Catholicism…REVOKED!


Were the right magic words spoken during your baptism? If not, you might not be truly Catholic, according to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

For centuries, the baptismal formula in the Roman Catholic Church has been: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Most Protestant churches have also used this formula.

Toward the end of the 20th century, however, a few baptismal ministers began tinkering with the formula. A few ministers have said “We baptize” to bring out the familial or community dimension of the baptism.

For example, a priest might say, “In the name of the father and of the mother, of the godfather and of the godmother, of the grandparents, of the family members, of the friends, in the name of the community we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

In June the congregation, which deals with doctrinal issues, ruled that a baptism was invalid if the minister said, “We baptize” instead of “I baptize.…”

This kind of literalist stickling has led to major imaginary problems! One priest saw in a video of his baptism that the guy said “we” when soaking his head, and that meant his life was a lie, and he was never a Catholic or a priest.

But since his ordination in 2017 was invalid, people who went to Hood’s “Masses” did not really attend Mass and did not receive consecrated bread at Communion. It also means that his absolutions in confession were not sacramental. His confirmations and anointing of the sick were also invalid. When he performed these sacraments, he was not even a Christian, let alone a priest.

And look at this — clearly, SJWs and their goofy pronouns are servants of Satan, undermining Christianity by spawning hordes of the unshriven.

This isn’t the first time the formula, which the congregation holds was mandated by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, has been tested. Some priests have tried gender-neutral nouns: “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier.” Others used “Creator, Liberator and Sustainer.”

As an atheist, I have to ask why some Catholics think God is so stupid that he can’t understand meaning and is ridiculously focused on the precise formula of the words. I mean, this is the same god who accepts Catholics baptized in Latin, Spanish, German, French, Ukrainian, and Chinese, where the specific words are entirely different from English, so shouldn’t he be fully capable of grasping a range of minor variations in phrasing? He sounds a bit like my bank voice recognition system, which only accepts a limited range of words as input and gags if I mumble a bit.

Still, I halfway wish it were true. It would be hilarious if I got to heaven and got admitted because my childhood priest said the right incantation while the Pope got kicked out on a technicality. Although it would also kind of suck if you were condemned to an eternity in hell and had to tell your roomie in the Pit that you were there because your priest used gender-inclusive language, while he gets to brag about being an axe-murderer.

Comments

  1. Who Cares says

    The better question would be:
    Why is only this specific phrase immutable and not when Jesus specifically states that the only way to be a christian is to follow all the traditional Jewish religious rites.
    Seeing that if they go by the literalist interpretation anyone one who joined the cult setup by the first bishop of Rome is a sinner.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    (film ending)
    “You can’t touch me, I am the leader of the Catholic Church!”
    BLAM!
    (thud)
    “… It’s been revoked.”

  3. raven says

    This is just xian magic or witchcraft. Saying a magic spell to perform an action in the real world.

    But it is failed, mistaken, and uninformed magic.
    Real magicians and witches know that it is the intent and the power behind the magic spells that actually make them work.
    You need to be able to access and compel the powerful supernatural spirits that actually carry out your intentions!!!

    (Well, that is another problem with xian magic.
    As far as we know, the xian gods don’t actually exist and have no power in the material world.)

  4. raven says

    This seems to me to be just like the Pharisees from the bible.
    Paying attention to the arbitrary rules and regulations of the law while ignoring the spirit and ideals of the religion.

    It’s probably for the best anyway.
    Defending the spirits and ideals of the Catholic church often meant gigantic piles of dead bodies.

  5. ardipithecus says

    They should take the original words in their original language (Aramaic or whatever) and run them through Google Translate. That oughta settle it.

