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Catholic Bishops receive Vatican response about invalid baptisms

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Most Rev John Bathersby DD, with other Roman Catholic Bishops of the world received a Vatican ruling about the validity of Roman Catholic baptisms using formulas that differ from the traditional baptismal formula, ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s directive, which has the Pope’s approval and was released worldwide on Saturday March 1st, ruled that baptisms performed using the formulas, “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier” or “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer”, are invalid.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith further indicated that priests who have attempted to baptise a child or adult using either of these formulas have conducted an invalid baptism.

Although Archbishop Bathersby believes that such baptismal practice is the exception rather than the rule, he was made aware in the past that one or other of these invalid formulas had been used in baptism ceremonies in a parish of the Archdiocese. At the time he asked that the practice cease.

He has now asked the Archdiocesan Commission on the Liturgy to make recommendations to him within the coming week as to the best way of addressing possible pastoral and sacramental issues arising from the Vatican ruling, if children or adults in the Archdiocese have been invalidly baptised.

“Once I have been briefed by the Commission, I will again communicate with the Archdiocese and the clergy to provide direction if needed on how to address this matter with the utmost pastoral sensitivity,” Archbishop Bathersby said.

“If either of the formulas indicated by the Congregation was used, the persons affected will need to be treated with great understanding and compassion, especially those people who believed that they or their children had received a valid baptism.”

Anyone concerned about this matter are asked to contact a special advisory number (0407 477 118) which has been established to answer the calls of any parishioners who may be concerned about the validity of baptisms in any parish church, mass centre or chapel within the Archdiocese.

Released by the Catholic Communications Office

March 1, 2008

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