QUAERITUR: Strange baptism: priest says words but deacon pours water

From a reader:

So Father, this weekend I attended the baptism of my cousins daughter. 

The PRIEST said the words properly, BUT this perfectly healthy priest was NOT baptizing the child, the "DEACON of the word" was doing the pouring of the water

Father held the microphone and naught else. 

The DEACON did the anointing with oils, as FATHER said the prayer

Legit? Simply odd?

 

Invalid. 

The "baptism" needs to be repeated.

Before writing this I consulted an appropriate ecclesial authority for an opinion.

I would immediately relate this to the local bishop.

Write up everything with photos and videos if there are any of the baptism.   Documentation, proofs, are very useful.   In addition, you might get written descriptions of what happened from others who were there.

Send them to the local bishop and also to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Send a cover letter, with a description, but without your own editorial comment.

Indicate to the bishop that you have sent a copy to the Congregation.

His Eminence
William Card. Levada
Prefect for the Congregation
   for the Doctrine of the Faith
Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio
00120 VATICAN CITY

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170 Responses to QUAERITUR: Strange baptism: priest says words but deacon pours water

  1. pfreddys says:

    I would think there is an actual obligation to report this. It is absolutely horrifying that there are many children out there not baptised and in the meantime their families think they are.

  2. pfreddys says:

    Sorry, but this really blows my mind (thus the second immediate post).
    A question for Fr. Z and/or anyone versed in these matters: since the baptism was not valid would then subsequent sacraments would also then be invalid; would it follow the person is unable to receive Confirmation, and God forbid if it a male and receives Holy Orders, that too would be invalid and every function that he would perform as priest would be invalid?

  3. TrueLiturgy says:

    I am fairly certain that the special graces associated with the other sacraments are not dispensed upon anyone who is not validly baptizes. So yes, IMHO, other sacraments are not valid when tried ot be done upon non-batptized people. I’m sure someone else will quote the Canon Law.

  4. Feigning a sacrament, i.e., intentionally subjecting it to invalidity, is a grave sin and offense. This priest AND deacon need to be reported ASAP. The minister of the sacrament, EITHER the priest OR the deacon must be the same one who SAYS the BLACK and DOES the RED. You cannot share the essential elements. And the person is right that all subsequent sacraments would be invalidly RECEIVED as the precondition is that the recipient be BAPTIZED. Hence, an invalidly baptized male cannot be validly ordained a deacon, priest or bishop. All confessions, Masses, weddings, etc. by such a fellow would be invalid.

  5. TNCath says:

    WHY do people do dumb things like this?

  6. I really do not know why a priest would feel the need to mess with the rite of baptism. There is, afaik, not that much required for validity, so why mess with even the minimum requirements of a sacrament of such consequence! Prayers for a swift correction of this practice, and that the damage done has been minimal and may be quickly remedied. Hopefully, the priest in question has not been doing this for long.

    Pfreddys, I think it is impossible to confer the other sacraments on a non-baptised person. However, in terms of the invalidly baptised and therefore invalidly ordained “priest”, I am pretty sure that the baptisms he would perform would still be valid. Afaik, a non-baptised person can confer the sacrament of baptism as long as he intends to do what the Church intends. The anointing with oils would probably not be effective, but they are not required for a valid baptism.

  7. Leonius says:

    I blame the introduction of concelebration for this kind of thing, if 20 priests can offer a mass by doing individual parts each why not with baptism to!

  8. jmvbxx says:

    What exactly is the problem here? A deacon is an ordinary minister of baptism.

    According to Motu Proprio Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem of Pope Paul VI issued June 18, 1967, one of a deacon’s function is “To administer baptism solemnly”.

    Is there is some other detail in this story that I am missing that in some other way invalidates the baptism?

  9. robtbrown says:

    jmvbxx,

    The objection is that the priest recited the Sacramental Form, but the Deacon performed the Sacramental matter.

  10. hawkeye says:

    This one takes the cake. What are unsuspecting people to do? God must surely realize that most people don’t know better and can’t be responsible for the mistakes of the priests. Why should this child be held accountable for the actions of this priest? Fortunately, there was a relative who knows better. Kudos to you.

  11. hawkeye says:

    Can anyone help me and explain how I can actually get a question to Fr. Z? Thanks

  12. The point is that the priest can baptize. Or the deacon can baptize. Or (in emergency situations) your pagan or atheist Aunt Tamerlane can baptize. But each of these persons can only baptize by doing one whole baptism him/herself.

    You can’t do a tag team baptism.

    (You can have an emergency baptism by Aunt Tamerlane, and then a priest or a deacon doing the other rites later, should the baptizee survive the emergency. But that’s not what the original poster described.)

  13. Joel says:

    Just a thought, and not trying to diminish the gravity of the situation…

    Let’s suppose this was an infant baptism, and this child never learns about the circumstances of that day. As they mature and receive other sacraments are we to presume that they will still not receive the full graces intended from those sacraments? In other words is the individual going to suffer or be held accountable for invalidity of the baptism, or do we hope and pray that this becomes a situation where God’s grace, power, and mystery trumps a flawed act?

    Like I said, I’m not trying to deny the seriousness of what has taken place, but I do wonder how often something like this might have happened in the past with no-one the wiser.

  14. B.C.M. says:

    If you’re not baptized, you can not validly receive any sacraments.

    I heard an apocryphal tale that is still instructive on this point:

    A priest had been named a bishop, and in crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s the congregation for bishops discovered that Father was never baptized properly.

    They immediately sequestered Father and hastily and secretly baptized, confirmed, communicated and ordained him. Father was then charged to re-say every Mass he had ever attempted before. But in secret, through the rest of his life. While improbable this seems to be the consequence of an invalid baptism.

  15. Rachel Pineda says:

    Please, correct me if I am wrong but in order for a sacrament to be valid you must have the correct form, matter, and intention. While the matter and intention seem to be there in this baptism, I think it’s the form that is the problem. The person baptising must also say the words of baptism in order for it to be valid.
    I read about this several times and consulted a priest when I baptised my newborn son in an emergency baptism in the emergency room. I had the matter, (Epiphany holy water I grabbed on the way out the door to the ambulance, the definate intention to baptise my son, but became worried afterwards when I couldn’t remember if I said my son’s name or Amen. The priest reassured me, the person baptising only must say I baptise you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It must be the person physically pouring the water that says these words.

  16. priest up north says:

    TNCath,

    Let me begin by making clear that I am not anti-deacon. However, at the risk of jumping to an unsound conclusion, I would bet that this situation (and similar types of priest and deacon sharing of the celebration of sacraments) comes under the realm of making a seemingly acceptable concession for the sake of allowing a deacon to function, “because the rite ‘doesn’t’ say we can’t do it this way…” I have had to deal with the question of whether a deacon can baptize during Mass on a couple of occasions – (as the recipient of baptism was either a grandchild of the deacon, or the child of close family friends to the deacon). Such provision are not written in the “Prenotanda” of the rite (this would apply to the “Prenotandas” of each rite) because they are not truly envisioned by the Church, and therefore not necessary to write down. The ritual instructions only ordinarily seek to convey what is to take place (and nothing more) (“Say the Black, Do the Red” to put it another way). Hence, I am guessing that there may have been good, albeit misguided, intentions here with unacceptable consequences.

  17. Leonius says:

    “Let’s suppose this was an infant baptism, and this child never learns about the circumstances of that day. As they mature and receive other sacraments are we to presume that they will still not receive the full graces intended from those sacraments? In other words is the individual going to suffer or be held accountable for invalidity of the baptism, or do we hope and pray that this becomes a situation where God’s grace, power, and mystery trumps a flawed act?”

    We must assume that they do not receive the benefits of the other sacraments as this is in line what God has told us and we have nothing to base any other assumption on other than human sentimentality and wishful thinking.

  18. Jaybirdnbham says:

    I’m still trying to understand this situation, and have a “what if” question:
    What if, while the priest said the words and the deacon pour the water, the deacon was ALSO either silently or very quietly saying the same words along with the priest? Would the baptism then be valid?

  19. doanli says:

    What is wrong with some of our clergy???

    I had one who told us the multiplication of the bread and fish was not a miracle but probably due to the crowd’s “generous spirit in sharing” that brought that about. I am not the only one whose priest has said that.

    Good Lord, help these servants of Yours, please.

  20. luiz says:

    QUESTION: “Let’s suppose this was an infant baptism, and this child never learns about the circumstances of that day. As they mature and receive other sacraments are we to presume that they will still not receive the full graces intended from those sacraments? In other words is the individual going to suffer or be held accountable for invalidity of the baptism, or do we hope and pray that this becomes a situation where God’s grace, power, and mystery trumps a flawed act?”

    ANSWER: Baptism of desire. See DZ 741 (12th century):

    “Presbyterum, quem sine unda baptismatis extremum diem clausisse significasti, quia in sanctae matris Ecclesiae fide et Christi nominis confessione perseveravit, ab originali peccato solutum et caelestis patriae gaudium esse adeptum asserimus incunctanter. Lege super octavum librum Augustini de civitate Dei, ubi inter cetera legitur: ‘Baptismus invisibiliter ministratur, quem non contemptus religionis, sed terminus necessitatis excludit.’ Librum etiam Ambrosii de obitu Valentiniani idem asserentis revolve. Sopitis ergo quaestionibus, doctorum Patram sententias teneas, et in ecclesia tua iuges preces hostiasque Deo offeri iubeas pro presbytero memorato.”

  21. luiz says:

    Baptism of Desire (an unbaptized priest) *

    388 [From the letter “Apostolicam Sedem” to the Bishop

    of Cremona, of uncertain time]

    To your inquiry we respond thus: We assert without hesitation (on the authority of the holy Fathers Augustine and Ambrose) that the priest whom you indicated (in your letter) had died without the water of baptism, because he persevered in the faith of holy mother the Church and in the confession of the name of Christ, was freed from original sin and attained the joy of the heavenly fatherland. Read (brother) in the eighth book of Augustine’s “City of God” * where among other things it is written, “Baptism is ministered invisibly to one whom not contempt of religion but death excludes.” Read again the book also of the blessed Ambrose concerning the death of Valentinian * where he says the same thing. Therefore, to questions concerning the dead, you should hold the opinions of the learned Fathers’ and in your church you should join in prayers and you should have sacrifices offered to God for the priest mentioned.

    Source: http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma4.php

  22. Alice says:

    Jaybirdnbham,
    If the deacon was saying (moving his lips and not just thinking) the words of baptism while pouring the water, the baptism would be valid. It doesn’t sound like the witnesses had any reason to believe that that happened, though.

  23. irishgirl says:

    Oh, my gosh-this one takes the cake, for sure!

    I hope this correspondent does what Fr. Z instructed him to do and get this off to Rome PRONTO!

    This is insane….!

  24. Margaret says:

    Excuse the language, but WTF?!?? This has me spitting nails. Why (???) must something as simple and earth-shakingly important as baptism be mucked around with? Did someone feel the rite needed to be more “special?” (Because, of course, being washed clean by the blood of the Lamb isn’t special enough already…)

  25. Leonius says:

    Baptism of desire is only mentioned as possible for someone who has not been baptised because they died before been able to, there is nothing whcih says one can receive baptism of desire while they are living.

  26. jmvbxx says:

    For education purposes, can someone please direct me towards a source which states that the sacrament cannot be “tag-teamed”.

    I’m still in the infancy stage of learning the finer points of the sacraments and I’d appreciate any guidance here.

  27. JosephMary says:

    Yes, this is truly sad. And you have both a priest and a deacon who are at the very least, not trained. This seems similar to the case in Australia where they were baptizing children in the same of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier and the diocese had to go and try to retrieve all these little ones to do it sacramentally.

    I have encountered invalid matter for the Eucharist, more than once. One time was with a recipe devised by the bishop of the diocese! What do you do then? That bishop has since gone to his reward.

