Saturday, March 1, 2008
The New Donatists of the CDF
The Donatists in the time of Augustine created a stir by stating that sacraments performed by priests who had renounced the faith in time of persecution were not valid. As such, the "un-baptized" person, if they had received the sacraments of confirmation, marriage, or ordination, had not really received those sacraments either. They only thought they had.
A statement released yesterday from Vatican Information Services states that anyone baptized using the formula " I baptized 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," has not only not been baptized, but in Donatist-style, has not received those other sacraments either.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated that the other formulae are not properly Trinitarian and do not "obey Jesus' command as it appears at the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew." These arguments are quite weak. First, within Scripture we find innumerable names given to the persons of the Trinity. Does that mean those names are inadequate not only for baptism, but for using at anytime? In addition, God's infinite nature makes any naming of the Trinity grossly inadequate. Second, no serious scripture scholar really believes that Jesus literally commanded his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus' followers discerned this after the resurrection, just as some of the today's priests and religious groups has discerned a different Trinitarian formula in which to baptize.
The US Bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine, Fr. Tom Weinandy, stated that unless there is a witness who is sure that the non-standard formula was used, "it is assumed they used the right formula." Sounds like the US Bishops are trying to make some wiggle room of their own because of the possible blowback from the CDF telling people their baptisms and marriages are invalid.
A Faithful Catholic