What Does the Baptismal Form Really Say?

I was rooting around over at In the Light of the Law and found an interesting bit of information.

The CDF has issued a response to questions about the use of the proper form for conferring the all important sacrament of baptism.

In short, in the Diocese of Brisbane, Australia, some priests at a parish church in performed thousands of invalid baptisms.  They were changing the Trinitarian baptismal form to things like "I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier’, or ‘I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer’".

How stupid is that?

Remember: we have to get baptism right!  Without baptism, you can’t receive the other sacraments.

The entry at the aforementioned canon law blog provides some background.  

Take a look at  In the Light of the Law

 

The rules on baptism are meant to be followed

When, back on 2 December 2004, I blogged about "Brisbane’s Bad Baptisms", I got an unusual number of nasty notes from folks who (assuming they agreed with my point that baptism in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier was invalid, and many did not agree), nevertheless took umbrage at my conclusion that those undergoing such rituals were not, in fact, any kind of Christian (pace the archbishop there), and that such persons, to be Christian, let alone Catholic, needed to be absolutely (not conditionally, pace 1983 CIC 869.1) baptized anew. "It wasn’t their fault they were baptized invalidly," wrote one unhappy reader, "how can you deny them the grace of God because of something they didn’t do?" Like, you know, I decide who gets God’s grace and who doesn’t.

Today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced its ruling that any ‘baptism’ attempted "in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier" (or, to take another silly variation, "in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer") is invalid, and that persons who received such ‘baptisms’ . . . "have, in reality, not been baptised [and must] . . . be treated for all canonical and pastoral purposes with the same juridical criteria as people whom the Code of Canon Law places in the general category of non-baptised."

I won’t say that it feels good being shown right by an "authentic doctrinal declaration" from CDF, but it sure beats being shown wrong.

Anyway, sacraments are pretty tough things, designed by Christ to be administered even by fallen people. But sacraments have rules, instilled by the Lord, that must be followed. When his rules aren’t followed, real people miss out. So let’s get these folks baptized as Christ directed, and get back about the task of spreading his Good News as Jesus would have it spread.

Here is the CDF statement:

REPLY FROM DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH ON BAPTISMAL FORMULAE

VATICAN CITY, 29 FEB 2008 (VIS) – Made public today were the responses of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to two questions concerning the validity of Baptism conferred with certain non-standard formulae.

The first question is: "Is a Baptism valid if conferred with the words ‘I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier’, or ‘I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer’"?

The second question is: "Must people baptised with those formulae be baptised ‘in forma absoluta’?"

The responses are: "To the first question, negative; to the second question, affirmative".

Benedict XVI, during his recent audience with Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these responses, which were adopted at the ordinary session of the congregation, and ordered their publication. The text of the responses bears the signatures of Cardinal Levada and of Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the dicastery.

An attached note explains that the responses "concern the validity of Baptism conferred with two English-language formulae within the ambit of the Catholic Church. … Clearly, the question does not concern English but the formula itself, which could also be expressed in another language".

"Baptism conferred in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit", the note continues, "obeys Jesus’ command as it appears at the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew. … The baptismal formula must be an adequate expression of Trinitarian faith, approximate formulae are unacceptable.

"Variations to the baptismal formula – using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons – as considered in this reply, arise from so-called feminist theology", being an attempt "to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic, substituting them with other names. Such variants, however, undermine faith in the Trinity".

"The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith constitutes an authentic doctrinal declaration, which has wide-ranging canonical and pastoral effects. Indeed, the reply implicitly affirms that people who have been baptised, or who will in the future be baptised, with the formulae in question have, in reality, not been baptised. Hence, they must them be treated for all canonical and pastoral purposes with the same juridical criteria as people whom the Code of Canon Law places in the general category of ‘non- baptised’".

 

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128 Responses to What Does the Baptismal Form Really Say?

  1. TNCath says:

    Maybe I’m being an alarmist, but to say that this is a serious matter is beyond understatement. So, what if a person is not aware of whether he or she was baptized valid or not? I suppose there would have to be a conditional baptism performed? What if someone went his or her entire life not knowing that they were properly baptized or not? Would “baptism by desire” play any role here?

    Also, would this reply from CDF apply to the sacrament of Confirmation as well? I ask this because an old priest once recounted to me that he was convinced that his bishop (long deceased now) did not administer a single valid confirmation during his 33 year tenure as bishop because he cut short the formula. This would have been from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. If this is the case, think of the thousands of people out there who were not confirmed as well.

    This is scary…and quite depressing!

  2. TNCath says:

    Correction: So, what if a person is not aware of whether he or she was baptized VALIDLY or not?
    Mea culpa!

  3. Ioannes says:

    I don’t know. The statement from the CDF seems to rule out Baptism of Desire, doesn’t it?

    1. The form used was invalid.
    2. They must be baptised in Forma Absoluta.

    There are no further clarifications.

  4. TNCath says:

    There is also no reference to the intent of the celebrant, either. Wow. As we say in the South, “Have mercy!” This is just another example of the presence of smoke of Satan in the Church.

  5. Prof. Basto says:

    If I’m not mistaken (and I’m no expert) “baptism by desire” is not the same as the Sacrament of Baptism; it is rather an exception to the requirement of the actual Sacrament.

    And the Sacrament is, in this case, null and void. So, instead of relying only in the possibility that the Lord will be merciful and take account of a “baptism of desire”, the right thing to do – in order to be on the safe side – is to submit the people concerned to an absolute administration of the Sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ, which has graces attached to it “ex opere operato”.

    Until they get the Sacrament, they are un-baptized, non-Christian. That does not mean that someone who dies believing he was baptized will go to hell. The the person believed in good faith that he had been baptized in the Catholic Church, acted as a member thereof, and so it is possible that God in his mercy will take account of a baptism of desire. But that does not mean that those who are living shouldn’t be baptized anew, validly this time, so as to be on the safe side.

    If a “baptism of desire” has to be taken into consideration, that is only because there is no actual sacramental Baptism. When sacramental Baptism happens, one does not need to consider the previous “baptism of desire” and the complex questions related to it. And since the people concerned are still living, the right thing to do is to correct the situation by providing them with the true Sacrament.

  6. Stephen Morgan says:

    Ioannes, it doesn’t rule out baptism by desire in any way. What it does is to say that for a baptism to be sacramentally valid the proper form has to be used. Baptism by desire is an extra-sacramental doctrine that relates to how the grace of God is at work in those who have not been brought within the Church through sacramental Baptism.

  7. Well.
    That makes things quite clear.
    There can now be absolutely no doubt at all in anyone’s minds.
    Anyone who departs from the formula “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” knowingly confers invalid baptism.
    What a terribly wicked thing to do.

    The argument : “But it’s not peoples’ fault that they have received invalid baptism” doesn’t alter the fact.
    It’s not peoples’ fault that their soul is marked with Original Sin, but that doesn’t alter the fact either.

  8. Boko Fittleworth says:

    What about using saliva? Recent situation with a relative. Taking newborn to the hospital, serious injury, no water in the car. Can one wet one’s finger with saliva?

    Should the subsequent baptism(?) (this Saturday – all better, thank God!) be conditional?

  9. RBrown says:

    If I’m not mistaken (and I’m no expert) “baptism by desire” is not the same as the Sacrament of Baptism; it is rather an exception to the requirement of the actual Sacrament.

    Winner, winner, Chicken dinner.

    And the Sacrament is, in this case, null and void. So, instead of relying only in the possibility that the Lord will be merciful and take account of a “baptism of desire”, the right thing to do – in order to be on the safe side – is to submit the people concerned to an absolute administration of the Sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ, which has graces attached to it “ex opere operato”.

    If there is doubt, then Conditional Baptism is an option. “If not Baptized before, I Baptize . . . ”

    Until they get the Sacrament, they are un-baptized, non-Christian. That does not mean that someone who dies believing he was baptized will go to hell. The the person believed in good faith that he had been baptized in the Catholic Church, acted as a member thereof, and so it is possible that God in his mercy will take account of a baptism of desire. But that does not mean that those who are living shouldn’t be baptized anew, validly this time, so as to be on the safe side.

    If a “baptism of desire” has to be taken into consideration, that is only because there is no actual sacramental Baptism. When sacramental Baptism happens, one does not need to consider the previous “baptism of desire” and the complex questions related to it. And since the people concerned are still living, the right thing to do is to correct the situation by providing them with the true Sacrament.
    Comment by Prof. Basto

    It is a matter of necessity vs possibility. The Sacraments are necessary for Salvation, but it is possible to receive the fruits of a Sacrament without the Sacrament having been administered.

  10. TJM says:

    The left-wing liturgical police will be very, very unhappy. Tom

  11. Let me say several things…

    1. This irritates me no end; “irritate” is rather softer than the word I want to use, but this is a polite setting. This sacrament is so easy to get right, brothers, don’t monkey around with it!

    2. I would argue rather strongly that a person who, through no fault of his or her own, was not validly baptized, need have no fear for his or her soul, just as, after all, we allow for the possibility of salvation for those who never hear of Christ.

    In this case, the one who acted in good faith, but because of the nonsense of the one who performed the baptism was not actually baptized, should, it seems to me, have no less reason to be confident in God’s grace. As St. Thomas Aquinas said (not an exact quote): God is bound to act through the sacraments, but he is not bound to act only through the sacraments.

    This point, of course, is not meant to say that one who knows his or her baptism was messed up shouldn’t seek baptism; I’m addressing the person who said some folks might not even know, what do they do.

    3. While this is disturbing, it is, as far as I know, still rare in the Catholic Church; at least, I think it is rare in the U.S.

    4. It would be unlikely that no one would know if the baptism was done invalidly, insofar as the difference between a valid and invalid baptism is rather apparent, and others are almost always present for the baptism, and one could easily ask, “did the deacon or priest say the usual words, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or did he do something different?”

    5. Regarding “intention”–many people misunderstand this element of validity. What invalidates a sacrament is not if the minister has an insufficiently strong intention, but that he have an intention against…

    Thus, a person baptizing doesn’t have to understand much of what (s)he’s doing, only to intend to do what the Church does; thus, if a cleric is unavailable as an ordinary minister of baptism, anyone, even a non-believer, can validly baptize.

    Likewise, a man approaching orders need not have a “strong enough” intention regarding his ordination; but he must not have an intention against it.

    Remember, the Holy Trinity is the primary actor in the sacraments. And the sacraments exist to help us, not to give the recipients fits of scrupulosity. (But again, I say to my brother clerics: don’t mess around with the sacraments–do them right!)

    The sacramental formulae, in and of themselves, are very straightforward, so it’s relatively simple to determine when someone has monkeyed around. A priest can use a variety of Eucharistic prayers, but the words of institution are invariable, and so are the essential words and actions for each of the sacraments. If you hear them monkey around, don’t take it lightly.

    That said, I’ve seen a number of priests who love to monkey around with liturgy, who become strict rubricists around the essential words..something in them holds them back, thank God, from that; it’s very striking when you witness it.

  12. TN Cath and Ioannes: Baptism of Desire is a valid form of baptism in that by it one can be saved, however, it is not the same as Sacramental Baptism in that it does not entitle one to the rights of the Baptized. So, if a person believes they are baptized and truly desires to be baptized then they would be saved provided they died in the state of grace. But, they are not entitled to the other sacraments.

    If a person is ignorant of whether or not they were absolutely baptized they would never ask the question. They would assume they were. And, spending their life thinking they were validly absolutely baptized they would be acting in good faith. So, provided they died in a state of grace they would be saved. If a person has serious doubt or comes to have them as to whether or not they were validly baptized they are morally obliged to speak to a priest and have the matter rectified, including confirmation and matrimony and, heaven forbid, holy orders.

    The truly diabolical aspect of this situation is that the baptisms were recorded and certificates issued. Thus, when necessary, proof of baptism was provided. But the proof was of nothing for the people were not baptized. The diocesan bishop must now see to it that every person whose baptism is in question is contacted, absolutely baptized, absolutely confirmed, and where necessary, absolutely married. If one of those “baptized” in this fiasco were “ordained” a priest, then he must be absolutely ordained. His baptisms would be valid if he used proper form. If he “confirmed” anyone they would have to be absolutely confirmed. Any marriages he witnessed would have to be radically sanated. Masses would have to be offered for the intentions he accepted stipends for. His absolutions would be invalid, however a person would be subsequently absolved by another priest as long as they said “for these and all the sins of my past life” or something to that effect. Truly a diabolical situation.

    As far as the confirmations go the bishop in question may have shortened the rite but it depends on what he omitted. If he used the proper matter and form then they were valid but illicit. Also, since no one need be confirmed to receive another sacrament it isn’t as much of an issue as the baptism issue if they were indeed invalid.

  13. A.T.S. says:

    Fr. Scott Bailey said:

    “The diocesan bishop must now see to it that every person whose baptism is in question is contacted…and where necessary, absolutely married”

    Baptism is not a prerequisite to a valid marriage. The non-baptised person would have entered into a valid, non-sacramental marriage.

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    TNCath: Also, would this reply from CDF apply to the sacrament of Confirmation as well?

    As one confirmed by the bishop to whom you refer, I find this question to be of some interest, though not really of great concern. He was a bishop the likes of which is all too rare today, his every public word and visible action a seeming reinforcement of the doctrine of apostolic succession.

    Another old priest told me that he administered his diocese consisting then of the whole state of Tennessee from a chancery in Nashville whose entire staff consisted (in addition to himself) of his secretary and another priest who served as chancellor. Since then, the state has been split into three dioceses, each having a huge chancery staff, none of these operations resembling remotely the tight ship his three-man chancery administered in every detail.

    Also, I believe he may have been one of the very first bishops to come back from Vatican II and voice publicly the concern that some of those controlling the implementation of the Council sought to de-Catholicize the Church under the guise of merely de-Romanizing it. I have often thought that, if the majority of bishops then had been more like him, the Church might not now have such great need to be re-Catholicized.