    But obedience is also a humility and both virtues are lacking in the world in many ways. And this is a serios matter.

  28. Warren says:

    Because the acts of the Church are made to appear arbitrary, it is examples of corruption and manipulation of the sacraments like this that do more to dissuade young men from considering the priesthood than other challenges. One easily understands why young men gravitate toward the communities that actually revere the Sacraments for what they truly are. How many potential priests have been turned away by those liberals and pink mafia who resent young men who are more faithful, more Catholic and tradition minded?

    It’s likely that the clergy in question are not the best recruiters either.

  29. Martial Artist says:

    hawkeye,

    In re: Getting a question to Fr. Z.

    Near the upper left of each page on this blog, look about 2-½ inches beneath the photo of Fr. Z. You will see two hyperlinks (in underscored upper case bold blue type). Clicking the one labeled EMAIL will open a window with his email address. The other one shows you his Twitter name, but I am not familiar with using Twitter to communicate with other users.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  30. Mike says:

    “We must assume that they do not receive the benefits of the other sacraments as this is in line what God has told us and we have nothing to base any other assumption on other than human sentimentality and wishful thinking.”

    I don’t think this assumption is accurate. The sacraments are the “ordinary” way to salvation. God can and does act in extra-ordinary ways. If good faith was all there, then I would, yes, want to be baptized validly, but if one doesn’t humanly have this option open, while one lacks the baptismal character–and perhaps many of its dignities, God can find a way.

  31. Patrick J. says:

    Margaret,

    What is WTF?(sic) If it is what I think it is, why use that form of expression here. I don’t really care how nail spitting angry you might be, this is offensive language.

  32. Gail F says:

    This is very interesting. I didn’t know that the same person had to do the whole sacrament, although it makes perfect sense now that I do know it.

    Not to justify the people who did the baptism in question, but I do think several people who wrote in deserve a better answer than they received. It’s not “sentimentality” alone to trust that God will make up for human error. Surely, over the past 2000 years, there have at times been invalid baptisms that the baptized had no way of knowing were invalid. We can hope and trust that God provided for these people (which is not the same as presuming He does).

    But that doesn’t mean that we can ever allow priests or deacons to do anything that invalidates a sacrament. This should be reported at once, and all such “baptisms” should be redone, however that is usually handled. They can’t be allowed to continue with what they’re doing.

  33. Leonius says:

    “I don’t think this assumption is accurate. The sacraments are the “ordinary” way to salvation. God can and does act in extra-ordinary ways. If good faith was all there, then I would, yes, want to be baptized validly, but if one doesn’t humanly have this option open, while one lacks the baptismal character—and perhaps many of its dignities, God can find a way.”

    While God can act in extraordinary and miraculous ways we cannot presume that He will or that He has.

  34. robtbrown says:

    For education purposes, can someone please direct me towards a source which states that the sacrament cannot be “tag-teamed”.
    Comment by jmvbxx

    The Sacramental Form says “I baptize . . . ” The one who is saying it is not pouring the water.

  35. Sleepyhead says:

    Patrick J.

    Don’t be so sensitive.

  36. Jerry says:

    re: jmvbxx – “For education purposes, can someone please direct me towards a source which states that the sacrament cannot be “tag-teamed”.”

    For a sacrament to be valid, three things are required: the proper form, matter, and intent. If any one of these is missing or invalid, the sacrament is invalid.

    The Church provides us with descriptions of the proper form, matter, and intent for each sacrament. If the sacrament is not administered within the prescribed parameters it is invalid. It is not possible to document every possible way a sacrament can be administered invalidly for there are an infinite number of such possibilities.

    One source for a detailed description of the valid elements for each sacrament is St. Thoma Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.

  37. robtbrown says:

    NB: Validity of a Sacrament is determined according to:

    1. Intention–Intending what the Church intends

    2. Sacramental Form–recitation of the words that designate the matter. Here it is I baptize, etc.

    3. Sacramental Matter–that which is designated by the Form. Here it is the pouring of the water.

    Determination of Sacramental Validity has nothing to do with the Baptism of Desire, where obviously Sac Form and Matter are not present.

    Also: I confess I don’t care for the use of the ordinary/extraordinary couplet with regard to the Sacraments. IMHO, it is better to say that the Sacraments are necessary for salvation, but it is possible that their effects be received without Sacramental celebration.

  38. Jerry says:

    re: Gail F. — “Surely, over the past 2000 years, there have at times been invalid baptisms that the baptized had no way of knowing were invalid. We can hope and trust that God provided for these people (which is not the same as presuming He does).”

    We certainly can — and should — pray and trust God will provide for those affected when there is no other option. If we have an opportunity to correct the error or prevent it from happening again and fail to do so because of said trust, we then cross the line into presumption.

  39. Oneros says:

    “I confess I don’t care for the use of the ordinary/extraordinary couplet with regard to the Sacraments. IMHO, it is better to say that the Sacraments are necessary for salvation, but it is possible that their effects be received without Sacramental celebration.”

    I agree. The whole point about potential extraordinary means…is that they’re not Revealed like the ordinary means. Their existence is certainly possible (God is not bound by the sacraments), some would say even probable when they have a long tradition of theological speculation behind them (for which reason Trent explicitly excluded BOD from condemnation). But they can never be presumed with certainty, we can only hope after-the-fact.

  40. prairie says:

    Something similar happened at my son’s protestant baptism. The pastor was going to let my husband baptize our son. My husband poured the water, but didn’t think to say the words. (?!) So the pastor said them at the last possible second. I’ve wondered several times if his baptism would be considered valid if he enters the Catholic Church at some point in the future. I’ve thought several times about how this points to the fact that we really do need ordained men trained to do these things properly rather than just letting anyone, with no training or theological education teach and administer sacraments.

  41. susanna says:

    Patrick J., I agree.

  42. Patikins says:

    This reminds me of my college days when the mass to celebrate the end of the academic year was “tag teamed” because neither priest could be there for the entire mass. One did the beginning through the homily and the other did the liturgy of the Eucharist through the final blessing. The priests even said they weren’t sure it was okay but they went ahead and did it anyway. In hind sight I realize it was invalid and they should have cancelled or found a priest from a local parish to celebrate the mass.

    Luckily it was for a relatively small group.

  43. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Can a baptism be split up and performed, part before the mass in the sacristy (with the oils), then the second part with the holy water towards the end of mass? This was the situation with my daughter.

  44. robtbrown says:

    Can a baptism be split up and performed, part before the mass in the sacristy (with the oils), then the second part with the holy water towards the end of mass? This was the situation with my daughter.
    Comment by TravelerWithChrist

    From what you say, the Sacramental Form and Matter weren’t separated.

  45. dans0622 says:

    I’m wondering why Father Z. suggested writing to the “CDF” instead of the “CDWDS”….?

  46. Mike says:

    “The whole point about potential extraordinary means…is that they’re not Revealed like the ordinary means.”

    Right, but I don’t think anyone is arguing that they have the certainty of the ordinary means…

  47. TrueLiturgy says:

    dans0622 – I am wondering the same thing! It doesn’t make any sense, unless this is simply what Fr.Z’s resource told him to say.

  48. Supertradmum says:

    It seems to me that those who cannot see the connection between form and matter have not been catechized correctly in sacramental theology. The sacraments do what the symbols state is happening only under certain conditions. The fact is that laws of nature and laws concerning religion create order so that validity and invalidity may be clarified. That Protestants do not understand sacramental theology is understandable, but that Catholics do not is a tragedy of education-and adults are responsible for leaning about their own religion, despite earlier gaps or errors. One of the concerns I have with some of the above comments is the assumption of “universl salvation”. There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church and those who are saved who are outside the Church, as saved through the merits of the Catholic Church. Proper Sacraments provide this merit. Legal and valid Masses provide this merit. If we are blase or presumptuous, there is no merit. In our diocese, for years, some priests were baptizing in the name of the “Creator,the Redeemer, and the Sustainer”. The new bishop, when he found out, had to send a letter out for the priests to really baptize those who got the bogus sacrament. Invalid and illegal. Plus, any subsequent sacraments had to be given. What of those hundreds of people who moved away, not knowing they were not baptized as infants? The laity must know their own faith and keep their eyes open in the face of clergy who are at best confused, and at worse, heretics.

  49. Harold says:

    What if the priest, for some valid reason (age, infirmity, etc), could not hold the child and pour the water and had the deacon do so? In such a case, the priest simply could not baptize?

  50. Papabile says:

    Interesting.

    BTW….. this is an issue that has implications ecumenically. Evidently, one Archbishop pours the water, while one pronounces the words of Baptism during the Baptism of the Prince of Princess of Wales.

    It seems the head of the Church of England isn’t even baptized.

  51. Sam Schmitt says:

    It’s not necessary that the minister of baptism hold the infant being baptized – usually the mother or the godmother holds the infant – just that he both pour the water and say the words.

  52. Oh, man!
    Why are priests such duff-asses?
    The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is the “gateway” to all the other Sacraments.
    Why is it so hard to do what the Church requires?
    I’m absolutely speechless…what comes to mind is the priest who immersed the baby’s butt in the water and that was Baptism.
    Nope.
    And Harold: all the priest has to do is pour water over the child’s head; he doesn’t have to hold the child; just pour the water, say the words; the mother/godmother holds the child from what I know.

  53. Rick says:

    Is God a merciful and loving God or a stickler for rigidity of sacramental protocol.

  54. Supertradmum says:

    Concelebration is a completely separate issue, as the rubric allows for more than one priest to say parts of the Mass. Let us not confuse Baptism with the Eucharistic Celebration. Also, one priest states the Words of Institution, or, they all do together, as individual priests, not with the idea of sharing the sacramental form. Sorry I did not spell universal correctly. Looks like a soap product name as I have it above.

    I am not a fan of permanent deacons, as I have seen too many novelties and odd situations arise under their authority. I am saddened, but not surprised. Again, the laity must know their own faith, take responsibility for legality and validity. Same with weddings, which is another serious area where odd things happen–such as fallen away Catholics not going to Confession before marriage, or even re-marriage. Same lax attitudes from certain priests have created invalid marriages by not explaining the difference between a fallen-away Catholic getting married and a Protestant. As lay people, we need to know all the details, until we finally get a priesthood of good, solid catechesis, and a priesthood which wants to be obedient to Rome in every detail. Same with permanent deacons…

  55. For what it’s worth, I agree with Fr. Z, Leonius and robtbrown: the sacramaent was not conferred validly:
    post hoc baptism by desire is irrelevant, and efforts to explain the invalid act into validity are worse than useless.

    I do not impugn the motives or the good will of the clergymen involved.

    The fact remains that there is an unbaptised child in the world, whose parents apparently hold the good faith belief that he is, and whose pastors are at best unaware of the situation.

    There is a soul in danger.

    C.

  56. paladin says:

    Rick: I don’t mean to offend, but: are you joshing, or are you serious? Would a surgeon be unloving and unmerciful if he were to refuse to be a “stickler for rigidity and protocol” about how to wash up for the surgery, where to make the incision, and such? We’re concerned not only with a violation of the mandates of the Church (whose disobedience wounds Her), but with the question of whether the child has been baptized AT ALL. Surely you find the question of “were the gates of Heaven opened to the child, or not” a relevant and important one?

    I’m assuming you meant well, but that sort of false dilemma of “mercy vs. meticulousness” is not only nonsense, but perilous nonsense!

