Baptism at St Mary’s South Brisbane

Those pesky mobile phone video thingy’s strike again… HT to Marco for this. Does anyone know when this video was filmed/uploaded?

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31 responses to “Baptism at St Mary’s South Brisbane

  1. Anonymous

    I preferred the full immersion baptism at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1SiHHyf0fw

  2. Arabella-m

    The 21st Sept ’08 according to this news item:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24433853-5006786,00.html

  3. Bob Catholic

    More info via YouTube:
    A dubious baptism occuring at St. Mary’s in South Brisbane. Taken Sunday Sept. 21, 2008.

    I had not realized that if the date is correct it is well after the Vatican declaration on the invalidity of such a baptism. That, in my book, is open disobedience and hence a latae sententiae excommunication. But who am I to make such outrages claims?!?!

  4. Schütz

    Mmm. Did you see the sneeky way they slipped in “that is, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” AFTER dunking the kid “in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier”?

  5. Bob Catholic

    One wonders whether his intention is to “do what the Church has always done”??

  6. Tony

    So what about the elephant in the Room, David?

    Are you OK with people attending church services with the specific intent to secretly film them?

    I mean it’s clearly covert because the ‘camera’ is held out of site behind the pew.

    According to the YouTube information the video was posted by ‘ScottusSuperbus’ who hails from the US. We have no way of know when this actually happened — even the The Oz makes no claim of authenticity beyond it being ‘posted on YouTube’.

    I wonder if reader’s would be OK with the ethics surrounding this story if the subject matter was different?

    Why not be open about this and have web-cams in every church?

  7. The Editor, ITD

    Tony, the man who took the video was at the same ‘mass’ and ‘baptism’ as the man who wrote an article on the whole thing for the October issue of Into the Deep – http://www.stoneswillshout.com – page 10. The link to the video was on page 8 of the same issue.
    Talk about elephant in the room – an invalid baptism … or a recording of it … hmmm … which is the bigger danger to our faith I wonder …?

  8. The editor, itd

    And another little note – yes it was taken 21 September 2008. And the words used were “We baptise you in the name of (something – maybe ‘God the’)Creator, Liberator and Sustainer of Life … also known as Father, Son and Spirit” – i.e. the Australian mis-quoted slightly, as did schutz above. (Not that it really matters I suppose – once it’s wrong, it doesn’t really matter “how wrong” it is…!)

  9. Tony

    That’s an interesting way of looking at it: ‘… an invalid baptism … or a recording of it … hmmm … which is the bigger danger to our faith I wonder’.

    How did the ‘or’ get into it? Is this a ‘lesser of two evils’ ethic?

    Anyhow, thanks for getting closer to the source. Mind you, it still doesn’t say when the recording was made. The unstated implication seems to be that is was recent.

  10. Tony

    Thanks for the further explanation.

    once it’s wrong, it doesn’t really matter “how wrong” it is…!

    So, again, was it wrong to covertly film this?

  11. ed

    Oh tony, you are a scream! I’m guessing you’re a member of the St Mary’s ‘community’ 🙂 Your logic is so amusing!

  12. Schütz

    We should remember, Tony, that the liturgy of the Church is PUBLIC. There is no such thing as a “private” liturgy.

    It is a pity that those who wish only to see that the Church’s laws are followed are driven to such covert actions to make their point.

    What I would like to propose is that instead of covert filming and secret writing letters to Rome, we actually make it quite clear that we are filming such events as this (and other dimwittery that occurs all to often during liturgies) and stand up and shout: “This is contrary to the Catholic Faith!!!” every time such sillyness occurs.

    Unfortunately, we remain quiet when we should be standing on the pews and shouting.

  13. Louise

    Personally I’m not in favour of covertly filming anything, but what does the Church teach on this kind of thing? Anyone know?

    Also, while the “lesser of two evils” thing isn’t great, I think we can say that the invalid baptism is of grave importance (to the point of possibly being a Mortal Sin on the part of the priest), whereas covert filming *may* not be.

    IOW, if the filming is the proverbial elephant, then the invalid baptism must be a veritable whale in the living room.

    Why not be open about this and have web-cams in every church?

    That’s a fair comment and I think it’s the last thing we’d want. Any problems within the Church really need to be dealt with openly and up-front with the people concerned.