  15. What about using saliva? Recent situation with a relative. Taking newborn to the hospital, serious injury, no water in the car. Can one wet one’s finger with saliva?

    Should the subsequent baptism(?) (this Saturday – all better, thank God!) be conditional?

    It is questionable as to whether or not saliva is valid matter for baptism. However, the matter must flow. So, to wet one’s finger with saliva and mark a cross would not constitue a valid baptism even if it were valid matter. Neither would it be a valid baptism to wet one’s finger with water and mark a cross. The matter, which must be primarily plain water, must be poured, sprinkled, or the person immersed therein three times so that the water flows over the head, once each in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  16. D.V.M. says:

    As I understand it, Baptism of Desire is merely a theory (and a relatively recent one at that) for which there is precious little evidence in support–only our assumption that, since Pentecost, Providence has prevented God from offering real Baptism to each and every soul. We should take Christ seriously when he said, “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

  17. Ed Peters says:

    Folks, most of these subsequential sacramental questions are addressed in my orignal blog post about this topic. Fr. SB is right re saliva, indeed, saliva itself is not valid remote matter becasue it is not, in the “common estimatation of men” (as opposed to a chemical analysis) not “water”.

  18. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, how hard can that be? Apparently very. Let us hope that the valid baptisms one day will occur. There’s no Baptismal Formula I, II, III, IV, as Fr. Martin has said don’t mess with the sacraments

  19. Adrienne says:

    Didn’t this same situation happen in St. Louis, or there abouts??

    Seems pretty simple to me – form and matter. My 7th graders would be able to tell you that was not a valid baptism. BE

  20. A.T.S.

    You are incorrect. A valid though non-sacramental marriage is contracted between a baptized person and a non-baptized person but if it takes place in a Catholic church one of the parties must be Catholic and there must be a dispensation or it is not valid. Given the circumstances of assumed baptism there would be no dispensation given so there would be no valid marriage.

  21. A clarification: it would be a licit marriage. Validity has to do with sacraments.

  22. Brian Kiernan says:

    Clearly, the headline here is the succinct, powerful, knock out punch that this reply from Pope Benedict and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith delivers directly to the breadbasket of the adolescent rebellion of inclusivist, feminist theology.

    The responses are: “To the first question, negative; to the second question, affirmative”

    There is nothing wishy-washy or ambiguous about that response!

    But, just in case anyone had any doubt about the matter:

    “Variations to the baptismal formula – using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons – as considered in this reply, arise from so-called feminist theology”, being an attempt “to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic, substituting them with other names. Such variants, however, undermine faith in the Trinity”.

    Incredible

  23. Jeff Pinyan says:

    RBrown: Winner, winner, Chicken dinner.

    Please, it’s Friday.

  24. Papabile says:

    2 Notes:

    1. I saw a RCIA Class baptized with the Creator/Redeemer/Sanctifier formula at The Catholic University of America, St. Vincent’s Chapel in 1990.

    2. I was Godfather to a baby, where the Priest (an uncle) created his own/similar formula. Knowing the parents wanted the baby baptized, I raised it with them, though they dismissed the concern. I knew they did want the Sacrament, but they thought the irregular formula was fine. So, knowing it wasn’t, I took my new Godson into the bathroom and baptized him myself. I informed the local parish Priest, who responded:

    “That’s good that you did so. I’ll make a note in the registry. However, I am sure I would have been told by the Bishop not to get involved if you had brought this to me.”

    3. There was a large case of these type of Baptisms that occurred in Boston several years back, and the guidance from the CDW was the same as today’s CDF guidance.

  25. Now comes the real test. Upon the disobedience of the preists and parishioners, does the Archbishop act like a father of a family and discipline his children, giving the parish to those who are Catholic, or does he simply declare the parish non-Catholic, giving the property to them as a bold ecumenical gesture? This is not facetious. This was actually discussed years ago.

    We’re talking about Australia, you know, where the Pope is going for World Youth Day. There are equally horrific things going on in Australia all over. I expect a few other things will be done to clean ship a bit before the Holy Father heads down under, a kind of accelerated Marshall Plan.

    Remember the Holy Father’s frequent requests for prayer. Ave Maria…

  26. TNCath says:

    Henry Edwards,

    I can personally vouch for everything you’ve said about the good bishop we have been discussing. He was, to put it lightly, a remarkable man who corresponded with his priests in handwritten letters, and managed to put a Catholic church and school in almost every county of Tennessee, a huge accomplishment in a state that has a very small Catholic population. Nonetheless, this posting reminded me of him.

    Having reflected on this as well as the baptism controversy, we can trust that, once again, God’s mercy and grace will more than make up for this irresponsibility on the part of, hopefully, a very few priests.

    Father Scott Bailey, C.SS.R. wrote: “Also, since no one need be confirmed to receive another sacrament it isn’t as much of an issue as the baptism issue if they were indeed invalid.”

    Can a person receive the sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders without being confirmed? I wouldn’t think one could, but I’ve been wrong many times before.

  27. Raymundus says:

    St. Joan’s in Minneapolis, anyone?

    The following question should make it clear that I’m not a sacramental theologian…

    But what is a “forma absoluta”? When did that distinction come in to play? Is there a “forma relativa”?

  28. Joe says:

    absolute as opposed to conditional. If it is believed that the person has not been baptized, it is necessary to say “I baptize you in the name etc”. If there is doubt, and the person might have been validly baptized, one says “if you are not already baptized, I baptize you in the name etc”.

  29. peretti says:

    What of the immortal souls of the priests who performed Baptisms in such an heretical manner?

  30. Athanasius says:

    I am glad for this decision to be made, and better late than never, but we really needed it 30 years ago when this nonsense started and appeals to bishops and the Vatican went unanswered under Paul VI and JP the less, and those Bishops who did speak correctly about this were marginalized on the altar of feminist toleration and said to be merely giving their opinion. All of these invalid baptisms, and consequently invalid sacraments following could have been avoided. Worse, imagine that someone in 1975 was baptized in the name of the Cre…Re..etc. and is now being ordained, invalidly because he is not in fact a Christian!?! That is scary. Think then of the invalid sacraments which he gives every day in the way of the Holy Mass (which it would not be) and confessions which he has no power to give absolution for?

  31. It is good news that the CDF has issued this clarification. Nevertheless it is a disgrace that they should have to step in to a very serious matter that should have originally been dealt with by the local bishops responsible!

  32. Prof. Basto says:

    Conditional form is not considered here because, in accordance with the CDF’s reply, there is no doubt that the botched formulae used by those priests made the attempted Baptisms invalid

    So, since there is no doubt that the Baptisms were not valid, the CDF document directs that the people concerned receive the Sacrament again, not with the conditional formula, but with the absolute one.

    In accordance with the CDF’s reply, any deviation from the Trinitarian wording proclaimed by the Lord Himself in the Gospel of Matthew amounts to the invalidity of the Sacrament of Baptism.

  33. John Collorafi says:

    Thanks for posting this, Fr. Z.

    Another grave abuse resulting in invalid baptisms occurs when the matter is not properly applied, and water does not flow on the head. I have heard anecdotal accounts of extreme cases where water was not poured on the head at all.

    Another invalidating abuse is the practice of one minister pouring the water while another recites the form.

    There needs to be a thorough investigation of the administration of baptism in the postconciliar period.

  34. TNCCatholic:

    Confirmation is not necessary for matrimony to be received; that folks getting married should be confirmed is another matter. I assume, but don’t know for sure, that it’s the same with holy orders.

  35. Kim D'Souza says:

    It’s interesting that the CDF chose to publish this important statement in many languages but all the translations used English for the defective baptismal form, even in the Latin. Obviously the abuse doesn’t have to do with the English language, but I wonder if this particular sort of nonsense is relatively unknown outside the English speaking world. Otherwise, would not one would have expected the defective form also to have been translated? But, if it’s restricted to Anglophone Catholicism, then why publish the responses in so many languages?

  36. Jack says:

    Maybe the multi-lingual response is pre-emptive.

    Also, as for ultra-emergency baptisms, where there is no available water, what could be done? There are many body fluids which contain water, but would those count? Has the Church said that the matter has to be mostly pure water, or just a fluid with some H2O?

  37. Augustinus says:

    Re: requirements for Confirmation before Marriage and sacred Orders:

    “CIC 1065: If they can do so without serious inconvenience, Catholics who have not yet received the Sacrament of Confirmation are to receive it before being admitted to marriage.”

    So, as Fr Fox indicates, Confirmation is not necessary for matrimony to be received – but is desirable. The situation for Holy Orders is, however, different:

    “CIC 1033: One is licitly promoted to Orders only if he has received the Sacrament of Confirmation.”

    No doubt there. And, as we all know, to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, one has to be validly baptised. As so many have pointed out, those who have deliberately carried out illicit Baptisms bear a heavy responsibility.

  38. Trevor says:

    This is very distressing. Perhaps I should try to find the video of my own baptism, I just to be sure…

  39. If my memory serves me correctly, Canon law supposes the Church itself to be the dispenser of the Sacraments. Priests/Bishops act in the name of the church. When they act in a way contrary to the mind and authority of the church, even though their actions may be invalid, nevertheless the church still dispenses the grace of the sacrament. It is only when a local church severs its ties with the church, and changes the administration of the sacrament that the action is rendered null and void. Upon conversion to the Church, the neophytes would be required to receive Baptism either de nova or conditionally. This is why certain Orthodox dioceses administer the sacrament a new due to the grave question of what took place in the past. This is especially true in the liberal Protestant denominations.

  40. Derik Castillo says:

    This may lead to unexpected turns.

    What if an invalidly ordained priest decides not
    to confirm the sacrament, but to return to the
    secular life.

    Is that person allowed to get married?

    In the case of matrimony, refusal to confirm the
    sacrament may have negative consequences on that
    relationship.

  41. david andrew says:

    St. Joan of Arc, Minneapolis?

    We’re all waiting with bated breath to see what our soon-to-be new archbishop will do about them. There’s a similar parish in St. Paul (St. Stephen’s) that apparently was suffering from equally egregious liturgical practices, and our current archbishop sent in the “shock troops” in the form of a very kind, charitable and orthodox priest to clean things up.

    Brick by brick.

  42. RBrown says:

    Conditional form is not considered here because, in accordance with the CDF’s reply, there is no doubt that the botched formulae used by those priests made the attempted Baptisms invalid

    So, since there is no doubt that the Baptisms were not valid, the CDF document directs that the people concerned receive the Sacrament again, not with the conditional formula, but with the absolute one.

    In accordance with the CDF’s reply, any deviation from the Trinitarian wording proclaimed by the Lord Himself in the Gospel of Matthew amounts to the invalidity of the Sacrament of Baptism.
    Comment by Prof. Basto

    .
    I said: If there is “doubt”.

    But invalidity is not the same as doubtful validity.

  43. PROUD TRIDENTINE CATHOLIC says:

    There is a certain “priest” in The Diocese of Knoxville that uses the following formula “I Baptize you in the Name of The Father, The Son, and a Big, Big, Big dose, of the Holy Spirit” I was a member of that parish for more than ten years and raised my concerns of this formula and was told I was no longer welcome in that parish by him and was shunned by his liberal minions for being so “pre-vatican II”! And I responded I am A PROUD TRIDENTINE CATHOLIC and never went back to that heretical parish. I am blessed to assist at a weekly Tridentine Mass with a “real” Priest now. The only problem is his Novus Ordo parishioners beg him for that heretical crap. Will it ever end and the Church once again be the “Holy” Roman Catholic Church?

  44. David2 says:

    One aspect of this terrible scandal that has perhaps not been ventilated on this blog is the Brisbane Episcopate itself.

    I was advised by a diocesan priest in good standing that when travelling from the southern Australian States to Queensland, it would be better to attend an Eastern Catholic Mass, rather than a Latin Rite Novus Ordo, because doubts as to sacramental validitiy persisted in so many Brisbane parishes.

    Moreover, many Queensland Catholics have been trying to bring the egregious situation to the attention to Abp Battersby and Bishop Finnigan (the latter is a Canon Lawyer, as I understand it), but have had less than satisfactory results. See the following article in a recent edition of AD2000 “Liturgy in Brisbane and the Rights of the Laity”:

    http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/2007/oct2007p8_2646.html

    Second, Michael Gilchrist, the Editor of AD2000, wrote a book entitled “Lost” decrying the state of the Australian Church -particularly in Queensland – he compared Brisbane very unfavourably with Sydney and Melbourne (where Cardinal Pell and others have moved to clean things up).

    This was the response to the book from Abp Battersby:

    http://www.angelqueen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10589

    The crude and uncharitable (and downright false) picture drawn by Abp Battersby appears to be “Catholic Tradition = Paedophillia and sin”. How else do you explain this quote: “I have no desire for candidates to priesthood who wish to take the Church back to a past certainly noted for its numbers, but sadly uncovered in more recent times its sinfulness, whose burden the Church will carry with difficulty into the future…”

    Now, I have endeavoured to be charitable and avoid words like “modernist”, “heterodox”, and worse, when describing a senior member of the Episcopate but I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions. Archbishop Battersby appears to spend an enormous amount of time pow-wowing with protestants (he’s the chairman of several of those “dialogue” commmittees), and no time at all making sure his flocks are actually even Christian. Is this man unsuitable for Episcopal office? You might think that. You might very well think that. Of course, I could never possibly comment.

  45. David2 says:

    And for more liturgical abuse in Brisbane, unchecked under Archbishop Battersby, please check out [warning – may cause the othodox Catholic believer to steam from the ears and invoke St Michael the Archangel and Sts Pius V and X]:

    http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/2007/nov2007p8_2670.html

  46. Fr. Michael says:

    That such situations exist that would require such clarifications from the CDF saddens me. It is one reason why I am dedicating my priestly life to liturgical studies and the teaching of students/seminarians, so that such sacramental disasters might be avoided.

