This was an email I received from out of country. He gave me permission to reproduce it below under condition of anonymity. I changed his name and retracted the country of origin:
Dear Father Nix,
Here in COUNTRY-X, the government have banned all baptisms, and, by extension, all receptions into the Church. The bishops’conference have followed suit issuing their own edicts to this effect. There is, at the time of writing, no end date in sight for these measures, or even a vague time frame.
Two catechumens, one whom was being prepared for unconditional Baptism, and the other who was being prepared to be received (with conditional Baptism), have asked me if there was anything that could be done for them, as their Baptism and Reception have been deferred indefinitely. If a date had been given to review the situation, then that would at least have been a point of hope for these two gentlemen; but an indefinite deferral is… disappointing – especially, since the priest preparing the first catechumen is a member of a very conservative institute with a reputation for orthodoxy, and the other is a member of a fully Traditional institute. I feel a certain duty in conscience to ensure these gentlemen receive the Sacraments they so truly desire, and need. Usually, as a layman, it would not be any particular responsibility of mine – but given these two souls have apparently been abandoned by those who should be caring for them, and given that I have been asked to see if there is anything I can do, I really do feel that I have a genuine responsibility towards them. (And, yes, I am fully aware how subjective such “feelings” can be!)
Assuming that it is legitimate to resist, given that both Baptisms and Receptions are public acts that must be included in the parish records (thus leaving some hard evidence for a mean-spirited Dean or Bishop – or government bureaucrat!), do you, off the top of your head, have any suggestions has to how to proceed? One cleric I know suggested, that since his hands are tied, this would be an “emergency” situation, and that a lay-person would be justified in simply performing an emergency baptism, with the associated rites to be fulfilled at some later date; this instinctually strikes me as not being quite right, as it involves over-blowing the current nonsense to genuinely apocalyptic size, and feeds into the whole climate whereupon COVID-19 is being used as an exception to every rule.
In your opinion, given the Great Commission of Our Lord, and the necessity of Baptism for salvation, does either the secular government, or any particular bishop, have the authority to ban baptisms in their particular territories? Is it legitimate to resist such an order, and to what extent?
I remain, yours, in Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Nigel later added that adult baptisms in extremis are permitted, but that all other adult baptisms (even of those well-prepared and well-catechized adults) are suspended by the bishops of his country at the behest of the government: “Places of Worship will be considered for reopening as part of Phase 3 of their ‘Recovery roadmap’, no earlier than the 4th of July, and subject to the Places of Worship COVID-19 taskforce (part of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local government).”
If terms like an evil “taskforce” didn’t remind me of a James Bond movie, it would remind me of the 16th century England where the government incentivized reasons to apostatize from the Catholic Church’s sacraments in order to obey the government in matters of Henry VIII’s politics. But now it’s health care, not the king’s marriage. I imagine many good English Catholic priests alive today would insist that they would not have departed from the Catholic Church for Anglicanism if they had lived in the 16th century. But now we have the same exact test: Will priests follow their superiors to deny the sacraments out of “obedience”?
In the 16th century, 99% of every priest led 99% of all of his flock outside the Church to follow 99% of all English bishops in following the government’s pressure. Nowadays, a medium sized flu is the government’s excuse to put pressure on the bishops to stop the sacraments in that young man’s country. And everyone obeys until the “taskforce” deems baptism necessary! 500 years ago, the one bishop who put obedience to Christ and the Magisterium above government pressure was the Saint, Bishop John Fisher. Of course, all us decent Catholic priests under COVID-19 today all say we would have followed St. John Fisher in the 16th century rather than renounce the sacraments for the government.
But St. John Fisher was killed for this, and we’re barely ready to weather a virus called “covid.”
Interestingly enough, the test of priests denying adult baptism in a covid-panic of the 21st century is the exact same as priests denying the sacraments under the Henry VIII-panic of the 16th century: Can a bishop pressure his priests to stop a sacrament necessary to salvation out of obedience to the government?
99% of all priests think that such questions fall into a bishop’s conscience. Indeed, they do. But they also fall on the priest’s head. Because here’s the levels of obedience we priests must navigate in such questions of the 16th century and 21st century if we want to be saved:
Divine Law=Divine Revelation
Ecclesial Law=Perennial Magisterium
Particular Law=Regional Ordinary (bishop or Archbishop)
In other words, all priests should obey their bishops, except when they tell them to sin. And telling them not to baptize (a matter of Divine Law and Divine Revelation) would be sin for both priest and bishop, at least if the catechumens were well-prepared. Baptism is part of Christ’s own major commandment to all priests: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”—Mt 28:18-20.
One line in that young man’s email that was particularly disturbing was this: “One cleric I know suggested that since his hands are tied, this would be an ’emergency’ situation, and that a lay-person would be justified in simply performing an emergency baptism.”
