no Baptism, no worry

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 11, 2008

Suppose a child is presented for Baptism, and the priest pours the water, saying: "I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier." Is that a valid Baptism.

On February 29, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave us a simple, straightforward answer: No. That is not a valid Baptism.

In Brisbane, Australia, where the chic formula was used frequently, some Catholics are understandably upset. But the chancellor of the archdiocese, Father Jim Spence, wants to make sure they're not unduly upset. Father Jim told the Courier-Mail that the use of the improper formula "doesn't mean it's invalid, it just means it's illicit."

That's funny. The Vatican, when asked whether such a baptism was valid, replied in a single word: "Negative."

So does that mean that those who were "baptized" with the invalid formula didn't really receive the sacrament? Father Spence assures the people of Brisbane: "It doesn't mean that it [the sacrament] didn't happen, it means that it shouldn't have happened."

That answer is precisely 180º off the authoritative bearing provided by the Vatican. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asked whether people in that situation should be baptized "again," gave another admirably simple, clear answer: "Affirmative."

The Vatican declares that the baptisms are invalid. Father Spence says they're valid. The Vatican tells people who received the invalid "baptism" that they should present themselves for (valid) Baptism. Father Spence says don't worry about it.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

[Tip to Father Z.]

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org 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!

Show 13 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - Oct. 31, 2009 4:12 PM ET USA

    I recommend that the above religious denominations aquaint themselves with the "Hate speech" case against Fr. Alphonse deVolk by the Canadian Human Rights Commission,(CHRC).Father deVolk is being investigated by the CHRC for quoting the Bible, Catechism of the Church, and John Paul II in defense of traditional marriage in his magazine, "Catholic Insight." We are not talking here about one's opinion on some matter of personal taste but about bevaior judged immoral from time immemorial.

  • Posted by: Colonel Joe - Oct. 27, 2009 7:32 PM ET USA

    Not a day goes by that gives me one more reason to question my association with the Catholic Church in the United States of America. The same article that grants freedom of religion also grants freedom of speech. Sorta the same idea. Perhaps our Bishops should be more concerned with why folks are leaving the Catholic church. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons.

  • Posted by: AMDGKy - Oct. 23, 2009 3:42 PM ET USA

    Why not ask the Bishop of Calgary what he thinks of the USCCB stance on hate speech.He was a victim of the Canadian review board not so long ago. Perhaps the USCCB is putting the noose around their own neck..... and loking at Obama for approval all the while.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 23, 2009 3:27 PM ET USA

    There's blame enough to go all around. Rush Limbaugh is arrogant, hateful and bigoted, and the USCCB is a nest of liberal politicos.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 23, 2009 2:10 PM ET USA

    Maybe the USCCB hasn't considered the possibility---nay, the likelihood if not the certainty---that if the government censors broadcasting, EWTN (and EWTN Radio) and Immaculate Heart Radio will have to give equal time to Protestants and atheists. Of course, that might be OK with a lot of the bishops, to whom those broadcasters are a thorn in the side.

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Oct. 23, 2009 1:34 AM ET USA

    We are often told the USCCB has no official power in and of itself. Then why do we look to them as representatives of our Church? It's a "collegiality" thing, I guess. I agree with Rosemarie that they should be "holy, wise.....shepherds." The USCCB has become too political and they are wasting our money. Stay home, bishops, and mind your own stores! Tend your sheep and be good fathers to your priests. Flee Washington, sell your huge building, lay off the liberals on our payroll.

  • Posted by: gallardo.vm5565 - Oct. 22, 2009 7:49 PM ET USA

    But the USCCB is ok with gay priest, adulterous priest, dissident bishops and less attendance at Sunday Mass. Glad to see our leaders focused on our salvation...

  • Posted by: oremus7739 - Oct. 22, 2009 1:56 PM ET USA

    Your Excellencies at the USCCB: Back off Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservatives in talk radio and concentrate your efforts on reigning in the enemies of the Church, who happen to be self-describe "devout Catholics"..i.e. Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durban, John Kerry, Kathleen Sebelius, etc ,etc. Let's clean up our own house and don't give the pro-Obama, FCC the rope to silence patriotic Americans who daily, fight against the disease of "liberalism".

  • Posted by: unum - Oct. 22, 2009 8:56 AM ET USA

    USCCB for Obamacare! USCCB for government control of broascast communications! USCCB against individual liberty! USCCB for the collective! Should we follow? What would Jesus do?

  • Posted by: John Chrysostom - Oct. 22, 2009 8:25 AM ET USA

    Where can we find the information you quote? Those of us who wish to write letters of complaint to the USCCB will need an exact reference. Thanks!

  • Posted by: Eagle - Oct. 22, 2009 7:24 AM ET USA

    Does anyone know which, if any, bishops issue the political position statements, or, in this case, petitions, which, allegedly, are approved by 2/3 of the national episcopacy? If the bishops don't approve them, then who gave the bureaucracy the authority to issue them in the bishops' names?

  • Posted by: annemarie - Oct. 21, 2009 7:50 PM ET USA

    Silence talk radio?! Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and their ilk are not hate-mongers. These conservative commentators keep us informed about the highly questionable, sometimes nefarious, plans of the Obama administration. Why don’t the bishops do something useful like – oh, I don’t know – perhaps, be holy, wise, just shepherds. Oh, no – too busy protecting their croziers and mitres. The shepherds have abandoned their flock. St. John Chrysostom must be counting skulls.

  • Posted by: Hal - Oct. 21, 2009 6:38 PM ET USA

    Really, fundamentally, isn't the USCCB simply a liberal interest group? Can anyone tell me why not? At least neither they, nor any charitable appeal with their "USCCB" associated with it claims my money any longer. What else can one do?