Holy See Rejects Feminist "Baptism"
Affirms That Church Must Follow Christ's Mandate
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith clarified that two formulae for baptism that
remove the masculine names for God are invalid and undermine faith
in the Trinity.
The congregation's statement, made public today, responded to two
questions concerning the validity of baptism conferred without
referring to God the Father and Son.
The first question is: "Is a baptism valid if conferred with the
words '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'?"
The second question is: "Must people baptized with those formulae be
baptized 'in forma absoluta'?"
The responses are: "To the first question, negative; to the second
Benedict XVI, during a recent audience with Cardinal William Levada,
prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved
these responses, which were adopted at the ordinary session of the
congregation. The Pope ordered their publication.
The text of the responses bears the signatures of Cardinal Levada
and of Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the dicastery.
An attached note, signed by Monsignor Antonio Miralles, professor of
dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Holy Cross University, explained
that the responses "concern the validity of baptism conferred with
two English-language formulae within the ambit of the Catholic
Church. [...] Clearly, the question does not concern English but the
formula itself, which could also be expressed in another language."
"Baptism conferred in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit," the note continued, "obeys Jesus' command as it appears at
the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew. [...] The baptismal formula
must be an adequate expression of Trinitarian faith, approximate
formulae are unacceptable."
"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," the note clarified. "Such
variants, however, undermine faith in the Trinity."
In a commentary on the responses, Cardinal Urbano Navarrete, former
rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, clarified: "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 baptized, or who will in the
future be baptized, with the formulae in question have, in reality,
not been baptized.
"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-baptized.'"
This implies that if they have received other sacraments, they are
invalid as well and should be re-administered.