Great Saints have said "no"; great Saints have said, "yes". Dogmatically, the Church has not spoken "ex cathedra" on the subject.
We are speaking, of course, of the concept of "baptism of desire".
Why is this important to talk about now? The obvious answer to that is the vast ocean of confusion that the Roman Catholic Church has allowed to exist in its refusal to speak strongly and clearly about the fundamental teachings of Christ, preferring instead a sort of "syncretism-in-all-but-name" to be the guiding thought of the modern Church. The key, vital point, however, is that the idea of baptism by desire is a speculative belief held by as many strong Catholics as it is opposed by other strong Catholics, and has not as yet been defined infallibly by the Pope(s).
As a side note I would only say that those who hold strongly to the "yes" position do not address other variations of this idea, e.g. Penance of Desire, Marriage of Desire, Holy Orders of desire, etc. which, as ludicrous as that may sound, would seem to follow logically from the original premise. Theologian I am not so my views are only those personally held.
I am not unaware that the issue of Baptism of Desire is controversial. I do believe, however, that it can be discussed with Catholic charity on both sides of the question.
The following article by Brian Kelly tackles the issue head on, and we at The Eye-Witness are grateful for his permission to reprint it here. (The original can be found here.)
Baptism of Desire: Its Origin and Abandonment in the Thought of Saint Augustine
by Brian Kelly
|Raphael:The Dispute of the Holy Sacrament (Aquinas, Innocent, Bonaventure)|