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I had the impression from my CCD classes the RCC objected to literalism in understanding the teachings of the Bible. To come done on using the single I instead of the plural We because I was written in the Bible describing the ceremony, seems contradictory. I guess it is common for The Church to be full of contradictory behavior.
    -.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.
    The title of the OP lead me to think this was about the Catholic Lobby recommending AGAINST Amy Barrett’s nomination to the SCOTUS. — never mind

  7. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Yeah, well all those incantations were invalid anyway, because they left out the semicolon at the end of the statements and crashed the parser.

    PZ: if there are actual “pearly gates”, and if you get there, just claim to be “Pope John XIV”; he’s been MIA since year 984, so they’d HAVE to let you in.

    Sounds like a boring place though. Valhalla is MUCH more entertaining.

  8. says

    As an atheist, I have to ask why some Catholics think God is so stupid that he can’t understand meaning and is ridiculously focused on the precise formula of the words

    It’s witchcraft. If you get the words wrong, Cthulhu will reach through time and eat your head.

  9. beholder says

    What does count and doesn’t count for these religious rituals often seems so arbitrary. At times strict, at other times unbelievably lazy.

    God is a T. rex. He only sees movement.

  10. says

    There is no such mandate in Matthew. In fact, the words used to baptize Jesus are not even given. This is the New International Version:

    13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

    15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

    16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

  11. Artor says

    And so, with a petulant whine, the number of Catholics in the world drops by a major percentage. I’m sure they’ll be adjusting their membership count right away.

  12. says

    After the resurrection, he orders his disciples to baptize people but he doesn’t say what pronoun to use. Ch. 28:

    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  13. says

    I was just thinking – if I’m reading this correctly, one could wipe out catholicism pretty easily, by infiltrating satanists into the church to perform baptisms. After a few generations, there would be no catholics left. Basically that’s the trick for getting rid of mosquitoes, right?

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    Snarki @7:

    Valhalla is MUCH more entertaining.

    Sorry, but if you die of old age or disease, rather than in battle, you go to Hel.

  15. PaulBC says

    God has been waiting patiently all this time to hear the correct form “Simon says I baptize…” None of these baptisms have gone through so far.

  16. says

    birgerjohansson
    (film ending)
    “You can’t touch me, I am the leader of the Catholic Church!”
    BLAM!

    I think that is actually quite close to the plot of Frederick Rolfe’s Hadrian VII

  17. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @14: Baptisms are valid even if performed by non-Christians, as long as they use the right formula. So your plan wouldn’t work.

  18. felixmagister says

    Consideration: given the diversity of languages, I presume there are some that don’t make a distinction between first person singular and first person plural pronouns and conjugations. Are all baptisms in these languages okay, because the priest technically said “I”, or are they all invalid, because he also technically said “we”.

    Further thoughts: what if the priest doesn’t enunciate, and it’s not clear whether he said “I” or “we”? Is god willing to give the benefit of a doubt here?

    Further further thoughts: why on earth are people so worked up about the exact wording of a phrase that was (presumably) first spoken in Aramaic, recorded in Greek, then translated into English by people heavily influenced by an earlier Latin translation? If even a slight change in the wording risks the recipient suffering an eternity of hellfire, maybe they should be using the Greek (the closest source to the “original”) out of an abundance of caution.

  19. numerobis says

    Snarki, child of Loki: the “pearly gates” are just a misunderstanding.

    Actually it’s “perly gates” meaning an API written in that programming language. It’s hard to go through because the API is undocumented, and perl is almost illegible.

  20. Callinectes says

    Of course you have to use the exact words. Everyone knows that you need to meet the verbal, somatic, and material spell requirements of a spell to be able to cast. Divine spellcasters are free from arcane spell failure, meaning they can cast without risk of failure while wearing armour (an option that our current crop of clerics are woefully underutilising), but the standard requirements must still be met.

    Of course, if they’re casting Silent Baptism using the Silent Spell metamagic feat then they can ignore the verbal spell components. Then they can utter whatever verbiage they like during casting and it will still work perfectly. They’ll need a higher spell slot to cast from, however.

