Canon law VS Dimond of MHFM
Canon 1239.2 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law declares, “catechumens who through no fault of their own, die without Baptism, are to be treated as Baptized.”
The Sacred Cannons by Rev. John A. Abbo, S.T.L., J.C.D. and Rev. Jerome D. Hannan, A.M., LL.B., S.T.D., J.C.D.
Commentary on the Code: “The reason for this rule is that they are justly supposed to have met death united to Christ through Baptism of Desire.”
Canon 737 declares, “Baptism, the gateway and foundation of the Sacraments, actually or at least in desire is necessary for all for salvation….”
This canon ends the debate on the Church’s official interpretation of Canon 4 of the Council of Trent.
However, Dimond argues that since the law contradicts (his understanding of) the dogma, goes against the long history of not treating catechumens as baptized, and was not signed by the pope, the Code of Law is fallible, and, in this case, heretical.
Dimond’s failure to make proper distinctions and apply nuances correctly keeps him from accepting the Church’s explanations.
Dimond quotes the Catholic Encyclopedia and states: “The practice of the Church is more correctly shown in the canon (xvii) of the Second Council of Braga (572 AD): ‘Neither the commemoration of Sacrifice [oblationis] nor the service of chanting [psallendi] is to beemployed for catechumens who have died without baptism.’”This is the law of the Catholic Church since the beginning and throughout all of history. So, since this issue is tied to the Faith and not merely disciplinary, either the Catholic Church was wrong since the time of Christ for refusing ecclesiastical burial forcatechumens who died without baptism or the 1917 Code is wrong for granting it to them. It is either one or the other, because the 1917 Code directly contradicts the Traditional and constant law of the Catholic Church for nineteen centuries on this point which is tied to the Faith. The answer is, obviously, that the 1917 Code is wrong and not infallible, and the Catholic Church’s law for all of history refusing ecclesiastical burial to catechumens is right.” (Outside of the Catholic Church There Is Absolutely No Salvation, Bro. Peter Dimond, p. 160 )
The problem is that the same argument could be used against the Latin Rite for refusing the Chalice to the Faithful. Since the Church never prohibited the faithful receiving the Chalice for hundreds of years, does that make the new law erroneous or heretical? For over a thousand years, the Church always gave infants Communion with Baptism. Did Rome error for contradicting the entire history of the Church when it changed the law? Both of these laws are tied to the Faith, too. Many more examples could be given, but these two suffice.
Because a Church law, which is tied to the Faith, changed after so many years doesn’t imply that it’s heretical, unless of course, the law was previously condemned as heretical or intrinsically evil, which, of course, is impossible less the Gates of Hell prevail.
Dimond continues, “The 1917 Code is not infallible Church discipline either, as proven by the fact that it contains a law which directly contradicts the infallible discipline of the Church since the beginning on a point tied to the Faith. The actual Bull promulgating the 1917 Code, Providentissima Mater Ecclesia, was not signed by Benedict XV, but by Cardinal Gasparri and Cardinal De Azevedo. Cardinal Gasparri, the Secretary of State, was the main author and compiler of the canons. Some theologians would argue that only disciplines which bind the whole Church – unlike the 1917 Code – are protected by the infallibility of the governing authority of the Church, an argument which seems to be supported in the following teaching of Pope Pius XII.
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 66), June 29, 1943: “Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments, by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed upon all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those heavenly gifts and extraordinary graces through which, with inexhaustible fecundity, she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins, and confessors.” 431
This would mean that a disciplinary law is not a law of the “Catholic” (i.e. universal) Church unless it binds the universal Church.”
The problem with Dimond’s argument here is two-fold.
The 1917 Code was approved by the Church.
It doesn’t have to be signed by the pope. There was a big celebration by Pope Benedict XV when he promulgated the Code of Law. Pope St. Pius X condemned those who don’t accept the authority of those decisions that are approved by the Pontiff. The Code of Law has been approved by Pope Benedict XV and Dimond rejects it, thus he’s condemned by Pope St. Pius X.
Dimond is basically arguing that the law of the Church is meaningless, has no real authority, and in the end harmful. It’s simply preposterous to claim that some laws in the code are heretical and aren’t authoritative because the pope didn’t sign it. Dimond’s cafeteria style of accepting only the laws he thinks are orthodox is the height of arrogance. His rejection of the law of the Church places him in the realm of antichrist.