    While not dismissing his/her hurtful experience, I do want to say to

    PROUD TRIDENTINE CATHOLIC

    that the baptismal formula quoted “big big dose of the Holy Spirit” is not invalid. Why? The substance of the formula remained intact. So, such a formula, while illicit and certainly not one we should condone, would not receive the same CDF correction/answer as the Sanctifier, Redeemer, blah blah, etc., received.

    God Bless.

  47. Crusader says:

    I was told when I entered the Church in 1986 that my Baptist baptism was valid, and therefore I was not even conditionally baptized. But, I reflected for years on this, and I came to the conlusion in January 2006 that Baptist baptisms are NOT valid, since they do not regard baptism as anything more than a symbol or a “witness” to one’s faith. And so I sought out a sympathetic priest who baptized me conditionally – it was such a relief, and my wife was there to welcome me into the Church, just as I had been there to welcome her at her Baptism. God does work in mysterious ways, but I just wish I had been Baptized when I converted… We must pray for all the souls who have been deceived by those who would distort the Faith and the Sacraments. Satan attacks the Sacraments because he knows therein lies the source of Grace.

    Does anyone know what this sequence of events means for my Confirmation, done in 1986 when I joined the Church?

  48. RBrown says:

    RBrown: Winner, winner, Chicken dinner.
    Please, it’s Friday.
    Comment by Jeff Pinyan

    Good point.

    Winner, winner, Catfish dinner.

  49. RBrown says:

    . . . that the baptismal formula quoted “big big dose of the Holy Spirit” is not invalid. Why? The substance of the formula remained intact. So, such a formula, while illicit and certainly not one we should condone, would not receive the same CDF correction/answer as the Sanctifier, Redeemer, blah blah, etc., received.
    God Bless.
    Comment by Fr. Michael

    Agree. I think way too many people are way too concerned with Sacramental Validity because they confuse illicit with valid and doubtful validity with invalidity.

    Valid Sacramental form is obviously important, but they are not magic words.

  50. Frederick Jones says:

    What please will happen should anyone baptised with the wrong formula seek ordination? How will the bishop know that the candidate has been baptised by the wrong formula and has not in fact been validly baptised? Will this prove a problem in Australia and the USA? I see from the newsmedia that the formula is in use by some in the Church of England, how will that affect the reception of converts from that church in future? Baptism is so fundamental that messing about with it kicks the props from under so much else.

  51. W says:

    I came to the conlusion in January 2006 that Baptist baptisms are NOT valid … And so I sought out a sympathetic priest who baptized me conditionally

    I agree with your conclusion. I was also originally baptist. But in my case, the FSSP Priest who received me into the Church told me that I would need to be conditionally baptized.

    Does anyone know what this sequence of events means for my Confirmation, done in 1986 when I joined the Church?

    You must now be conditionally confirmed, since if the original baptist baptism was not valid, then neither was your Catholic confirmation.

  52. Fr. Michael says:

    Dear Crusader and W,

    I hesitate to write to you about such sensitive and meaningful topics over a blog. But, as a priest and fellow Catholic, I feel I need to gently say a few words.

    Baptisms by Baptist Christians are valid. Who says so? The Holy See. I can certainly understand that you felt as if those baptisms were not the “full rite” or perhaps were done by a non-priest, etc. But, the Holy See determines what are valid sacraments, not us individual Christians.

    Crusader, your confirmation when you entered the Church in ’86 is valid, even if based on a Baptist Baptism.

    Again, I don’t mean to dismiss what I am sure has been a trying and eventually beautiful entrance into the Church. But I feel obligated to offer those words.

    God Bless.

  53. W says:

    Fr. Michael,

    I do not doubt that my baptist baptism might have been valid. But you also should not doubt that it might not have been valid.

    As there is no such thing as a baptist hierarchy or baptist doctrine, it’s quite difficult to make a blanket statement about anything at all that applies to all baptists. Some baptist baptisms are probably valid. Others are probably not.

    Furthermore, it is quite possible that a baptist minister would baptize a person with the conscious intent to definitely not do what Catholics do when they baptize. I don’t see how that could be a valid baptism.

    The Holy See may simply be wrong about this. It is certainly not worth risking people’s souls in order to suck up to baptists – most of whom would not agree that Catholics are Christians at all. I would urge all priests to at the very least offer to conditionally baptize baptists who convert to Catholicism.

    Actually, I don’t see how Catholic Priests can dare to not conditionally baptize EVERY convert now. You can’t even count on the form being correct in a protestant baptism. A baptismal certificate from an episcopal parish pretty much guarantees that some ceremony was performed, but how do you know that the person doing the baptism baptized “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”? How do you know that the person who said “I baptize you” was the same one who poured the water? How do you know water was used at all?

    Why would you risk people’s souls just because it may have been possible at some point in the past to assume that protestant baptisms were generally valid?

  54. Maureen says:

    Baptists may have only a partial idea of what baptism is about. But that doesn’t matter. Atheists, pagans, and agnostics can validly baptize in emergency. New converts who don’t really understand Christianity can validly baptize. There’s an old story about St. Athanasius — that some play baptisms he did as a non-Christian kid on his friend were deemed to be valid baptisms! So yeah, I think a Baptist with an imperfect understanding is an okay baptizer if an atheist is.)

    What matters is this: that the person wishes to baptize someone as Christians baptize (whether or not he understands it), and that Jesus’ performative words are used.

    (And that valid matter (water) is used, of course — though at various times and places, even the water has been dispensed with. I think some of the Orthodox recognize air baptisms in big emergencies. But that’s not the topic you’re worried about.)

  55. Ioannes says:

    Then what are we to make of St. Gregory Nazianzen (Doctor of the Church) regarding his Oration on Holy Baptism given in the year 381?

    XXIII
    “And I look upon it as well from another point of
    view. If you judge the murderously disposed man by his will alone, apart from
    the act of murder, then you may reckon as baptized him who desired baptism apart
    from the reception of baptism. But if you cannot do the one how can you do the
    other? I cannot see it. Or, if you like, we will put it thus If desire in your
    opinion has equal power with actual baptism, then judge in the same way in
    regard to glory, and you may be content with longing for it, as if that were
    itself glory. And what harm is done you by your not attaining the actual
    glory, as long as you have the desire for it? ”

    History is full of cases where saints brought people back from the dead who died unbaptized even though they had the desire to be baptized. From St. Peter Claver, to St. Patrick, St. Frances of Rome, etc.

  56. ioannes says:

    Then what are we to make of St. Gregory Nazianzen (Doctor of the Church) regarding his Oration on Holy Baptism given in the year 381?

    XXIII
    “And I look upon it as well from another point of
    view. If you judge the murderously disposed man by his will alone, apart from
    the act of murder, then you may reckon as baptized him who desired baptism apart
    from the reception of baptism. But if you cannot do the one how can you do the
    other? I cannot see it. Or, if you like, we will put it thus If desire in your
    opinion has equal power with actual baptism, then judge in the same way in
    regard to glory, and you may be content with longing for it, as if that were
    itself glory. And what harm is done you by your not attaining the actual
    glory, as long as you have the desire for it? ”

    Was he simply wrong? And yet a Saint?

    History is full of cases where saints brought people back from the dead who died unbaptized even though they had the desire to be baptized. From St. Peter Claver, to St. Patrick, St. Frances of Rome, etc.

  57. One thing to say in defense of Baptist baptisms; whatever you may wonder about their defect of intent (and as Father Michael says above, it is judged very sufficient by the Holy See), they get the form right. At least, I mean the more “fundamentalist” Baptists; I suppose there may be some “Creator/Redeemer/Sanctifier” nonsense among the more “progressive” Baptists, anyone have actual information in that regard?

    Also, we don’t begin casting doubt on the validity of a sacrament willy-nilly; there needs to be some actual basis for such a doubt. Otherwise, that way lies madness (“gee, did that priest properly intend that absolution? Did the bishop who ordained him get it right? What about their baptisms? Oh, maybe I should go to another parish for confession…but then, what about… Oh, what shall I do?!?”) You may think I’m making that up, but no, there are real people who go through such agonies and worse.

  58. o.h. says:

    Fr. Bailey said: “the matter must flow.”

    I’ve long wondered about my own baptism, in light of this. I was baptized at 13 as a Methodist (became Catholic at 18). I was sprinkled with a few drops on my hair, none of which I could feel. There was definitely no “flowing,” and I don’t believe any skin contact. Can I be certain this was a valid baptism? And if not, what can I do? My pastor would give me a talking-to on scrupulosity if I brought it up. But I’ve been bothered by this for years.

  59. Augustinus, thank you for the correction regarding the necessity of confirmation for orders.

    Maureen wrote: “What matters is this: that the person wishes to baptize someone as Christians baptize (whether or not he understands it), and that Jesus’ performative words are used.”

    Incorrect. The person baptizing must intend to baptize as the CHURCH intends (unless you mean that only Catholics are Christian). Also, Jesus never baptized anyone as your post implies. He commanded how it was to be done. Be careful of your terminology. When discussing such matters you must be absolutely percise.

    She further wrote: “(And that valid matter (water) is used, of course—though at various times and places, even the water has been dispensed with. I think some of the Orthodox recognize air baptisms in big emergencies. But that’s not the topic you’re worried about.)”

    The ONLY valid matter is water. It can NEVER be dispensed with for valid baptism. There is no such thing as “air baptisms” no matter what the circumstances. This could be a term used by the Orthodox to denote Baptism of Desire. Again, percise terms must be used and abmiguous terms must be defined.

    On the question of intention: An intention need not be understood to be valid. Also, for someone not to intend what the Church intends he/she must specifically say or mentally form, “I do not intend to do what the Church intends by this action.” The fact of baptism with water using the proper form is a sign of intent that the minister intends to baptize which IS the intention of the Church. Even if the minister were to be virulently anti-Catholic he would still validly baptize unless he specifically formed the intention not to do what the Church intends. For example, a priest who is learning the Extraordinary Form of the Mass must specifically form the intention not to consecrate when he practices because he has the habitual intention to consecrate.

    W wrote: “As there is no such thing as a baptist hierarchy or baptist doctrine, it’s quite difficult to make a blanket statement about anything at all that applies to all baptists. Some baptist baptisms are probably valid. Others are probably not.”

    If valid matter and form are used the Baptism is, ipso facto, valid. That is infallible Catholic teaching to which all must assent. I doesn’t matter what the minister believes or feels. Unless he/she, at that specific act, forms the intention not to do what the Church intends, the baptism is valid. All the minister need do is intend to baptize as commanded by Christ. Nothing more.

    “Furthermore, it is quite possible that a baptist minister would baptize a person with the conscious intent to definitely not do what Catholics do when they baptize. I don’t see how that could be a valid baptism.”

    It is possible but hardly likely. Baptists intend to baptize. Catholics intend to baptize. Nothing more is required for the right intention. There need be no intention such as “I intend to baptize this person so that original sin is washed away and they become members of the Church and are united to Christ in his death and resurrection.” The very fact that the minister baptizes shows his/her intent. Intention for confecting the sacraments is a very specific term that does not mean the same thing as it does in other circumstances. You cannot simply use the word “intention” or “intend” in the way it is commonly used when discussing sacramental validity.

    “The Holy See may simply be wrong about this. It is certainly not worth risking people’s souls in order to suck up to baptists – most of whom would not agree that Catholics are Christians at all. I would urge all priests to at the very least offer to conditionally baptize baptists who convert to Catholicism.”

    How arrogant! Do you think the Holy See has willy nilly made it’s declaration on whose baptisms are valid and whose are not? Do you think the Holy See would make any such declaration without much study and reflection? What qualifies you to make such judgements? Do you have degrees in sacramental theology and history? And, further, to say that the Holy See is risking people’s souls shows a most un-Catholic understanding of both God and the sacrament of baptism.

    If you think the way you do then why did you become a Catholic?

  60. o.h.: A drop of water can flow and, although you didn’t feel or see it happen, let me assure you that it did. When we talk about water moving the word we use is flow. The very force of the water being sprinkled would case the water to continue to move when it contacted your head, even if only very slightly. The water would flow. When we think of flowing we think of rivers and streams or tides, that sort of thing. But flowing need not be on a large scale. A drop of water flows down a windshield on a car. This is why sprinkling is an accepted form of baptism. You need have no fears about your baptism being invalid.

  61. David2 says:

    Fr Scott Bailey, C SsR, excellent posts, father. There are enough real abuses occurring without more being imagined by the scrupulous with a little knowledge and a very imperfect understanding. How sadly ironic that these baptist baptisms are valid whereas some supposedly “Catholic” ones are not.

  62. David2 says:

    Now, on the subject of real liturgical abominations, this “Creed” has been reported as having been used in some Brisbane Parish and School Masses:

    “Australian ‘Creed’
    (Used in some parish and school Masses)

    I believe in God the Father of all, who has given the earth to all people, and I believe in people as the image of God.

    I believe in Jesus Christ, who came to encourage us and to heal us, to proclaim the peace of God to humankind.

    I believe in the Spirit of God, who works in every man and woman.

    I believe in the Church, moved by the Spirit to serve all people.

    I believe in Australians,
    in their courage and spirit of adventure
    in their perseverence and hard work
    in their ordinariness and at-home-ness
    in their black Aboriginal beauty
    in their migrant struggles
    in their search for identity

    I believe in our responsibilities for creation: the trust of every mountain range
    of every forest
    of every harbour
    of every city
    of every plan to build a future

    I do not believe in the right of the strongest
    nor the power of the oppressors …

    But I dare to believe, always and in spite of everything, in a new humanity, in God’s own dream of a new heaven and a new earth where justice will flourish and peace will reign, in our land, in our world.”

  63. Athanasius says:

    Is that person allowed to get married?

    In the case of matrimony, refusal to confirm the
    sacrament may have negative consequences on that
    relationship.

