If you want your baptisms to be invalid in the Roman Catholic Church, say, “we” instead of “I” during the rite.
This nitpicking fact made international news when an American Roman Catholic priest, between 2005 to 2022, said “we,” meaning the body of believers, as he baptized folks. Canon law lawyers have ruled that a priest is acting for God, not the congregation, and has to say “I.”
I thought Jesus came to save us from idiotic stuff like this.
It gets worse. In that same article, it told about another priest who, as a child, was baptized by a priest who said “we.” That little boy grew up and became a priest who used “I.” The canon lawyers said that because his baptism was invalid, his ordination was invalid, and then all the sacraments he did in the church were invalid. He then had to be rebaptized and reordained, and all the couples he had married now had invalid marriages.
This might be one of the most embarrassing abuses of the teachings of Jesus, who came to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:18), not nitpick details. Is it any wonder that stories like this are driving people out of organized religion and why so many more folks are checking “none” when asked their religious preference?
This then made me think of my own baptism, which happened when I was three weeks old. I was told that I slept through the ceremony while someone vowed that I was now “in union with Christ in his death and resurrection, a member of God’s family, the Church, that I would renounce Satan, repent all my sins and, accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior” (Book of Common Prayer, page 858).
I am now in my ninth decade and don’t believe any of those ideas. I have spent most of my adult life trying to irradicate such antiquated thinking. I would like the rite of baptism to ask the candidate to promise to practice agape, unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance of all, and caring for others. I want people to believe that Jesus didn’t die for our sins but because of humanity’s sinful ways. This message is going to transform the world because love is God.
I don’t believe in child baptism because I believe that baptism is an adult decision. Baptism is not an ecclesiastical rabbit’s foot guaranteeing someone will get into a nonexistent heaven. While the church did teach me that the rite of baptism is an external act (involving water) of an internal desire to be a Follower of the Way, I never believed it could be expressed in only one way. Whether a priest says “I” or “we” is just nonsense.
I have two questions for you: (1) Do you think children ought to be baptized, or should they wait until they are adults? and (2) Is it words that baptize us or the adult internal desire to be a Follower of the Way that matter?
Peace Love Joy Hope
Photo by Walter Gadea on Unsplash