    This is basic stuff, people! The Baptism, Greater Baptism, and Ordain Creature spells may be from an obscure splat-book, but all the rules for spellcasting are right there in the Player’s Handbook.

  21. jenorafeuer says

    Fred Clark, unsurprisingly, was mentioning this at his blog under Religion is not spell-casting. After a brief talk about an earlier debate over whether two Hollywood stars were married because they went through a wedding ceremony in a movie and the person playing the priest was actually a priest (answer: no) he gets to this bit and says,

    This is the kind of goofy nonsense you find yourself defending when you start imagining it’s your job, your right, or your prerogative to decide for somebody else whether or not they are or can be baptized. These arrogant bozos are lucky that St. Philip the Evangelist doesn’t reappear to dope-slap them silly (see Acts 8:37).*

    What the Inquisitors are claiming here is that while it may be impossible to be “accidentally married,” it is entirely possible to be accidentally not married, accidentally not baptized, accidentally not ordained, not absolved, not forgiven, not saved.

    What they’re arguing, in a sense, is that intent may be necessary, but it still amounts to nothing absent the recitation of the proper “formula.”

    That ain’t liturgy. That’s spell-casting. And, as the story of poor Fr.-not-Fr. Hood demonstrates, it’s an approach that leads to perverse absurdities.

    Fred is, granted, a Baptist: a group which was long persecuted by the Catholic Church specifically because the Baptists believed that infant baptism was invalid, and that one had to understand what one was agreeing to and intend to go along with it in order to be baptized. Which means he and many other Baptists are getting a lot of extra amusement about the Catholic Church tying itself into knots over this.

  22. says

    Baptisms are valid even if performed by non-Christians, as long as they use the right formula

    Exactly. Even if the priest is secretly a satanist, as long as he was properly ordained and performs the rites the right way, they’re valid. God works in mysterious ways, remember?

    I suspect all this focus on exact words and rituals is a results of trying to keep the church unitary. If you allow local congregations too much room, they’ll start to diverge and soon you’ll have a schism. Protestantism has no central authority and look at how many sects we end up with.

  23. Bruce Fuentes says

    Did they not think of the possible repercussions of such a dumb ass decision. No one can know if they were baptized correctly. If someone was baptized incorrectly 250 years ago and they became a bishop then almost everything that person and everyone that followed him did, is invalid. They have self owned their own religion.
    I think that I and all of us baptized before the mid-60’s have a fairly high chance that the baptism magic words were spoken incorrectly. Prior to that all rites and masses were in latin. Let’s be honest most priests did not know a whole lot of latin and were probably just speaking sounds they memorized. The chance of the magic ritual being spoken incorrectly is very high I would think. I kind of like the idea that I was never baptized into the Catholic church, not that it matters either way.

  24. Paul Connors says

    As an atheist, I have to ask why some Catholics think God is so stupid that he can’t understand meaning

    Meaning was what the whole problem actually was: people who were baptizing with the words We baptize were using them with a different meaning than the Catholic one — sufficiently different that it couldn’t be accepted as compatible with Catholic understanding. So the Church explained in a document what was going wrong, why the meaning behind “We” was wrong, what had to be fixed, and limited the problem as best it could by banning the words.

    I think your post was a form of confirmation bias:

    (a) Catholic beliefs are stupid;
    (b) Catholics have said something that, on first glance, seems stupid;
    (c) Therefore it really is stupid.

    Confirmation bias is a very widespread problem among humans. Twitter would be bankrupt overnight if confirmation bias disappeared. Scientists (atheists, Catholics, and all) are limited in progress if they don’t eliminate confirmation bias everywhere they can.

  25. birgerjohansson says

    Raven @ 3
    Precisely! This is how Granny Weatherwax performed spells, and it worked well enough to give people (and the trolls) all over the Ramtops a healthy respect for her and the other witches.

  26. PaulBC says

    Paul Connors@28 The question of what happens to the unbaptized has been a thorny issue for many centuries (cue endless discussions of “limbo”) and the question is no less silly today than it ever was.