The priest’s “hands are tied“? I am extremely disappointed in the priests of this young man’s country who are with “a very conservative institute with a reputation for orthodoxy” and yet refuse to baptize two willing, catechized adults out of fear. To that young man’s priests who refuse to baptize, I would ask you to consider this analogy: Imagine a CEO had a hospital shut down for a medium sized flu (combined with political reasons.) A week later, a man walks into the Emergency Department with a gun shot wound to the abdomen. Imagine a seasoned trauma surgeon saying to him: “Hey, we’ve been prohibited by the hospital CEO from doing any surgeries, but I’m going to look the other way. I’m going to suggest you to our janitor right there with a knife. The janitor should probably do your surgery since my hands are tied.”
Such priests think they will be saved by their obedience, but it is not that simple. If they are being obedient to an unjust particular law that sinks a command of Divine Law, then the priests of that “institute with a reputation for orthodoxy” are endangering their own souls. Yes, such is the case even if it’s with the goal of keeping their congregation afloat in a time of modernist apostasy. (Remember, bullies only back down to those who stand up to them, so your government is not as tough as they act.) But most importantly, dear fathers, the end doesn’t justify the means, especially if these means are sacrificing the salvation of Christ’s sheep seeking baptism, just to keep your congregation afloat. If you refuse to baptize two well catechized adults for political reasons, you endanger your own souls, even if done under pretense of obedience.
And I knew these traditional priests wouldn’t do anything courageous for the salvation of souls, which is why I immediately wrote the young lay man back: “You should baptize them both and do the paperwork later, not counting the cost.”
Let’s ask the tough question: “Can a regional ordinary stop well-prepared adult baptisms due to COVID-19?” The easy and pious answer is: “Yes, respect your local bishop.” However, that is the exact reasoning that led all of England to exit the Catholic Church in the 16th century under all her bishops and thus sunk half the valid sacraments. I’m not exaggerating. 99% of every Catholic priest woke up Anglican in the 16th century in England, thinking they had been obedient to their bishop. And such obedience is not in Scripture or the Magisterium. In fact, I will prove below that it is even against the new 1983 Code of Canon Law. The simple fact is this: We priests must be obedient to Divine Revelation in matters of Divine Law, and we priests be obedient to our bishops in matters of particular law. If we cross these wires out of laziness, we literally endanger our eternal souls as priests. Our bishops can not make us deny Christ or His own sacraments.
According to our Apostolic Faith, a command from an ordinary to go against the Catholic Faith is never binding. For us priests, even if those of an “orthodox institute” have their “hands tied” by a bishop and mayor, they too may go to hell if they refuse baptism to prepared adults, should those catechized adults reach an untimely death before the end of the COVID-19 situation. Indeed, if COVID-19 is really this big of a threat to the body, then all the more is it a threat to the soul. And in that case, all the more must priests and bishops expedite the approach to the saving waters of baptism for adults and infants alike, for “baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you.”—1 Pt 3:21. Yes, this is a matter of salvation.
For all the legalist canon lawyers out there who accuse me of interpreting Scripture on my own like a Protestant, keep in mind that I have the support of the last canon in the New Code of Canon Law released under Pope John Paul II in 1983: “The salvation of souls…in the Church must always be the supreme law.”—Can. 1752. In other words, when the rubber meets the road of life, the salvation of souls takes precedent over meticulous debates over the law, including casuistic debates on obedience. In other words, particular law can not trump Divine Law. No code of canon law can trump the Great Commission. And, ironically, canon law agrees with me on this.
Nobody can tell me I as a priest am to let souls fall into hell without baptism, unless I am suspended for a major canonical or civil crime. Happily, we have seen none of this in my home diocese in regards to baptism. To the priests of that young man’s country, I would say: A command to commit a sin of omission from a superior is just as serious as a command to commit a sin of commission. You must resist. In fact, every saint and Pope, martyr and Church Father would agree with me that a sinful order from a legitimate superior must be legitimately disobeyed, at least if that subordinate would be saved and go to heaven. Yes, he must actually think through the three levels of obedience that I outlined in bold above if he is to be saved. He may not hide his conscience under the pretext of easy obedience at the lowest level.
Yet now it’s even more serious for us priests under the globalist over-reach under pretext of covid, for not even Henry VIII stopped adult baptisms. Indeed, for the priest of any age, no one (except via a valid suspension or interdict or laicization from his bishop or the Pope) can trump Our Lord’s own command to a priest to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
In the 1970s there was an American TV show called M*A*S*H that stood for “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.” Anytime the medical personnel would try to convince Fr. Mulcahy that their life-saving actions were more important than his soul-saving actions, the Irish priest calmly brushed past them to go to the dying soul as he brusquely said: “Nothing can stop me from doing my sacred duties.”