Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Friday, February 29, 2008

The rules on baptism are meant to be followed

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

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

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

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

Update: 07 March 2008. Neil Hickey's on-line article about this topic for is full of errors, some of which appear attributable to Brisbane Chancellor Fr. Jim Spence. First, these baptisms were not just "illicit" or "illegitimate", they were invalid; second, that means these baptisms did not happen; third invalid baptism renders null any subsequent attempt to receive a sacrament. How these repeated errors can still be in circulation utterly escapes me.