Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric has said he supports the archbishop of Brisbane’s stand against priests who do not use the correct Scriptural words when giving the sacrament of baptism.
“I strongly support what Archbishop Bathersby is doing in Brisbane to try to regularize an irregular situation," said George Cardinal Pell, archbishop of Sydney, in an interview with The Australian yesterday.
Cardinal Pell said he believes Archbishop John Bathersby’s ruling on the matter is "theologically correct."
Archbishop Bathersby called for hundreds of people, who were baptized at St. Mary Parish, to be rebaptized after he learned from a grandparent that a priest had used the words "Creator, Liberator and Sustainer" instead of the correct formula, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit," for the last 10 years.
Cardinal Pell agreed the baptisms might need to be performed again.
"People come to the Catholic Church believing that they are going to receive a Catholic (baptism) ceremony based on Catholic doctrine,” he was quoted as saying. “It would be wrong for them to be misled on that and there's no doubt that the archbishop of Brisbane's theology is correct."
While the pastor has agreed to return to the traditional formula, Archbishop Bathersby has questioned whether parishes that defy orthodoxy on baptisms should remain in the Catholic Church. He said he has decided to take the dispute to the Vatican.
"Rome would be aware of the situation in Brisbane and possibly taking a lively interest in it. I think it's right that I report to Rome," Archbishop Bathersby told The Australian.
But Cardinal Pell stopped short of saying priests who used the wrong form of words should be thrown out of the Catholic Church.
"Just because a person is making a mistake that doesn't automatically put them outside the Church," he said.