    Why should either the exact words or intent of the words have any effect on the eternal outcome of someone who believes in good faith that they were baptized and does not seek some kind of secondary baptism just to be sure. In fact, Catholic doctrine is pretty clear on the point that Baptism is a one-time sacrament, so one would be discouraged from this kind of second-guessing.

    This isn’t a matter of confirmation basis (and here I resist the urge for a pun; I was brought up Catholic as you might guess, though I am no longer a believer). It is a matter of a basic notion of fairness and the idea that a loving God cannot conceivably be so unfair or capricious.

    If the intended baptizers used the wrong words with the wrong intent, then shame on them! But how is this supposed to change the outcome of the infant (generally) who went through this sacrament. Granted, ones who are now living and sufficiently motivated can go get their baptism redone, but how about those who are not? Or what if they just missed the memo?

    It is really not confirmation bias at all, but the idea that it is positively ridiculous to ascribe less reasonable discretion to a putative omniscient being than one might except from the district magistrate of East Bumf**k.

  27. birgerjohansson says

    An omniscient entity might just be able to work out what people meant with their words …

  28. raven says

    I think your post was a form of confirmation bias:

    (a) Catholic beliefs are stupid;
    (b) Catholics have said something that, on first glance, seems stupid;
    (c) Therefore it really is stupid.

    Congratulations.
    You got 3 out 4 right.

    The part about confirmation bias is just a flimsy excuse though and wrong.

  29. komarov says

    Right now the Congregation is probably being flooded by memos from the Vatican’s Legal* and Accounting departments, to the tenor of “shut up, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!” I eagerly await the first lawsuits demanding a full refund (church taxes, tithes, etc.) plus interest and damages for psychological harm done to both the living person and their eternal soul by botched baptisms. There are also a lot of unpaid work hours from people who thought they were volunteering for their church. Instead it turns out they were just being used by a bunch of frocked amateurs who couldn’t be bothered to get even the most basic of procedures right.

    However, knowing how businesses work, I expect most plaintiffs will have to settle for a voucher for a free baptism and a bottle of cheap communion wine along with a (printed) apology card from the pope.

    *For technical reasons their’s are the only memos not written on consecrated paper.

  30. says

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has done stupid things in the past, but I thought they weren’t complete idiots. As a case in point, the Church used to regarded the children of an annulled marriage as legitimate (and not bastards), because they were born in an “apparent marriage” prior to its being deemed invalid. There’s a lesson in that for today’s little crisis. People married by an “apparent priest” should be considered married in Church and an “apparent baptism” should be honored as well. I mean, if you’re dealing with imaginary conditions promulgated by made-up rules, a little flexibility keeps you from creating huge and insoluble problems.

    P.S.: And for people who argue the rules were issued by God and not made-up by man, I’ll note that the English words in the official baptismal rite aren’t from God at all. They’re translations of whatever the original might have been. We’re doomed! :)

  31. PaulBC says

    And look at this — clearly, SJWs and their goofy pronouns are servants of Satan, undermining Christianity by spawning hordes of the unshriven.

    Re: “SJW”, I find it ironic (and sad) to have to point out that the first place I ever heard the phrase “social justice” was in a religion course at a Catholic prep school in the early 80s, where was emphasized correctly as the core of Catholic social teaching. I’m not sure what’s happened in the ensuing years that it’s become a term of derision on the right (among I’m sure, many Catholics of the Brett Kavanaugh/Amy Coney Barrett school). And this was a school founded by the Christian Brothers with mainstream teaching aimed at mostly affluent suburbanites–I was there on a scholarship. It was not the Dorothy Day brand of Catholicism by any means (though my parents were) and the teachers varied somewhat in ideology including plenty of Reagan supporters if politics happened to come up.

