Vatican II and Crisis in the Theology of Baptism: Part II

by Thomas Pink


This is the second part of a three-part series. Part one is available here

3. Vatican II and revolution in the official theology of baptism

Vatican II may not have introduced any new teaching about baptism in its formal magisterium. But even so, the Council event is deeply associated with a revolution in baptism’s official theology.

Aspects of this revolution were already occurring before the Council, in some cases with roots going back to the nineteenth century. The Council event still deepened or confirmed these theological changes. Other aspects of the revolution involved official liturgical changes brought about thanks to the Council. These liturgical changes were not in general directly called for by any document of the Council. But they were introduced by Paul VI in the name of applying the Council, and opposition to them is characteristically treated in official circles as opposition to the Council.

So we can with some justification talk of Vatican II as lying at the centre of a revolution in the official theology of baptism. This revolution in official theology is extensive, has had a very great impact on everyday Catholic belief and practice, and seems in almost every respect deeply problematic, as overtly inconsistent with or at least involving a compromising silence about what has long been the clear magisterial teaching of the Church.

  •    The Dominion of the Devil

The first and most important change has to do with how the Church now presents the Fall and original sin, and what the Church is doing when through baptism she releases us from the guilt of original sin.

The Church’s historical teaching is clear. The Fall has delivered the world, in so far as it is fallen, to the devil as its prince. The guilt of original sin involves, therefore, subjection to the dominion of the devil. This is vividly stated by the Council of Florence in its decree for the Copts. Faith in Christ, and baptism, in freeing us from original sin, free us from subjection to the devil:

[The Council] firmly believes, professes and preaches that never was anyone, conceived by a man and a woman, liberated from the devil’s dominion except by faith in our lord Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and humanity, who was conceived without sin, was born and died.[1]

And

With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptised straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians.[2]

This equation of original sin with subjection to the dominion of the devil has long been reflected and taught in the liturgy of baptism, in the rites of both Rome and Constantinople. In the traditional Roman baptismal liturgy, we find a sequence of exorcisms that directly represent baptism’s role as releasing us from the devil’s possession. Thus:

Go forth from him (her), unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

And again

I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N. For He commands thee, accursed one, Who walked upon the sea, and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honour to the living and true God: give honour to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N. because God and our Lord Jesus Christ have vouchsafed to call him (her) to His holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism.

And again

And this sign of the holy Cross, which we make upon his (her) forehead, do thou, accursed devil, never dare to violate.

And finally

I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of God the Father + Almighty, in the name of Jesus + Christ, His Son, our Lord and Judge, and in the power of the Holy + Spirit, that thou depart from this creature of God N, which our Lord hath deigned to call unto His holy temple, that it may be made the temple of the living God, and that the Holy Spirit may dwell therein.

That baptism constitutes our liberation by Christ from the dominion of the devil is not generally denied outright in official documents of the post-conciliar Church. Indeed, the 1992 Catechism refers to the doctrine in at least two places. In § 1237 it links the doctrine to the practice of baptismal exorcism:

Since baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate.

And in § 1250 the Catechism characterises baptism as a liberation from ‘the power of darkness’:

Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called.

Now the magisterial teaching is that baptism is not only a sign of our deliverance from the dominion of the devil, but necessary to its effecting. Until the child is actually baptised the child still remains, with fallen humanity, under the devil’s dominion. The traditional exorcisms present this exactly, calling on the devil to depart now, with the child’s baptism.

But there is another theology of the matter, one which treats the baptism as a sign of a deliverance from diabolic dominion that, thanks to Christ’s coming, has in effect already happened—a liberation that the child does not have to wait until actual baptism to enjoy. And this theology is left open in new rite of baptism introduced by Paul VI in 1970. Granted, the new rite still speaks of release from original sin as effected by baptism. But original sin is no longer liturgically presented as implying continued subjection to the devil. The former multiple and very unambiguous exorcisms are all removed, to be replaced by a single new prayer, which reads:

Almighty and ever-living God, you sent your only Son into the world to cast out the power of Satan, spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness, and bring him into the splendour of your kingdom of light. We pray for this child: set him (her) free from original sin, make him (her) a temple of your glory, and send your Holy Spirit to dwell with him (her). We ask this through Christ our Lord.

