QUAERITUR: Is baptism by a priest who does odd things still valid?

From a reader:

Thank you father for the time you devote to this blog. I have found it very educational as has my husband.

I would appreciate your thoughts as an outside observer to this question.

We were parishioners for about 5 years at our geographical parish up the street. We were uncomfortable with some of the liturgical actions and choices but my husband believed that you should support your most local parish.

We formally transfered to our school parish two or three years ago after a lot of prayer and discernment. We gave the reason that we wished to support our school and have our children with their schoolmates, but the underlying reason was that the parish up the street was beginning to incoorporate some very weird new-age things into the masses including liturgical dance and other odd practices.

3 of our 4 children were baptised in this parish, 1 of them was baptised by a priest that was touted in a fishwrap for his progressive inclusive views and being out as a homosexual priest.

As a mother, I have been worrying about the validity of their baptisms. We made sure to ask to use the form straight from the missal, and other than the inclusion of our older children at the font, the baptism seemed to follow all the proscribed forms.

Do I need to worry about their baptisms? Is my youngest child still validly baptised if the priest who did the baptism might be in questionable standing before God by his actions?

I’m sure I’m just an overworried mother but I wasn’t raised Catholic, so what might be a silly question seems potentially serious to me.

If the priest used the form for baptism as it is printed in the book, then it doesn’t make a difference how bizarre the priest is: it is valid.

The validity of the sacraments do not depend on the holiness of the minister.  Christ is the true minister of all sacraments.  He is the only Holy One.  If the priest or bishop is a sinner or an idiot, the sacraments conferred are still valid so long as they intend to do what the Church intends.  If they follow the proper form (words) and use the proper matter, then the presumption is that they intend to do what the Church intends.

I don’t think you have to worry about the validity of sacraments.  That is a pretty rare thing.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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