“For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.”
“Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”
“As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ (Mk. 10:14; cf. 1 Tim. 2:4) allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.”
From all of this, what then can be deduced?
Rome definitely has changed its doctrine in recent times. It now teaches that although baptism is necessary for salvation, it is only absolutely necessary for salvation for those to whom the Roman Catholic “gospel” has been proclaimed, and who can ask for it. As for the rest, they say that as God is not bound by his sacraments, salvation could be granted to them without being baptised; and they give various examples, as follows:
If catechumens die before being baptised – i.e. people who are being catechised with the intention of becoming Roman Catholics – they will be saved because their desire was to be baptised, even though they died before actually receiving this “sacrament.” As for those who are ignorant of the Roman Catholic “gospel” – members of other religions, etc. – they can be saved by living up to the “light” they have, seeking the truth and doing the will of God in accordance with such “light.” They no doubt would have desired baptism if they had known about its necessity, Rome states. And lastly, with regard to children who die before being baptised, the “Church” of Rome no longer speaks of limbo, but merely says such children are entrusted to God’s mercy; and they have hope that a way of salvation is provided for them. But even having said this, they cannot resist yet another statement, at the end of all this, affirming the urgency of baptism.
Thus, in a word, baptism is necessary for salvation, for some; and it’s not necessary for salvation, for others. It all depends on who you are, what you know, and when you die! If you have heard the Roman Catholic “gospel”, and have had the possibility of asking for baptism, then it is necessary for salvation; and presumably, if you fail to seek it, and die unbaptised, you cannot be saved. If you have heard the Roman Catholic “gospel”, and are actively seeking to become a Roman Catholic, but you die before being baptised, then it is not necessary for salvation, and your desire to have been baptised will be sufficient (along with repentance and charity) for you to be saved. If you are a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or something else, and have never heard the Roman Catholic “gospel”, but you seek the truth and do God’s will in accordance with such “light” as you have, you can be saved. And lastly, if you are a child who dies before being baptised, the hope is that you will be saved, somehow, some way, through the mercy of God.
But all that really matters is: what does the Bible say?
1) It says that there is a heaven and a hell, but neither purgatory nor limbo. Those saved by God’s grace through faith in God’s Son go to heaven; and the rest go to hell.
2) It does not teach in any sense that baptism saves, or contributes to one’s salvation in any way. Jn. 3:5 (“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”), which Rome loves to use (as above) to support the heresy of “baptismal regeneration”, is not about baptism at all. The “water” in this verse refers to the “water” of the Word (Eph. 5:26; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23), the instrument which the Spirit uses in regeneration. Baptism is not in any sense necessary for one’s salvation. If it was, it would be salvation by works – and this is impossible. Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8,9). It is not by baptism, nor by supposedly doing God’s will according to one’s understanding of it, nor by any other human work!