  57. Supertradmum says:

    Rick,

    Either you believe in the efficacy of the sacraments done correctly, or you do not. Baptism makes a huge difference in a person’s life, taking away Original Sin and giving Sanctifying Grace necessary for salvation. One becomes a child of God in Baptism, not merely by being born. Also, one becomes a member of the Catholic Church through Baptism. Do you want all these good things denied because someone is lazy or lax about form and matter? The supernatural is not magical. You used the word “protocol” which is incorrect in this matter. Either a sacrament is valid or invalid because of the connection between form, in this case, the words,and matter, the water. Same with all the sacraments. The bread and wine are the matter and the words of Institution are the form. In Confirmation, the laying of the hands is the matter and the form is the words. In Holy Orders, the form is the words of consecration and the matter is the laying of the hands by the Bishops and the anointing of the hands.

  58. Rick: The conferral of the Sacrament of Baptism is so simple; all a priest/deacon needs to do is to “conform” to the form/matter that Holy Mother Church has given.
    As to whether an infant, receiving a “baptism” described in this post, will be denied entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven; that’s altogether another matter. God IS merciful and takes into account the frailty and (in this case) the absolute IDIOCY of His ministers…if this baby should die before receiving the other Sacraments.
    However, the valid reception of the Sacrament of Baptism is to be carefully observed. And if there is any kind of question, as in this case, it is to be given again, properly.

  59. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, nazareth priest, but I think we laity must be on our toes and learn as much as possible in order to protest on the spot when weird things happen. I have been counseling RCIA people for years on attending invalid marriages, even in Protestant Churches, where new age stuff is put in place of the Nuptial Blessing, or even the statement of the vows (the form as witnessed by the priest and lay witnesses), which is an actualization of the matter, which is the contract between the two people. I am frustrated that priests do not speak about these things from the pulpit, especially in areas where there is a majority, even a vast majority, of Protestants in families where Catholics regularly attend such baptisms and marriages. For example, not having a Trinitarian formula for the Baptismal words consititutes an invalid baptism. How many people have I met who have only been baptized in the Name of Jesus-many, many. Invalid.

    I think we laity need to be very aware and intervene when possible.

  60. New Sister says:

    DEACONS…without exception, every one I have met has contempt for Holy Mother Church, insidiously disguised in his clerical status. The priests who allow themselves to get led around by them are just as culpable.

  61. Supertradmum says:

    Sadly, New Sister, this has been my universal experience. All I have met have believed in the inevitalibity of women priests, universal salvation, some form of gay rights, and contraception, even abortion. I do not know why. Bad catechesis, I imagine, but the type of person who has been chosen to be a deacon in my experience have been men who were liberal in the first place, and not ones for believing in obedience to Holy Mother Church. I know from this blog that this is not the case in some dioceses, but in the MidWest, I can say this has been my experience. As to the sacraments, in some parishes, the deacons do as many if not more weddings than the priests. I have been concerned about this.

  62. Supertradmum: Well said.

  63. Leonius says:

    “Sadly, New Sister, this has been my universal experience. All I have met have believed in the inevitalibity of women priests, universal salvation, some form of gay rights, and contraception, even abortion. I do not know why.”

    I can tell you exactly why. The permanent diaconate is been used as a wedge by the liberals to try and inch closer to their aim of a married priesthood and an end to celibacy, and many of the men attracted to the diaconate are men who share those aims as well as all the other liberal aims that go along with it such as the ones you mention.

  64. Supertradmum says:

    Leonius, I think a survey of all the permanent deacons in the United States, asking the pertinent questions, would be very interesting, and perhaps, necessary.

  65. oratefratres says:

    Prairie,

    You mentioned:
    “Something similar happened at my son’s protestant baptism. The pastor was going to let my husband baptize our son. My husband poured the water, but didn’t think to say the words. (?!) So the pastor said them at the last possible second. I’ve wondered several times if his baptism would be considered valid if he enters the Catholic Church at some point in the future.”

    The baptism you mentioned is certainly invalid since both the Form (words) and Matter (pouring of water) is split between two individuals (your husband and the pastor). Both (form and matter) as mentioned in the post have to be from the same individual who administers the baptism. I do not know your situation or if I understood your comment exactly but I would try to get your Son re-baptized correctly.

  66. Amy MEV says:

    My sympathy is with the poor family. What a horrible situation. I also pray that this does not cause a problem in the family, that the person who asked the question is able to speak with his cousin without offense being taken or problems created.

  67. Supertradmum says:

    By the way, Prairie,all baptisms, if done correctly with proper form and matter as stated here, and in the Trinitarian form, are Catholic baptisms. It is only when a person grows up and embraces Protestant theology that they become “Protestant”. There is only one baptism. I understand your description as the baptism was being done by a minister and your husband. If it had been valid, which it is not, it would have been “Catholic”.

  68. Supertradmum says:

    AmyMEV, if anyone takes offense with the truth about sacramental theology, especially a deacon, there is a problem already and not created by the situation. However, we can still pray for a peaceful and honest solution. Maybe this is a “teaching moment” for the priest and the deacon.

  69. Rick says:

    Thank you Nazareth Priest, you have answered my question.

  70. I have to say this, God forgive me!
    Why, in the name that is all good and holy, is this horrid/unCatholic and irresponsible if not, altogether “Abusive” practice of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism even allowed?
    Where is the care of the “spiritual fathers”…our Bishops and Priests? As well as the Permanent/Transitional Deacons?
    This has to do with the salvation of souls!??
    What the crimeny heck is going on here?
    Holy Baptism is not just an “entering into the Community of Faith”…it is the cleansing of Original Sin, making that soul a member of the Communion of Saints, the promise of eternal salvation in the Kingdom of God…how more abusive can you get when you deliberately alter the Rite of Holy Baptism?

  71. Jordanes says:

    Rick asked: Is God a merciful and loving God or a stickler for rigidity of sacramental protocol.

    No one who knows and believes the Catholic faith would suggest, as you have, that the prescribed form and matter of the Sacraments that we received from Jesus is a matter of indifference.

    God is merciful and loving — that’s why He tells us, through His Church, to obey Him. If you want to enjoy His mercy, then you have to do what He tells you to do.

  72. Margaret says:

    Wow– I am surprised by all the negative deacon comments. I guess my experience is too limited. My ninth was just recently baptized by our relatively new parish deacon. Everything was by the book, rubrically, and his homily was outstanding. Probably the best baptism homily I’ve heard, excepting one years ago by a very holy, elderly Jesuit (no snickering!)

    At this recent baptism, there was no mention about how it was “all about the baby being welcomed into the community.” Thankfully. Instead, the deacon did a very nice job of summarizing the portion of the CATECHISM on Baptism– what it does, and the symbolism of the different actions. It was very educational, without anyone feeling like they’d been lectured or stuck in a classroom.

    It was a far more orthodox and content-rich homily than most priests in our diocese deliver. Guess we drew lucky in our parish…

  73. Supertradmum says:

    nazareth priest, I am touched by your holy indignation. I wish you could convince your dear, fellow priests to speak of such things to the laity from the pulpit, as baptismal and matrimonial aberrations are not uncommon. I do not understand the reticence to teach on Sunday on the Sacraments. I have not heard a sermon on the Sacraments for almost three years. I am also afraid that this laxity is owing to poor seminary training. The basic understanding of sacraments is overlooked. For example, I am very familar with a four year seminary where the Catechism of the Catholic Church is never used, or referred to in theology classes. Assumptions are made either that the young men know their theology from where I do not know, or that it is not important. Only the so-called “pastoral” seems to be emphasized.

    I have had many problems with both irregular,invalid baptisms and irregular, invalid marriages in RCIA prep, where, of course, some people cannot enter the Church without sorting out some of the problems and the theological confusion. For example,thankfully, recently my old parish started asking people in they had had Trinitarian baptisms. The number of those who have not had valid baptisms is growing. New age stuff complicates the matter, as Native American practices and even pagan practices are added to so-called Christian baptisms and weddings. Please pray for us workers in the field, nazareth priest, and I am so grateful that you are a good priest.

  74. joan ellen says:

    When I hear priests from the pulpit mention the shortage of priests I become uneasy. Then I understand the deacon doing priestly duties, women in the sanctuary…reading, serving, etc. and some of the above posts confirm my uneasiness…namely that married men as priests, and women priestesses are the future for which we are being prepared. Staying home, attending valid, but illicit Masses…or praying more so as not to cry seem to be our choices, and taking these ‘burdens’ and solid Church teachings to the ‘street’ may help us and the Church. The 7 Sacraments are the Church and give us what we need…Grace and Mercy. How sad to be denied.

  75. Philangelus says:

    In “Hostage To The Devil,” Malachi Martin said one of the demons he was exorcising claimed he’d been able to gain access to the person’s soul in part because of a baptism done exactly this way. The person had been emergency-baptised as an infant because they thought he was going to die, with one person pouring the water and the other saying the words.

  76. dans0622 says:

    Margaret,

    If your experience is limited, so is that of those who say all the deacons they’ve met are heretics, etc. I, for one, have met a few on “both sides.” I suppose that the formation of deacons has been as bad or worse than that priests have been subjected to…

    Dan

  77. Jack Hughes says:

    Joan Ellen, perhaps instead of contemplating staying at home or sneaking off to ‘ilict’ Mass’s you could spare a prayer or two for young men who are answering the call and are taking drastic measures to get into a good seminary inside the Church

  78. Supertradmum: You are most kind; God’s loving grace and the Truths of our Holy Faith are everything to me.
    I so suffer for the priests who are so willfully and sometimes ignorantly “out to lunch” (sorry for this very sophomoric image)…good grief! The salvation of souls are at our very hands, the words we speak, the rites we are supposed to convey…the arrogance and “hubris” of many of our priests, unfortunately trained by similar teachers, is a scandal.
    Pray for your priests! And correct them, esp. when a Sacrament is involved!
    The laity will help save the Church; I am convinced of this…just look at the example of the English/Welsh/Scots/Irish martyrs and recusants…as well as the martyrs of the Soviet blok.

  79. Jacob says:

    I have had little experience with deacons. The one I’ve had the most contact with was an old man with grown children (one of whom was on the way to the priesthood) back in the early 1990s.

    He was a very devout man who taught my sixth grade CCD class. Each class, we invariably started by saying the rosary.

  80. robtbrown says:

    nazareth priest,

    You must remember that it was not uncommon in seminaries for the good men to be pressured to leave. That left the liberals. They were also some decent men whose only knowledge of theology is the trash they were taught in seminary.

    Example: When I was in Rome, there was an Australian priest in the house. A good man, disciplined, a rugger with a MA in History who was sent to study canon law. We did two years of Latin together with Foster. Anyway, one day at table, the talk turned to John Wayne becoming a Catholic on his death bed. The Aussie priest said that he couldn’t understand why anyone would convert just before death–“the Sacraments are for the living”.

    Obviously, when he was in seminary, Original Sin was out of favor. And probably he had almost no concept of Grace.

  81. lux_perpetua says:

    now i am all worried. i just got back from Confession where the priest did not ask me to make an Act of Contrition. I said it afterward, before my Penance, but does this mean the Sacrament was invalid? i thought Fr. Z had written a post on it somewhere but i’ve yet to find it.

  82. Mike says:

    “Holy Baptism is not just an “entering into the Community of Faith”…”

    Precisely.

    I remember way back in ’93 a layperson in our parish explaining baptism as this and pretty much only this…

    More reasons for prayer.

  83. robtbrown: Alas, you are correct.
    And for that ‘Aussie’ to even say such a thing…good grief!
    Yeah, the “sacraments are for the living” and the “dying”…and well They may always be.
    God is great; merciful; loving; just…He gives all we need to gain eternal life…some of us might just have to go to the “last quarter”, so to speak…and that’s not presumption; that’s Mercy. Praised be Him forever!

  84. Supertradmum says:

    robtbrown,

    Ask John Wayne to pray for the Aussie priest.

  85. Dr. Eric says:

    I need to go to confession now.

    I can assure you that if my bishop accepts me and ordains me as a deacon this kind of @#$% will not happen in my church.

