace in the Church of God.
Baptism as the door to a new life in Christ
The Son of God, our Redeemer and the Head of the Church, which is His Body, has instituted the Sacrament of Baptism so that all people can attain eternal life through faith in Christ and a life of imitating Him. The unconditional love of God frees people from the deadly dominance of sin, which plunges man into misfortune and separates him from God, the source of life. The universal salvific will of God (1 Tim 2:4f) does not say that we only need to confess Jesus as our Lord with our lips in order to enter the Kingdom of God, while at the same time excusing ourselves from the duty to fulfill God’s Holy and Sanctifying Will by referring to our human weakness (cf. Mt 7:21–23). The simple metaphor, “the Church is not a customs post,” which is intended to say that the Christian must not be measured bureaucratically by the letter of the law, finds its limit where we speak about the grace that leads us to a new life beyond sin and death.
The Apostle Paul says that we were all “slaves to sin” before we came to faith in Christ. But now, through baptism in the name of Christ, the Son of God and Anointed with the Holy Spirit, we “have become obedient from the heart to the teaching to which we have been delivered.” So we must not sin, because we are no longer subject to the law, but we are subject to grace. “Therefore sin shall not dominate your mortal body, and you shall no longer be subject to its desires … as men who have passed from death to life” (Rom 6:12f).
The oldest Church ordinance written in Rome (around 200 AD) names the criteria for the admission or rejection (or even deferral) [of a person] to the catechumenate and to the reception of baptism and demands that all dubious professions, illegal partnerships, and any immoral behavior that are contrary to the life of grace of baptism must be abandoned (Traditio Apostolica 15–16).
St. Thomas Aquinas, who is thankfully quoted in the dicastery’s responses, gives a differentiated twofold answer to the question of whether sinners can be baptized:
1. Sinners who have personally sinned in the past and are under the power of “Adam’s sin” (i.e. original and hereditary sin) certainly can be baptized. For baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, which Christ purchased for us through His death on the cross.
2. However, those “who are sinners because they come to baptism with the intention of continuing to sin” and thus resist the Holy Will of God cannot be baptized. This is true not only because of the inner contradiction between God’s grace towards us and our sin against God, but also because of the false testimony to the outside, which undermines the credibility of the Church’s proclamation because the sacraments are signs of the grace that they convey (cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae III q. III Quaestio 68, Article 4).
In the trap of transhumanist terminology
It is confusing and harmful when the Magisterium relies on the terminology of a nihilistic and atheistic anthropology and thus seems to lend its untruthful content the status of a legitimate theological opinion in the Church.
“Have you not read,” Jesus says to the Pharisees who wanted to set up a trap for Him, “that in the beginning the Creator created man and woman?” (Mt 19:4) In truth, transsexual or homophile (homoaffective or homosexual) persons do not exist, neither in the order of creaturely nature nor in the grace of the New Covenant in Christ. In the logic of the Creator of man and the world, two sexes are sufficient to ensure the preservation of mankind and to help children flourish and blossom in the family community with their father and mother. As every philosopher and theologian knows, a “person” is a human being in his spiritual and moral individuality, which relates him directly to God, his Creator and Redeemer.
However, every human person exists in the spiritual-bodily nature and concretely either as man or woman through the act of creation in which God created him or her (and in the reciprocal relationship of marriage) in the likeness of His Eternal Goodness and Triune Love. And just as He created them, God will also raise from the dead every human being in his male or female body, without being irritated by those who (for a lot of money) have genitally or hormonally mutilated other people or who – confused by the false propaganda – have voluntarily allowed themselves to be deceived about their male or female identity.
Transhumanism in all its variations is a diabolical fiction and a sin against the personal dignity of human beings, even if in the form of transsexualism and terminologically spruced up as “self-determined gender reassignment.” The doctrine and practice of the Roman Church clearly prescribes: “The harlot, the fornicating man, the one who mutilates himself, and anyone else who does something that is not spoken of (1 Cor 6:6-20) should be rejected [from the catechumenate and baptism]” (Traditio Apostolica 16).
‘Sound doctrine’ (1 Tim 4:3) as the most beneficial pastoral care
The pastoral motive that urges us to treat those who sin against the Sixth and Ninth Commandment of the Decalogue as “gently and compassionately” as possible is praiseworthy only as long as the pastor does not, like a bad doctor, deceive his patient about the seriousness of his illness, that is to say, only when the good shepherd “rejoices more with heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous who [in false self-assessment] have no need to repent.” (Luke 15:6) A fundamental distinction must also be made here between the (one-time) Sacrament of Baptism, which cancels all previous sins and endows us with the permanent character of being incorporated into the Body of Christ, and the (repeatable) Sacrament of Penance, which forgives the sins which we have committed after baptism.
It is always right, according to the Church’s care for salvation, that a child can and should be baptized when his or her Catholic upbringing can be guaranteed by those in responsibility, especially also through an exemplary life.
However, the Church can leave no doubt about the natural right of a child to grow up with his own biological parents or, in an emergency, with his adoptive parents, who in a moral and legal sense legitimately take their place. Any form of surrogate motherhood or the production of a child in a laboratory (like a thing) to satisfy egoistic desires is, in the Catholic view, a serious violation of the personal dignity of a human being whom God willed into existence physically and spiritually through his own mother and father in order to call him to be a child of God in eternal life.
Why God builds up the Church only through the true faith
In connection with the Synod on Synodality, this biblical formulation was often referred to: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:11). As in the last book of Holy Scripture: “faithfulness to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:2).
The author of the Traditio Apostolica in the Rome of the Apostle Princes Peter and Paul is convinced that “the building up of the Church is brought about by the acceptance of the right faith.” He concludes his writing with the thought-provoking words worth considering: “For if all hear the apostolic tradition, follow it and observe it, no heretic or any other man will be able to lead you astray. For the many heresies have arisen because the rulers [bishops] did not want to be instructed in the teachings of the apostles, but acted according to their own judgment and not as was proper. If we have forgotten anything, beloved, God will reveal it reveal it to those who are worthy. For He guides the Church so that she may reach the harbor of His rest.” (Traditio Apostolica 43).
Translated by LifeSiteNews’ Dr. Maike Hickson