  32. rrutis1 says

    Marcus Ranum @14
    How dare you compare Catholics to mosquitoes!!! Mosquitoes only molest people and make them itch instead of leaving them physically and emotionally scarred!

  33. jrkrideau says

    Has anyone a) read the original decision and b) gotten a cannon law ruling and c) checked to see if the Pope has signed off on this.

    It sounds like the Diocese of Detroit is having a silly fit.

  34. says

    Remember that god is fully able to revive bodies that have been dead for 2000 years but is flabbergasted by the holy ramen soup of cremation.

  35. robro says

    cervantes @ #11

    It’s not the words used to baptize Jesus, it’s from his instructions to the disciples when he sent them to preach. However, it doesn’t have the phrase “I baptize you…” as part of it. Here is the NIV version of Matthew 28:

    18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

    19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

  36. PaulBC says

    From the article

    A single wrong letter in a line of code can crash a program.

    Well, usually not. A single wrong letter is more likely to fail compilation, e.g. if it’s a misspelled keyword or an unmatched variable name. It does depend on the language. An interpreted language may still run with incorrect results. Or the error may change the semantics by replacing one valid variable name with another.

    But in this case, there’s no visibility at all. It’s like you produce a punch card deck for an old mainframe, hand it over to the divine operator, and will find out at End Times whether any of it works. Computers are much more forgiving. For one thing, it if didn’t work, you at least get to try it again.

  37. Rob Grigjanis says

    PaulBC @35:

    the first place I ever heard the phrase “social justice” was in a religion course at a Catholic prep school in the early 80s

    Yeah, I remember RC-associated SJ in the early 80s. In 1980, Archbishop Óscar Romero, nuns Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan were murdered in El Salvador by right wing thugs who became Ronnie Reagan’s buddies.

  38. Jado says

    Holy Crapballs!! The Accounting department is gonna PLOTZ!! All that tallying and scrutiny and hair-splitting of intentions vs actions for ENTIRE LIVES will need to be re-evaluated in the context of all these Catholics not being properly baptized.

    I hope the video department has enough players to go around – there’s gonna be some long weekends in the Hereafter until this is all fixed.

  39. cartomancer says

    I mean, sure, you CAN baptise people in languages that aren’t Latin, but really what would be the point?

  40. says

    “Although it would also kind of suck if you were condemned to an eternity in hell and had to tell your roomie in the Pit that you were there because your priest used gender-inclusive language, while he gets to brag about being an axe-murderer.”

    Is that anything like trying to explain to the other denizens on the Group W bench that you were there after being convicted of littering, and then trumping it up to “and creating a public nuisance”?

    Komarov @33:
    Lawyers can’t used consecrated paper for obvious reasons… it would spontaneously combust in our presence (if only because we are of the Other Party, and not just because a tree’s natural enemy is a lawyer). Sort of like a Spinal Tap drummer.

  41. PaulBC says

    Rob Grigjanis@41 I remember a classmate in one of my math classes actually having the gall to make some offhand joke about the teacher (a Christian Brother) being “sent to El Salvador.” The math teacher shut him him down fast, effectively, and way too politely. Since I’m the same age and graduating year as Brett Kavanaugh (who went to admittedly a more hoity toity prep school than I did) I really did feel “I know exactly the kind of conservative Catholic Reagan-loving preppy snot we’re dealing with here.” Not that “knowing” helps or anything, but it sure pissed me off.

  42. raven says

    Computers are much more forgiving. For one thing, it if didn’t work, you at least get to try it again.

    We usually don’t bother mentioning this because it is so obvious and taken for granted.

    Why didn’t jesus/god/holy spook send out a memo, email, surface mail letter, or phone call to their employees on earth about all this?
    The Catholics claim that the gods are omniscient and omnipotent.
    Yet, they never do anything tangible in the real world.

    This is FWIW, within the capabilities of a reasonably bright third grader.
    If god isn’t as powerful as a third grader then…why call him god?

  43. birgerjohansson says

    ……”Why call him god?”
    (door slams open)
    “NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!”