  86. Leonius says:

    “now i am all worried. i just got back from Confession where the priest did not ask me to make an Act of Contrition. I said it afterward, before my Penance, but does this mean the Sacrament was invalid?”

    As long as the priest said you were absolved you are absolved and the confession is valid.

  87. jmvbxx says:

    I have been discerning, for some time now, the possibility of being ordained as a permanent deacon and I am very sad to read the comments here regarding a very important, and biblically supported, position of service in the Church.

    As often happens in this blog, I am caused to question how much of the experiences (and resulting comments) shared here are influenced by local culture rather than true Church teachings.

    Deacons are not priests. Deacons are not half-priests. Each is a separate and distinct calling and each serves a very important function within the Church. Deacons are called to serve their bishop and most are assigned to a parish where they report directly to the parish priest. Their duty is to assist and provide support. Much needed support, I might add in a world where many areas are suffering from a lack of ordained ministers.

    Lastly, deacons are not liberal or left-imposed wedges to get married men or women into the Church. Jesus Christ was the original deacon. It is offensive to impose modern prejudices onto a fundamentally important ordained ministry.

    When there is a problem with a priest we do not (although others do) blame the institution of the priesthood but rather the individual involved. The same standard should apply to permanent deacons. Obviously, like any human endeavour, there will be those who abuse, neglect or misrepresent themselves and their authority. This does not mean the problem lies with the ministry, or vocation, itself but rather with the individual.

    If there are questionable practices involving deacons in your parishes I encourage you to follow the same established procedures of informing the appropriate authorities as we would for a misguided or erroneous priest.

    In my years I have met some very wonderful deacons and I have experienced first hand the fruits of their call to serve. Please pray for all deacons, as well as those considering the vocation.

  88. doanli says:

    All of the deacons I have met have been very good and dedicated men.

    Cannot say the same about “Parish Councils”.

  89. New Sister says:

    Supertradmum – “Maybe this is a “teaching moment” for the priest and the deacon.” …I sense what is needed for these clergymen is a “conversion moment”, to orthodoxy and obedience, I pray.

  90. New Sister says:

    jmvbxx – I thank God for deacons like St Ephrem (“harp of the Holy Spirit”), St Francis, and *one* (uno) modern-day deacon I “know” through TV (Dr McDonald on EWTN). Without their example, I would, in my experience in the Catholic Church, be led to write-off the permanent deaconate all together. As soon as a spot a deacon at Mass I shudder and know I’ll be subjected to liberalism. I travel the world for work and assist at Holy Mass 3-7 times/week, et never have I personally encountered – not a single time – a deacon who was not liturgically and/or doctrinally heterodox.

    You’re right; they NEED our prayers…. and more good men entering the deaconate to DISPLACE their liberal butts!!

  91. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    I called and asked my uncle, a permanent deacon in the Cleveland Diocese about this, he asked if I was reading Fr. Z tonight, LOL. You have a house full of fans in Cleveland.
    His answer, “He who pours or anoints must say the words”

    A question about WHEN you can baptize.
    My brother and my niece’s god mother (an neonatal RN) made sure she was baptized seconds after being born 2 months premature. She was baptized before anything else. Umbilical cord not cut yet, but she was breathing on her own. Was that too soon? Is there ever a too soon?

    This is an idle question since she had a formal and proper Baptism with the oils and salt two months later in her home parish.

  92. Vincenzo says:

    “This is an idle question since she had a formal and proper Baptism with the oils and salt two months later in her home parish.”

    That’s interesting. Anyone: Do priests administer baptism a second time if they know that the child has already been baptized?

    I just searched and found this in a Google books copy of the Catechism of the Council of Trent: “It has been authoritateively decided by Pope Alexander, that the conditional form of baptism is to be used only when, after due inquiry, doubts are entertained of the validity of the previous baptism; and in no other case can it ever be lawful to administer baptism a second time, even conditionally.”

  93. chloesmom says:

    In our parish, a deacon officiated at a wedding even though the pastor celebrated the nuptial Mass. The situation IMO was a grave scandal, in that the groom was a former priest, and the bride a divorcee with 4 kids. They had been living together before the wedding, but that didn’t stop them from pulling out all the stops — it was so elaborate as to be almost tacky. It turned out that the groom’s laicization hadn’t come through until after his first wife had died 3 yrs before he married the current one. The bride was confirmed a few months after the wedding, which took place in November. This man is still a prominent member of our parish, and it’s all I can do sometimes to be civil to him. Anyway, I wonder if this sacrament was valid. The groom used his connections to get an annulment of the bride’s prior marriage. This took place a few years ago, but it still sickens me. Comments, anyone?

  94. chloesmom says:

    Forgot to mention that this guy and his first wife got married in another denomination. All the time they were together, they posed as a “model Catholic” couple. NOT!

  95. Alice says:

    Sandra,
    A priest (who was born prematurely himself) once told me that when there is danger of death, he baptizes the baby even before the vital signs are checked. I have no idea how this actually plays out in a hospital, but that’s what he said. I think as long as you have a head to baptize, you’re OK.

    Also, I hope your niece wasn’t baptized again, but rather had the rest of the rites that normally accompany Baptism done in the church. I suppose if there were no witnesses or something, the priest might feel the need to conditionally baptize, but that does not seem to be the case here.

  96. jmvbxx says:

    @New Sister

    Your statement “As soon as a spot a deacon at Mass I shudder and know I’ll be subjected to liberalism.” concerns me greatly because this is certainly not representative of the attitude with which one should enter mass.

    If deacons are present are they always performing the homily? If not, what difference does it make if a deacon is present or not?

    Deacons are part of the hierarchy of ordained ministers, not a human invention. They are chosen from the people, by the bishop, are trained by the Church and sent back to serve the people from whence they came. I urge you to keep an open mind the next time you meet a deacon, or see one at mass. And if he does happen to be a liberal remind yourself that his political views not a requirement for ordination. Talk to him, show him compassion, pray for him ..

  97. The only “tag-team” Sacrament is Holy Matrimony.

    Sandra, there is no “too soon” that I’ve ever heard of. My 3rd daughter was 3 months premature, and was baptized by the hospital chaplain. My parish priest later completed the rite (exorcism, blessings, anointing), but knew she was already baptized.

  98. Irish says:

    I have personally witnessed an exorcism at a Baptism. It was shocking and raised the hair on the back of my neck. The demon does not want to give that little soul up. Anyone who thinks close enough is okay is playing with fire. Find a traditional parish and have that child baptized properly.

    Sandra: For the record, I was baptized twice–the first time at birth by my mother’s Catholic doctor in an emergency, then later officially by a priest.

    Philangelus: Hostage to the Devil was my first thought, too.

  99. jmvbxx says:

    @chloesmom

    Keeping an open mind here .. it is certainly possible for a couple (not necessarily the one in question) not married by the Church to represent traditional Catholic values. They may even be seen as a model Catholic couple.

    All of this is possible as long as they do not receive communion before receiving the sacrament of marriage. There is nothing forbidding a couple from attending mass and participating in church activities with having completed the sacrament. In fact, couples like this should be encouraged to attend and to participate. God, working through us, may help them overcome whatever problems or hindrances they are dealing with and find the courage to return to the Church completely.

  100. jmvbxx says:

    Error correction!

    I meant: There is nothing forbidding a couple from attending mass and participating in church activities withOUT having completed the sacrament.

  101. Tom Ryan says:

    Why aren’t condition baptisms more common? How many of us baptized during this past chaotic decades can say with certainty that something like this didn’t happen to us?

    Even the wise Fr. Z had to consult “an appropriate ecclesial authority for an opinion.” How many of us had godparents who were this competent?

  102. luiz says:

    “post hoc baptism by desire is irrelevant, and efforts to explain the invalid act into validity are worse than useless.”

    ANSWER: No, it is not. The question was whether a person who had not received valid baptism – without any knowledge of this fact and believing himself to have been baptized – and who later had received Holy Orders, had actually received them validly and whether the sacraments conferred by this person had been also validly celebrated.

  103. Tom Ryan says:

    Why aren’t conditional baptisms more common? How many of us baptized during these past chaotic decades can say with certainty that something like this didn’t happen to us?

    Even the wise Fr. Z had to consult “an appropriate ecclesial authority for an opinion.” How many of us had godparents who were this competent?

  104. smad0142 says:

    in response to New Sister’s comment I’d like to say every Deacon I know is interested in beautiful and reverent Liturgy. But then again I am also blessed to be under His Excellency Chaput.

  105. Jordanes says:

    Robtbrown said: Anyway, one day at table, the talk turned to John Wayne becoming a Catholic on his death bed. The Aussie priest said that he couldn’t understand why anyone would convert just before death—”the Sacraments are for the living”.

    What, did he think John Wayne had already died before he asked to be baptised?

  106. Geoffrey says:

    I am willing to bet that this was an honest mistake. Chalk it up to “the rubrics didn’t say otherwise” and the lack of “say the black, do the red”. I bet once they are corrected, they will understand. It’s nothing like the fiasco in Australia a while back: “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier”, etc.

  107. Supertradmum says:

    Jordanes-lol, I missed that the first time.

    jmvbxx–As to deacons, the question is not “political” opinions, but the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. Abortion and gay rights are non-negotiables. Women priests are non-negotiables. Changing the words of baptism is a non-negotiable. Universal salvation is a non-negotiable. As to experience, I am referring to two dioceses, one very large and one not-so large. Some of the deacons I have referred to were liberal, cafeteria Catholics before they were ordained and were such after ordination. Something was obviously missing in their training and theology classes. They did not go to the same colleges or universities. These deacons are supported by the local priests. In fact, the pro-choice deacons were chosen by the priests to speak at a university chaplaincy and at a seminary.

    I do correct them when I can and I have done so by necessity in classes so that others would not be confused by bad teaching. I do not like to be in this position as an RCIA teacher or director. If the pastor wants the deacons involved in teaching, one can only do one’s best to counteract falsehood. It is the responsibility of every adult Catholic to know the Faith and if in a teaching position, to only teach that Faith and not one’s own opinion.

  108. Supertradmum says:

    Geoffrey,

    Priest and deacons who go through university level classes on sacramental theology do not make “honest mistakes”, which imperil the validity of any sacrament. If so, their training was really bad. Deacons usually take four years of classes and priests at least four years. See my note above as to the Creator, Redeemer, and Santifier. I still do not know how those priests and deacons tracked down all the people they thought they had baptized, but hadn’t. This went on for years in the MidWest.

  109. Woodlawn says:

    I agree completely with Leonius that the permanent diaconate is a wedge for married priests. I recommend to jmvbxx the following article: The Emasculation of the Priesthood
    by Father James McLucas
    http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/articles/articles_emasculation.html
    There was a reason the permanent diaconate fell into disuse. Their presence now does more harm than good.

  110. New Sister says:

    jmvbxx – “…not representative of the attitude with which one should enter mass.” ?? What’s that have to do with MY attitude? If you saw Martin Luther show up to give a homily at Holy Mass, wouldn’t you shudder?

    I wish I didn’t have to enter Holy Mass “en garde”! It’s painful to watch liturgical abuse – to hear heterodoxy from the pulpit — it’s like watching my mother have a whip taken to her back!

    Not shudder??

    And remember, it’s not only at Holy Mass where we endure these Indian print-sash-wearing ordained hippies (i.e., liberals), it’s been at baptisms, weddings, holy anointing — just this Pentecost I had to endure a real goof-ball who baptized my godson. He joked throughout the Sacrament and, as Supertradmum alludes to, subjected us to a diatribe about how he gets to be married (unlike the poor priests)…forced everyone there to hold hands and say the Our Father à la Protestant version. And yes, as SOON AS I SAW it was he who showed up to administer the Sacrament, I groaned and said to the godfather – “oh no, a dea-con…”

    I’d be delighted to meet a faithful deacon – if I’m ever in Cleveland, maybe I’ll look up Sandra’s uncle!

