Son of Trypho pointed me to a rather bizarre story on ABC Radio’s AM program this morning concerning the fallout of Fr Peter Kennedy’s use of invalid baptismal formulae at St Mary’s in South Brisbane: “Ruthless Church accused of re-writing history”. People there are not happy that their children need to be rebaptised and – get this – they are blaming the Catholic Church for this, NOT Kennedy himself! In fact, Kennedy’s argument is that
the Catholic Church is trying to re-write history. He says the baptisms it is now refusing to recognise were carried out under its watch, and before Rome objected to the practices at St Mary’s.
I think someone is missing the point here. It is well known that someone should have done something about Kennedy’s improper baptismal formula earlier than they did, and from rather closer to home than the Vatican. But whether or not the hue and cry had yet been raised, what invalidates baptism is not the Church’s objection to the use of invalid formulae, but the invalid formulae themselves. An invalid baptism is an invalid baptism, whether or not the authorities have taken action to put a stop to such practices yet.
And what about the formula of baptism. You be the judge. Here is what Kennedy has to say for himself. (Just note that the words I have put in bold here are missing from the transcript report on the ABC website, but can be heard on the audio recording on the same page. The words in Italics are only in the transcript and didn’t make it to air.)
We always used the formula I baptise you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the God of love who is creator, redeemer and sustainer of life. [T]here were a handful of baptisms where the parents objected to just having anything about Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. They didn’t want that rather exclusive formula. So the vast majority of children baptised at St Mary’s have been baptised validly in their theology. I mean you can only talk about God in metaphor. If you are going to describe the Trinity, it is Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. You can also describe the Trinity as creator, redeemer, sustainer of life.”
So. Just who is re-writing history here?