Action Alert!

Brisbane: the Sorcerer's Apprentice

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 23, 2004

Post-ecclesial Catholicism has come to Brisbane, with predictable results:

The Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, yesterday declared that children baptised at a South Brisbane church using non-traditional words would have to be re-baptised. Hundreds of children have been baptised at St Mary's Church in the past decade using the words "creator, liberator and sustainer" instead of "father, son and holy spirit".

I note with interest that last season's high-fashion heresy, "Creator, Redeemer & Sanctifier," has given way to a lower-case "liberator and sustainer." Minimal. More down-to-earth.

But St Mary's Church member Margaret Ridley will not be seeking a re-baptism for her three children. "I have every confidence that my children have been baptised in an adequate and proper way," Ms Ridley said yesterday. "They are baptised Christians; they are not baptised Catholics."

Ms. Ridley's confidence is misplaced. Her children have never been baptized -- unless, perhaps, Grandma did it on the sly while batheing them in the sink. In any case, nothing happened at church.

[Bathersby] said Father Peter Kennedy, of St Mary's, should ask parents if they wanted their children re-baptised. But Fr Kennedy yesterday said he was "gobsmacked" by the Archbishop's statement and did not accept the baptisms were invalid. "I think the Archbishop is up the creek, so to speak," Fr Kennedy said.

"It's obvious that he is wrong, but he is the Archbishop."

It takes dozens of summer theology workshops to reach this stage of confusion, petulance, and error. Clearly Kennedy has not been idle.

Fr Kennedy said the words used by him and Fr Terry Fitzpatrick at St Mary's were not scripturally based but based on the doctrine of the trinity. "When we use the words 'God the creator, liberator and sustainer', it's just another way of expressing the trinitarian formula. It's fundamentalism to argue that the actual words are all-important."

Complete rubbish. Kennedy's notion was formally declared anathema by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and is in flat contradiction to the Church's doctrine on the "unity of the operations of the persons ad extra," already articulated by the Second Council of Constantinople (553). But who needs Denzinger when you've got Marty Haugen?

"That's the trouble with the Church; under the present Pope you're not allowed to have different opinions," Fr Kennedy said.

So, the present Pope codified the Trinitarian baptismal formula? Kennedy's grasp of Church History is of a piece with his sacramental theology.

Ms Ridley said she and her husband ... had been invited to contribute to the words of the baptism services for their children Caitlin, 10, Felicity, 9, and Manning, 7.

"The services celebrated the maternal aspects of child-rearing as opposed to the traditional patriarchal approach of the Catholic Church," Ms Ridley said. "It was delightful to have the female side of divinity recognised and celebrated."

Wasn't it though.

Caroline Gamin, of Alderley, will also not be seeking a re-baptism for her daughter, Maddie, 7, who was baptised at St Mary's in 1997. "I don't remember them using those words – the creator, liberator and sustainer – but I think they're gorgeous," Ms Gamin said.

Fr. Kennedy claims that the Archbishop "had supported the liturgical experimentation in his parish over the years." Bathersby, like the sorcerer's apprentice, seems to have unleased doctrinal tempests beyond his control by permitting the Mass to be used as a plaything. The damage won't end here.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.