Friday, February 29, 2008

Holy See Makes It Clear: Baptism in "Non-Standard Formulae" Invalid

From the Vatican Information Service:
The first question is: "Is a Baptism valid if conferred with the words 'I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier', or 'I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer'"?

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

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

Fortunately, the stupidity of using "creative" baptismal forms isn't as prevalent today as it was in the 80's and early '90s. Back then, it seemed like every wifty, self-styled "hip" priest was coming up with his own baptismal formula, marked by his own oh-so-personal style. Never mind the Lord's specific command and the universal practice of the Church for 20 centuries...

Back when I was in graduate school at Catholic University (early-mid '90's), such a baptism took place on campus. It was not conducted by a university chaplain, but by an outside priest for an alumnus in one of the University chapels. The story got out and created a bit of a stir: the Archdiocese of Washington apparently got involved and insisted the child be re-baptized using the proper formula. Why? The response of the CDF explains:
"Variations to the baptismal formula - using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons - as considered in this reply, arise from so-called feminist theology", being an attempt "to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic, substituting them with other names. Such variants, however, undermine faith in the Trinity".

"The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith constitutes an authentic doctrinal declaration, which has wide-ranging canonical and pastoral effects. Indeed, the reply implicitly affirms that people who have been baptised, or who will in the future be baptised, with the formulae in question have, in reality, not been baptised. Hence, they must them be treated for all canonical and pastoral purposes with the same juridical criteria as people whom the Code of Canon Law places in the general category of 'non-baptised'". (my emphasis)
Let's hope this declaration puts an end to such nonsense once and for all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A New Bishop For Diocese of Lansing

The Press office of the Holy See announced this morning that Bishop Earl Boyea, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Detroit, will be the next bishop of Lansing, succeeding the retiring Bishop Mengeling.

This is a great development for the Diocese of Lansing and for the Church in Michigan.

Bishop Boyea was my spiritual director while I was at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and he was my professor for Church History. We have remained friends since then, and I am proud to be able to call myself such.

Bishop Boyea is a man of great learning, and is wholeheartedly loyal to the Church and to the Magisterium. He is deeply rooted in the Church's Tradition, and is committed to preserving and advancing that Tradition. While he was at Sacred Heart Seminary, he frequently celebrated Mass in Latin for the theologate on Saturday mornings. He is well known in the Detroit area for regularly celebrating Mass according to the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass).

He was quite public in his support of the 2005 Vatican "Instruction" concerning homosexuality in the seminaries (sometimes called the "Doomsday Document"), as can be seen in my 2006 Crisis article on the subject.

On a personal note, those who know the bishop will attest to his great good humor and joyfulness. At Sacred Heart Seminary, he had the reputation of being somewhat of a prankster.

The Diocese of Lansing is getting a devoted and loyal son of the Church, and a smart and joyful man in their new bishop. Ad multos gloriosque annos!