    If a priest was never baptized, he was never a priest, and therefore not under any of the Church’s canons regarding celibacy, and furthermore not bound by the promises of obedience to his bishop as a priest. So theoretically, he could in fact say “hey, perhaps I am not called.” And indeed he could be married.

    As far as the consequences on the relationship, the relations between the priest and the Church and spouses are not univocal, and the effects come differently. They are more grave for a priest, i.e. invalid sacraments. He can never make himself a priest, it must be done by receiving the sacraments. On the other hand couples who had an invalid marriage, can by virtue of their will to be together become married by a revivisence (sp?) of grace provided no impediments to a valid marriage stand in the way, as it is the couple who marries one another, not the action of the priest which serves as a witness of the Church.

  64. Crusader, you wrote that you came to the conclusion that Baptist Baptisms are not valid. Who are you to come to this conclusion? As I wrote in response to W above, what degrees do you have in sacramental theology? You are in no position to assess the situation. You do not have the qualifications. And to think that the Holy See could be wrong is the height of arrogance. You do not have a Catholic understanding of the sacraments or the Church. Your first baptism was valid. The priest you went to was wrong to conditionally rebaptize you and you were wrong to ask him. Your confirmation was valid because your first baptism was valid. It doesn’t matter what Baptists believe about baptism. That is utterly and completely irrelevant. The priest you went to should have known this. Your obligation now is to overcome the vice of pride. You should also mention it in your next confession, although you are not bound to since, if sin was committed, it was not mortal.

  65. PROUD TRIDENTINE CATHOLIC wrote: “There is a certain “priest” in The Diocese of Knoxville that uses the following formula “I Baptize you in the Name of The Father, The Son, and a Big, Big, Big dose, of the Holy Spirit” I was a member of that parish for more than ten years and raised my concerns of this formula and was told I was no longer welcome in that parish by him and was shunned by his liberal minions for being so “pre-vatican II”! And I responded I am A PROUD TRIDENTINE CATHOLIC and never went back to that heretical parish. I am blessed to assist at a weekly Tridentine Mass with a “real” Priest now. The only problem is his Novus Ordo parishioners beg him for that heretical crap. Will it ever end and the Church once again be the “Holy” Roman Catholic Church?”

    You are certainly proud but hardly Catholic in your attitude. In your comment you attack the sacred character of the priesthood by putting the word priest in double quotation marks and referring to the priest at the parish you go to now as real. The priest in question is a validly ordained and thus real priest. The formula he uses is valid sacramental form, though illicit. You judged him without knowing what you were talking about. You call the parish heretical. Do you have a degree in sacred theology and has a tribunal been set up by the Church?. You judge in ignorance. You do not have a Catholic attitude when you refer to your current pastor’s “Novus Ordo” parishioners. Your actions are sinful. You don’t have to like the first priest you mention. You don’t have to agree with what he does. You don’t have to go to that parish. You don’t have to like the Ordinary Form. But, you don’t have to be prideful and judgemental in attitude either. And before you decry me, note that I call your actions sinful, not you.

  66. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I have heard that hundreds if not thousands of attempted Baptisms were ‘conducted’ at the Cathedral of Mexico City. The Cathedral was filled to the gunwales. The priest touched the forehead of each with water and used a non-Trinitarian formula.

    I wonder, what will be the total spirtiual effect of this abomination?

    The Pope declares Lefebvre to be excommunicated. Did Lefebvre ever countenance anything even remotely like this? What a scandal.

    P.K.T.P.

  67. Crusader says:

    Fr. Bailey –

    No, I was not being arrogant… just confused by the variety of answers given to us lay Catholics from mostly well-intentioned priests. No one ever explained “intention” to me, but it seemed to me that Baptists do not intend to perform a Sacrament, so their intention seemed to me to be deficient. How can I second-guess a Church that has more than one answer from its priests? The Church is in a state of emergency, and the Pope is right to clarify what is and is not valid regarding Baptisms. If he can clear up the confusion for someone like me, then he has done well. Hopefully he’ll act soon to clear up the Mass mess and define what constitutes an invalid consecration and/or Mass. That would help, with all the bizarre variations in the Mass these days.

    By the way, I do not understand where the sin of pride entered the picture in my case. If anything, it took me years of soul searching and a good dose of humility to even approach this priest and ask him about it. I’m sorry you felt the need to judge me in this…

  68. o.h. says:

    Father Bailey,

    Thank you very much for your knowledgeable reply. My mind is put at rest.

  69. jack burton says:

    Fr. Bailey,

    One does not need a degree or a tribunal to recognize heterodoxy and I find such a suggestion to be quite asinine. Goofy quibbling aside I commend that fellow for shaking the dust from his feet at such profanity. It is certainly Catholic to stand up boldly against perverse mockeries of the faith. You speak of ignorance and arrogance but surely these are the likely prerequisites to these all too common bastardizations of the Holy Sacraments. In the past false shepherds have been run out of town under pain of death for less than this.
    You are right that this fellow doesn’t have to like such priests, doesn’t have to agree with what they do, and does not have to go to such a parish; but I would rather say that he should be scandalized by such priests, is obligated to object to what they do, and ought to openly oppose such heterodox and depraved parishes. Have you ever been run out of a parish because you happen to value orthodoxy? If not I can testify to the fact that it sucks and such experiences can change your perspective a bit. Call this sinful if you will but I must admit that I outright hate (in the sense of loathe) wishy-washy, heterodox “Catholic” parishes. They often think they are being so cool but to anyone with legitimate Catholic sense they are odious and repugnant in the extreme. Call me arrogant, judgmental and sinful if you must but know that from my perspective concepts such as humility and sin are not informed by political correctness and modern liberal sensibilities so we may be at an impasse on this one.

  70. Kim D'Souza says:

    Jack Burton: Without wishing to get into the debate on your other points, I would simply point out that nobody ever has an obligation to be scandalized. To give scandal means to put an obstacle to someone’s faith; to take scandal means to allow something to become an obstacle to your faith. When a difficulty such as this arises, our obligation is precisely not to let it become a scandal for us. Thus, for example, the great Fr Faber of the London Oratory once warned in a sermon against being quick to take scandal, because this means weakening your own faith. Feigned scandal is also a sign of arrogance. As our spiritual life deepens, it should become less easy for us to take scandal, even when we see crises in the Church. Perhaps this is technical, but I think we need to recover the authentic meaning of scandal, because another misunderstanding of the scandal recently had devastating consequences: During the sex abuse crisis, many bishops covered up crimes to avoid “giving scandal”, without realizing that scandal is not the same thing as a publicly stained reputation. What really ended up scandalizing people – weakening their faith – is that such bishops thought that Church would be over if people found out there were bad priests. It shook the faith of some simple Catholics in the pews that these bishops had so little faith in the Church that they thought the Church could not withstand the bad publicity of pedophile priests. These bishops made it look like the Church was simply a human institution without the protection of the Holy Spirit.
    In conclusion: It is sometimes understandable when people are scandalized, but nobody ever has an obligation to be scandalized.

  71. jack burton says:

    Kim D’Souza,

    Two things in your analysis that aren’t pertinent to what I said:
    1. The idea of an obligation to be scandalized. To affirm the validity or fittingness of being scandalized by certain particular things is not the same as asserting a moral obligation to be scandalized.
    2. Your specific definition of scandal is foreign to my statement.

    It is perfectly fitting to be disgusted, offended, shocked, disedified, et cetera in the face of perversions to the Catholic faith and I would say that if such revulsion is absent this is hardly a sign of sanctity as you suggest. You said, “As our spiritual life deepens, it should become less easy for us to take scandal…” on the contrary I would say that such scandal is rooted in a sense of honor, morality and faith that is perhaps proportional to one’s love and faith in Christ, His teachings and His sacred Mysteries.
    You argue against a notion of scandal and an idea of an obligation to be scandalized which I did not propose. If I were to accept your definitions I would probably be inclined to agree with your assessment but in the context of what I was actually talking about I must disagree simply because I don’t equate Christian sensibility with the popular effeminate caricatures. Sacrilege in any form is evil and disgust and/or distaste towards vulgar falsifications of Catholicism is simply a sign of a proper detestation of sin and zeal for God.

    You said: “In conclusion: It is sometimes understandable when people are scandalized, but nobody ever has an obligation to be scandalized.”
    The concept of an obligation to be scandalized seems essentially meaningless to me, and of course it is often understandable when people are scandalized, but beyond being merely understandable I think it can be a just response to disgusting situations. Indeed if one were to witness the Holy Eucharist being consumed by chickens in the middle of Mass followed by a couple jokes by the priest and the cackling of the congregation I think there would be something lacking in a person who would not be scandalized (real example). The idea that holy people aren’t scandalized is absurd if you ask me. It is the faithless and the lukewarm who do not suffer horror, revulsion and scandal when Christ is mocked and abused in their midst.

  72. Crusader, your exact post:
    “I was told when I entered the Church in 1986 that my Baptist baptism was valid, and therefore I was not even conditionally baptized. But, I reflected for years on this, and I came to the conlusion in January 2006 that Baptist baptisms are NOT valid, since they do not regard baptism as anything more than a symbol or a “witness” to one’s faith. And so I sought out a sympathetic priest who baptized me conditionally – it was such a relief, and my wife was there to welcome me into the Church, just as I had been there to welcome her at her Baptism. God does work in mysterious ways, but I just wish I had been Baptized when I converted… We must pray for all the souls who have been deceived by those who would distort the Faith and the Sacraments. Satan attacks the Sacraments because he knows therein lies the source of Grace.”

    You wrote: ” *I* reflected for years on this, and *I* came to the conlusion that Baptist baptisms are NOT valid.” This is arrogance. It is not up to you to make this judgement but only up to the Holy See. No one else. To assume that the priest that baptized you didn’t know what he was doing when he was acting on a decision of the Holy See and that you knew better than he, which your actions clearly demonstrate, is arrogance. Why would you question him? What solid evidence do you have that he didn’t know what he was doing? Hard evidence, not feelings. Not doubts. Hard evidence. You judged him without even bothering to obtain the correct knowledge as to intention. And to put the blame on priests, which you indicate you do when you write, “How can I second-guess a Church that has more than one answer from its priests,” is wrong as well. Obviously you asked more than one and priests don’t parrot one another. Did your confusion come from asking a number of priests until you got the answer you were seeking? You got more than one answer because you asked more than one preist and most likely didn’t ask the question in the same way. Also, for reasons that would take too long to explain, a priest will answer as he feels you need to know for the good of your soul, one example being scrupulosity. Despite what you might think, most priests are concerned for your own good.

    I commented on what you posted. Nothing more. And I did not judge you. I judged your actions. That is my job as a priest. I will always call someone out when they post publically without finding out the truth of the matter. Lets face it, you jumped on the bandwagon. You wrongly judged the priest that baptized you. Pride enters in when one thinks they know better than someone else. Your actions reflect someone who will not accept the truth unless it is in conformity to what you wish it to be. That is pride. If I was wrong, why do you care? No one knows who you are. You don’t use your name.

    Perhaps you feel that I have wronged you. I would have wronged you had I not called you on what you wrote. My job as a priest is to point out where people fail on the way to holiness so they can correct themselves. My concern is your salvation. Nothing more. And for that I will never apologize.

  73. Mr Burton, you wrote, “One does not need a degree or a tribunal to recognize heterodoxy” and you are quite right. However you better be making your assessments based on solid facts. Before you accuse a preist, or anyone for that matter, and make that accusation public by putting it on a blog you’ld better have incontrovertible proof. You must witness it yourself, not get it second-hand. You must know what rule or law is broken, the principles that govern that rule or law and how the Church applies them. If it concerns doctrine you must know the truth of the doctrine that is not held as well as the fale one that is held and be able to argue as to why the one is false and the other true. Otherwise what you write is, in and of itself, a mortal sin. It is ruining the good name of another. If the person is a priest or a bishop or the Holy Father then the degree of sin is all the greater. This is Catholic moral doctrine.

    If you wish to decry a person’s actions, then by all means do so. A person’s actions are up for grabs. A person is not. Christ commanded us not to judge one another. It is not up to you or me to judge a priest. We can judge his actions or what he says, but never the man. But if we must, we better have all our ducks in a row and go about it in the way the Gospels tell us: first privately, then with one or two others, and if that doesn’t work, the bishop or the appropriage Roman authority, but never in public.

    As I said in the previous post I will call people out on what they post when they are unjust or sinful. Proud Tridentine Catholics comment was both. I sincerly doubt he/she made an appointment and talked this over with the priest in question, expressing his/her concern out of ear shot of anyone else. If I’m wrong, he/she can tell me. But I know from experience how these things go. I also know that if you treat a priest as you would want to be treated you will get a much better response.

    And keep this in mind. People expect their priests to bend over backwards for them. Most of us will happily do so. But, when accusations and invective are hurled at us in public how do you expect us to respond? Catholic priests are more ill-treated by Catholics than by non-Catholics. We give our lives for you. Ours is not a 9-5, M-F job. We are on 24/7. When the call comes in a t 3AM that someone is dying, we go, not because we’re your friends, but because we’re priests. And when we point out sin or injustice it isn’t to attack you. It’s because it’s our job. But more importantly, we want you to be saints.

  74. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I wonder about a child who is invalidly Baptized but then subsequently dies before having reached the age of reason (making Baptism of Desire impossible). What hope is there for that child?

    Again, according to reports I say published very wildly on the Internet, hundreds–even thousands–of babies are being invalidly Baptized with an non-Trinitarian formula at the Cathedral at Mexico City. Assuming this to be true, how would the Church ever assure that all of them are Baptized validly. Many of them are from poor families. After being Baptized, they are whisked away somewhere by their parents.

    Action needs to be taken right now on this. But I don’t see how this can be repaired. For those poor Mexican children, it is true that they would quite literally be better off being validly Baptized by Pentecostal ministers.

    P.K.T.P.

