Wednesday, February 16, 2022

"Thousands of baptisms at a Catholic church in Arizona have been invalidated because a priest used the wrong words in performing the ceremony." My Response: Hierarchical Rigidity +Medieval Theology = a Pastoral Disaster

"Father Andres Arango resigned from the St Gregory parish church in Phoenix earlier this month after diocese leaders discovered he had mistakenly used the phrase “we baptize you” instead of “I baptize you” for years.

His error means that countless baptisms – an irrevocable requirement for salvation in Catholic theology – will have to be performed again. And some churchgoers could find their marriages are not recognized.

“An invalid baptism … invalidates any subsequent sacraments, especially confirmation, marriage, and holy orders,” the diocese of Phoenix said in a webpage intended to answer parishioners’ questions. "

My Response:  Hierarchical Rigidity +Medieval Theology = a Pastoral Disaster by Bridget Mary Meehan

According to traditional Catholic beliefs,  the members of the Church are the mystical Body of Christ on earth, and therefore, the word "we" is more appropriate than the word" I " in the Rite of Baptism.

Bishop Olmsted's demand that using the correct words in the ritual makes the sacrament valid is not supported in the Bible.

Baptism in the name of Jesus and Baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit both appear in the New Testament.

 Theologian Joseph Martos points out that the meaning of the ritual does not come from the words of the ritual but from the people who participate in it. (Deconstructing Sacramental Theology, Reconstructing Catholic Ritual, p. 254.)

The CDF officials and Bishop Olmsted should have reflected on the example of Jesus in the Gospels. On one occasion he   violated the law to heal a person on the Sabbath, and criticized the religious authorities for following the letter of the law and ignoring the spirit of the law. 

My heart goes out to the hundreds/thousands of people who have been affected by this pastoral disaster. Fr. Arango did nothing wrong. His use of "we" instead of "I" reflects the insights of contemporary theology that the believing community is the celebrator of the sacraments. 

It is time for Bishop Olmsted and the officials at the CDF to abandon medieval theology and, like Jesus, put the spiritual needs of the people first. 

No comments: