But of course, the ripple effects spread far further. Hood’s initial lack of a valid baptism means that the Masses, confirmations, absolutions and anointings— and likely at least some of the marriages— that Hood had performed as a priest were not valid.
The Archdiocese of Detroit is encouraging those who have received sacraments from either Hood or Deacon Springer to contact the archdiocese.
Upon hearing the news about now-Father Hood’s invalid baptism, some Catholics— even if they have no connection to Hood or Springer— may be tempted, as Hood did, to review the tapes of their own baptisms to ensure that they, too, are not invalidly baptized.
But is that a worthwhile pursuit? CNA spoke with Fr. Hood himself, and with two theologians, to find out.
Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., a moral theologian at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., told CNA that it is not unreasonable for anyone who has a video of their baptism to review the tape, just in case.
“If I had a video, I would be reviewing my own baptism, just to be sure,” Petri said.
In the absence of a video, Petri said trying to rely on memory alone may not be as helpful. Those present at the baptism may not have been paying close attention, he said, and people in general are prone to misremembering.
“Having a home video is one thing, but trying to investigate through witnesses is a whole other thing that will just take over your life...in the vast majority of cases, the vast majority are going to be fine, and valid. I suspect we're talking about a very small percentage [that are invalid].”
“I think you just open yourself up to a rabbit hole that you ought not go down, unless you have real, hard evidence that you should pursue that,” he said.
All people, especially priests, should be attentive to what goes on at every baptism, and celebrate sacraments in the way that the Church has prescribed,” he continued.
“Altering the words of the liturgy creates real problems. And sometimes this is done with the best of intentions— wanting to seem personable, and wanting to connect with the family— but it's using the wrong means. It's an inappropriate way to do it.”
Still, Petri said it is important to always remember what the Church teaches: God himself guarantees the sacraments, but he himself is not bound to the sacraments.
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“So I think we have to believe that God can still give graces, and we know that he does give graces apart from the sacraments. So I think only in cases where there's proof that it is invalid should we worry,” Petri said.
Finding out that your baptism was invalid would not mean that you are unable to receive graces throughout your life, he clarified. Instead, any graces that you received from God during your life would have been given in an “extraordinary” way.
While these graces come in an “ordinary” way through a valid baptism, there are other, “extraordinary” ways of obtaining the graces of baptism, such as a “baptism of desire” for those about to die.
The case of Father Hood is actually a good example of how God's grace can operate outside of the sacraments, Petri said.
“Somehow, by the grace of God he discerned a vocation to the priesthood, even though he wasn't baptized,” he pointed out.
Of course, anyone who is not validly baptized should seek to be validly baptized as soon as possible. If it appears from video evidence that your baptism was invalid, contact your diocese, he said.