The difference is obvious. The new prayer is simply a prayer that God release the child from original sin. It is no longer explicitly commanding the devil to depart the child and abandon his dominion of it now. In fact the devil’s departure is not commanded at all. Which is why the new rite’s so-called ‘exorcism’ is not really a genuine formula of exorcism. The destruction of the power of the devil is associated in the prayer not with the devil’s departure from the child only at the moment of its baptism, but rather with Christ’s coming into the world. Any clear statement that even after the coming of Christ until actually baptised the child remains under the dominion of the devil, a devil whose departure has then to be explicitly commanded, has been removed.

This change is associated with a wider one. The traditional forms of blessing for liturgical use of natural elements such as water and oil also involve exorcism. Within a fallen world, natural elements require release from the dominion of the devil before they can be appropriated and used by the Church as holy water or holy oil. Take this exorcism that initiates the blessing of the oil of the sick in the traditional liturgy for the Chrism Mass:

I exorcise thee, thou most unclean spirit, and every incursion of Satan, and every phantasm: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: do thou depart from this oil, so that it may become a spiritual unguent for strengthening the temple of the living God; so that the Holy Spirit may dwell therein, by the name of God the Father almighty, and by the name of his well-beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

These exorcisms have similarly been quite comprehensively removed from the new Roman liturgy. The message is clear. Blessings need only give thanks to God for a world that is good. There is no need of exorcism to remove a persisting diabolic dominion over a world that though by nature good is also fallen.

The traditional Roman liturgy with its formulae of exorcism for baptism and for blessings is now seen by many modern theologians as problematic and as having required reform just because, unlike the new, its forms for baptism and blessing really do contain genuine exorcisms of the devil—commands addressed to the devil that he depart from an unbaptised child or from natural elements.[3]

Baptism is not now generally explained to Catholics as release from diabolic dominion. That idea of baptism may have been taught by the Council of Florence, and it may still lurk in those just cited Catechism paragraphs. But it plays no role in the Church’s current pastoral life. That the fallen world and the unconverted within it are still subject to the devil is simply not part of the Church’s current official theology. It is a conception of the world that many contemporary Catholics would find alien and even shocking – and which has been carefully removed, very consistently and very thoroughly, from the contemporary liturgy. Diabolic dominion over a fallen world is not now presented in the Church’s liturgy, is not pastorally communicated in parish homiletics, and—as we are about to see—does not inform the current policy of the Church. The issue is not (yet) the reality of the devil or of original sin, none of which generally denied.[4] It has instead to do with what the existence of the devil and original sin all imply for the Church’s relation to an unconverted world.

If the fallen world—the world of the unconverted and unbaptised—really does lie under the dominion of the devil, then the consequence is clear. The Church cannot really live at peace with the world until it is converted. The Church can no more live at peace with the unconverted world than she can live at peace with the devil. Central to the Church’s relation to the unconverted world must be a commitment to spiritual confrontation, where the only way out of the ensuing spiritual conflict is the world’s conversion.

And this is Christ’s own message, who presents his mission as centrally involving conflict between a converted and an unconverted world—between the world of the baptised and the world of the unbaptised—with the mission to baptise as both crystallisation of this conflict, and the only means to victory in it.

I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptised with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division[.] Luke 12: 49-51

Baptism then is not a source of harmony and solidarity with the as yet unconverted world, but precisely in so far as the world is not yet converted, a source of spiritual conflict with it.

But what instead if the dominion of the devil has already, thanks to the coming of Christ, been effectively removed, so that at some eschatological level, even the unconverted world—the world of the unbaptised—is already released from the devil’s power? Perhaps through the coming of Christ the world, though fallen, is already marked, even prior to baptism and incorporation within the visible Church, by a Christianity that, to use the Rahnerian expression, is ‘anonymous’. Even the unconverted world is somehow already released from diabolic dominion and, albeit implicitly rather than explicitly, already committed to the supernatural end. Then the relation of the Church even to the unconverted world need not be one of conflict. Even prior to the world’s conversion the Church’s primary relation to the world can already be one of dialogic harmony.