  111. Geoffrey says:

    “Priest and deacons who go through university level classes on sacramental theology do not make ‘honest mistakes’…”

    You would be surprised. Many of the priests I’ve come across in California are orthodox in doctrine and yet “creative” when it comes to liturgy. Go figure.

  112. Lisa says:

    We had my son conditionally baptized. The situation was entirely different, however. I think in this case there is no doubt that “Baptism” never took place. At my son’s baptism, the priest, God bless him, was probably very nervous, as this was his first traditional baptism. For whatever reason, when it came time to actually say “I Baptize you in the Name of …” (in Latin, of course) he stopped reading and recited from memory, and botched up the endings very badly. Not just the names of the Persons, but the entire formula. At any rate, many people there THOUGHT that it was PROBABLY valid the first time. I hope it was. But as soon as we questioned it, the priest immediately baptized him conditionally, this time reading the words very carefully.
    I will certainly keep all involved in this horrible situation in my prayers. Baptism isn’t something to be messed around with, and I’m so happy that at least in this instance, someone was present who recognized something fishy.

  113. Patrick J. says:

    Mabey it is a ‘generational’ thing, and I wish not to flog a tired and ailing horse. That said, I would want to say “Thank you,” to those who informed me and suggested, erh, no, rather commanded me, to become less ‘sensitive’in my reaction and objection to the use of foul expressions on this board. How insensitive of ME to be so ‘reactive.’ Forgive me.

    It is just a bit ironic, to me at least, that some who would object so strongly about improprieties and mal forma concerning baptism, and rightfully so, then push onto the rest of us their understanding of the proper language of righteous indignation. I am sorry, this is, and has been for all of my fifty four years, just foul and offensive language, although for some, has become du jour, apparently, and therefore acceptable, not as a hammer on the toe reaction – forgivable for sure – but as a considered written response on a blog which exists, presumably, to… ?? ..well, promote holiness and accountability of behavior, and precision of language, and not just liturgically, one would presume.

    This is not something – as I see it – that I just need to ‘get over.’ But thanks for the ‘suggestion.’

  114. Patrick J. says:

    In the East, the deacon has always had a prominent role in the liturgy, and, unlike in the West, is not a modern “re-institution,” but has been a permanent fixture and has existed and remained from the earliest days of the Church, and such invectives about deacons, especially of the ‘broad brush’ variety, is a little bit rash. There are such deacons, (speaking of the modern Roman rite) because there are such priests and bishops. This is not isolated nor peculiar to the diaconate, but is an extension and bi-product of clerical formation across the board. If this were not true, these types (candidates for the permanent diaconate) would not pass muster and not be ordained. They do exist, and perhaps they even form the majority, but it is not, per se, the office of the deacon that is at fault here, as some seem to assert or imply, at least that is how I see it.

    I don’t think the “Holy Spirit” is “asleep at the switch” and not protecting the Church from that which, as some tell it here, is inherently misguided. Same with the “New Mass.” It is the misapplication of the new rubrics that would be, for me, to blame, and that is a human “sin” problem, not a problem with the new rite itself, though informed people of good will might easily disagree on this – the Society of St. Pius X for example, but the Diaconate, I would say, is certainly on solid ground, theologically, Scripturally, and in accordance with tradition to the best of my understanding.

  115. Monk McG says:

    I think Father got this one wrong. From the story there was both proper form and proper matter. I see nothing in Canon Law that prohibits a division of labor. Both the Deacon and the Priest are ministers of Baptism – what exactly is wrong?

  116. Liesl says:

    My parish at home sometimes has the deacon do the baptisms… the priest isn’t even there. I just emailed my mom to make sure I was baptised by our priest.

  117. jmvbxx says:

    @Liesl .. Deacons are fully authorized by the Church to perform baptisms. You do not need to worry whether you were baptized by a deacon or a priest.

    The problem in this case appears to be the improper use of both simultaneously.

  118. asperges says:

    It’s all part of the same thing: reforms gone mad. No discipline or understanding of the most basic tenets of Faith or the importance of liturgy, symbolism and order.

    No-one, even the wildest of modernists, ever foresaw this sort of stupidity: now concelebrated baptism! Every day we read in this blog and others of other mindless muddles. It never ends.

    Can you imagine this sort of thing happening in the old rite? Of course not. The whole culture of the Church has been turned inside out.

    Having said that, I cannot imagine that Almighty God would deprive the infant, were the error not to have come to light, of eternal salvation because of such an error. Baptism of desire has to click in somewhere as well as Divine Compassion, but that does not absolve the participants of such carelessness.

  119. AnAmericanMother says:

    Patrick,

    Calm down. I’m not fond of vulgarity or obscenity myself, but you’re missing the dead horse and flogging yourself.

    Consider that (like the bleeped words on television) unless you already know what the abbreviation stands for, it’s meaningless. So it is not obscene in itself.

    And it’s already passed into general currency with half its users never realizing that it makes an obscene reference . . . sort of like SNAFU, which began its life as the same obscenity.

    And at least while it’s vulgar, it isn’t blasphemous . . . .

  120. PadreOP says:

    To clarify two small points…

    If a child has been baptized once (e.g. an emergency baptism soon after childbirth due to a concern about the child’s health, etc.) then the child does not (or at least, SHOULD not) be “re-baptized” in the parish church a few weeks later. However, in the current Rite of Baptism book, there is a a set of rubrics for precisely this situation, where all of the other aspects of the baptism liturgy (lighting of the candle, placing the white garment, etc.) are celebrated and the child is (so to speak) “welcomed” into the Church. It is basically the liturgy of baptism only without the actual pouring of water, and with some of the prayers slightly modified. It is not something that has to be done–sacramentally speaking it does not “add” anything that the child does not have from the moment of being baptized in the hospital–but it is often done because families (and, in the larger sense, the family of the Church) rightly celebrates the baptism of a child as a time of great joy. And being able to schedule such a liturgical celebration after the child has been stabilized and released from the hospital is a fitting thing.

    And of course, if there is any doubt whatsoever about whether or not the emergency baptism was done properly, then as part of the above ceremony the celebrant (priest or deacon) would conditionally baptize the child.

    The same would be true whenever there is any doubt about the validity of a previous baptism. I worked for a number of years with adult converts (RCIA) and adults coming for Confirmation (baptized Catholics but otherwise uncatechized…an increasingly frequent phenomenon). In one case I had an adult wishing to receive Confirmation whose baptism had been done when she was a small child by her grandmother while babysitting her–this was without the knowledge (and against the wishes) of her parents who were both agnostic ex-Catholics. Since there was obviously zero documentation of her baptism, when I called the chancery they told me to conditionally baptize her earlier in the day she was scheduled to receive the other Sacraments. Similarly, on at least two occasions those from protestant backgrounds could not provide any assurance that their small, independent churches used the Trinitarian formula when baptizing–so again, I was told to conditionally baptize them privately earlier in the day just to be sure.

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Second point a brief clarification regarding this statement by Supertradmum:

    *By the way, Prairie,all baptisms, if done correctly with proper form and matter as stated here, and in the Trinitarian form, are Catholic baptisms. It is only when a person grows up and embraces Protestant theology that they become “Protestant”. There is only one baptism. I understand your description as the baptism was being done by a minister and your husband. If it had been valid, which it is not, it would have been “Catholic”.*

    This isn’t precisely true. All baptisms, when done validly, are recognized by the Catholic Church as valid baptisms. But when done administered in a Protestant church by a protestant minister, the child (or adult) so baptized is not considered a part of the Catholic Church. Thus a Protestant cannot show up at a Catholic Church and come up and receive the Eucharist. Why not? Because they are not members of the Catholic Church–despite the fact they *are* validly baptized. In fact, there are many rights afforded by Canon Law to Catholics that would most certainly not apply to validly baptized Protestants.

    So, all valid baptisms are recognized as valid baptisms by the Church. But not all valid baptisms convey membership in the Catholic Church, and thus not all should be called “Catholic baptisms.”

  121. irishgirl says:

    My twin sister and I were born premature, so we were conditionally baptized at birth [by the Catholic doctor who delivered us, according to what my mother told us]. After we were brought home, the assistant pastor of the parish did some of the sacrament at our house. Then, when we were a little stronger, it was completed in a private ceremony in church.

  122. Supertradmum says:

    aperges,

    I am convinced that all of these errors listed above are because of the “hermeneutics of discontinuity”. I lived about nineteen of my years in the “Old Mass”, the changes happening just as I went to college. No weird things ever happened at Mass, at weddings, at baptisms, etc. until about 1968. Then, it was muffin masses, balloon masses, electric guitars at the Easter vigil and whatever. I was part of that, as that was the culture, but God helped me by showing me the beauty of the Latin Mass again, but I had to find it after many years in the desert.

    We desperately need the Pope to rein-in all of these abuses now, as a third generation of priests is being ordained who are still subjected to disobedience in their seminaries regarding worship and theology. And, many of the best are still forced to leave, which means more lax deacons and more “creative” priests. Those of us who do not have regular access to the EF see how bad it still can be.

    MonkMcG,

    1256 in the Catechism and the preceding section may help, as well as the Catholic Encyclopedia entry listed below under “Baptism”, an excellent place for information on conditional baptism as well.

    The positive document: “The Decree for the Armenians”

    “The Decree for the Armenians”, in the Bull “Exultate Deo” of Pope Eugene IV, is often referred to as a decree of the Council of Florence. While it is not necessary to hold this decree to be a dogmatic definition of the matter and form and minister of the sacraments, it is undoubtedly a practical instruction, emanating from the Holy See, and as such, has full authenticity in a canonical sense. That is, it is authoritative. The decree speaks thus of Baptism:

    Holy Baptism holds the first place among the sacraments, because it is the door of the spiritual life; for by it we are made members of Christ and incorporated with the Church. And since through the first man death entered into all, unless we be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, we can not enter into the kingdom of Heaven, as Truth Himself has told us. The matter of this sacrament is true and natural water; and it is indifferent whether it be cold or hot. The form is: I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. We do not, however, deny that the words: Let this servant of Christ be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; or: This person is baptized by my hands in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, constitute true baptism; because since the principal cause from which baptism has its efficacy is the Holy Trinity, and the instrumental cause is the minister who confers the sacrament exteriorly, then if the act exercised by the minister be expressed, together with the invocation of the Holy Trinity, the sacrament is perfected. The minister of this sacrament is the priest, to whom it belongs to baptize, by reason of his office. In case of necessity, however, not only a priest or deacon, but even a layman or woman, nay, even a pagan or heretic can baptize, provided he observes the form used by the Church, and intends to perform what the Church performs. The effect of this sacrament is the remission of all sin, original and actual; likewise of all punishment which is due for sin. As a consequence, no satisfaction for past sins is enjoined upon those who are baptized; and if they die before they commit any sin, they attain immediately to the kingdom of heaven and the vision of God.

  123. Of course things like this happened back in the old days under the EF. Where on earth do you think all those canon laws came from? Why else did the Pope have to rule on whether it was okay to baptize with beer, wine, mead, or milk? (Answer: Not okay.) Why else did the Pope have to rule on a lot of things, or the Church develop schemes for getting everybody their Sacraments? Why were there huge numbers of missionary saints who operated solely in Christian territory????

    If you think abuses didn’t use to happen, or that they never happened on a large scale across large geographic areas, I suggest you check back with history. People have always been suffering through waves of messing stuff up out of ignorance or malice or arrogance, and then having to reform priests and practices.

    And I’ve said it on other threads, but here we go again: I’ve never met a permanent deacon who wasn’t orthodox, faithful, and determined to follow the rules and rubrics. I’m sorry for you folks in dioceses where that’s not true, but they’ve been a blessing everywhere I’ve known them. There are an awful lot of Catholics who’ve never met an orthodox monk or nun or sister or friar or priest, but we don’t make that a reason to abolish religious life, do we?