  75. Paul says:

    Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.:

    Thank you for some forceful and clear answers on the question of validity, which has been a plague in Catholic circles for some time now. However, I must disagree with you on one point:

    “To assume that the priest that baptized you didn’t know what he was doing when he was acting on a decision of the Holy See and that you knew better than he, which your actions clearly demonstrate, is arrogance.”

    Respectfully, Father, that is an absurd statement to make, especially in this thread. We are here having a conversation about a bunch of priests who apparently can’t even get the *form* right…is it then arrogance to assume that the far more difficult theological questions regarding baptism might also be beyond some of them?

    After all, if a guy can’t even *memorize* and repeat, should we expect him to understand?

  76. W says:

    How arrogant! Do you think the Holy See has willy nilly made it’s declaration on whose baptisms are valid and whose are not? Do you think the Holy See would make any such declaration without much study and reflection?

    Probably not. But my experience (admittedly limited) with Catholic clergy is that they have very little knowledge or understanding of Baptist thought and belief. I am sure however that the appropriate experts at the Vatican are better informed.

    What qualifies you to make such judgements? Do you have degrees in sacramental theology and history?

    Nothing and no.

    And, further, to say that the Holy See is risking people’s souls shows a most un-Catholic understanding of both God and the sacrament of baptism.

    I think that two things that I said have been jumbled up together here, probably because of a lack of precision on my part. I said “The Holy See may simply be wrong about this [Baptist baptisms].” I retract that statement. I was wrong to say it. I am sure that the Holy See is correct that Baptist baptisms are valid in the general case. My intent was to express my doubt about the validity of particular Baptist baptism. I remain unconvinced that all Baptist baptisms everywhere are valid.

    Further I offered that opinion that conditional baptism should be offered, and said that not to do so may risk people’s souls. I stand by this statement for the reason given above.

    Lastly I said that Priests who assume that contemporary protestant baptisms have been performed validly may be risking people’s souls, for the reason that invalid matter and form is commonplace today among mainline denominations. I stand by this statement also.

    If you think the way you do then why did you become a Catholic?

    Since I am convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith, to not become a Catholic would mean my eternal damnation.

  77. W says:

    Father Bailey,

    A question if you are still reading this thread.

    Assuming that:
    1) A person converting to Catholicism from a mainline Protestant denomination was baptized as an infant in that denomination,
    2) No information about that person’s baptism is available (that is to say, no specific evidence that the baptism was invalid, but also no specific evidence that it was valid)
    3) It is known that invalid baptisms (due to matter or form) were commonly occuring in the denomination at the time of the convert’s baptism.

    Should this person be baptized conditionally?

    If the answer is no (perhaps since there is no specific evidence that this particular person’s baptism was invalid), then what should we think about this person’s eternal fate if his baptism was in fact invalid, despite the lack of available evidence?

    It seems to me that baptism is important enough to our salvation to make this an important question. But maybe I am wrong and this question is just another form of the question about the fate unbaptized children who die before the age of reason.

  78. Paul, I think it is much worse than that. It isn’t that these priests can’t get the form right. They won’t get the form right. They have consciously chosen to use invalid form. I think we can reasonably assume that they know better since the proper form is in the book. And it is in the Gospel. No Paul, if it was the case that they couldn’t memorize the form they could read it. Unfortunately they have chosen to act in a way that is directly contrary to the will of the Church as expressed in the Rite of Baptism. Because of this tremendous evil has been done. Satan has gotten a foot in the door.

    But also, a person who does not know the Chruches teaching on what constitutes a valid sacramant (going by what they wrote in their original post) is not in a position to judge whether a sacrament is valid or not. And the concern was about what the Baptists mean by baptism which is irrelevant to whether or not the baptism was valid.

  79. W, if you are convinced of something that is not in accord with the mind of the Church you are obliged to seek out the information. If after serious study and consideration you still do not agree then you are required, as a Catholic, to submit to the authority of the Holy See. The reason for this is that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit in matters of faith and morals to the point that it enjoys infallibility. We, the faithful, cannot make the same claim. The Holy Spirit does guide us, but individuals never enjoy infallibility with the exception of the pope, and he only under certain circumstances. Now, submitting to the authority of the Holy See does not mean you agree with it. It means that, recognizing that the Church is protected from error by the Holy Spirit in matters of faith and morals, you put your own opinion aside and don’t defend it. There are areas where I disagree but no one will ever know them and I will never use them in preaching or teaching because I submit to the authority of the Holy See.

    In answer to your question, given the three premises you present, then yes, the person should be conditionally baptized. But only if there was invalid matter, form, or both. As to the third premise, it is for the Church to determine whether or not a particular denomination’s baptisms are valid, not an individual. And she does not make such determinations lightly. Given that it is a matter of faith, she is protected by the Holy Spirit form error in this matter.

    Conditional baptism is for cases of authentic doubt. Feelings do not constitute authentic doubt. In your own case the priest determined there was authentic doubt. But that is in your case. It does not follow that there is authentic doubt in every Baptist Baptism. This must be determined on a case by case basis.

    When the Church determines that a denominations baptisms are valid, she examines their matter and form and bases her decision based on that. Obviously she cannot say whether an individual minister is using that matter and form. She can only assume on good faith. Unfortunately that is harder and harder to do. Would it be better to baptize all converts conditionally? Yes. But that is not my issue with the posts to which I have responded. My issue is that, at least in the way they write their comments, people feel they know more than the Holy See or a particular priest and feel free to publically excoriate either when they don’t have the knowledge to do so. The wise man knows what he does not know.

    The concern about valid baptism is an important one. However, if one is invalidly baptized and does not know it and never finds out, one need not question his or her eternal salvation. If that person lives in accord with the Gospel God will, in justice, account it to them as if they were validly baptized. God would not hold someone accountable for something they could not do anything about because they had no knowledge of it and no reason to question it. Their salvation is no less in jeopardy than anyone elses. God is infinitely merciful. The one invalidly baptized need not fear for his/her salvation, but the priest that invalidly baptized should fear greatly.

    This is not, as I see it, the same question as that of the fate of unbaptized children who die before the age of reason. They did not desire beptism, did not seek it out. It’s interesting to note that the Church has never given a definitive definition on this. The widely publicized conclusions of the Holy Father concerning limbo are his theological opinion. Limbo is not a doctrine of the faith. We cannot know for certain the fate of unbaptized babies. We can only reason from what we know. And although God works through the sacraments, he is not bound to work only through the sacraments.

  80. o.h. says:

    Father Bailey,

    I do apologize if I sounded as if I were criticizing my pastor. Really I was mostly afraid of sounding foolish and scrupulous if I brought it up with him (a matter of my pride right there), and I should have just asked him and trusted. But again, thank you for setting me right.

  81. o.h., you didn’t criticize your pastor or anyone else. Don’t give it another thought.

  82. Karen says:

    St. Joan of Arc, Minneapolis?

    We’re all waiting with bated breath to see what our soon-to-be new archbishop will do about them. There’s a similar parish in St. Paul (St. Stephen’s) that apparently was suffering from equally egregious liturgical practices, and our current archbishop sent in the “shock troops” in the form of a very kind, charitable and orthodox priest to clean things up.

    Brick by brick.
    Comment by david andrew — 29 February 2008

    The church in question here is St. Stephen’s in Minneapolis, MN. The dissenters had to take their show on the road down the block to another Church (not Catholic).

  83. Karen says:

    St. Joan of Arc, Minneapolis?

    We’re all waiting with bated breath to see what our soon-to-be new archbishop will do about them. There’s a similar parish in St. Paul (St. Stephen’s) that apparently was suffering from equally egregious liturgical practices, and our current archbishop sent in the “shock troops” in the form of a very kind, charitable and orthodox priest to clean things up.

    Brick by brick.
    Comment by david andrew — 29 February 2008

    The church in question here is St. Stephen\’s in Minneapolis, MN. The dissenters had to take their show on the road down the block to another Church (not Catholic).

  84. Breier says:

    Father Bailey,

    Canon Law forsees the possibility that baptism in a non-Catholic denomonation,
    though generally valid, could be invalid in the particular. It forsees
    not only looking at the matter and the form, but also at the intention of
    both the recipient and the minister. Also, Mormon baptism is now seen as invalid
    though the matter and form, taken in themselves, would seem valid. Was this
    position, on the invalidity of Mormon baptism, not a change from the previous
    posture?

    Can. 869 §2. Those baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community must not be baptized conditionally unless, after an examination of the matter and the form of the words used in the conferral of baptism and a consideration of the intention of the baptized adult and the minister of the baptism, a serious reason exists to doubt the validity of the baptism.

    On Mormon baptism:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/mormbap1.htm

  85. Kiran says:

    Actually, under normal circumstances in cases of doubt, one should note that a conditional baptism would be preferable, since to repeat baptism (likewise with Confirmation and Ordination) is gravely sacrilegious, per the Council of Trent. I would also think that there is a cause for the Holy See’s hesitation in authorising any large scale rebaptisms.

    For the CDF to come out and say that the Brisbane baptisms need to be repeated absolutely is to say that there is no way these baptisms were valid. You can’t really have an intention vacuously, and with the best intention in the world, you cannot intend to baptize with the words “Creator, redeemer and sanctifier,” or “the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker’s second wife” or anything else other than something which means “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. Apart from the fact that this is bad for a lot of probably well-meaning but misled laity (who are refusing to repeat the sacraments in question), it is actually a reaffirmation of the power of human language.

    What is radical sanation? I am presuming (under correction) that the sanation is required for the non-baptism of one or more of the people marrying each other, and not for that of the priest, on account of his ordination being invalid, since a priest is acting as the Church’s witness and not in persoona christi (and can be deputised for).

  86. Kiran says:

    Actually, under normal circumstances in cases of doubt, one should note that a conditional baptism would be preferable, since to repeat baptism (likewise with Confirmation and Ordination) is gravely sacrilegious, per the Council of Trent. I would also think that there is a cause for the Holy See’s hesitation in authorising any large scale rebaptisms.

    For the CDF to come out and say that the Brisbane baptisms need to be repeated absolutely is to say that there is no way these baptisms were valid. You can\’t really have an intention vacuously, and with the best intention in the world, you cannot intend to baptize with the words “Creator, redeemer and sanctifier,” or “the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker’s second wife” or anything else other than something which means \”Father, Son and Holy Spirit\”. Apart from the fact that this is bad for a lot of probably well-meaning but misled laity (who are refusing to repeat the sacraments in question), it is actually a reaffirmation of the power of human language.

    What is radical sanation? I am presuming (under correction) that the sanation is required for the non-baptism of one or more of the people marrying each other, and not for that of the priest, on account of his ordination being invalid, since a priest is acting as the Church\’s witness and not in persoona christi (and can be deputised for).

  87. Kiran says:

    I did not intend for that post to go twice. I just happen to have taken the computer at its word when it told me that the first one had not gone through. I apologize for any inconvenience.

  88. Felix says:

    The central scandal in this sorry episode is that the Bishop did nothing. it was left for Rome to intervene.

    Like most of the laity, I’ve seen lots of abuses (a priest who changes the baptismal formula, a Jesuit who omits the creed from Sunday Mass, etc). And I don’t complain because bishops simply won’t do a thing about it.

    Liturgical abuses abound in Australia, the States and elsewhere. Will the Pope make any comment about this scandal when he goes Down Under? Of course, not.

    But, then again, at least the Vatican did issue a ruling in this instance.

  89. Crusader says:

    Fr. Bailey –

    I still disagree with you saying I was being arrogant in deciding that I should be conditionally baptized. I was received into the Catholic Church in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, and in my experience with some priests in this area, there is ample reason to second-guess their pronouncements and decisions. I have heard priests in LA say that Jesus did not bodily rise from the dead, that the Trinity is merely a human concept, that angels and devils do not exist, that the future church will have no need for priests or the sacraments, that Jesus did not know He was God. And I had a priest in Orange County attempt to absolve me of my sins in Confession without using any formula except his own words: \”You\’re forgiven. Go in peace\”. So you\’ll forgive my arrogance at not accepting everything a priest tells me at face value. And if the Church cannot even guarantee that its own Baptisms are being done validly, as we see with this recent pronouncement, how can they presume validity of Baptisms by all Protestants? Isn\’t that a bit reckless?

  90. Jordan Potter says:

    Crusdader said: I still disagree with you saying I was being arrogant in deciding that I should be conditionally baptized.

    What you said was: “But, I reflected for years on this, and I came to the conlusion in January 2006 that Baptist baptisms are NOT valid, since they do not regard baptism as anything more than a symbol or a ‘witness’ to one’s faith.”

    You didn’t just come to the conclusion that your own Baptist baptism was invalid, but that Baptist baptisms in general are always invalid. That is a decision only the Church can make. Therefore you were not just a bit scrupulous and confused about the concept of baptismal validity and right intention, but you were presumptuous, coming to a conclusion about something so important, that the Church would have to make a judgment about.

    And if the Church cannot even guarantee that its own Baptisms are being done validly, as we see with this recent pronouncement, how can they presume validity of Baptisms by all Protestants? Isn’t that a bit reckless?

    The Church presumes validity of a sacrament unless there is good reason to doubt validity. Inasmuch as Protestant baptisms are Trinitarian and use water, there are presumed to be valid unless we know of instances where there was defect of form, matter, or intent.

    Breier said: Also, Mormon baptism is now seen as invalid though the matter and form, taken in themselves, would seem valid.

    That is because the Mormon denial not only of the Trinity but of monotheism itself makes it impossible for them to baptise with right intention. The same applies to the Arian baptisms of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In such cases, there is clear evidence that the proper intent is lacking. But such does not apply generally to Trinitarian Protestant baptism. (Keep in mind that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even Christians, let alone Protestants.)

    Was this position, on the invalidity of Mormon baptism, not a change from the previous posture?

