That was my first shot.
Originally Posted by musterion
There is some interesting language in the Catechism of the Catholic Church concerning baptism:
The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are reborn of water and the Spirit. God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.Emphasis the Pope's.
This underlined statement provides the footing for what follows.
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.Here it is shown that salvation comes to those who wish to be baptized (according to "the Trinitarian baptismal formula" Matthew 28:19, CCC1256), even before their baptism. This desire, along with repentance for sins and charity, evidences the genuine Christian faith, is how I read it.
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.Emphasis the Pope's.
I think here it is proper to infer that "the Gospel of Christ" is how the Pope himself teaches it. In the same way, I think it right to infer that the knowledge of "his Church" is Catholic ecclesiology. Virtually no non-Catholics are aware of either, so this paragraph can be said of any non-Catholic almost without exception. There is also a sense in which one could not correctly understand the Pope's "Gospel of Christ" and ecclesiology, and not be Catholic, since understanding in the way in which the Pope means would be to also agree with him. It is in this sense that a human could "know 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," 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.Emphasis the Pope's.
While you are not a child, the principle that, "God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments," shines forth here as well.