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 180ยบ 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.]

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Show 11 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2008 10:45 AM ET USA

    but parochus, that's not what Fr. Jim says

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2008 1:57 AM ET USA

    Not an impossible task, Fr Jim. Baptism could be done with one of the Sun masses for a couple of months, and all would be well. Apparently, the biggest job is getting the clergy to admit to their errors! Meanwhile, those presented for baptism, in good faith, have been deprived of sacramental/sanctifying grace - because of the obstinancy of those priests who refuse to hear Peter's voice and to obey it.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2008 6:45 PM ET USA

    The Archbishop of Brisbane must act and dismiss Father Spence immediately. If he does not act, the Vatican must step in, and fast, or Papal authority will truly have become a joke.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2008 3:36 AM ET USA

    Another important thing is that no other Sacraments that the person received were valid, either. One can't receive a Sacrament unless one is Baptized.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2008 11:50 PM ET USA

    What exactly is Fr Jim's aim, here? A bunch of people flooding his office demanding to be baptized "again"? Is that such a big problem? Or a flood of people taking the CDF seriously -more seriously than HIM? Or does it bug him that Catholics take baptism so seriously?!? That might have something to do with Jesus' words: "Whoever believes AND IS BAPTIZED will be saved"? Sounds to me like it's Fr Jim who's worried -worried that people might be trusting Jesus' words and the Vatican's, not HIS!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2008 7:09 PM ET USA

    or maybe, "what we have here is a failure to EX-communicate?"

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2008 7:08 PM ET USA

    In Fr. Spence's case maybe the failure to communicate should equal excommunicate

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2008 6:02 PM ET USA

    I guess it's just too much trouble to go back through the records and find those people or their families. After all, there are so many more important and relevant things going on in the Church, why worry about a little thing like Baptism? And even if it's not valid, we don't have to worry because God will take care of it for us because he loves us. Blessed Mother, come to the aid of your Son's priests. Give them a clear understanding of the enormity of their offense and bring them to repentance

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2008 1:20 PM ET USA

    And the consequences to Father Jim will be...? Negative.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2008 12:48 PM ET USA

    "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." I wonder if Fr. Spence is familiar with the magnitude of this quote from Jesus. Or maybe he just doesn't worry about it.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2008 9:48 AM ET USA

    Rather, what we have here is a failure to obey.