    Not as far as I know. The decision was based on the traditional criteria of sacramental validity. Whether or not the Holy See had previously accepted polytheistic pseudo-baptisms, I don’t know, but I’d find it unlikely. It’s likely that in some dioceses there was confusion, with some accepting Mormon baptismal validity and others denying it, so the Holy See issued a clarifying ruling.

  91. Crusader says:

    Again, I was acting in good faith on the teaching of the Church as I knew it, which is that the intention to do as the Church does has to be there for it to be a valid Sacrament. And in my understanding, the Baptist intent was NOT the same as the Catholic intent – they don\’t intend to do ANYTHING by baptizing except a public display of one\’s faith! I had never seen a document from the Vatican specifically on Baptist baptisms, so I was trying to apply what I knew about Catholic teaching to my particular circumstance, which has direct bearing on my personal salvation. How dare anyone call me arrogant for not knowing perfectly the teaching of the Church! In this day and age when heresies are rampant in the Church, what\’s a lay person supposed to do but take the most conservative route and act in good faith to stay on the path to salvation? Forgive me for not reading every document that comes out of the Vatican! Please direct me to a link to a document that talks about Baptist baptisms so I can be better informed and \”less arrogant\” in the future. Until then, I will act on my conscience as it is currently informed by my less-than-omniscient intellect.

  92. ben says:

    Last Monday, my wife was speaking to my mother about my non-catholic baptism, and discovered that it was very likely invalid due to form. This meant that I needed a conditional baptism, which was performed on Tuesday, and a conditional confirmation, the one from 1997 having been cast into doubt.

    The question of the VALIDITY, not licety, of my marriage was sent to the Metropolitan Tribunal, since my wife lacked a dispensation to marry for disparity of cult. So on Friday, I was confirmed, and had my marriage convalidated at the direction of the Judicial Vicar.

    So having just lived through a week in which I had 5 of the 7 sacraments, maybe I have something to offer to this discussion.

    First, and most importantly, having spoken to several solidly formed priests this past week about these issues including diocesan clergy, Oblates of the Virgin Mary, and FSSP priests, I have come to understand the seriousness of this issue. It may be nearly impossible to die in a state of grace without a valid baptism. One might need perfect contrition at that moment to gain eternal life. First to o.h., one of the priests I spoke with was a convert who had a Presbyterian baptism, which he described for me in detail and explained why he needed a conditional baptism upon entering the Church. In his baptism the water was not poured, but a wet finger was touched to his forehead. The sacramental theologians he consulted with thought this form was insufficient. From your first post above, it seems like there is doubt that the sprinkled water actually touched your skin, if this is the case then you may wish to speak to a priest about your baptism. As I understand things, there is no baptism if the water never touches your skin. Another thing I learned is that when people enter the Church from separated churches, some priests will ask for a baptismal certificate and trust that the ceremony was performed as it was supposed to have been, and other priests will ask for and interview witnesses to the original baptism to find out if it really did have a valid form. In my case nobody ever asked for the testimony of a witness 11 years ago. And as soon as a witness was asked, it was immediately determined that what had occurred did not meet the minimum requirements for baptism.

    I understand that I will surely be subject to a scolding by Fr. Bailey for saying some of these things. I am not trying to usurp the authority of the Church. I don’t think anybody who has posted on this thread has done that. Instead I think that in today’s confusing world, we need to sometimes work very hard to discern where the authority of the Church really is. When a broad spectrum of priests has different judgments of an issue, shouldn’t we always go with the voice that accords best with tradition? And the voice of tradition is very clear on this question. Conditional baptisms for adult converts were once very common.

  93. Brier, the issue is not one of canon law but of moral action on the part of Crusader and others so I don’t understand why you are addressing your comment about canon law to me.

    Crusader, you obviously don’t accept what the Church means by intention but accept only what you mean by intention. You cannot claim ignorance of what the Church means if you have carefully read the posts here. That you refuse to accept what the Church means by the doctrine of intention is arrogance and pride. That you are more concerned with defending your actions than of submitting to the Church is also arrogance and pride. And, to top it off, you are writing on here as an anonymous person so I really can’t see why you feel the need to defend your actions since no one knows who you are.

    Folks, posting with a “handle” or pseudonym is a great way to say exactly what you want and not have to take full responsibility for your words. It is cowardly, deceitful and dishonest. If you have something to say and don’t have the guts to put your name to it you are no better than an school yard bully.

    Ben, the Presbyterian “baptism” of which you write was invalid because imposition or anointing (or whatever one chooses to call it) is not a valid form of baptism. Sprinkling is. There are two others. Infusion (pouring) and immersion. Also, it is not necessary that the water must touch the skin. If it only touches the hair, this is sufficient. My issue with your post is that you didn’t get your facts before you posted and they are available online and at libraries. I know you meant well, but in a subject such as this it is facts that are important, for it is they that allow for the determination as to whether or not a baptism was valid. To post opinions and feelings in this case is not helpful because it confuses people and can, in some cases, cause extreme anguish and doubt.

    And Ben, I’m curious. Why would you think I would “scold” you? You have not judged anyone wrongly or detracted from anyone’s good name in a public forum. Neither have you refused to submit to the teaching of the Holy See. Do you think it is wrong for a priest to point out when someone is endangering their salvation? It would be different if said posters used their names. In that case I would either keep silent or try to contact them directly. But I truly am curious as to whether you think a priest is wrong to point out either sin or those things which endanger or inhibit a person’s eternal salvation. I invite you or anyone else of good intent to respond to me at jscottbaileycssr(at)aol(dot)com

  94. TNCath says:

    Father Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. wrote: “Folks, posting with a “handle” or pseudonym is a great way to say exactly what you want and not have to take full responsibility for your words. It is cowardly, deceitful and dishonest. If you have something to say and don’t have the guts to put your name to it you are no better than an school yard bully.”

    Father, with all due respect, that’s a bit extreme. Some people have good reasons for posting with a username over their own names. People have been using pseudonyms in writing for centuries (Mark Twain, O. Henry, and even “Diogenes” in the Catholic World Report). I ask that you prayerfully reconsider this.

  95. Kiran says:

    On the matter of intention, a person does not always have to know what he is intending in order to intend it. He achieves it if he carries out a set of actions. One can imagine this in perfectly ordinary day-to-day situations. If I throw myself off a building, it doesn’t matter if I thought I could fly or that gravity switched off for the day. I can be described to have intentionally jumped off a building. That way lies madness or heresy or perhaps both. How do I know if Fr. so-and-so was out drinking last night and couldn’t form a coherent thought? That is the meaning of ex opere operato. It simply does not matter what they think they are doing, provided they use the correct form. The Mormon case was different, because a Mormon believes that the Trinity is three Gods.

    So, this is a question about what Mormons do habitually when they baptise, and habitually, they simply are not trinitarian. Of course, if an individual Mormon, like an individual atheist or the individual muslim grits his or her teeth and does what the Catholic Church does, then the situation is different.

    Some Mormon baptisms were accepted as valid for some time, according to this website:

    http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/a37.htm

    Also, they have a different understanding of when baptism began, as well as other differences in the way they practice baptism (They baptise the dead). The following is a good guide:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/mormbap1.htm

  96. jack burton says:

    I post under a pseudonym because of my formal affiliation with a Catholic organization that would suffer by being associated with the controversial themes that I like to explore on my own time. There have been plenty of times when I have been pained by having to use a pseudonym and believe me when I say that I would much prefer to take full credit for my little comments (in other words I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t). Besides this I’ve missed many great opportunities to promote my blog. :-D
    This is the internet and there is nothing unusual about anonymity in such a context. Who cares?

  97. Paul Priest says:

    A little aside here:
    Supposing an English priest whose vanity intervened ,and he attempted to baptize in French, but it was so bad he baptized in the name of the scared, the wives and the hundred spirits ?

    Might I also ask somewhat impertinently , if this is the case for Baptism,
    what of the rite of Installation of Bishops that no longer states exactly what it is conferring ; but merely implies it ?

  98. ben says:

    Fr. Bailey,

    I can’t find clarity about aspersion baptisms on the internet. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on baptism says BOTH that the water flowing across the hair is sufficient, and that methodist baptisms by aspersion are suspect because the water does not flow across the body. Further, the Catholic Encyclopaedia article casts a similar doubt on Baptist baptisms as Crusader does.

    Now I don’t thinkg calling sinners to virtue is ever a problem. But you told Crusader that he was wrong to ask for a conditional baptism. Now I will grant that it is possible that he did not need one. However, I’m sure that he asked out of concern for his own salvation and asked because of his fear of the Lord. There was no sin in this. St. Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

  99. W says:

    [Baptists] don’t intend to do ANYTHING by baptizing except a public display of one’s faith!

    This is exactly the issue that caused me (and my Priest) to question the validity of my baptism. Baptists (in general) do not believe in the doctrine of original sin, and do not believe that baptism has any efficacy whatsoever – i.e., to Baptists, baptism is not a sacrament. To a Baptist therefore, baptism is nothing more than a public bath.

    What would happen if an apostate, atheist former priest “performed” the role of a priest saying mass for a movie. Not believing in the sacramental priesthood, and forming no particular intention as he said the Canon of the Mass. Is the matter consecrated?

    Is this situation in any way similar to a Baptist baptism. It seems similar to me, but as I freely admitted, I have no training in sacramental theology.

  100. Breier says:

    Father Bailey,

    I pointed out canon law because it seems in tension with what you previously said:

    “If valid matter and form are used the Baptism is, ipso facto, valid. That is infallible Catholic teaching to which all must assent. I doesn’t matter what the minister believes or feels. Unless he/she, at that specific act, forms the intention not to do what the Church intends, the baptism is valid. All the minister need do is intend to baptize as commanded by Christ. Nothing more.”

    I pointed out Mormon Baptism as an example of valid matter and form, and invalid baptism. It’s not required that the Mormons explicitly say “We don’t intend to do what the Catholic Church does, in fact most of them probably aren’t thinking about our Church at all. Why should they?

    It would be helpful if we had the authority backing your position on
    ministerial intention as infallible church teaching.

    I think the way Crusader is being treated is unedifying. A fellow Catholic has been called cowardly, disceitful, dishonest, arrogant, and prideful. Because he has concerns stemming from his Baptist experience and because he uses a pseudonym? The tone and manner of your remarks seems utterly out of proportion with the discussion here. Proud Tridentine Catholic didn’t mention any names, so how has me detracted from someone’s good name?

    I think the situation would be helped by more honey and less vingear!

  101. I understand that there are times when using a username might be necessary or even desireable (sp?). My point is about those who use a pseudonym or handle but use real names or give information that can identify another person in their post. I should have been clearer on that. A perfect example is the post of Proud Tridentine Catholic who gives enough information in his/her post that the priest in question can be identified. It’s easy to denegrate someone when your own identity is protected. You are pretty much free to say what you want and cannot be held accountable.

    Ben, was hoping not to have to explain things this way because I know it will be taken the wrong way by some readers. Oh well. I just read the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia and you are correct in what you write. However, this is an encyclopedia article and as such doesn’t go into all the details. For that one needs to consult a moral theology manual. My intention is not to belittle you or question your intelligence, but people need to realize a layman making statement on this is like a layman writing on brain surgery. It is extremely complicated stuff. One has to understand Moral Theology and how it is applied as well as how the Church uses and defines terms that have different or very percise meanings from how we might use them in our everyday conversation. Priests study this stuff for at least four years and have to pass rigerous exams before ordination.

    From the article: “the Methodists and Presbyterians baptize by aspersion or sprinkling, and it may be reasonably doubted whether the water has touched the body and flowed upon it.” This is true, but only if the baptisms are carried out in a way similar to the asperges or sprinkling rite at Mass on Sundays. In that case (a large group) there is reasonable doubt. If it is a small group or an individual, then the doubt is not reasonable. o.h. expressed a doubt concerning whether or not water flows when aspersion is the form used at baptism. The church considers that it does or it would not be a valid form of administering the sacrament. If the water touches the body then it is considered to flow. The doubt posed in the quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia article supposes that the water has not touched the body. The words “and flowed upon it” can be removed without changeing the doubt. In the quote, “touched the body and flowed upon it” is viewed as one single action not two separate actions.

    Ben, I want to be clear that I am not questioning your intelligence or knowledge. I was trying very hard to avoid the issue and in doing so led you in the wrong direction for which I am sorry. I should not have said the information is readily available to you. I don’t know what your field is, but I don’t think I could speak about it with any kind of authority. The wise man knows what he doesn’t know.

    W, yes, the matter would be consecrated if he used valid matter and form unless he specifically formed the intention not to consecrate either in that case or in every case at a previous point in time.

  102. Breier says:

    As long as the Catholic Encyclopedia came up, here\’s what it says on ministerial intention.

