It is with sadness that I read the online version of the August 2010 editorial in HPR. I understand that the Church can’t change her teaching in order to comfort post-abortive parents but, since I fit into that category, and since we remember Roe vs.Wade during this month of January 2012, I just feel like I have to comment on Fr. Baker’s take on this topic.
I couldn’t find a way to put a comment up on the site so that’s why I’m sending this to you. Sorry!
1. When Fr. Baker dismisses the International Theological Commission’s fifth point, concerning the “mysterious connection of Christ and his Church with every human being,” he says that: “The document considers #5 very important as a way of salvation for the infants who somehow bypass baptism. This is a very weak point and one that needs more study. The document concludes by expressing the ‘hope’ for the salvation of such infants, but they are not certain about this.”
Fr. Baker is not correct in stating that “the mysterious connection of Christ and his Church with every human being” is a “very weak point.” Simply because something is mysterious doesn’t make the argument for it “very weak.” Psalm 139 is very explicit about the fact that God knows us before we are born. God’s knowledge, addressed in that Psalm, is conveyed by citing the fact that each person is carefully knit together in our mother’s womb. It doesn’t make sense that God would take that much care with each pre-born child, and then neglect to make provision for his/her entrance into the child’s heavenly inheritance due to either induced or spontaneous abortion.
While I can easily accept Fr. Baker’s statement that “…they are not certain about this,” the doubt that he conveys here reminds me of Jesus’ remark that even earthly fathers, as wicked as they are, wouldn’t give their child a stone if he asked for fish. How in the world, then, am I supposed to believe that our heavenly Father would deny heaven to children who are not baptized through no fault of their own? Yes, indeed, this connection with Christ with every human is mysterious but very real, nonetheless. How else can we explain Jesus’ admonition that we call God “Father”? How else, besides mystery, can we explain the concept of true fatherhood at all?
2. Fr. Baker goes on to opine that, “It is praiseworthy to hope for the salvation of these infants, but there are serious doctrinal obstacles. The existence of Limbo has been affirmed and taught in the Church, without censure, for more than seven hundred years. The reasons given for the salvation of these infants are not totally convincing.”
I am unsure how the case for God’s mercy can be made in a “totally convincing” way. The fact of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is, to many non-believers, not “totally convincing.” The fact that the Blessed Mother was immaculately conceived, due to pre-emptive grace, wasn’t “otally convincing,” even to St. Bernard. If the criterion is that we need to be “totally convinced,” then we are living in a much sadder world than even I imagined.
3. Finally, if I understand the thesis behind this editorial correctly, the sticking point is that these infants can “somehow bypass baptism.” With all due respect, if “God can raise up children of Abraham from these rocks,” he can figure out how to “bypass baptism.” I doubt very much that he will let his love for my 12-week-old daughter be contravened by the sin and stupidity of her teenage mother.
Fr. David Meconi (editor of HPR), I hope you know me well enough to know that there is no malice included in this feedback. I couldn’t possibly think more of you, or of HPR, than I do. I’m sure Fr. Baker intended no malice either when he wrote this editorial back in August 2010. But, since this isn’t simply a theoretical or theological problem for me, I feel the necessity to challenge it.