  124. robtbrown says:

    My twin sister and I were born premature, so we were conditionally baptized at birth [by the Catholic doctor who delivered us, according to what my mother told us]. After we were brought home, the assistant pastor of the parish did some of the sacrament at our house. Then, when we were a little stronger, it was completed in a private ceremony in church.
    Comment by irishgirl

    That by the doctor wouldn’t be a conditional Baptism. The conditional Baptisms would have come later.

    The formula is: Si non es Baptisatus (if you are not Baptized), Ego te Baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti (I Baptize . . . )

  125. AnAmericanMother says:

    Suburbanbanshee,

    I agree. You can count on error, thoughtlessness, inattention, and just the human condition to mess stuff up, no matter what.

    The best we can do is try to be careful, but accidents will still happen. I had heard some of the others, but . . . beer!?!?!?

    Our permanent deacons are very orthodox and faithful, very much “by-the-book” men. Two of them that I know pretty well the libs might call “reactionary”, even.

  126. Supertradmum says:

    Padre OP,

    I take your fine distinction regarding “Catholic” baptism. However, the reason why we recognize Protestant baptisms is that, if they are Trinitarian, they are the same as ours. Indeed, the baby especially is being accepted into the Protestant Church, (separate issue for adult converts to Protestantism,which may involve “confirmation”), but many people I have worked with in RCIA state that there were two ceremonies, one baptism and one the entering of the church community-a sort of dedication ceremony. Some Protestant theologies are a bit loose on the “entrance into the community” aspect of baptism that we Catholics recognize and emphasize. They see the entrance into the community as an entrance into the larger Christian community and not as a member of a specific denomination or church. Of course, with Protestant churches, and more so with so many leaving the traditional denominations, one cannot expect contintuity.

    The baptism, per se, is Catholic, instituted by Christ for His Church. The community is Christian, but as you know, except for non-Trinitarian baptisms, and doubt as to baptism, when the Protestant church, for example, does not keep baptismal records, we accept the baptism as valid-not because it is a Protestant baptism which is like ours, but because there is “one baptism”-Catholic in institution and Catholic in form and matter.

  127. Supertradmum says:

    PS, Dear Padre OP,

    In addition, in daily language,if we make a distinction between Christian and Catholic baptism, we are doing to same thing as the Protestants do, which is to deny that Catholics are Christians-the First Christians.

  128. dans0622 says:

    Various responses: Patrick, I’m with you. Your comment seemed eminently calm and I see no good reason for you or me or anyone to exhibit a bland acceptance of vulgarity. We do well do keep our level of discourse somewhere above that of the street or playground, especially in a public forum.

    Monk McG: what is wrong is this–there was, in fact, no minister of baptism in this scenario. No minister, no baptism. Baptism doesn’t work with an “I (by the way, not I, but he) baptize(s) you….”

    Supertradmum: Yes, there is one Church and one baptism. Yet, our level or degree of incorporation into that one Church varies according to which Church (or ecclesial community) we are baptized into. There are certain juridic effects (the concern of canon law) which are distinct from spiritual effects. The juridic effects are where the idea of any valid baptism being a Catholic baptism run into problems.

    Dan

  129. Supertradmum says:

    There is no baptism after a conditional baptism. Look at 1246 in the Catechecism of the Catholic Church, which has a footnote reference to Canon Law. In RCIA, conditional baptism is only given when: 1)there are no previous baptismal records and the original church of baptism is unknown or no longer exists; 2)the original baptism probably was not Trinitarian; 3) if there is any serious doubt as to whether the person was baptized at all, but usually all these cases merit baptism, rather than the conditional form. If one has records from a Protestant Church with the Trinitarian form, there is no re-baptism.

    In Canon Law, there is nothing about “re-baptizing” infants who have been given conditional baptism because of fear of death. The sections are 864-871 and one can find these at http://www.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2X.HTM

  130. Liesl says:

    @jmvbxx. Thanks for your response. I went off and did some more research and talked to a friend who explained to me why this was invalid. I just hadn’t made it through the hundred comments yet!

  131. dcs says:

    “Priest and deacons who go through university level classes on sacramental theology do not make ‘honest mistakes’…”

    You would be surprised. Many of the priests I’ve come across in California are orthodox in doctrine and yet “creative” when it comes to liturgy. Go figure.

    I think the original poster was simply making the point that one who has had seminary classes on sacramental theology would not be making an honest mistake about the form of a sacrament. Of course, one might say that that would depend on the quality of his seminary formation. But someone, somewhere, is not making an honest mistake, whether it is the priest, his seminary teachers, their teachers, etc. The error had to arise somewhere.

    With respect to “creative liturgy,” I sometimes struggle with the question of whether it is more charitable to assume that a particular priest is ignorant (and therefore making an honest mistake) or whether he is being deliberately and disobediently “creative.”

  132. dcs says:

    In addition, in daily language,if we make a distinction between Christian and Catholic baptism, we are doing to same thing as the Protestants do, which is to deny that Catholics are Christians-the First Christians.

    This distinction is very necessary with adult baptisms since adults who are baptized into non-Catholic ecclesial communities receive the character of baptism but not the grace (see, for example, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03586a.htm). That is, their baptisms are valid, but Original and actual sin are not remitted, they do not become adopted sons of God, and they are not incorporated into the Mystical Body.

  133. AnAmericanMother says:

    The question of baptism has gotten a lot more dicey since the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians started using “Creator-Redeemer-Sanctifier” or even weirder language.

    You used to be pretty sure that a mainline Protestant baptism was at least Trinitarian. But these days that’s no longer a sure thing.

    Name That Trinity

  134. Supertradmum says:

    dcs,

    I am sorry, but the Catholic Encyclopedia article you sent does not dispute the validity of “Protestant” Trinitarian baptisms. Only when the baptism is in doubt, such as “I baptize you in the Name of Jesus”, which more and more Protestant churches are doing, is there a real problem. The Church recognizes that there is one baptism, which takes away Original Sin, makes the person a child of God and gives grace sufficient for salvation. Look at the Canon Law sections above and at the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    AnAmericanMother,

    See my posts above where Catholic priests were doing this until very recently in my former diocese. The bishop had to send a letter around asking the priests to find those people and really baptize them. I saw the letter, shared with RCIA directors, who may have had to deal with the problem. All the subsequent sacraments, including marriage, were invalid. Horrible situation. I am sure not all the people were “found” and I know of at least one priest who did not keep sacramental records for seven years.

  135. PadreOP says:

    dcs, everything you said above is entirely false. All valid baptisms remit sin. All valid baptisms incorporate those baptized into adoptive sonship of the Father and into the mystical body of Christ–though at differing levels of communion with the visible body of Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council (LG 15) makes quite clear that by their baptism, non-Catholic Christians are indeed united with Christ.

    “The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power.” (LG 15)

    Those who, as you assert, have not been cleansed of original sin, have not become adoptive sons of God, and are not incorporated in the Mystical Body of Christ could hardly be said to be “consecrated,” “united with Christ,” receive the gifts and graces and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Yet that is what the Catholic Church teaches and believes.

  136. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Father. You were much stronger than I was in my answer.

  137. Midwest St. Michael says:

    I wish Supertradmum was *my* mum. (You totally rock!)

    I also wish New Sister was *my* sister. (You rock, too!)

    I love to read both of your posts. Keep it up, dear defenders of the faith. (Jude 3, 1 Tim. 6:20)

    MSM

  138. Joshua08 says:

    DCS was actually correct. I am sorry Padre, but it is very well possible to receive baptism validly (with the character, which by itself would justify calling protestant brethren) but without the fruit so that one remains in sin.

    “All valid baptisms remit sin. All valid baptisms incorporate those baptized into adoptive sonship of the Father and into the mystical body of Christ”

    That is in fact a false statement. Sorry Father but unless you throw out Catholic theology before Vatican II, then I am assume you agree that Vatican II is not a rupture. Therefore you must be misreading Vatican II

    All that is required in an adult baptism, by the recipient, for valid baptism is consent. However for forgiveness of sins it is necessary that some sorrow for sins, along with Faith, is present. Now even if baptism be received unworthily (so that sin remains) the character is still impressed. Now even in this case baptism effects that one become a member of the body of Christ UNLESS “he…voluntarily and at the same time declare himself a member of a heretic or schismatic community.” (Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, page 356). Please look up the Summa Theologica III q. 68 art. 8 “And therefore, as much as it is in itself, the Church does not intend to give baptism except to ones having correct faith, without which there is no remission of sins. And because of this he asks those coming to be baptised whether they believe. Still if without true faith someone were to receive baptism outside the Church, he would not gain it for his salvation.”

    You can even google fruitful versus unfruitful reception of the sacraments and find information.

    Again, Mystici Corporis Christi (which is actually cited by Vatican II if that matters) is clear

    Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. “For in one spirit” says the Apostle, “were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.”[17] As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith.[18] And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered – so the Lord commands – as a heathen and a publican. [19] It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.

    Now as then Cardinal Ratzinger explained, what Vatican II is doing is not a doctrinal change (for it remains that heresy or schism means you are not in the body of Christ) but a pedagogical change. It can no longer be presumed that protestants have pertinacia (obstinancy, which is required for formal heresy). Nevertheless, though the heresy may no longer be formal, because they have been raised in such communities, it remains that these communities are not part of the Body of Christ.

    As Vatican II states

    The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites. (ORIENTALIUM ECCLESIARUM, par 2)

    What is affirmed is that there is some form of fraternity with separated brethren in virtue of the character of baptism (which makes them and all baptised under the Catholic Church’s jurisdiction), and certain elements which belong to the Catholic Church but which are operative in these separated bodies. (LG 8)

    So Father, what he said was not “entirely false” and before you make such charges you should check to see if you are actually right. Even if you were to reject St. Thomas, St. Augustine, Pius XII and the bulk of theology before Vatican II and were to believe that your interpretation is legitimate, it remains that it is not a binding doctrine merely because you read it that way and the fact that what dcs says is in accord with what has been taught before, and Vatican II need not be interpreted contrary to it, means that you have no grounds to say what he states is contrary to the Church.

  139. Patrick J. says:

    Consider that (like the bleeped words on television) unless you already know what the abbreviation stands for, it’s meaningless. So it is not obscene in itself.
    – AnAmericanMom

    So,then, by your own definition, it is not meaningless; not many here, if any at all, are that oblivious. Maybe five year olds, but that is about it as far as not ‘registering.’

    And it’s already passed into general currency with half its users never realizing that it makes an obscene reference . . . sort of like SNAFU, which began its life as the same obscenity.

    Although you seem to be an expert on the obscene, I would have to strongly question this idea that is just now ‘passes over peoples’ heads. Wow, you think people are that dumb? People are just more coarse now in their expressions, sad but true, and women never used to use this type language, at least publicly, another sad development. And to use the command/imperative form to another adult, especially one you don’t know, is also bad form. But again, politeness is like another universe to the 0-40 somethings, or quite a few of them. Sad.

    And at least while it’s vulgar, it isn’t blasphemous . . . .

    I have no idea where you want to go with this idea, but I’ve got a feelin it ain’t good.

  140. irishgirl says:

    robrtbrown-I didn’t know that. But then, I was just a wee preemie when that happened. I’m going by what my mother told us.

    Supertradmum and New Sister-both of you DO ROCK in your posts!

    And so do you, nazarethpriest! You’re one of those who ‘TELL IT LIKE IT IS’!

  141. Rob F. says:

    Pedantic note:

    In Irishgirl’s case, the formula is “Si non es Baptizata…”

  142. Patrick J. says:

    “Bland acceptance..” Dan, very well put, and thanks.