The traditional liturgy of exorcism, in baptisms and in blessings, stands in contradiction to this benign conception of the situation of the unconverted world. It presents the unconverted world as still in the possession of Christ’s and humanity’s deadly enemy. Without the world’s baptism and its conversion, there can be no articles of peace—no stable dialogic harmony. But a benign conception of the unconverted world and of the Church’s relation to it is plainly now dominant in official theology, and the traditional liturgy’s unwelcome contradiction has been comprehensively suppressed. The duty to convert the world is constantly subordinated to the pursuit of harmony with it. This subordination of conversion to dialogic harmony is a central feature of post-conciliar official theology.

The issue does not of course affect only baptism but generalises from it. For though baptism initiates a life of grace that detaches us from the devil, that grace can be lost through mortal sin. To prevent such loss and then as remedy for its occurrence, we need the other sacraments, and not the eucharist alone, but that condition, once grace has been lost, of the eucharist’s worthy reception, without which communion threatens to bring with it not liberation but a confirming of spiritual death and diabolic dominion—the sacrament of penance. And the needed combination of these sacraments is largely lacking not just among the unbaptised but in many communities of the baptised. Eucharist and penance are lacking in the Protestant world. But in effect penance is also lacking among many modern Catholics, who regularly take communion without ever going to confession—something with alarming implications, according to traditional magisterial teaching, for the internal life of increasingly large parts of the Church. For communion without confession is liable to drive us further from the life of grace, and so even further under the dominion of the devil, and there are important effects of this detachment very apparent in the life of the contemporary Church, as we shall see.

  • Baptism, the Conversion of the State, and the Church as Coercive Potestas

If the fallen world is under the devil’s dominion, and is in inevitable spiritual conflict with the Church until it is converted, then to remove the conflict no part of the world can be excluded from that conversion.

The Church’s magisterium has long taught that the need for conversion includes the state. Even if individuals are Christian privately, that does not guarantee the health of the political community. For we do not pursue the communal good simply as private individuals, but as members of a community, through public institutions – and spiritual sickness can arise as much in public life as in private.[5]

Now the state is divinely established just as is the Church, though each in a different way. While the authority of the Church is based on a law of the New Covenant that is supernatural and revealed, state authority is based on natural law. But just as much as the Church the state is a form of community and authority that is divinely instituted so that humanity may flourish. This means that it is fundamental to Catholic teaching that harmony between Church and state must be possible, at least in principle. How could God not provide for harmony between two authorities each of which he has ordained and instituted?

But if the Church can only co-exist harmoniously with a nature that has been removed from the devil’s dominion through baptism and conversion, that must be true in particular for communal authority in its natural form—the state. For the state too, like the rest of nature, is affected by the Fall. This allows for no political neutral space. The state too must be rescued from the dominion of the devil, and brought into the Church, so that it publicly commits itself to Christ. Otherwise, if unconverted, the state will degrade from the proper order of nature. So the Church has clearly taught, not least through the magisterium of the nineteenth century popes. These popes taught, with clarity and, we are now beginning to see, with foresight too, that the conversion of private individuals is not enough. Unless the state itself is converted, and recognizes Christ politically and publicly, thanks to the Fall natural law as it concerns the public good and public justice will cease to be clearly recognized and applied:

[W]here religion has been removed from civil society, and the doctrine and authority of divine revelation repudiated, the genuine notion itself of justice and human right is darkened and lost[.] Pius IX Quanta Cura § 4.

And

Therefore the law of Christ ought to prevail in human society and be the guide and teacher of public as well as of private life. Since this is so by divine decree, and no man may with impunity contravene it, it is an evil thing for any state where Christianity does not hold the place that belongs to it. When Jesus Christ is absent, human reason fails, being bereft of its chief protection and light, and the very end is lost sight of, for which, under God’s providence, human society has been built up. This end is the obtaining by the members of society of natural good through the aid of civil unity, though always in harmony with the perfect and eternal good which is above nature. But when men’s minds are clouded, both rulers and ruled go astray, for they have no safe line to follow nor end to aim at. Leo XIII, Tametsi Futura § 8.

That degradation of the political community will guarantee not only the moral ruin of the state, but its enmity to the gospel, tied as the life of the gospel is to observance of the natural law—a law of which the devil is an unrelenting enemy.

