The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a correction today to those who use feminist-inspired non-Trinitarian formulas for baptizing children, declaring that those baptized in this way are, in fact, not baptized.
The teachings, which were made public today, are in response to two different questions sent to the Church’s doctrinal authority. The first question is: "Is a Baptism valid if conferred with the words 'I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier', or 'I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer'"?
The second question is: "Must people baptised with those formulae be baptised 'in forma absoluta'?"
As is traditionally done, the CDF responded with a simple positive or negative ruling saying, "To the first question, negative; to the second question, affirmative".
The responses, which were authorized by Pope Benedict, are also accompanied by an explanatory note that further develops the answers.
The note explains that the problem with the formulas is not that they are said in English, but that they fail to express the Catholic belief in the Holy Trinity. "Baptism conferred in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit", the note says, "obeys Jesus' command as it appears at the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew. ... The baptismal formula must be an adequate expression of Trinitarian faith, approximate formulae are unacceptable.”
The CDF also addressed the feminist origins of the improvised baptismal formulas.
"Variations to the baptismal formula - using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons - as considered in this reply, arise from so-called feminist theology", being an attempt "to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic, substituting them with other names. Such variants, however, undermine faith in the Trinity".
The new ruling is bound to have a wide ranging impact according to the CDF.
"The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith constitutes an authentic doctrinal declaration, which has wide-ranging canonical and pastoral effects. Indeed, the reply implicitly affirms that people who have been baptised, or who will in the future be baptised, with the formulae in question have, in reality, not been baptised. Hence, they must them be treated for all canonical and pastoral purposes with the same juridical criteria as people whom the Code of Canon Law places in the general category of 'non- baptised'".
People who fall into the category of non-baptized cannot receive any of the other sacraments within the Catholic Church and must be baptized first.