Denzinger-Hünermannn 2566-2570

Brief Singulari nobis to Cardinal Henry, Duke of York, 9th February 1749


§12. … When a heretic baptizes someone, provided he uses the legitimate form and matter,… the latter is marked with the baptismal character….

§13. Next, it was also found that someone who has received valid baptism from a heretic is made a member of the Catholic Church by virtue of that [baptism]; for the personal error of the one baptizing cannot deprive him of his happiness, provided the baptizer provides the sacrament in the faith of the true Church and observes her provisions in what relates to the validity of baptism. Suarez affirms this admirably in his Fidei catholicae defensio contra errores sectae Anglicanae, book 1, chapter 24, where he proves that the person baptized becomes a member of the Catholic Church, also adding this, that if the heretic, as often happens, christens an infant unable to make an act of faith, this is no obstacle to his receiving the habit of faith at baptism.

§14. Lastly, we have established that, if they reach the age at which they can distinguish right from wrong for themselves and then adhere to the errors of the one who baptized them, persons who were baptized by heretics are rejected from the unity of the Church and are deprived of all those benefits that those remaining in the unity of the Church enjoy, but they are not freed from her authority and laws, as Gonzales wisely explains in the section ‘Sicut’, no. 12, concerning heretics.

§15. We see this in the case of fugitives and traitors whom the civil laws completely exclude from the privileges of faithful subjects. Similarly, the laws of the Church do not grant clerical privileges to those clerics who disobey the commandments of the sacred canons. But nobody thinks that traitors or clerics who violate the sacred canons are not subject to the authority of their princes or prelates.

§16. These example too, unless we are mistaken, are relevant to the question; for just like them, so too heretics are subject to the Church and are bound by the ecclesiastical laws.