On Suicides & Catechumens (The Council of Braga – Translated)
September 5, 2023
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Bro. Peter Dimond

In the year 563 a council was held at Braga (in modern Portugal).  This council promulgated some interesting things about people who committed suicide, and about catechumens who died without baptism.  To our knowledge, the chapters of this council (except for certain excerpts) have never been fully translated from Latin into English.  We will present a translation of chapters 16 and 17 in this video.  After citing the chapters, we will show that this Council had papal approval and make a few other points.

This is the Latin text (with an English translation) of Chapter 16 of the 563 Council of Braga, concerning those who committed suicide.  Note that some sources call the 563 Council the First Council of Braga; others consider it to be the Second Council of Braga, depending upon whether a Council in Braga in the 5th century is considered authentic.

Council of Braga, Chap. 16, AD 563:

“Item placuit, ut hi qui sibi ipsis aut per ferrum, aut per venenum, aut per praecipitium, aut per suspendium, vel quolibet modo violentiam inferunt mortem, nulla pro illis in oblatione commemoratio fiat, neque cum psalmis ad sepulturam eorum cadavera deducantur multi enim sibi hoc per ignorantiam usurpaverunt.  Similiter & de his placuit, qui pro suis sceleribus puniuntur.”

“Likewise it has been determined that, for those who bring violent death upon themselves by the sword, or by poison, or by jumping, or by hanging themselves, or by any other method, no commemoration is to be made in the Sacrifice for them, nor are their corpses to be led out for burial with psalms. For many have misused this [practice] through ignorance.  Similarly has it been determined regarding those who will be punished for their own crimes.” (Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova Et Amplissima Collectio, Vol. 9:779)

Since suicide is a mortal sin that sends one to Hell, those who have tragically committed suicide are not to be given Catholic rites or ecclesiastical burial.  They are also not to be prayed for.  That’s the Tradition of the Church, but that is of course widely violated in the Vatican II Counter Church.  The Vatican II Sect grants ‘Christian burial’ to (and offers ‘Masses’ for) all kinds of deceased notorious sinners and public heretics.  As just one example, the ‘Diocese’ of Scranton offered a “Mass of Remembrance for People who have Die by Suicide” (https://www.dioceseofscranton.org/mass-for-suicide-healing-remembrance-to-be-held-sept-17-in-scranton/)

In fact, the contrast between the Catholic Church’s teaching and tradition on refusing Catholic rites and Christian burial for grave sinners, and what the Vatican II Sect does on a regular basis, is striking.  The Vatican II Sect’s departure from Catholic teaching and tradition in this area by itself proves that it’s not the Catholic Church.  It is, rather, the prophesied end-times Counter Church, as our material explains.   

Here’s the Latin text (and an English translation) of chapter 17 of the Council of Braga, with regard to catechumens who died without baptism.

Council of Braga, Chap. 17, AD 563:

“Item placuit, ut catechumenis sine redemptione baptismi defunctis, simili modo, neque oblationis commemoratio, neque psallendi impendatur officium: nam & hoc per ignorantiam ursurpatum est.”

“Likewise it has been determined that for catechumens who died without the redemption of baptism, in a similar manner, neither the commemoration of the Sacrifice nor the office of Psalmody should be applied; for owing to ignorance even this has been misused.” (Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova Et Amplissima Collectio, Vol. 9:779)

So, here we have the “dreaded Feeneyism” in the 563 Council of Braga.  This decree clearly contradicts the idea of ‘baptism of desire.’  It specifically forbids Catholic rites for catechumens who die without baptism.  Why?  Because they were not considered part of the Church or among the faithful, and there’s no salvation outside the Church.  One only becomes part of the Catholic Church through the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism.  See: Subjection To The Roman Pontiff & The Necessity Of Baptism

Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Imprimatur 1954, Book 4, Pt. 2, Chap. 5: “Among the members of the Church are not to be counted: a) The unbaptized… Catechumens are not to be counted among the members of the Church… The Church claims no jurisdiction over them (D895).  The Fathers draw a sharp line of separation between Catechumens and ‘the faithful.’”

Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, Sess. 14, Chap. 2, On The Sacraments of Baptism and Penance: “… since the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not previously entered it by the gate of baptism.  For what have I to do with those who are without [1 Cor. 5:12], says the Apostle.  It is otherwise with those of the household of the faith, whom Christ the Lord by the laver of baptism has once made ‘members of his own body’ [1 Cor. 12:13].”

Thus, catechumens who died without baptism were not given Catholic rites, just as Catholic rites were forbidden for suicides.  Now, certain John 3:5 mockers have literally mocked the Council of Braga by trying to portray it as a little, insignificant council at which only eight bishops were present.  I want to make a few points in response to that. 

First, it was an important provincial council, and one of the eight bishops in attendance was St. Martin of Braga.  Second, as we’ve mentioned in the past, the council’s decree on unbaptized catechumens (which we just cited) is referenced by the Catholic Encyclopedia as reflective of the Tradition of the Church on this matter.  However, there’s an even more important expression of this law and tradition, as we will see.  Third, as probably few or none of the John 3:5 mockers know, this council received papal approval.

