From a reader…
I recently witnessed a baptism by immersion. As each person of the Most Holy Trinity was invoked, the baby was dipped into the water except for the head. Then, after the third immersion, the priest also took water from the font and poured it on the head. I read on a previous post of yours that your friend at the CDF said that water has to touch the head for the sake of validity. Would that suffice if the water only touched once but not thrice? Given the gravity of the question involved, clarity would be appreciated if any were available.
Just when you think you’ve heard every variation, some jackass comes up with something different.
Yet another instance of a foolish priest or deacon, thinking that he has to make changes or add his personal flourishes to the rite, which in his thought isn’t adequate or meaningful enough, disturbing the hearts of the faithful and sowing doubts about the validity of a sacrament.
Let’s review. Rev. Imsosmart dips the child into the water three times saying the Trinitarian form. When he says the Trinitarian form, water does not touch the head. AFTER the Trinitarian form, he pours water on the head.
Some manuals suggest that if the water touches the shoulder only it could be valid, but there is doubt. The farther from the head, the more doubtful. “Butt” baptisms, where in the baby’s backside and perhaps something of the back and legs… doubtful. Just the foot of a guy stuck in a hole… more doubtful yet.
You remember correctly that when I consulted a friend at the CDF he replied that water had to touch the head, even if only the hair, for validity.
However, another aspect of administration of the sacrament is that the pouring or immersing that includes the head is that the immersing or pouring must take place simultaneously with the Trinitarian form.
Immersion of some of the body, but not the head… some water on the head after the Trinitarian form… I doubt the validity of the baptism. [UPDATE: I double-checked sources. St. Alphonsus says it could valid be but he has his doubts. He calls for conditional baptism.]
It would be a good idea to request a conditional baptism of the child. [UPDATE: Sabbetti-Barret and Prümmer agree.]
These are serious matters.
You all remember that not long ago the CDF issued a statement that even saying “WE baptize you” etc. was invalid and, thereafter, some priests discovered that they had been invalidly baptized. Therefore they hadn’t received any other sacrament validly, including ordination. They had to be baptized absolutely, not conditionally, and then confirmed, ordained.
Last night, during the Zednet (ham radio) session, one of the participants informed the group that in his diocese it was discovered that some deacons were baptizing with an invalid form. Consider the chaos.
These are really serious matters.
There is no reason to FOOL AROUND WITH SACRAMENTS!
When baptizing, the minister must pour water so that it flows on the head while saying the Trinitarian form. THAT ISN’T HARD.
Diocesan bishops would do well to quiz their priests and deacons to find out what they are doing. “Father, please describe how you baptize? How you absolve?” There should be reminders sent out in their regular ad clerum communications that “in the Latin Church we baptize LIKE THIS…”… “THIS is the form for absolution! If you are saying anything else, STOP.”