The Church’s involvement in spiritual warfare within a temporal order that is fallen is also fundamental to the nature of the Church herself, and has long determined magisterial teaching about that nature. The Church has been given by Christ himself the authority to protect the supreme good of religion. But locked as she is in a spiritual conflict within a fallen world, the Church is under attack both from without and also from within—from her own sinful and often recalcitrant members. So she must be able to protect the good of her community from those attacks. She must be able to discourage wrongdoing by her members that threatens the spiritual good of the Christian community she serves. And she must also be able to prevent spiritually damaging intrusions into that community by opponents from without. So the Church, just as much as the state, must be a potestas or coercive authority. Just as the state must be able to use law to protect the political community, so the Church must be able to use law to protect the ecclesial community. The Church has been given by Christ the sovereign authority to make laws and to enforce those laws within her jurisdiction by legitimate threats of punishment that to be effective must include temporal as well as spiritual sanctions.

Subjection to the Church’s jurisdiction, the magisterium teaches and as the 1983 Code of Canon Law continues to claim, comes with baptism. So at Trent, as we have already seen, and elsewhere, the magisterium has clearly taught that baptism subjects the baptised to a coercive jurisdiction, that of the Church, with obligations to fidelity on the baptised that may be enforced—where breach of those obligations is genuinely culpable, and where enforcement really is necessary to protect the religious good of the Church’s community. Because the state itself needs to be converted, baptismal obligations can take political and public as well as private form. Officials of a state that is publicly Christian can be bound by their baptism to exercise their office so as to support the mission of the Church. In particular the officials of a publicly Christian state can be bound to assist the Church in the exercise of her jurisdiction, as canon 2198 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law still insisted.[6] Baptism obligates the rulers of a Christian state to act as body to the Church’s soul—to form a single Christian community where, in religious matters, the state helps as secular arm (brachium saeculare) to enforce the law of the Church.

This theory of the Church as potestas for the good of religion and of the need for a soul-body union of Church and state is a long-standing part of the Church’s magisterium. At its heart is teaching that baptism has a juridical character fundamental to the nature of the Church herself. It is baptism that provides the Church as potestas with her coercive jurisdiction, and then obligates officials of a publicly Christian state to support that jurisdiction when called on by the Church to do so. Baptism then is the basis for the legitimacy of a soul-body union of the Church with that of the state, where in matters of religion the state may act as agent or secular arm of the Church as potestas for the good of religion.

Vatican II was careful not to contradict this teaching. According to the official relationes that interpreted Dignitatis Humanae to the council fathers at Vatican II, the declaration does not in any way deny the Church’s status as potestas for religion, and addresses only the authority of the state when detached from any union with the Church, and so acting only as on its own authority as potestas for the civil order.[7] The 1983 Code of Canon Law also still clearly presents the Church as a potestas. The Code clearly asserts that the Church has a jurisdiction over the baptised, with the authority to enforce that jurisdiction with threats of temporal as well as spiritual punishment.[8]

Nevertheless the idea of the Church as a potestas is decreasingly taken seriously in official theology. In practice a model prevails of the Church as, in effect, a voluntary society, and with this comes a conception of canonical obligations as really no more than membership rules. All that culpable breach of them really merits is not some genuine form of punishment, but simple loss of membership. With this comes a view of Church-state separation not as a regrettable evil, as Leo XIII viewed it, but as a positive good.

Consider Joseph Ratzinger, who when writing as a cardinal, defended both the idea of the Church as a voluntary society whose authority is purely moral, and the desirability of Church-state separation. Not only is the entry of unbaptised adults into the Church treated by him an entirely voluntary matter—which was always taught—but continued fidelity in the baptised is treated by him as entirely voluntary too, which Trent formally denied. Morever, the use of civil penalties by a Christian state to enforce ecclesial law is condemned by Ratzinger—despite the fact that such use was called for by General Councils such as Lateran IV and Trent:

This community in its turn, the Church, understands itself as a final moral authority which however depends on voluntary adherence and is entitled only to spiritual but not to civil penalties, precisely because it does not have the status the state has of being accepted by all as something given in advance…This is not in any way to dispute the fact that this balance has often enough been disturbed, that in the middle ages and in the early modern period things often reached the point of Church and state in fact blending into one another in a way that falsified the faith’s claim to truth and turned it into a compulsion so that it became a caricature of what was really intended...With this the fundamental task of the Church’s political stance, as I understand it, has been defined; its aim must be to maintain this balance of a dual system as the foundation of freedom. Hence the Church must make claims and demands on public law and cannot simply retreat into the private sphere. Hence it must also take care on the other hand that Church and state remain separated and that belonging to the Church clearly retains its voluntary character. [9]

Contrast here the magisterial teaching of Leo XIII, who condemned ‘the fatal theory of the need of separation between Church and State’ in Libertas (at §18). Leo XIII clearly taught also that the church was not a voluntary society with mere membership rules, but, just as much as the state, is a societas perfecta – a sovereign potestas or coercive law-giver:

Others oppose not the existence of the Church, nor indeed could they; yet they despoil her of the nature and rights of a perfect society, and maintain that it does not belong to her to legislate, to judge, or to punish, but only to exhort, to advise, and to rule her subjects in accordance with their own consent and will. By such opinion they pervert the nature of this divine society, and attenuate and narrow its authority, its office of teacher, and its whole efficiency; and at the same time they aggrandize the power of the civil government to such extent as to subject the Church of God to the empire and sway of the State, like any voluntary association of citizens. To refute completely such teaching, the arguments often used by the defenders of Christianity, and set forth by us, especially in the encyclical letter Immortale Dei, (§12) [where the Church is taught to be a genuine potestas] are of great avail; for by those arguments it is proved that, by a divine provision, all the rights which essentially belong to a society that is legitimate, supreme, and perfect in all its parts exist in the Church. Libertas § 40.

Modern official theology assumes that the state should be religiously neutral because it also assumes that this public neutrality will be entirely consistent with harmony between Church and state. We see the general model of dialogic harmony with the unconverted world applied to an unconverted state in particular.

The idea that Church and state can live in harmony without the state’s conversion was influentially supported even before Vatican II by Jacques Maritain. It was central to the new political theology that Maritain was developing in the decades before the council, especially in Man and the State. On juridical questions Maritain was a more orthodox Catholic than Ratzinger. Unlike Ratzinger he did not attack as outright error the magisterium’s teaching that Church herself is a potestas entitled under appropriate circumstances to use the state as her coercive agent. Instead Maritain adopted a subtler view. By contrast to Ratzinger, Maritain admitted that such use by the Church of the state, far from ‘falsifying the faith’s claim to truth’ as Ratzinger supposed, had in its time—the middle ages—been fully legitimate. But then Maritain made a crucial claim. Thanks to a supposed progress of the gospel, and human spiritual advancement, it was no longer a condition of harmony between Church and state that the state should be publicly Christian. Maritain allowed that previously, under the more spiritually primitive conditions of the past, in what he termed the sacral age of medieval Europe, it had been necessary for the good of religion for the state to convert, and for the political community to be a community of the baptised. Harmony between Church and state did once require a soul-body union of them that was then entirely legitimate, just as Leo XIII had taught. But we now lived in what Maritain termed a secular age. And in this new secular age, supposedly thanks to a progress of the gospel, the Church could now live in harmony with the state without requiring the state’s conversion into a Christian state. Harmony could obtain without a shared religion, simply within a shared framework of natural law. In Maritainian political theology, under conditions of modernity the political community can now somehow escape the dominion of the devil without needing to be converted.[10]

The Church’s ever-increasing conflict with secular states suggests, alas, that such escape may not be available – and that the secular age may not constitute spiritual advance at all. The issue, let me emphasize, is not whether a soul-body union of Church and state is now realisable. Clearly under modern conditions there is simply no prospect of such a union. The issue, rather, is what we must expect from a state that is no longer publicly committed to the truth of Christianity in its laws and policies. What the nineteenth century popes taught us to expect in such a case is clearly what we are now getting—not harmony with the Church, but deepening spiritual conflict, and a conflict moreover that, just as those popes predicted, is rooted in the state’s denial of natural law, especially as it concerns marriage and the right to life.


[1] Council of Florence Session 11, Bull of union with the Copts, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils eds Tanner and Alberigo, volume 1, p 575.

[2] Florence p 576.