  143. dcs says:

    I am sorry, but the Catholic Encyclopedia article you sent does not dispute the validity of “Protestant” Trinitarian baptisms.

    I agree that Protestant baptisms are (generally) valid. I never claimed that they were not. However not all valid baptisms impart the grace of the Sacrament. From the article I cited:

    Thus, an adult who receives baptism without right faith and repentance but with a real intention of receiving the sacrament, obtains the character without the grace.

    Certain things are required of the one who is to be baptized. If repentance and faith are lacking, then the one who is baptized receives only the character of baptism and not the grace. Such a person would receive the graces of the Sacrament when he enters the Catholic Church and receives the Sacrament of Penance.

    If intention were lacking in an adult, the baptism would not even be valid.

    Now it could be that one has the Catholic faith and repentance for his sins but submits to being baptized by a Protestant minister because he has no other option. In this case the baptism would be valid and fruitful. On the other hand, there could be an adult received into the Catholic Church by baptism in whom these things are lacking.

    Hope this helps.

  144. AnAmericanMother says:

    Now, Patrick, THAT was ugly. Miss Manners would not be amused.

    But in the future, I will be happy to use rather than imply the polite form: “Consider, if you will . . . ”

    And as it happens, since I’m a lawyer, I am something of an expert on obscenity.

    As a Supreme Court justice told my dad years ago, if it’s something an Algerian sailor would have tried to sell him in Sidi-bel-Abbes in 1943, it’s obscene. That’s as good a rule of thumb as Potter Stewart’s famous quote.

    We clean up the hideous messes that others make and nobody else wants to deal with. That includes obscenity but also murder, arson, fatal car wrecks, and large industrial accidents.

    Which probably tends to make me a little less exercised at a mere implication rather than actual use of a common obscenity.

  145. dans0622 says:

    Joshua08,

    Interesting post. I would counter with this:

    Canon 4. If anyone says that the baptism which is 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 does, is not true baptism, let him be anathema. (Trent, Session VII, “On Baptism”).

    That seems to cut right to the heart of the matter and say that the baptism given by heretics (presumably, given _to_ heretics) is “true baptism.” True baptism, to me, means a baptism with all the effects of baptism, which have already been enumerated.

    Certainly, sorrow for sin is required in order for sin to be forgiven. “Faith” is required but I would take that to mean the Trinitarian faith, as expressed in the Apostle’s Creed, not the entirety of the Catholic faith.

    Dan

  146. AnAmericanMother says:

    Supertradmum,

    That is truly AWFUL. You really are in a scary diocese!

    I think because this is the South and Catholics were quite thin on the ground until fairly recently, we tend to be more orthodox. In fact, it’s been my observation that the further out in the country a parish is around here, the more orthodox. Some of the suburban parishes are a bit odd, but it’s the downtown churches that have really been bitten by the heterodox bug.

    Because I go regularly to 2-day retriever hunting tests and those events need acres and acres of rural farmland, I have a pretty good sampling of remote rural Catholic parishes in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Kneeling to receive on the tongue, Divine Mercy devotion, the 40 hours, solid homilies, big families, seem to be the norm. The music is sometimes pretty bad, but that can’t be helped in many cases (oftentimes the high school band is doubling in church. I’m surprised that accidentally playing the wrong stuff (as in Hardy’s “Absent-Mindedness in a Parish Choir”) doesn’t happen more often.

  147. PadreOP says:

    Joshua08,

    We are clearly in agreement on one important point–that Vatican II is not a rupture with the past, but lies in continuity with it. Therefore, rather than taking older teachings from the past and attempting to pit them *against* Vatican II as you are doing, it is rather more important to recognize that the body of bishops united to the holy father–the Magisterium–not only continually promulgates teachings in every age, but is also the only authentic interpreter of what has been promulgated in the past. That is, it is not the Catholic Encyclopedia (great as it is), or Ott (as important a book as that is), or anyone else who authentically interprets what past Church teachings mean, but rather, the Magisterium of the Church today. The highest form of the exercise of this occurs at an ecumenical council, of which (of course) Vatican II was the most recent.

    To take a simple example not directly related to the present conversation, the teaching “extra ecclesiam nullus salus.” There was a time in the past when many assumed–indeed many of the most highely regarded authorities in the theological world–that what that teaching meant was that anyone who was not a member of the visible Catholic Church on earth had no chance of being saved. The Magisterium in more recent times has rejected that reading of the statement as the authentic one, and instead taught us that a more nuanced interpretation of that teaching is required. (CCC 846ff gives the basics of the nuance.)

    A similar situation is present here. Vatican II’s Unitatis Redintegratio says quite plainly of protestants (and others in non-Catholic ecclesial communities):

    “all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body,(21) and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.” (UR, 3. Internal citations to the Council of Florence and to St. Augustine).

    And later in the same document, speaking (again) EXPLICITLY about the separated Christian communities of the West (i.e. protestants):

    “Whenever the Sacrament of Baptism is duly administered as Our Lord instituted it, and is received with the right dispositions, a person is truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life, as the Apostle says: “You were buried together with Him in Baptism, and in Him also rose again-through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead”.(40)”

    Protestants are incorporated as members of Christ’s body by their baptism. Period. There is no other “Catholic” position on the issue. There may have been a time in the past where this was unclear, where there were differing views on the issue, where different interpretations were possible. But that simply isn’t the case anymore, just as it is no longer the case that one can interpret “extra ecclesiam nullus salus” to mean that visible membership in the Catholic Church on earth is absolutely necessary, without exception, for salvation.

    These two passages from Vatican II, and the implications for ecumenical work today, are elaborated on somewhat at length by Pope John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint as well. Now saying they are incorporated into Christ’s body does NOT say that they are in the fullness of communion with the Catholic Church (they aren’t). It’s not to say that they are living Christian lives in the fullness of what Christian life is called to be (they aren’t). It’s not to say that objectively they aren’t lacking the fullness of the means of salvation (they are). The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, and ONLY in the Catholic Church. Those who are not visible members of the Catholic Church are thus lacking in the fullness to which they are being called by God, and it is our job as Catholics to want to do everything in our power to bring them to see and understand what they are lacking and so move them to wish to be joined in the fullness of communion with Christ and His Church. But to say that because they aren’t fully in communion means they aren’t even children of God (as was stated early in the thread), or that they have no sharing whatsoever in the Mystical Body of Christ is simply not what the Church teaches or believes.

    And if THAT sounds shocking to some, even more shocking will be this teaching regarding the question of whether the baptism received by our separated protestant brethren confers grace?

    “The daily Christian life of these brethren is nourished by their faith in Christ and *strengthened by the grace of Baptism* and by hearing the word of God.” (UR, 23).

    So the answer is yes: their life of faith as (non-Catholic) Christians is nourished by the sacramental grace they receive in their baptisms. It’s not just (or only or merely) a *character* that they receive; they receive a *grace* that is actual and operational and nourishing their faith lives right now. Indeed, we believe as Catholics that this grace they receive at their baptism is one of the things that (hopefully!) is moving them in the direction of wishing to be fully united with us in the Catholic Church.

    Non-Catholic christians, whether members of the great Eastern churches (orthodoxy et al.) or of the separated communities of the West (protestants and other Christian derived from the Reformation), share a real…though imperfect…communion with us. As UR and Ut Unum Sint (among others) make clear, baptism is the foundation of the “real” part of their communion with us. It is a communion that is partial and lacking in many (very important) ways, true, but it is one that is also real. We do a disservice to both them, and to ourselves, when we fail to recognize that.

  148. Jerry says:

    re: dans0622 – “True baptism, to me, means a baptism with all the effects of baptism, which have already been enumerated.”

    The key phrase is “to me”. Your personal interpretation may or may not reflect the actual meaning of the canon. It is conceivable to me that a “true baptism” could be one which is valid, with or without all of the effects of a baptism performed within the Catholic Church.

    How does the Magisterium interpret this canon?

  149. MichaelJ says:

    PadreOP,
    You seem to be saying that while Baptism has two effects, it is not possible (for non-Catholics, at least) to receive one effect and not the other. That is, one cannot receive the character without also receiving the remission of sins. If there is no remission of sins, the baptism was not valid. Is this a fair, lamymans summary of what you are saying?

  150. Jerry says:

    re: AnAmericanMother

    “Calm down. I’m not fond of vulgarity or obscenity myself, but you’re missing the dead horse and flogging yourself.”

    He seemed to be perfectly calm to me. Some of the responses, which address the author rather than the issue, sound a tad bit defensive…

    “Consider that (like the bleeped words on television) unless you already know what the abbreviation stands for, it’s meaningless. So it is not obscene in itself.”

    The person who posted the offensive expression apparent was aware of the meaning because she asked that her language be excused. Would it not have been better to use an alternate expression that was not potentially offensive? To avoid going further down a rat hole, it’s not a matter of the expression being obscene, but rather vulgar and offensive.

    “And it’s already passed into general currency with half its users never realizing that it makes an obscene reference . . . sort of like SNAFU, which began its life as the same obscenity.”

    Are you suggesting that the use of the term should not be challenged because some portion of the readers may not know it is offensive? Or even if the person using it is not aware? By this reasoning, should we also not protest immoral sexual practices because they are generally accepted and/or not offensive to many?

    You are correct in that society has been desensitized to many forms of offense (language, dress, immoral behavior, etc.). The only way to reverse the trend is to inform the ignorant and to prod people into thinking about the implications of what they are saying and doing.

  151. AnAmericanMother says:

    All I’m saying is that I’d start somewhere else – like with actual obscenity – rather than focussing on merely implied obscenity.

    When you hang around with dog trainers and police investigators, it’s difficult not to fall into the habit of swearing, but I really try not to cuss or use vulgar language. I had a mouth like a ‘longshoreman in college, but my Methodist minister grandfather-in-law cured me. Not by fussing at me, but by his saintly example (he told me a funny story about accidentally swearing, by using a swear word that he didn’t know was a swear word!)

    I’m pretty sure that most folks over the age of 50 have no idea what LOL, ROTFLM*O, KTHXBYE and other text-speak abbreviations mean.

  152. robtbrown says:

    PadreOP,

    I agree with most of what you said, but the concept of visible Church is complex. For example, if a virulent anti-Catholic Protestant is Baptized, the pouring of the water and saying the Sacramental Form is the visible Church. That is why the famous phrase from LG 8 extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur seems to me inadequate.

  153. Jerry says:

    re: AnAmericanMother

    “All I’m saying is that I’d start somewhere else – like with actual obscenity – rather than focussing on merely implied obscenity.”

    He took the opportunity that presented itself. Brick by brick…

    “When you hang around with dog trainers and police investigators, it’s difficult not to fall into the habit of swearing, but I really try not to cuss or use vulgar language. I had a mouth like a ‘longshoreman in college, but my Methodist minister grandfather-in-law cured me. Not by fussing at me, but by his saintly example (he told me a funny story about accidentally swearing, by using a swear word that he didn’t know was a swear word!)”

    I understand that habits are hard to break, and that when speaking it is easy for things to slip out before the speaker realizes what was said. This is less likely to occur when communicating in writing, and certainly wasn’t the case here, where the author asked for the offense to be excused even before using the offensive term. Situations like this occur because people have become desensitized to the effects of foul language (which is a much lower threshold than an obscenity). The only way to reverse the re-sensitize people is to point out the transgressions. This is a spiritual act of mercy (instructing the ignorant), not a personal attack. Catholics are supposed to lead to Christ by example. This mission can’t be accomplished if we ourselves are off-course.

    “I’m pretty sure that most folks over the age of 50 have no idea what LOL, ROTFLM*O, KTHXBYE and other text-speak abbreviations mean.”

    While you’re probably right, I’m not sure how this is relevant. Many folks over 50 don’t use these expressions, either. If they use them without knowing what they mean, shouldn’t they be educated, especially in the case of the second, which is another offensive expression?