The consequences of rejecting the law of the Church is damning because the application of the law trickles down to the practice of the Church. We have funeral masses for catechumes. Dimond would have to say that these masses lead to impiety because they imply Baptism of Desire and would necessarily lead one to believe in Baptism of Desire.
If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the services of piety: let him be anathema [cf. n. 943]. Can. 7. The Council of Trent, Session XXII, (D. 954).
Dimond’s position necessarily requires for him to reject funeral masses for catechumens.
If anyone shall say that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church accustomed to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments may be disdained or omitted by the minister without sin and at pleasure, or may be changed by any pastor of the churches to other new ones: let him be anathema. Can. 13. The Council of Trent, Session VII, (D. 856).
Dimond’s position necessarily requires the priest to disdain the approved rite of funeral masses said for catechumens.
I’m not a canon lawyer or theologian, but it appears that Dimond falls under two anathemas of the Council of Trent, which he uses to argue against Baptism of Desire. How ironic!
Secondly, we don’t judge laws as fallible or infallible based on our own personal interpretation whether they correspond or contradict canons, dogmas, etc.
Dimond doesn’t just pick and choose what law he’ll believe, but he makes the determination what level of authority it has and whether it’s Catholic or not.
Fallible laws (I’m not necessarily saying the Code is fallible) doesn’t preclude that we can call them harmful, evil, or dangerous and therefore, reject them.
Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, 9 (1832): “Furthermore, the discipline [includes laws] sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected or branded as contrary to certain principles of the natural law. It must never be called crippled, or imperfect or subject to civil authority. In this discipline the administration of sacred rites, standards of morality, and the reckoning of the Church and her ministers are embraced.”
Pope Gregory XVI, Quo Graviora, 4-5 (1833): “…[the evil “reformers”] state categorically that there are many things in the discipline of the Church in the present day, in its government, and in the form of its external worship which are not suited to the character of our time. These things, they say, should be changed, as they are harmful for the growth and prosperity of the Catholic religion, before the teaching of faith and morals suffers any harm from it. Therefore, showing a zeal for religion and showing themselves as an example of piety, they force reforms, conceive of changes, and pretend to renew the Church. While these men were shamefully straying in their thoughts, they proposed to fall upon the errors condemned by the Church in proposition 78 of the constitution Auctorem fidei (published by Our predecessor, Pius VI on August 28, 1794). They also attacked the pure doctrine which they say they want to keep safe and sound; either they do not understand the situation or craftily pretend not to understand it. While they contend that the entire exterior form of the Church can be changed indiscriminately, do they not subject to change even those items of discipline which have their basis in divine law and which are linked with the doctrine of faith in a close bond? Does not the law of the believer thus produce the law of the doer? Moreover, do they not try to make the Church human by taking away from the infallible and divine authority, by which divine will it is governed? And does it not produce the same effect to think that the present discipline of the Church rests on failures, obscurities, and other inconveniences of this kind? And to feign that this discipline contains many things which are not useless but which are against the safety of the Catholic religion? Why is it that private individuals appropriate for themselves the right which is proper only for the pope?”
Pope Gregory XVI is condemning Dimond for appropriating for himself the right which is proper only for the pope.
Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, 78 (1794): “The prescription of the synod about the order of transacting business in the conferences, in which, after it prefaced ‘in every article that which pertains to faith and to essence of religion must be distinguished from that which is proper to discipline,’ it adds, ‘in this itself (discipline) there is to be distinguished what is necessary or useful to retain the faithful in spirit, from that which is useless or too burdensome for the liberty of the sons of the new Covenant to endure, but more so, from that which is dangerous or harmful, namely, leading to superstition and materialism’; in so far as by the generality of the words it includes and submits to a prescribed examination even the discipline established and approved by the Church, as if the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty to endure, but which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism, – false, rash, scandalous, dangerous, offensive to pious ears, injurious to the Church and to the Spirit of God by whom it is guided, at least erroneous.” (Denzinger 1578; DS 2678)
Pope Pius VI condemns Dimond’s proposition that canons 1239.2 and 737 are dangerous because they are heretical leading men to believe in Baptism of Desire [superstition according to MHFM].
Dimond also makes accusations against other laws found in the Code by misrepresenting the meanings of each of the particular laws. However, for the sake of brevity, we’ll stop here.
Dimond is condemned by Pope Pius IX.
Dimond is condemned by Pope St. Pius X.
Dimond is condemned by Pope Gregory XVI.
Dimond is condemned by Pope Pius VI.
Dimond appears to be under two anathemas of Trent.
Part 3 will deal with Dimond’s accusations against the Roman Catechism.