VATICAN CITY, 29 FEB 2008 (VIS)
Made public today were the responses of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith to two questions concerning the validity of
Baptism conferred with certain non-standard formulae.
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
Benedict XVI, during his recent audience with Cardinal William
Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, approved these responses, which were adopted at the ordinary
session of the congregation, and ordered their publication. The text
of the responses bears the signatures of Cardinal Levada and of
Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the dicastery.
An attached note explains 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 continues, "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
"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
VIS 080229 (420)