LEO XIII 1878-1903

The Matter of Baptism *


[From a Decree of the Holy Office, August 21, 1901]


The Archbishop of Utrecht * relates:


1977 “Many medical doctors in hospitals and elsewhere in cases of necessity are accustomed to baptize infants in their mother’s wombs with water mixed with hydrargyrus bichloratus corrosives (in French: chloride de mercure). This water is compounded approximately of a solution of one part of this chloretus hydrargicus in a thousand parts of water, and with this solution of water the potion is poisonous. Now the reason why they use this mixture is that the womb of the mother may not be infected with disease.”


Therefore the questions:


  1. Is a baptism administered with such water certainly or dubiously valid ?


  1. Is it permitted to avoid all danger of disease to administer the sacrament of baptism with such water?


III. Is it permitted also to use this water when pure water can be applied without any danger of disease?


The answers are (with the approbation of Leo Xlll):


To I. This will be answered in. II


To II. It is permitted when real danger of disease is present.


To III. No.

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