  44. John Morales says

    Most people, even most Catholics, don’t get that upon Confirmation adherents are committing to follow the rules of the church. In matters of faith and in matters of doctrine and in matters of law. Amen.

    One can’t both be a Roman Catholic and a freethinker. There is no interpretation (outside the Cardinals), there is only obeisance and obedience.

    (Yeah, I know… the institution has been around for ages, and it’s smart enough to know how much slop the system can tolerate, and it’s quite pragmatic — for example, about tolerating syncretism in newly-subsumed regions. But still)

  45. kukulkan says

    Does anyone know if Satan got this memo? I shudder to think about how many exorcisms may turn out to be invalid.

  46. chuckonpiggott says

    Both my parents are gone so I don’t know who could assuage my soul over this vexing question. Am I legit or not? What shall I do?

  47. jrkrideau says

    @ 46 DrVanNostrand
    Thank you.

    I see a legal decision here and must agree with it. I see nothing that immediately invalidates other (former) forms but a statement that they should not be used in the future.

    Until the Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede says that former forms are invalid I retain the opinion that Detroit is in a hissy fit.

  48. jrkrideau says

    @ 6 slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem))

    I had the impression from my CCD classes the RCC objected to literalism in understanding the teachings of the Bible.

    I have no idea what CCD is but yes, the Catholic church has for centuries objected to literalism. In fact literalism seems to be some 19th century US perversion.

    As I understand it, the Western Church took things literally until evidence showed that it was nonsense and then interpreted things as allegorical. You might notice that the RCC endorses Evolution.

    Here BTW is an excerpt from Cardinal Bellamine’s letter on the subject of a heliocentric solar system.
    https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1615bellarmine-letter.asp

    “Third. I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe and the earth in the third sphere, and that the sun did not travel around the earth but the earth circled the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated.But I do not believe that there is any such demonstration; none has been shown to me.

  49. Paul Connors says

    PaulBC: “If the intended baptizers used the wrong words with the wrong intent, then shame on them! But how is this supposed to change the outcome of the infant (generally) who went through this sacrament.”

    What the Catholic Church holds is that certain actions performed with the right intention will — with absolute certainty — have a specific effect. The same actions performed with a different intention have an unknown effect. So the Church carefully administers the actions and intent that it knows will have effect.

    As an analogy, suppose a doctor knows that administering a specific medicine will certainly immediately cure a specific disease, but then goes ahead and administers some other medicine whose effects are not precisely known. What will that medicine do? Who knows? It would not be rational for a doctor to act in that way. If other doctors found out what was happening, they would administer the correct medicine. In such a case, it would not be helpful for someone to say, “Well, God is good, so I am sure that any medicine will cure the disease.” God is certainly good, but that kind of thinking abandons both science and God.

  50. PaulBC says

    Paul Connors@56 I understand your viewpoint and it looks to me like an accurate reflection of Catholic doctrine. Pardon me if I still find it inherently ridiculous.

  51. PaulBC says

    @56 To put it another way, if it was medicine, there would still potentially be a way to demonstrate efficacy even if the case in question was unclear. If it is a matter of the right person saying the right words or coming from a lineage of people saying the right words, as in a priest who can effect transubstantiation, and the outcome is by definition not even measurable I really have a lot of trouble taking it seriously. No, really I do not take it seriously. This not confirmation bias. It’s the result of overcoming bias.

    My father was a very intelligent man who took all this seriously and if he were alive could probably explain it better than you do. I grew up learning it and took it seriously. Since I’ve concluded it’s nonsense, I find that not only do I feel more personally honest and comfortable in my own skin, but I have more attention in my brain for mulling over issues that matter to people, and oddly enough many of these things are more or less consistent with Catholic social teaching, so go figure.