  14. Anonymous

    C’mon guys, covert filming wouldn’t happen if people were doing the right thing.

    As has been said, it’s not nice, but some are driven to it.

    The more substantive question is the real elephant in the room: wither obedience and enforcement.

    The Church has no real enforcement mechanism. So, whilst layfolk can’t take the law into their own hands, they certainly have to be able to collect the evidence, so that the lawful authorities can investigate and enforce.

    We should have parish visitations, inspections. Like restaurant reviewers, they don’t tell you when they will show up. And they denounce you publicly if they have to. In the name of quality control.

    Perhaps the Glorious Sees of Sydney and Melbourne can kick things off. Given that many priests either don’t know or don’t care about fulfilling the duties of their job. The rest of us, would be sacked, if we didn’t. Why are they so special?? They want to be like us don’t they (clothes, names etc etc)…

  15. Tony

    Ed,

    I’m thousands of kilometres away from St Mary’s. Counter my logic with your own, ‘amusement’ is not an argument.

    David,

    We should remember, Tony, that the liturgy of the Church is PUBLIC. There is no such thing as a “private” liturgy.

    And? What question does that answer?

    It is a pity that those who wish only to see that the Church’s laws are followed are driven to such covert actions to make their point.

    So it’s OK then? If I have a genuine belief that a liturgy compromises church law, it’s OK for me to covertly film it and for you to promote that?

  16. Schütz

    We should have parish visitations, inspections.

    Absolutely! Sounds like a job for “The Church Police” once again!

    Actually, visitations are not such a silly idea. They are a part of the history and tradition of the Church. Only thing is, everyone is on the best behaviour when the Diocesan Visitor is expected.

    And? What question does that answer?

    That no-one can complain about an invasion of privacy. It’s a public event. Film it who will.

    If I have a genuine belief that a liturgy compromises church law, it’s OK for me to covertly film it and for you to promote that?

    Well, yeah. After all, who’s abusing who here? Who’s in the position of power (who’s abusing the power they have) and who are the victims? All power to the victims, I reckon.

    I mean what if someone were to “covertly film” sexual abuse taking place and then make it public. Would that be an invasion of privacy or rights? Of course not. The individual who did this would be hailed as a defender of justice.

    Well, liturgical abuse falls into the same category, IMO. That is not to down play the seriousness of sexual abuse – far from it. It is to “up play” the serious spiritual abuse that is perpetrated by liturgical mavericks like the priest in this video.

    This is people’s souls they’re playing with, after all, which has to be at least as important as people’s bodies.

  17. Scotus Barbarus

    I filmed the video, on Sept. 21, 2008. I was visiting Brisbane from the US and had my camera because I was a tourist. I had no intention of going to film a baptism.

    That said, once I was there, and I realized an invalid baptism was likely to occur, I was torn as to whether or not it would be appropriate to film. My judgement was that since liturgy is fundamentally a public action and since these abuses must be brought to the attention of the bishop, filming it was a good idea.

    The film looks “covert” because I set the camera on the pew.

  18. Arabella-m

    These actions of the priests in Brisbane are not helpful regarding ecumenical relationships considering that one factor of existing unity with other Christian churches is Baptism:

    “Baptism is conferred with water and with a formula which clearly indicates that baptism is done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is therefore of the utmost importance for all the disciples of Christ that baptism be administered in this manner by all and that the various Churches and ecclesial Communities arrive as closely as possible at an agreement about its significance and valid celebration.

    It is strongly recommended that the dialogue concerning both the significance and the valid celebration of baptism take place between Catholic authorities and those of other Churches and ecclesial Communities at the diocesan or Episcopal Conference levels. Thus it should be possible to arrive at common statements through which they express mutual recognition of baptisms as well as procedures for considering cases in which a doubt may arise as to the validity of a particular baptism”.
    from the Directory on Ecumenism.

  19. Tony

    That no-one can complain about an invasion of privacy. It’s a public event. Film it who will.

    That’s pretty lame David. You know that this filming was done in secret. I have been to many masses and many liturgies were the priest — quite reasonably in my view — talks to the congregation about when it is and is not appropriate to film. Apparently your ‘it’s a public event’ ethic makes that not possible?

    So, dodging aside, did this person do the right thing here? Do you support covert filming and subsequent publication of liturgies?