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia on the article \”Intention\”:

    \”The Church teaches very unequivocally that for the valid conferring of the sacraments, the minister must have the intention of doing at least what the Church does. This is laid down with great emphasis by the Council of Trent (sess. VII). The opinion once defended by such theologians as Catharinus and Salmeron that there need only be the intention to perform deliberately the external rite proper to each sacrament, and that, as long as this was true, the interior dissent of the minister from the mind of the Church would not invalidate the sacrament, no longer finds adherents. ***The common doctrine now is that a real internal intention to act as a minister of Christ, or to do what Christ instituted the sacraments to effect, in other words, to truly baptize, absolve, etc., is required.*** This intention need not necessarily be of the sort called actual. That would often be practically impossible. It is enough that it be virtual. Neither habitual nor interpretative intention in the minister will suffice for the validity of the sacrament. The truth is that here and now, when the sacrament is being conferred, neither of these intentions exists, and they can therefore exercise no determining influence upon what is done. To administer the sacraments with a conditional intention, which makes their effect contingent upon a future event, is to confer them invalidly. This holds good for all the sacraments except matrimony, which, being a contract, is susceptible of such a limitation.\”

  103. Breier says:

    And the Catholic Encyclopedia on Conditional Baptism, from the article “Baptism”. Interesting that the attitude expressed here by people worried about validity seems to be commonly acknowledged in the article, which points towards, at least in times past, a more common use of conditional baptism than apparently allowed for in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

    “VII. CONDITIONAL BAPTISM
    From the foregoing it is evident that not all baptism administered by heretics or schismatics is invalid. On the contrary, if the proper matter and form be used and the one conferring the sacrament really “intends to perform what the Church performs” the baptism is undoubtedly valid. This is also authoritatively stated in the decree for the Armenians and the canons of the Council of Trent already given. The question becomes a practical one when converts to the Faith have to be dealt with. If there were one authorized mode of baptizing among the sects, and if the necessity and true significance of the sacrament were uniformly taught and put in practice among them, there would be little difficulty as to the status of converts from the sects. But there is no such unity of teaching and practice among them, and consequently the particular case of each convert must be examined into when there is question of his reception into the Church. For not only are there religious denominations in which baptism is in all probability not validly administered, but there are those also which have a ritual sufficient indeed for validity, but in practice the likelihood of their members having received baptism validly is more than doubtful. As a consequence converts must be dealt with differently. If it be certain that a convert was validly baptized in heresy, the sacrament is not repeated, but the ceremonies which had been omitted in such baptism are to be supplied, unless the bishop, for sufficient reasons, judges that they can be dispensed with. (For the United States, see Conc. Prov. Balt., I.) If it be uncertain whether the convert’s baptism was valid or not, then he is to be baptized conditionally. In such cases the ritual is: “If thou art not yet baptized, then I baptize thee in the name”, etc. The First Synod of Westminster, England, directs that adult converts are to be baptized not publicly but privately with holy water (i.e. not the consecrated baptismal water) and without the usual ceremonies (Decr. xvi). Practically, converts in the United States are almost invariably baptized either absolutely or conditionally, not because the baptism administered by heretics is held to be invalid, but because it is generally impossible to discover whether they had ever been properly baptized. Even in cases where a ceremony had certainly been performed, reasonable doubt of validity will generally remain, on account of either the intention of the administrator or the mode of administration. Still each case must be examined into (S. C. Inquis., 20 Nov., 1878) lest the sacrament be sacrilegiously repeated. “

  104. Breier, the issue with Mormon baptism is not one of intention. They cannot baptize validly in and of themselves because of how they understand the Trinity and Jesus Christ. Ultimately they are not Christians. Thus, when they “baptize” their intention is to do what they mean by baptism which is not the same as what Christians mean by baptism. They do not intend to baptize as Christ commanded.

    You also misread what you quoted. That quote is about intention. If you want to know about Church teaching on intention why not do a thorough study of it? Make sure you begin with moral philosophy and then move on to moral theology followed by sacramental theology and the history thereof. Then we can talk about authority to back up opinion.

    I fail to understand why the laity think they have more knowledge on these matters than priests who have spent years studying them. Would someone care to enlighten me? When you go to the doctor do you tell him that his diagnosis is wrong or that he doesn’t know how to treat an illness? Where do you draw the line? Are you that jaded and untrusting? What a horrible way to live.

  105. Breier says:

    Father,

    If you’ll look at the article by Fr. Luis Ladaria, S.J., which I posted, you’ll
    see that, for him, the question of Mormon baptism is clearly one of form and intention:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/mormbap1.htm

    Mormon baptism was simply mentioned because of your statement that matter and form
    were necessary, nothing more, unless one had explicitly in one’s mind the statement, “I tend not to do what the Church does.”

    To note that is not to advocate that “all Baptist baptisms are invalid.” Surely you agree.

    Thus, how can I misread a quotation when all I do is provide a quotation? If it wasn’t helpful, my apologies, but it’s not some sort of secret polemic.

    “I fail to understand why the laity think they have more knowledge on these matters than priests who have spent years studying them. Would someone care to enlighten me? When you go to the doctor do you tell him that his diagnosis is wrong or that he doesn’t know how to treat an illness? Where do you draw the line? Are you that jaded and untrusting? What a horrible way to live.

    I find this statement aggravating, because of its clericalism, because of its rash judgment, because it’s insulting, because you don’t know who I am, and because of the implied premise that the laity, as lay, are ignorant of theology. I expect better from a man of extensive education than a cheap ad hominem.

    You are creating straw men. How is engaging in discussion saying that laity, as laity, know more than priests? Or is the message really, “I’m a priest, so shut up?” I’m not subject to your parochial jurisdiction, nor are most people here, so the argument solely from your authority is not a good way to advance the discussion.

  106. David2 says:

    Father Bailey, I think that these on-going discussions about what the Church means by “intention” and the requirements of sacramental validity are another example of the terrible scandal caused by priests who do not follow sacramental form. When priests (often apparrently knowledgeable and rigourously educated men) refuse to do what the Church does, and fail in something as important as conferring valid baptisms, it is understandable that the trust and confidence of the faithful in the presbytyrate as a whole might be undermined. I think this discussion is in itself evidence that what these priests have done has soterological (sp?) consequences for more than just the priest and the recipients of the invalid “baptisms”. It wounds the Church and the faithful in the pews, too.

  107. Jordan Potter says:

    Ben said: Further, the Catholic Encyclopaedia article casts a similar doubt on Baptist baptisms as Crusader does.

    No it doesn’t. It says doubt has been cast on Baptist baptisms because the Baptist minister says the words and then immerses, instead of immersing while saying the words. But the article doesn’t say anything about the defective Baptist doctrine of Baptism rendering all Baptist baptisms invalid, which is what Crusader said he believes.

    W said: Baptists (in general) do not believe in the doctrine of original sin, and do not believe that baptism has any efficacy whatsoever – i.e., to Baptists, baptism is not a sacrament. To a Baptist therefore, baptism is nothing more than a public bath.

    Baptists do not believe in sacraments and deny baptismal regeneration, but that doesn’t mean that Baptists believe baptism is nothing more than a public bath. They believe it is a commanded ordinance of Jesus that signifies one’s faith, God’s forgiveness of sin, and one’s membership in Christ — a public seal and affirmation of salvation. Baptists are called “Baptists” because baptism to them is dreadfully important and not to be treated lightly. True, their denial of baptismal regeneration and their adherence to Sola Fide has the practical effect of making baptism “nothing more than a public bath,” but Baptists do NOT view baptism that way.

    Father Bailey said: Breier, the issue with Mormon baptism is not one of intention. They cannot baptize validly in and of themselves because of how they understand the Trinity and Jesus Christ. Ultimately they are not Christians. Thus, when they “baptize” their intention is to do what they mean by baptism which is not the same as what Christians mean by baptism. They do not intend to baptize as Christ commanded.

    Father, perhaps you can offer some clarity here. You said the issue with Mormon baptism is not one of intention, but you then proceed to talk about what the intention of Mormon’s is when they baptise. Did you perhaps mean to say, “The issue with Mormon baptism is one of intention”?

    Breier said: Mormon baptism was simply mentioned because of your statement that matter and form were necessary, nothing more, unless one had explicitly in one’s mind the statement, “I tend not to do what the Church does.”

    I think that is a grave distortion of what Father Bailey said.

    I find this statement aggravating, because of its clericalism, because of its rash judgment, because it’s insulting, because you don’t know who I am, and because of the implied premise that the laity, as lay, are ignorant of theology.

    Whether or not the statement is clericalism or rash or insulting, it is indisputable that the overwhelming majority of laity are ignorant of theology. But Father Bailey is right that laity have no business coming to their own conclusions about whether or not their non-Catholic baptism, or the non-Catholic baptisms of others, was invalid. It’s those in Holy Orders with the charism to make those determinations, not lay Catholics. It may not be pleasant to hear, but it is presumptuous for a layman to decide with the assistance of a serious investigation by the Church that all baptisms performed by a certain denomination are invalid.

  108. Jordan Potter says:

    Arrghh! Make that “presumptuous for a layman to decide WITHOUT the assistance . . .”

  109. Thank you David2. Your comment was helpful.

    Breier, you and your ilk tire me. If you are offended, so be it. I would have bet my last dollar that you would be offended since you are incapable of reading what I write without seeing what is not there. But that is your problem, not mine. And it is a problem for you or you would not react so strongly. Let me be very clear. I will take the opinions and thoughts of someone who has a degree in a particular area over any layperson. Unless someone proves to me that they have a degree in a particular area I cannot but conclude that they are not competant in that field. (You might disagree. I really don’t care.) That is called sanity, logic, and common sense. You don’t send a sick person to a mechanic. I would never be so narcisistic to think I was an expert in an are in which I had no competance. You and others apparently are that narcisistic. You who think you are better than and have more knowledge than those of us who have given our lives to serve YOU including years of study in areas in which you have no competence, just keep on thinking it. We will continue to give our lives and to serve you to the best of our ability and it will continue to be a thankless service. Thanks be to God that you, Breier, and your ilk are of an insignigicant number or continuing to serve Christ and his Church could be intolerable for mere mortals.

    And don’t bother to respond for my benefit. You have nothing to say of importance.

  110. Breier says:

    Jordan,

    “Breier said: Mormon baptism was simply mentioned because of your statement that matter and form were necessary, nothing more, unless one had explicitly in one’s mind the statement, “I tend not to do what the Church does.”

    I think that is a grave distortion of what Father Bailey said.”

    This is what was said:

    “If valid matter and form are used the Baptism is, ipso facto, valid. That is infallible Catholic teaching to which all must assent. I doesn’t matter what the minister believes or feels. Unless he/she, at that specific act, forms the intention not to do what the Church intends, the baptism is valid.”

    It doesn’t seem to me that a Mormon forms the intention not to do what the Church
    does. Rather, he’s not even thinking about the Church. If this is an opportunity
    to clarify, so be it, but the vituperation this is occasioning is astounding. It’s not as if Father Bailey was being attacked, or even challenged on the position, which I agree with, that Protestant baptisms can be valid. Of course it’s absurd to say every Baptist baptism is invalid. But a false statement does not necessarily warrant this level of abuse.

    On a comment forum, I think there is an implied equality of parties and an attempt at reasoned discourse. Trying to pull rank is out of place here.

    Let me point out, I agree with you, and Fr. Bailey, that to assume all Protestant baptisms are valid is an errant position. But I wouldn’t presume to subjectively condemn an individual who necessary held a wrong position, based on that fact along. I thought it unseemly and improper for Fr. Bailey to diss out advice like “you need to confess the sin of pride,” and such-like. It seems presumptuous of me to judge other people so freely, especially on an Internet forum!

    Witness Fr. Bailey’s last post, which is simply a mess of invective and personal attack. I don’t think being a priest gives someone a right to be so rude, and such an uncharitable bully.

    If I’m the only person seeing, so be it. God will judge.

  111. Jordan Potter asked: “Father, perhaps you can offer some clarity here. You said the issue with Mormon baptism is not one of intention, but you then proceed to talk about what the intention of Mormon’s is when they baptise. Did you perhaps mean to say, “The issue with Mormon baptism is one of intention”?”

    No, I didn’t mean to say that. But I was unclear in what I wrote. I should have simply said that Mormon Baptism isn’t relevant to the discussion as it has been playing out. The defect of intention in Mormon baptism is in virtue of Mormon theology. They have a specific intention and meaning that is different from that of Christians when they baptize. The arguement has been that other denominations also have defective intention because they don’t have a Catholic understanding of baptism. But they do not have defective intentions since they are baptizing as Christ commanded and meant them to. They intend to do what Christ commanded which is what the Church intends. Mormons may ostensibly baptize as Christ commanded but since they don’t recognize him as he has revealed himself they cannot mean what he meant. I hope this is more clear.

  112. W says:

    Fr. Bailey,
    I want to thank you for the time you have taken to engage in this discussion. I, for one, appreciate it and I do not agree that you have personally attacked anyone. You have helped me to understand the issue better.

  113. Crusader says:

    Fr. Bailey –

    You are implying that I should accept “whatever Father says”, because I am a layman who should submit to his superior learning. Did you not hear what I said about the priest who taught that the Trinity was a human concept, another who said that angels and demons are myths, another who said that we would need no priest or sacraments in the future church, and another who said that Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead? Should I have accepted these pronouncements without question because they were from priests who knew so much more than me? THAT is why I questioned my original “diagnosis”, and I still have not been provided with an official Vatican document that states that Baptist baptisms are to be accepted as valid. I have seen evidence presented on this website supporting this, and some not supporting it. So far you have not been able to provide proof of what the Church teaches about Baptist baptisms in particular. Why do you fault my doubt when you can’t provide me with anything except “believe the priest because he is of superior knowledge”? I acted in good faith on what I had read about baptisms and about “intent”, and yes, there was a priest who agreed with me and conditionally baptized me. I listened to this priest, because in my dealings with him in the confessional and otherwise, I had reason to believe him to be truly holy and obedient to the Church, unlike many rebel priests these days who live in defacto schism by their actions and heretical teachings. The Church is in a state of crisis, whether or not you, Fr. Bailey, will admit it. And the sooner we get our act together and start teaching and living the Traditions of the Church, the sooner we will start saving souls again and converting the world. There have been many priests since Vatican II who have de-emphasized baptism to the point that they regard it as merely a welcoming into the family of God. Which is another reason I questioned the decision to not conditionally baptize when I entered the Church – in a climate of dissent and Sacramental de-emphasis, when I realized the centrality of Baptism to one’s salvation, I felt I had to act. Judge me if you will, but I will continue to err on the side of Tradition and doing what’s necessary to ensure my salvation.

  114. RBrown says:

    Can. 869 §2. Those baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community must not be baptized conditionally unless . . .
    Comment by Breier

    I am curious about the source of the above. Both translations I find on the Internet have “are not to be Baptized”.

    The Latin is:

    § 2. Baptizati in communitate ecclesiali non catholica non sunt sub condicione baptizandi . . .

    The first translation (“must not be Baptized”) contradicts the meaning of the meaning of the text.