  52. maireaine46 says

    For anyone who cares, CCD stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, or as it was known when I was a kid, Catechism, which meant memorizing the Baltimore Catechism textbook. Understanding any of it was not expected and asking questions was actively discouraged, often by a nun with a ruler. But if you could spit it back out by rote when asked, you were good and avoided punishment.

    This “not baptized” thing is just weird, but it is typical of the new generation of very conservative, reactionary young priests coming out of seminaries after Pope JP. The more liberal Vatican II generation are dying out, being replaced by those who would like to bring back legalistic interpretations of everything, Latin Mass, and sheep-like congregations who do not question anything. I was taught that any Catholic could baptize a baby in danger of dying, and many Catholic delivery room nurses did. Are they ;later questioned about the exact right word?

  53. PaulBC says

    There’s an old joke I’m paraphrasing, and possibly telling it wrong. But a missionary is talking to one of his recent converts. His convert asks “You mean, if my people had never been taught these truths and kept our traditional ways, we’d be headed for certain damnation”? The missionary reassures him, “Of course not, God is kind and merciful. He can’t punish the merely ignorant” The convert replies “So why did you have to wreck everything by telling us?!”

    And when you get into questions about using the right words, or intent, or anything else, my feeling is that the entire premise falls apart. A legalistic God is unsatisfactory by condemning those who are denied any chance at good behavior. A God with more wiggle room opens up scenarios like the above.

    The easiest answer for me as a former Catholic* is “What if it’s all just nonsense?” I mean, it’s not as if we are lacking in real, tangible problems that nearly everyone agrees exist. Why should I be wasting time on the imaginary ones?

    *With plenty of “confirmation bias” from back when they were doing confirmations at age 9. Maybe I was too young and misread the memo. (All right, I just can’t resist the pun.)

  54. PaulBC says

    @60 Actually, I think that may be as old as St. Augustine. Anyway, he was the one who prayed “Lord, make me good but not yet.”

  55. PaulBC says

    @59

    For anyone who cares, CCD stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, or as it was known when I was a kid, Catechism, which meant memorizing the Baltimore Catechism textbook. Understanding any of it was not expected and asking questions was actively discouraged

    I went to a parochial school in the 70s. We didn’t really use the catechism directly (maybe some in confirmation preparation). The mostly lay teachers and younger nuns could usually tolerate some questioning. The older ones were definitely more rigid about it. But I think there was an overall commitment to Vatican II reforms. I went to a Christian Brothers prep school and there was a fair amount of questioning about nearly anything. It was actually not a bad place to develop verbal critical thinking or mathematics, though I would describe its experimental science as lackluster. Not bad, just not a great place for it.

    Something bad and weird has happened to American Catholics since I stopped paying attention. Too much Opus Dei, not enough Dorothy Day.

  56. says

    ~shrug~
    If God has an issue with my baptism, or anything else, He knows where to find me, and can take it up with me directly. Haven’t heard a peep out of the guy in 39 years…

  57. raven says

    As an analogy, suppose a doctor knows that administering a specific medicine will certainly immediately cure a specific disease, but then goes ahead and administers some other medicine whose effects are not precisely known. What will that medicine do?

    This analogy fails on every level.

    .1. The wrong medicine isn’t much different from the right medicine. Maybe a different color of capsule. Or a round pill rather than an oval one.
    .2. There is no way to tell the right medicine from the wrong medicine anyway.
    Religions lack any means for reality testing which is why they are constantly diverging from each other.
    The magic spell in this case is in modern English when the original magic spell was in year 33 Aramaic.
    .3. The condition the magic spell is supposed to cure is imaginary or at least not visible either. It is lack of baptism. How do you know your baptism didn’t work?
    You die and wake up in hell and some clerk demon says the priest accidently said the wrong magic spell a century ago?

    It still comes down to the same thing.
    This is xian magic or witchcraft but it is badly done by people who don’t understand magic spell casting.
    It’s also an example of Pharisee type teaching, which was condemned in the bible.