    Well, yeah. After all, who’s abusing who here? Who’s in the position of power (who’s abusing the power they have) and who are the victims? All power to the victims, I reckon.

    That, again, is an interesting ethical framework.

    I mean what if someone were to “covertly film” sexual abuse taking place and then make it public. Would that be an invasion of privacy or rights? Of course not. The individual who did this would be hailed as a defender of justice.

    Really? What about the actual sexual abuse victim? How do you think they’d feel with their trauma being available on the internet? That’s not the morality of a ‘defender of justice’, that’s the shallow morality of the vigilante!

    There were recognisable faces in that video, did the filmmaker ask permission to publish their images?

    I can’t begin to think how you could, even with your caveat, compare sexual abuse with what you describe as liturgical abuse.

  20. Tony

    Scotus,

    The film looks “covert” because I set the camera on the pew.

    The film was covert.

    Even setting aside the doing this in secret*, you then publish it on the internet!

    If you were truly concerned, wouldn’t it have been more ethical to send it to the Bishop?

    * We are all capable of ‘liturgical abuse’ in the sense that if we attend a liturgy in the wrong frame of mind or don’t do our best to attend to what’s going on, we abuse our own attendance.

    I think you have to examine your own actions in that light.

    If you have no, in principle, objection to the actions you took are you OK with others doing it and then publishing it on the internet?

    We are rightly appalled when young people publish inappropriate material on MySpace or FaceBook. We are rightly concerned about a society where privacy is shrinking and there are camera’s watching our every move. This kind of action is part of that.

  21. Schütz

    I will grant that posting this video on the internet was not the most appropriate action in the circumstances. I am thinking of the family involved here, not the priest. In that regard you are right that my allegory of filming and posting sexual abuse on the internet was misplaced – because of course not just the perpetrator but also the victim would be in the picture.

    No, the proper case would be to send it to the proper authorities – and to inform the perpetrator of the abuse that you are doing so.

    So, step by step:

    1) Scotus was within his rights to film this event. The Church is a public place and baptisms are a public event. I have never heard of anyone suggesting they ought not to be filmed or photographed. There is no ethical problem with the filming itself, as Scotus has explained well enough.

    2) The priest was abusing his role as a priest of the Catholic Church by not using the lawful and valid form of baptism.

    3) The family (and especially the candidate for baptism) are the victims of this spiritual abuse.

    4) Scotus should have confronted the priest immediately afterwards, informed him that he had videoed the event and that he was going to send the video to the proper authorities (in this case, Archbishop Bathersby).

    5) It can be, of course, an offence in this country to publish a picture of someone in the media without their permission. The publication of this video on YouTube could have been an offence. I would agree that this could be regarded as unethical.

    6) Finally, relevant authority should take action to make sure that this “baptism” was performed again according to the canonical formula, as the priest of South Brisbane was ordered to do with regard to the other invalid baptisms he has been performing.

    The upshot of it all, however, is that these invalid baptisms are continuing in St Mary’s Church, South Brisbane, and the deliberate use of an invalid form by a priest of the Church is a most serious crime.

    Personally, I am thankful that Scotus has exposed this, despite the unethical manner in which he went about it.

  22. Scotus Barbarus

    I’ll only add that I removed the video from public viewing this morning, as soon as someone in the video objected to it being posted. In hindsight, although I’m glad I filmed it and hope it will be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities, posting it for public viewing was inconsiderate and probably not even helpful.

    pax,
    Scotus

  23. Tony

    1) Again with the ‘rights’? What rights are you talking about? Legal? Moral? Do we have the ‘right’ to film anything at anytime without reference to those we are filming? Of course we can safely assume the ‘rights’ if, for example, they are family or friends and they can clearly see us walking around with a camera. But is it a ‘right’, even in a public place (a description that also needs a little unpacking) to covertly film in this context?

    2) The validity or otherwise of what the priest was doing does not make a difference to the ethics of filming and posting.

    3) Similarly, the validity or otherwise of your take on who is victim does not make a difference to the ethics of filming and posting.

    4) If Scotus did as you suggest, this discussion would have been moot, we wouldn’t have known.

    5) ‘could be’?

    6) Yes, leave it to the ‘relevant authority’.

    Personally, I am thankful that Scotus has exposed this, despite the unethical manner in which he went about it.

    Is this classic ‘end justifies means’ or ‘moral relativism’ or both?