  154. cursormundi says:

    I note a number of comments in this discussion about the permanent diaconate. I am in a permanent diaconate formation programme, for the archdiocese of Westminster, UK. Come and visit my blog and share in my journey.Ask me any questions about my formation and its content.

    http://cursormundi.blogspot.com/

    Brian

  155. Stephen Morgan says:

    I am a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Portsmouth, England. I’m not a liberal wedge for married priests, gay marriage, women priests or a slew of other errors. Neither am I a man who thinks he has a (frustrated) vocation to the priesthood. I am a loyal son of the Church, called to a permanent, public and sacramental ministry of service of Christ and His Church. The restoration of this ministry was demanded by the Council of Trent, enabled by the Second Vatican Council and restored to the life of the Latin Church (it had never ‘died out’ in the Church – it was ever present in the liturgy of the West and in the whole life of the East) by Pope Paul VI, of blessed memory. I am no more content that my brothers in the diaconate should seek to distort the Catholic faith any more than FrZ is content with the antics of many of his brother priests or than the Holy Father is content with the nonsense some of his brother bishops try to foist on the plebs sancta Dei. The temptation of some of the more intemperate to throw the baby out with the bath water on a highly personal and selective basis looks to me like private judgement, the characteristic error of Protestatntism. The Greeks had a word for that kind of choice: heresy.

    To come back to the OP: the baptism is certainly invalid and the local Ordinary should certainly be invited to take action against both the priest and the deacon involved. Please God, he will do so…but if not, the CDWDS should certainly be notified.

    When I baptise (in the extraordinary form) baby William and (in the ordinary form) baby Emily this weekend, you can be sure that I will be saying the black and doing the red. You might also like to know that both sets of parents and the three couples I am currently preparing for marriage are all being introduced to the Church’s teaching on sex and sexuality using Fr George Woodall’s excellent translation and guide to Humanae Vitae.

    Oh, and Supertrad Maum and New Sister, lest you think I am something of an exception to the norm, I have to tell you that you would be hard put to find a permanent deacon ordained this millenium in my diocese who wouldn’t see things pretty much the same.

  156. Joshua08 says:

    Note how the Council says “and with the right dispositions”. It remains the teaching of Catholic theology that the sacraments can be received unworthily, but validly. Someone who formally professes heresy or schism in receiving baptism is indeed separate from the Body of Christ. But note, I acknowledged with then Cardinal Ratzinger that the element of “pertinacia” which makes heresy formal is no longer to be presumed with protestants. It still remains though that if one does not have faith and some sorrow for sins, they remain in sin, even though they are baptised and receive the character. If and when they receive faith and sorrow for sins then the other effects of baptism will follow. The same holds true, for instance, with Confirmation, where is a person is in mortal sin he still receives the character, but not sanctifying grace.

    You accuse me wrongly of pitting old statements against the Council. On the contrary I quoted the Council to show that it needs to be interpreted differently

    The teaching of Catholic theology is very simply

    1. The reception of baptism by an adult requires for validity that he voluntarily receives it
    2. The fruitful reception of baptism by an adult, such that sins and the punishment due them are remitted, require some sorrow for sins and faith (and Vatican II does not and could not contradict this, after all it does mention “right dispositions”)
    3. Baptism incorporates one into the Body of Christ at least unless at the same time the person baptised breaks communion with the Church by an act of formal heresy or schism

    All I see in Vatican II is that there is no longer a presumption of formality in heresy and schism among those raised in separated communities.

    There is a further question about the status of those publicly professing heresy or schism, but materially not formally. Certainly as far as canonical effects are concerned they are not considered members of the Church, but rather “non Catholics”. I would say, and this is a topic for another time, that they are not actual members of the Church, or of Christ’s Body, but virtual members. But that is my own distinction. What I numbered above those is basic Catholic doctrine, and I believe I showed that in my post above.

  157. Joshua08 says:

    Note while it is clear as I have said many times that the Church no longer presumes formal adherence to heresy, if anyone doubts or denies any single dogma of the Church in formal heresy (with pertinacia), then they do not have faith at all. So they could not have a life of faith. Clearly the Council is speaking in the assumption that by and large the doubt or denial of Catholic dogmas by baptised persons separated from her are not formal, otherwise the statement would make no sense (after all formal heresy is also a mortal sin, so they could not then be saved)

  158. Joshua08 says:

    Interesting post. I would counter with this:

    Canon 4. If anyone says that the baptism which is 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 does, is not true baptism, let him be anathema. (Trent, Session VII, “On Baptism”).

    That seems to cut right to the heart of the matter and say that the baptism given by heretics (presumably, given to heretics) is “true baptism.” True baptism, to me, means a baptism with all the effects of baptism, which have already been enumerated.

    Certainly, sorrow for sin is required in order for sin to be forgiven. “Faith” is required but I would take that to mean the Trinitarian faith, as expressed in the Apostle’s Creed, not the entirety of the Catholic faith.

    Dan

    One last comment

    The only other possible thing to say is to say that baptism of adults for validity also requires faith and sorrow for sins. But this would in fact contradict the Council of Trent. Remember that heresy is a mortal sin. What this Council and earlier one’s recognized is that baptism is valid even in the case of those who are heretics (and the presumption here is formal heresy…as heretic said simpliciter is a formal heretic). But since someone who is heretical even on one point has not the virtue of Faith at all, we must conclude that by true baptism is meant the reception of the character of baptism, for it is clear that a formal heretic is neither in the Church, nor free of mortal sin.

    The fact that the Church never rebaptised those who reconciled with her from heretical and scismatic sects means that the baptisms were valid, but it couldn’t mean that they were fruitful, for by being a heretic they remain in sin and separated.

    If the analogy helps, one may say that baptism does have an intrinsic effect of remitting sin and joining one to the Church, which is the body of Christ, but in the case where someone at the same time keeps his will affixed on sin, or worse lacks faith or professes heresy/schism, he is willing contrary to that effect so that effect remains only in potency, but is not actualized because impeded by bad dispositions. They remain there though, in potency, and are actualised when the impediment is removed.

    The Catechism of Pius X puts it succinctly

    14 Q: When the person who is being baptized is an adult, what dispositions should he have?

    A: An adult who is being baptized, besides faith, should have at least imperfect contrition for the mortal sins he may have committed.
    15 Q: If an adult in mortal sin was baptized without such sorrow, what would he receive?

    A: If an adult was baptized in mortal sin without such sorrow he would receive the character of Baptism, but not the remission of his sins nor sanctifying grace. And these two effects would be suspended, until the obstacle is removed by perfect contrition or by the sacrament of Penance.

    The Catechism of the Council of Trent states

    Faith

    Besides a wish to be baptised, in order to obtain the grace of the Sacrament, faith is also necessary. Our Lord and Saviour has said: He that believes and is baptised shall be saved.

    Repentance

    Another necessary condition is repentance for past sins, and a fixed determination to avoid all sin in the future. Should anyone desire Baptism and be unwilling to correct the habit of sinning, he should be altogether rejected. For nothing is so opposed to the grace and power of Baptism as the intention and purpose of those who resolve never to abandon sin.

    Seeing that Baptism should be sought with a view to put on Christ and to be united to Him, it is manifest that he who purposes to continue in sin should justly be repelled from the sacred font, particularly since none of those things which belong to Christ and His Church are to be received in vain, and since we well understand that, as far as regards sanctifying and saving grace, Baptism is received in vain by him who purposes to live according to the flesh, and not according to the spirit. As far, however, as the Sacrament is concerned, if the person who is rightly baptised intends to receive what the Church administers, he without doubt validly receives the Sacrament.

    The CCC may not speak as clearly, but it does clearly presuppose faith and sorrow for sins.

  159. AnAmericanMother says:

    Dang nab it, Jerry, I asterisked it.

    I’m going to have to resort to my fainting couch in a minute.

    And if you point out that that ancient Southernism ‘dang nab it’ is a euphemism for something extremely naughty, then I will come perilously close to forgetting my good resolutions.

  160. wecahill says:

    Thanks to everyone for very interesting and informative posts. It’s always an education to read them. I would like to note that we don’t have this problem in the SSPX chapel where I sometimes attend mass. Perhaps the ‘state of necessity’ that impelled Archbishop Lefebvre to consecrate our bishops isn’t over. Just a thought.

  161. Gail F says:

    In my limited experience, deacons are like priests. Some are orthodox, some aren’t. Some have had poor formations, but are orthodox anyway. And some have had good formations, but choose not to be orthodox.

  162. Jerry says:

    re: wecahill – “I would like to note that we don’t have this problem in the SSPX chapel where I sometimes attend mass. Perhaps the ‘state of necessity’ that impelled Archbishop Lefebvre to consecrate our bishops isn’t over. Just a thought.”

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. I suspect there are liturgically liberal NO parishes that don’t have this problem, either. Anecdotal reports (which is all we have here, including your observation) are just that — anecdotal. One cannot draw any valid conclusions about a larger population based on an observation of one sample.

  163. New Sister says:

    MSM – I *am* your sister – & I’m w/ you on Supertradmum, who is – Deo gratias – also our sister! :-)

  164. Supertradmum says:

    MSM and New Sister, ditto, as we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Isn’t that wonderful? And for Jerry, almost thirty years of working part-time or full-time in the Church in some capacity, mostly RCIA, teaching in Catholic institutions, and adult formation, I hardly consider my experience of deacons as “anecdotal”. However, I am thrilled to know that there are good, solid Orthodox deacons in the United States and in England. I am happy about that…

  165. dans0622 says:

    Jerry,

    You said: “The key phrase is “to me”. Your personal interpretation may or may not reflect the actual meaning of the canon. It is conceivable to me that a “true baptism” could be one which is valid, with or without all of the effects of a baptism performed within the Catholic Church. How does the Magisterium interpret this canon?”

    I don’t know of any direct, magisterial interpretation. I base my “interpretation” on: Scripture–“One Lord, one faith, one baptism”–and “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins” from the creed, and the plain meaning of the words “true baptism.” That’s about all I can say, in my limited understanding of the issue.

    Thanks for the response.
    Dan

  166. Jerry says:

    re: Supertradmum – “almost thirty years of working part-time or full-time in the Church in some capacity, mostly RCIA, teaching in Catholic institutions, and adult formation, I hardly consider my experience of deacons as “anecdotal” ”

    There’s an old saying: the plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data. Clearly, there are limitations to the accuracy of this statement; however, it does serve as a reminder that we must be careful not to overreach the observations when drawing conclusions.

    The length of time you’ve been working in the Church doesn’t matter; the number and variability of the observations does. Consider: how many diocese were you involved with? How many parishes? How many deacons? What did these deacons have in common (background, formation, leadership, the time frame when the previous occurred, etc.)? What was different?

    For example, if you spent the 30 years in one parish with the same deacon, or even 2-3 deacons, then the experience is clearly anecdotal. If you were in a different parish every year, that’s 30 (give or take) deacons out of how many in your diocese? State? Country? With a sample that size you _might_ be able to draw some reasonable conclusions about the deacons in your diocese; it’s still far to small to make any generalizations at the country level, much less globally.

  167. Mary Therese says:

    I can confirm that the Rev Mr Stephen Morgan is indeed a most excellently orthodox deacon. He also sings a mean Alma Redemptoris Mater!

  168. Supertradmum says:

    Jerry,
    Thirteen dioceses,three countries, seven or more states, three Catholic chaplancies-one in each of the three countries, one diocesan office, personal work relationships with several bishops and one cardinal, many parishes, and I cannot remember the rest. Time-frame, 1979-2009….I have had very interesting and varied work experiences. Do I still qualify for making the comments from some background and not “anecdotally”?

  169. hawkeye says:

    Belated “thank you” to martial artist for info to get FR. Z a message.