    The second translation (“are not to be Baptized”) is somewhat better. On the other hand, it ignores the fact that in Latin future passive participles (cf. Baptizandi) a sense of obligation or necessity is implied that usually is not found in the English translation.

    IMHO, the text is saying that there is no obligation to Baptize converts from, say, Protestantism. It does not say that there is obligation not to Baptize.

    Thus, mihi videtur, a better translation is: “Those Baptized in a non Catholic ecclesial community do not need to be conditionally Baptized unless . . . “

  115. RBrown says:

    I’ll try to clear up this problem of intention and Baptism later.

  116. Breier says:

    RBrown,

    The translation of that canon is from the Vatican website:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2X.HTM

    From the Council of Trent, Canons on the Sacraments:

    “CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the baptism which is even given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church doth, is not true baptism; let him be anathema.”

    http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct07.html

    The question is centered on the meaning of “the intention of doing what the Church does.”

    It would be very useful if there is a Roman document somewhere that could
    shed more light on the issue. Maybe a response from the CDF on various forms of Baptism? For example, the Baptist form drew concern because the form is said, and then the immersion takes place afterwards.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, in quoting another author, notes:

    “the Baptists use the rite only for adults, and the efficacy of their baptism has been called in question owing to the separation of the matter and the form, for the latter is pronounced before the immersion takes place;”

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm#VII

    The question is interesting, because we have the position that the validity of a sacrament doesn’t depend on the orthodoxy or holiness of the minister, nevertheless there has to be an intention beyond simply performing the external rights. What is the connection between orthodox and intention, if any? If I’m a Modernist Anglican and don’t believe that the Jesus of History instituted baptism, or don’t believe that Jesus, did I have the intent to do what the Church does?

    It seems that at some point, one’s beliefs go to far and the intention is lost, as in the case of Mormonism. Does any other denomination reach that danger zone? What about liberal Protestantism, or someone who denies the resurrection, divinity, or baptismal mandate of Jesus?

    What common intention baseline of intention must Catholics and non-Catholics share?

    I don’t have the answers, but if anyone does, with the authorities to back them out, I think that would shed a lot of light.

  117. Tomas Lopez says:

    Dear Fr Bailey,

    With all due respect Father, please reconsider your position. If you become any more irrational (or uncharitable), Father Zed himself may give you a time out!

    In your post above, you state:

    I will take the opinions and thoughts of someone who has a degree in a particular area over any layperson. Unless someone proves to me that they (sic) have a degree in a particular area I cannot but conclude that they are not competant (sic) in that field. (You might disagree. I really don’t care.) That is called sanity, logic, and common sense. You don’t send a sick person to a mechanic. I would never be so narcisistic (sic) to think I was an expert in an are in which I had no competance (sic). You and others apparently(sic) are that narcisistic (sic).

    Clearly, you cannot mean this. My seventh-grade nephew, who knows the Baltimore Catechism from cover to cover, will provide a more orthodox rendering of nearly any Church teaching than will Fr Matthew Fox, who holds two M.A.’s from the Aquinas Institute (one in Philosophy and one in Theology) and a PhD (summa cum laude) in Spirituality from the Institut Catholique. Your own argument about having v. not having a degree lacks the very “sanity, logic and common sense” that you refer to.

    No one on the board is questioning your expertise or commitment. On the contrary, we are eternally grateful (literally) for holy and orthodox priests such as yourself. Sadly, however, we undegreed laymen have been assaulted by forty years of craziness and chaos. The “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” that the Roman collar once was is no longer a yardstick of much of anything anymore. I imagine that the Little Flower (an undegreed Doctor of the Church) would have trusted that any priest she encountered would be faithful to Catholic teachings and discipline; that is no longer the case for us laymen today. Please try to understand our situation when we scrutinize you priests or regard you skeptically.

    Lest you call my sincerity into question:

    Tomás A. López
    soyyo201(at)aol.com
    Mayagüez, PR

  118. Crusader, you want authoritative Vatican documents. There are none that I am aware of. In fact, there are none for 95% of what the Church teaches. One has to look in several theological disciplines and know how to bring them together. Priests are trained by the Church to apply the Theological Sciences to those areas of life where there are no documents. Laymen, of which you are one, are not. What you are saying whether you realize it or not is that no priest can be trusted and that the years of study we put in are worthless. Do you wonder why I would react to that? You have equated all priests with those who are heterodox. You have judged every one of us as men and yet you take offence when I judge your actions (which happens to be one of the things a priest does). You judged the priest who received you into the Church to be incompetant. You judged any priest who told you your baptism was valid to be incompetant. You judged me to be incompetant.

    Whether you or others like it or not, laymen are not trained in the Theological Sciences or their application. Canon Law uses terms that we use in our everyday language but they do not necessarily mean the same thing. One cannot simply look at the CIC, read it, and know how the Church means it and applies it without a solid grounding in ethics, law, and moral theology any more than a person can read a book on surgery and understand it without first studying anatomy and who knows what else. The whole discussion on this post as to what intention means proves the point. Additionally, you say that there are priests who are “in defacto schism by their actions and heretical teachings.” This is clear evidence that you do not know the meanings of the words schism or heresy, never mind how the Church applies them, and even who has the authority to make the judgement. You have proved my point for me.

    You may have read about baptisms, but again, you do not have the qualifications to make the judgement as to whether or not your baptism was valid. You implied in your first post that you had to search for a sympathetic priest. The way I read this is that you went to several priests until you found one who agreed with you. Thus, you were searching for a priest who agreed with your opinion, not one who didn’t agree with you and told you your Baptist baptism was valid. You made the determination to be conditionally baptized and didn’t leave the decision to someone who knew the Chuches mind. Your opinion and the mind of the Church are at odds. It is for you to conform to the Church, not the Church to conform to you.

    I don’t care if you don’t agree with my opinions when they are my opinions. I don’t care if you like me or not. My job isn’t to be liked or be anybody’s friend. But I care very much when you dismiss my brothers as incompetant, men who have given their lives to serve God’s people, men who spent years studying, men who will bend over backwards for you. I care very much when you or anyone else acts wrongly or unjustly and I will point that out and correct that. If your feelings are hurt, then so be it. I’d rather your feelings be hurt and you go to heaven than to spare you and have you go to hell.

    Finally, you wrote: “I will continue to err on the side of Tradition and doing what’s necessary to ensure my salvation.” Be aware of this: There is ONE Church. To err on the side of Tradition, by which it seems you mean as in the Traditionalist Movement, is no different that to err on the side of Liberality. One is Catholic or one is not Catholic. Traditionalists are no more Catholic than Liberals. Their downfall will be that they don’t or won’t recognize this.

  119. Mom of girls says:

    I don’t understand how it can invalidate a baptism if someone’s theology isn’t Christian. My non-Christian husband agreed readily to perform an emergency baptism should any of our babies require it, the first birth having had a touch-and-go moment. My husband’s intention couldn’t possibly be to perform a Christian sacrament, as he doesn’t believe in sacraments; but he affirmed that he absolutely would intend to perform a Catholic baptism. My priest said that would be sufficient for validity.

  120. Paul Priest says:

    mom – from what I gather
    intent is valid if it conforms to the intent of the church and the form is valid;
    i.e. the person who baptizes in an emergency only needs to express a will which is non-contrary to the sentiments of the act itself – even if they are totaly antipathetical to the nature of the church and all it maintains, even if they do not believe in God or the efficacy of the baptism – so long as the intent is to perform an act in a way which is non-hostile to the sentiment and nature of the grace incurred.
    I may not have heard this in my canon law lectures directly from the Professor ; but I remember stating in my canon law exams that the ‘non-contrary’ indifference and ignorance of the baptiser is sanctified by the very nature of the act and the conformity to the church in form.
    What’s different from the Mormon Baptism compared to the atheist baptising is that the mormon or any other anti-trinitarian believer has a clarified contrary perception of Father ,Son and Holy Spirit – whereas the atheist has none of these and suffers from invincible ignorance; and the grace flows through a willing instrument; even if they are totally oblivious to the belief in or the actuation of the efficacy of the sacrament.

    …and if that’s wrong and contrary to what Trent intended to teach I’m sure someone will jump on me like a ton of bricks.

    One aside though , and I hope someone could graciously answer me on this one – I think it’s day five article 14 or 15 [I do not have my copy to hand] in Trent – does it not say we are forbidden to judge the worth or character of the catechumen requesting baptism ? [ as human dignity and worth cannot be fully annihilated by sin – ref Romans 8, councils of Arles, Quiercy, Nancy, Valencia and Trent etc [that I can remember!!! P.] I ask this as the main thrust of one of the final stages of the RCIA process performs something completely contrary to this ; and even has a pseudo-rite and declaration anouncing their adjudication of worth by either cleric, sponsors and community of the faithful – I’m sorry but it’s been decades since I did all this and may be slightly confused regarding the exigences, but in this regard does not the RCIA process contravene Trent ????

  121. Paul Priest says:

    mom – from what I gather
    intent is valid if it conforms to the intent of the church and the form is valid;
    i.e. the person who baptizes in an emergency only needs to express a will which is non-contrary to the sentiments of the act itself – even if they are totaly antipathetical to the nature of the church and all it maintains, even if they do not believe in God or the efficacy of the baptism – so long as the intent is to perform an act in a way which is non-hostile to the sentiment and nature of the grace incurred.
    I may not have heard this in my canon law lectures directly from the Professor ; but I remember stating in my canon law exams that the \’non-contrary\’ indifference and ignorance of the baptiser is sanctified by the very nature of the act and the conformity to the church in form.
    What\’s different from the Mormon Baptism compared to the atheist baptising is that the mormon or any other anti-trinitarian believer has a clarified contrary perception of Father ,Son and Holy Spirit – whereas the atheist has none of these and suffers from invincible ignorance; and the grace flows through a willing instrument; even if they are totally oblivious to the belief in or the actuation of the efficacy of the sacrament.

    …and if that\’s wrong and contrary to what Trent intended to teach I\’m sure someone will jump on me like a ton of bricks.

    One aside though , and I hope someone could graciously answer me on this one – I think it\’s session five article 14 or 15 [I do not have my copy to hand] in Trent – does it not say we are forbidden to judge the worth or character of the catechumen requesting baptism ? [ as human dignity and worth cannot be fully annihilated by sin – ref Romans 8, councils of Arles, Quiercy, Nancy, Valencia and Trent etc [that I can remember!!! P.] I ask this as the main thrust of one of the final stages of the RCIA process performs something completely contrary to this ; and even has a pseudo-rite and declaration anouncing their adjudication of worth by either cleric, sponsors and community of the faithful – I\’m sorry but it\’s been decades since I did all this and may be slightly confused regarding the exigences, but in this regard does not the RCIA process contravene Trent ????

  122. Felix says:

    Fr Scott Bailey wrote:

    “Unless someone proves to me that they have a degree in a particular area I cannot but conclude that they are not competant in that field. …That is called sanity, logic, and common sense.”

    It’s also called clerical pride.

    And, by the way, the spelling is “competent”. Not that I have a degree in English linguistics.

  123. Jordan Potter says:

    RBrown said: I am curious about the source of the above. Both translations I find on the Internet have “are not to be Baptized”.

    That is also the translation in the Canon Law Society of America’s translation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (1983 English translation, 1995 printing) which I have on my bookshelf. The Vatican website’s translation, “must not be baptized conditionally,” is apparently in error, and in any event is unofficial.

  124. Jordan Potter says:

    Paul priest asked: One aside though , and I hope someone could graciously answer me on this one – I think it’s session five article 14 or 15 [I do not have my copy to hand] in Trent – does it not say we are forbidden to judge the worth or character of the catechumen requesting baptism ? [ as human dignity and worth cannot be fully annihilated by sin – ref Romans 8, councils of Arles, Quiercy, Nancy, Valencia and Trent etc [that I can remember P.] I ask this as the main thrust of one of the final stages of the RCIA process performs something completely contrary to this ; and even has a pseudo-rite and declaration anouncing their adjudication of worth by either cleric, sponsors and community of the faithful – I’m sorry but it’s been decades since I did all this and may be slightly confused regarding the exigences, but in this regard does not the RCIA process contravene Trent ????

    Trent session five deals with Original Sin, not Baptism. Baptism was Treated by the Tridentine Fathers in session seven, in the decree on the sacraments. But there is no canon in either sessions five or seven that says anything like what you say.

    In the ancient church, it was the universal practice that no catechumen would be baptised unless he had first undergone scrutinies and exorcisms at the hands of the bishop. It is hardly possible that the entire Church could get something as important as this wrong. Nor would it be respectful of human dignity to baptise adults without first examining their sincerity and their commitment to live their lives as Catholics. (In the early Church, catechumens had to be aggressively screened to prevent spies of the Roman government from worming their way into the Church and then betraying everyone to the authorities. They also needed to be sure that a convert would not swiftly renounce his faith in the face of persecution.)

  125. Mom of girls says:

    Paul,

    Thank you for that explanation. Feel free to toss in a prayer for my good man; he was raised in the kind of bizarre sect (for the sake of avoiding the c-word) that you only find in the southern U.S. and which left him quite unable to believe. Though he does like to come to Mass.

  126. Paul Priest says:

    Thanks Jordan [excuse the familiarity but Jordan is a unisex name and I didn’t wish to offend]
    I’m sure it’s there somewhere – but it’s given me an excuse to hunt it down…thanks.

  127. Felix, thank you for quoting me out of context and attacking me. It proves my point.

  128. Paul Priest says:

    Try this : I’m sure it’s somewhere else too so I’ll keep hunting ; but I am certain this is what Trent means in contradiction to the ‘judgement of worth’ in the RCIA process – it’s the beginning of chapter 2 from session 14.

    Besides, it is clear that this sacrament is in many respects different from baptism.11 For apart from the fact that in matter and form, which constitute the essence of a sacrament, it differs very widely, it is beyond question that the minister of baptism need not be a judge, since the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not entered it through the gate of baptism.