  24. Schütz

    This whole matter puts me in mind of the sad case of the previous dean of our Cathedral. He was not guilty of a crime – only guilty of losing his temper under provocation and behaving in a way unbecoming to a priest. And yet because of a video posted on YouTube, his term of pastoral service at St Patrick’s came to a screaming halt.

    At the time I condemned the posting of the video on YouTube because it publically shamed a man of great dignity in a moment of weakness.

    This business of the baptism at St Mary’s, however, is a different matter all together.

    I can’t help thinking, Tony, that you are completely ignoring the magnitude of the crime being committed in this video.

    A family brought their child to a priest in good faith asking him to administer a sacrament which is essential for eternal life. He deliberately chose to use a form which he knew to have been declared invalid by the Church and for which he had previously been reprimanded.

    Of course, since Scotus has removed the video, it can no longer be access from SCE either. Let it be noted for the record that this “baptism” was administered in with the following formula: “We baptise you in the name of (something – maybe ‘God the’)Creator, Liberator and Sustainer of Life … also known as Father, Son and Spirit”

    Is this not a crime and a scandal of the most immense proportions?

    Now, if Scotus were a journalist, working for one of our daily newspapers, and he had photographed a politician doing crooked deals – even “in private” – would we not all have hailed him for exposing the crook?

    Well, Scotus does not have a newspaper. He has a blog. He could have posted it on there. He posted it on YouTube instead.

    [The story in fact is so “big” that it has finally made one of our dailys. See new blog entry.]

    I am actually at this moment reviewing my harsh judgement of Scotus’ ethics in posting the video on YouTube – although I stand by what I said about the law in this country protecting people’s rights not to have their images published (oddly though, did that argument help the Dean when he was posted on YouTube last year?).

    If an event is public, it is open to all comers, and all who come have a right to film it. They don’t have a right to film a private event. As I’ve said before, a baptism is a public event. It is not a private event for the benefit of a family. Many churches in fact have a rule that baptisms are to be celebrated in the presence of the local congregation to underscore that this is a sacrament of public initiation into the Church.

    Perhaps we have mistakenly given the impression that baptisms are private personal events – and that is why so many who bring their kids for baptism display so little committment to the local congregation either before or after the event.

  25. Tony

    David,

    It seems starkly clear to me that you are using a form of moral relativism in that because you think the ‘ends’ was justified in one circumstance it was … well, kind of … OK and because the ‘ends’ was not justified in the other it was not OK.

    Why wasn’t the space in front of the Cathedral a ‘public space’ in the sense that you’ve described the baptism? If Scotus’ filming covertly inside a church was OK, why on earth can’t that same ethic apply to filming overtly outside a church? If Scotus (or you) can justify your publication of this video on the grounds of ‘grave offence’ why can’t the same be said for the ‘grave offence’ committed by the Dean.

    Similarly again, the baptism — however it was conducted — wasn’t a crime.

    You also mitigate the Dean with your notion of a ‘moment of weakness’. Pffft! This was not the first time. He had time to come up with alternatives to confronting these kids (and, yes, it’s probably more accurate to describe them as thugs; I don’t for one minute pretend they were ‘vicitims’) but he chose to confront them. He ran the risk of the situation getting out of control and, lo and behold, it did. He’s the adult; ‘moment of weakness’ doesn’t cut it.

    I can’t help thinking, Tony, that you are completely ignoring the magnitude of the crime being committed in this video.

    Could be. I’m interested in the morality of actions taken. Others are interested in other aspects of the issue. The gravity of the sin doesn’t justify the actions taken to expose that sin.

    A family brought their child to a priest in good faith asking him to administer a sacrament which is essential for eternal life. He deliberately chose to use a form which he knew to have been declared invalid by the Church and for which he had previously been reprimanded.

    It’s a nice narrative David, but you don’t actually know that this was the case. It just could have been that the family was fully aware of how things were done at St Mary’s in the past and insisted that it be done the same way for them or, at least, were completely comfortable with the form of the liturgy.

    Is this not a crime and a scandal of the most immense proportions?

    My simple answer is ‘no’. I don’t share your view and I’ve not expressed that because I suspect we won’t agree after 50 posts! What I thought we could explore was the ethics of actions taken and that, despite our differences, has been more productive IMO.

