Archive for November 23rd, 2010

Baptizing Fetuses

The whole question of when life begins revolves around baptism. Originally the Church accepted I think Aristotle’s idea that a fetus was a plant, and that during pregnancy it evolved through each level of being until the end, when it was human.

Yes, fetal evolution!

I even remember a horror movie in the 50s that talked about this theory and the story line was about a duke who had been born a frog.

Later the Church adopted a Middle Ages philosopher’s idea that the embryo is as human as the baby.

This was critical, because the official dogma of the Catholic Church was then and is now that an unbaptized baby carries Original Sin to Judgment. The doctrine of Limbo was created to blunt the brutality of this, but few people know that official Church doctrine says that after the Day of Judgment there are only two destinations for the human soul, Heaven and Hell.

And, with apologies to Dante, Hell is not fair.

In the Middle Ages there was a device that looked like a grease can, with a long snout, which was used to baptize babies who were dying in the womb. It is still true that the Church considers babies who die in the womb to be damned, but it is beneath the dignity of a modern priest to do that and the law wouldn’t let them if they wanted to.

In Mexico many babies die unbaptized because they can’t pay the fee to the priest. They think their babies are damned. Actually, a parent or anybody else, male or female, Catholic or atheist, can baptize a child.

According to Church doctrine, every aborted fetus goes to Hell eventually.

In Calvinist doctrine the chosen few live a life that shows they are among the Chosen. All babies, regardless of baptism, go to Hell.

Today’s Pro-Life Movement takes none of this into account. For all its shrieks about religion, it is entirely secular. Catholic pro-Life forces, and they are by no means the entire movement, never mention baptism, because it would be beneath their dignity to admit they believe in things Mommy Professor would laugh at.

In Screwtape, CS Lewis did say the Devil was a liar. But the examples Screwtape gave, of a man who avoided evil company because he liked to eat rotting fish and went to Heaven, sound like the purely serendipitous way Judgment is decided.

There is simply no way for a person to say that he believes in Heaven and Hell and impress his suburban neighbor that he is logical, reasonable and beyond all respectable.

If you believe, there is no place for Pride, which is now called Respectability. It is a deadly sin, to the baby and to you, if you believe in the doctrine of the Church.

I do not believe the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Satan cannot build with something he does not have. But he has plenty of Pride.