In his epistle to Kings Alphonso VI and Sancho IV, dated March 19, 1074, Pope St. Gregory VII (one of the greatest and strongest popes in Catholic history) stated this about the 563 Council of Braga (which we just quoted from).

Pope St. Gregory VII, To Kings Alphonso VI and Sancho IV, March 19, 1074: “For it remains the case that from where you do not doubt that you have obtained the beginning of religion you also receive according to the Church’s order the divine office, which the letter of Pope Innocent addressed to Gubio teaches you, which the decree of Hormisdas as sent to Seville makes known, which the councils of Toledo and Braga [563] establish, and which also your bishops who recently came to us have promised in writing that they will adopt according to the decree of the council and have promised into our own hand.” (H.E.J. Cowdrey, The Register of Pope Gregory VII, 1073-1085, Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 68)

As we can see, Pope St. Gregory VII held that the 563 Council of Braga was authoritative.  Now, an even more important expression of the aforementioned Tradition – namely, that all those who died without baptism were not to be given Catholic rites or a Catholic burial – is found in the Church’s law which states:

Pope St. Gregory VII, To Bishop Henry of Liege, Oct. 28, 1076: “If, then, in this schism which, being ventured upon against the Holy and Apostolic church… he or anyone who shall have freely signed his name and, while knowingly communicating with the excommunicated king, has died or shall have died without penance and satisfaction, we cannot differ from the relevant sentence of the holy fathers – namely, With those with whom we have not communicated while they were living we do not venture to communicate with while they are dead.” (Cowdrey, p. 216)

This law was articulated by various popes, including Pope St. Leo the Great and Pope St. Gregory VII, and it was incorporated into medieval canon law.  We’ve cited it before.  See our video: No Latin Mass Or Prayers For Dead Non-Catholics – Papal Teaching.  Since the unbaptized (including unbaptized catechumens) were not in communion with the Church during life, you are not permitted to treat them as in communion with the Church after they die.  Hence, they are not to be given Christian burial or prayed for.  The same of course applies to all who die outside the Catholic Church. 

Pope Martin V, Inter Cunctas, Feb. 22, 1418: “Moreover, we… decree that if anyone…. Should be found of ill-repute or suspicion… of the doctrine of the aforementioned pestilential heresiarch John Wycliffe, John Hus and Jerome of Prague, either by supporting, receiving, or defending the aforementioned condemned men or their perfidious followers and pseudo-disciples, while they lived among men, or by believing their errors, by praying for them when dead or for any of their party after death…”

That’s the authoritative and traditional law of the Church approved by various popes.  It’s just more proof that we are correct on baptism and salvation, and that the John 3:5 mockers are wrong. 

Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Canon 2 on the Sacrament of Baptism: “If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account should distort those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5] into some metaphor: let him be anathema.”

It’s also more proof that we are correct that you are not permitted to pray for deceased non-Catholics.  Now, the aforementioned law of the Church (which is not purely disciplinary, but is connected with faith and the divine law) was compromised in the 20th century when modernism and errors were abounding, especially on salvation.  A novelty was introduced in the 20th century – not as binding upon all in the Church, but as applicable to a certain segment of the Church – a novelty that contradicts the aforementioned authoritative law of the popes and the Tradition (as we see in Braga). 

So, is it possible for a bad law to be approved by a pope for a certain segment of the Church, or for certain people in the Church? 

Pope Benedict XIV, Ex Quo Primum (#1), March 1, 1756: “Accordingly the Roman Pontiffs have often had to see to it that missals, rituals, breviaries, and martyrologies were newly issued in improved editions after appropriate corrections.”

While the Church is spotless in her sacred laws imposed upon all, as Pius XII taught in Mystici Corporis, error can be found in laws that are not promulgated as binding upon all in the Church but are approved only for certain people in the Church, or for a certain segment of the Church. 

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (#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…”

We’ve proven this before, but there are additional facts and details on this matter that we plan to cover.

Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei (#43), Nov. 20, 1947: “… the washing of baptism distinguishes and separates all Christians [christianos omnes] from the rest whom this stream of atonement has not washed and who are not members of Christ…”

These facts will further totally refute the John 3:5 mockers.  They have an inaccurate and overly broad view of the Church’s infallibility, while ironically those same people reject the most solemn pronouncements from the Chair of St. Peter on baptism and salvation.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives… and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

We will further refute their misconceptions on this matter, God willing, in a future video.

Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo”, Nov. 22, 1439: “Holy Baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church.  And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5].  The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.”

The Council of Trent, Session 5, Canon 4, On Original Sin, ex cathedra:

Council of Trent, Sess. 5, Can. 4, On Original Sin: “By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death… so that in them there may be washed away by regeneration, what they have contracted by generation, ‘For unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God’ [John 3:5].”

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