  58. PaulBC says

    As an analogy, suppose a doctor knows that administering a specific medicine will certainly immediately cure a specific disease

    On a side note, another thing that makes this a pointless analogy is that the comparison is utterly fantastic. Competent doctors never claim anything with certainty, not the diagnosis, and not the effectiveness of a cure. Even setting a clean bone break is a matter of expecting the body to do its work: highly probable, but still beyond direct control, which is why you have frequent followups and watch out for complications.

    I’ve spent a lot a of time with doctors over the past five years (family medical issue) and I have never once heard of them claim a drug will definitely work (and certainly not immediately).

    If other doctors found out what was happening, they would administer the correct medicine.

    If they had observed that the condition had resolved, they would not administer the “correct” medicine, because there is no “correct” medicine, only effective or ineffective medicine. They might speculate that the other drug had helped or the condition went away for other reasons.

    Have you ever seen instructions that say: if you miss a dose, do not try to catch up, just take the next one? Those are very common.

    If the drug was something that could be measured by a blood test (a solid organ antirejection drug) they’d ask you to retake if you weren’t at target. If you were at target after taking the wrong drug, they would just leave well enough alone. This is not a fanciful analogy. There’s a lot of uncertainty and getting the right outcome matters more than using the “right” drug.

    In short, medical practice is marked (a) uncertainty about specific cures (b) some ability to measure or at least roughly observe outcomes, neither of which applies, according to @56 to the “correct” administration of sacraments. The inability to measure anything is a given, but I don’t understand where the certainty comes from.

  59. PaulBC says

    In short, a doctor says: “We have high confidence this will work, but no absolutely certainty. We’ll check how you are tomorrow.” A priest (according to @56) would say: “I have absolute certainty this will work, but of course there is no observable effect.”

    How do you make an analogy between diametric opposites?

  60. otranreg says

    Barring the questioning of why bother, these guys are expressing views that look like what a Donatist heretic would have.

    The whole point of Donatism was that the priest was supposed to be perfect and personally responsible for what they did (such as using non-copacetic phrasing), and that the church would assume no institutional responsibility. If your priest’s a big fat sinner, tough titty, all of the rites he’s performed for you are null and void. This is a heresy.

    And has been doctrinally viewed as such since back when Western Roman Empire was a thing (think St Augustine and shit). These pompous twits need to brush up on their history.

  61. Paul Connors says

    raven: “This analogy fails on every level.”

    The point of an analogy is to illustrate something under discussion. We should really get back to the thing being discussed.

    raven: “Religions lack any means for reality testing”

    I can observe myself. You can observe yourself. We can observe each other. That is reality testing.

    PaulBC: “the outcome is by definition not even measurable”

    I measure myself every day. I’ve done that for years.

  62. PaulBC says

    @68 Smug much?

    You have some way to measure whether the right intent or right words were used during your baptism? Do tell! I was an infant myself and would have to trust the memory of whichever witnesses may still be living.

    I think we can rule out a literal measurement. Maybe reflection or prayer? I don’t think there is any doctrinal support for the view that you could determine the efficacy of your baptism in that manner. (And in that case it would be presumptuous to say that you were the one doing the measuring.) So what are you claiming?

    BTW, I think there is plenty of support for the view (both from a scientific and Catholic perspective) that most of us are not the best judges of our own character. So the more I think about what you wrote, the less I understand what you are getting at.

  63. Paul Connors says

    Suppose I solemnly promise to give you $1000 over the next ten years. How will you measure that the promise was real?

  64. says

    @70, a vague promise of free cash from a random stranger is almost certainly a big fat lie. Are you a Nigerian prince too?

  65. furosap says

    It was a very beautiful Blog.I must tell you really did a fabulous job.
    It was nice to read your blog. Thank you for sharing.
    I want to tell you about one of the great Ayurvedic Testosterone Tooster a product from Furosap will help you to support healthy testosterone level. For more details please visit our website.

Leave a Reply