[3] For further discussion of post-conciliar theological opposition to such exorcisms see an important recent article by Michael Uwe Lang “Theologies of blessing: origins and characteristics of De benedictionibus (1984)” Antiphon 15.1 (2011) pp 27-46, especially at pp 35-6. Lang is rightly critical of this opposition:

The act of blessing [in the reformed post-conciliar liturgy] consists above all in the recognition and proclamation of the goodness of created things and of the loving care of their Creator. The apotropaic aspect of blessing, that is, to protect against the influences of evil and of the Evil One, is largely absent. Lessi-Ariosto considers this aspect of blessings a remainder of a pessimistic worldview that does not take into account the goodness of God’s creation, but it could be asked whether such a position does not underestimate the consequences of original sin. The theological rationale for this claims to be biblical, but would appear to be oblivious of the fact that Christ himself, in the Gospel of John, speaks of “the prince of this world” (Jn 12:31, 14:30, 16:11)…Daniel Van Slyke has noted that “any view that discounts the influence of evil in favor of an insistence on the goodness of creation can be accused of an optimism that verges on naïveté.” It would seem to be—and I suggest this here for the purpose of further exploration—that the relegation of apotropaic blessings has less to do with biblical ressourcement than with modern theologians such as Edward Schillebeeckx OP (1914-2009) and Karl Rahner SJ (1904-1984), who considered the whole created world already endowed with or permeated by divine grace. Their notion of “sacramentality” is extended to the whole of creation, and so the specific nature of the sacraments is lost: the sacraments and, by consequence, the sacramentals are mere manifestations that make explicit what already takes place.’  pp44-5.

I obviously share Lang’s view.

[4] The reality of the devil or of original sin may not be openly denied at least within the English church. But official theologies can be highly local. The official theology of the Flemish church is more radical. One Flemish priest, a retired academic of the Catholic University of Leuven, at a baptism in Leuven where this writer was godparent would not use even the New Rite ‘exorcism’, as supposedly theological erroneous and outmoded – and nor, I was assured, would other Flemish clergy.

[5] For more on the nature and role of the state, and the consequent need for the state’s conversion. see my  “In Defence of Catholic integralism” online on Public Discourse here: https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/08/39362/

[6] ‘Offences against the law of the Church alone, are, of their nature, within the cognisance of the ecclesiastical authority alone, which, when it judges it necessary or opportune, can claim the help of the secular arm.’  1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2198.

[7] See this relatio of September 1965, issued to the Council fathers just before the final vote:

For the schema rests on the traditional doctrine between a double order of human life, that is sacred and profane, civil and religious. In modern times Leo XIII has wonderfully expounded and developed this doctrine, teaching more clearly than ever before that there are two societies, and so two legal orders, and two coercive authorities (potestates), each divinely constituted but in a different way, that is by natural law and by the positive law of Christ. As the nature of religious liberty rests on this distinction of orders, so the distinction provides a means to preserving it against the confusions which history has frequently produced’. Vatican II Acta Synodalia 4.1 p 193.

And at the same time, emphasizing that coercion on the authority of the Church in the order of religion to enforce her jurisdiction is not being addressed by the declaration:

‘There this question of religious liberty, since it has to do with the civil order, is to be distinguished from other questions which are of a theological order. The first of these is of the nature and extent of that evangelical liberty by which Christ has liberated us (Galatians 5,1); the other has to do with relations between freedom and authority within the Church herself.’ Vatican II, Acta Synodalia 4.1 p 185.

[8] See especially: “The Church has the innate and proper right to coerce (coercere) offending members of the Christian faithful (christifideles) with punitive sanctions (poenalibus sanctionibus).” Canon 1311 (christifideles being defined in canon 204 as the baptised).

Sanctions can extend to temporal penalties: “The law can establish other expiatory penalties which deprive a member of the Christian faithful of some spiritual or temporal good and which are consistent with the supernatural purpose of the Church.” Canon 1312

[9] “Theology and the Church’s Political Stance” in Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Essays in Ecclesiology (NY: Crossroad, 1988) pp 161-63 (my emphases).

[10] For more detailed discussion of Maritain see my “Jacques Maritain and the problem of Church and state,” The Thomist vol 79, 2015, pp 1-42.

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