    Now, if Scotus were a journalist, working for one of our daily newspapers, and he had photographed a politician doing crooked deals – even “in private” – would we not all have hailed him for exposing the crook?

    Apparently you would have. But if he was an otherwise ‘dignified’ priest caught in a ‘moment of weakness’ then all bets are off.

    Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons is still wrong.

    Well, Scotus does not have a newspaper. He has a blog. He could have posted it on there. He posted it on YouTube instead.

    Exactly!

    [The story in fact is so “big” that it has finally made one of our dailys. See new blog entry.]

    And, I suspect, many would have condemned the media for picking up the story of the Dean at the time!

    If an event is public, it is open to all comers, and all who come have a right to film it. They don’t have a right to film a private event.

    On that basis the kids filming the Dean were within their rights too.

    As I’ve said before, a baptism is a public event. It is not a private event for the benefit of a family. Many churches in fact have a rule that baptisms are to be celebrated in the presence of the local congregation to underscore that this is a sacrament of public initiation into the Church.

    And the grounds of city churches often feature public access areas.

    Perhaps we have mistakenly given the impression that baptisms are private personal events – and that is why so many who bring their kids for baptism display so little committment to the local congregation either before or after the event.

    And perhaps that’s a red herring?

  26. Arabella-m

    Tony wrote: “Similarly again, the baptism — however it was conducted — wasn’t a crime”.

    That’s not how the Church sees abuse of the sacraments. Read Redemptionis Sacramentum (on the liturgy). Some actions concerning the sacraments are named as ‘graviora delicta’, i.e. grave offences. As a synonym for ‘offence’ is ‘crime’, ‘graviora delicta’ could be translated as grave crime.

  27. eulogos

    I don’t see what is wrong with filming it. Since people’s faces are visible, publishing it probably is against some laws about the use of photographs of people without their permission.
    But a Catholic witnessing this clearly has a duty to do something. The most courageous thing to do would be to interfere immediately, proclaim that the baptism is invalid, and insist that the baby be baptized right then and there with the proper formula. But then you would probably only get yourself kicked out of the building and no good would come of it. So filming it and sending the film to the bishop is an appropriate thing to do which may well have the desired effect.

    Tony, do you realize that this means that the child is deprived of sanctifying grace? If a baby dies baptized, we know he goes to heaven. If he dies unbaptized…we don’t know. We hope in God’s mercy, but we don’t know. And later on, an unbaptized soul will not be able to receive the grace of the other sacraments. He won’t receive the spiritual food of the eucharist, and his sins won’t be forgiven in the sacrament of penance. Perhaps God will supply the deficit, since the baby himself had nothing to do with the default, but we cannot have certainty in this. The action of deforming the words of baptism may send this child to hell. When those are the stakes, objecting to filming it seems absolutely bizarre.

    I think this priest should be immediately relieved of his duties. Someone needs to go through the baptismal register and call all the families and interrogate them about what formula was used, so that the baptisms can be redone properly. That is what was ordered before, but after this it seems unlikely that it was done.

    Susan Peterson

  28. Tony

    Arabella,

    Please read my comments in context. I only spoke in terms of ‘crime’ because David did in relation to the filming at St Mary’s.

    When he used it in that sense he was talking about filming in a ‘public’ place not being a crime, ie a civil crime.

  29. Tony

    Eulogos,

    Cutting to the chase:

    The action of deforming the words of baptism may send this child to hell.

    If you think that is the remotest possibility then we believe in a different God. I believe in the God of the Prodigal Son.

    I could live a life of absolute degredation and, in the moment before I die, make an act of contrition (of course it has to be genuine and God – who knows my heart – would know) I would then be forgiven … more than that … I would be embraced like a son come back to life.

    Contrast this with a God who might (?!) send an child, a child who is probably incapable of sin, to hell because of what some adults did or did not do.

    Are you kidding?

  30. Arabella-m

    Tony,

    my apologies for getting your use of the word crime out of context – my reading of the comments here has been rather rushed.

  31. Schütz

    Okay guys, this Combox is closed. If you want to make any further comments on the matter please do so at the following blog entries:

    http://cumecclesia.blogspot.com/2008/10/australian-picks-up-story-on-invalid.html

    http://cumecclesia.blogspot.com/2008/10/fr-peter-kennedy-of-st-marys-south.html