The Dispatch: More from CWR...

My baptism was valid…right?

By Jonah McKeown for CNA

(Credit: Bart Sadowski/Shutterstock.)

Denver Newsroom, Aug 24, 2020 / 05:24 pm (CNA).- Last week, the news broke that Father Matthew Hood of the Archdiocese of Detroit had this summer learned that he was not validly baptized— despite believing that he had been ordained a priest in 2017.

Hood thought he had been baptized as a baby. But, prompted by a recently issued notice from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Hood reviewed the video of his baptism ceremony and realized that the deacon had said “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” instead of “I baptize you…”

The CDF clarified earlier this month that any baptisms administered with the formula “we baptize” are invalid, and anyone for whom the sacrament was celebrated with this formula should be considered as not yet having received the sacrament.

In one fell swoop, Hood went from being a Catholic priest to being…well, not technically a Catholic at all.

While the news was devastating to Hood, the situation was, at least for him, relatively easy to remedy. In short order, he was baptized, confirmed, and received the Eucharist. After making a retreat, he was ordained a deacon, and then ordained a priest Aug. 17.

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 proscribed,” 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.

“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.

Father Mark Morozowich, dean of the school of theology and religious studies at The Catholic University of America, said if there are other people who were baptized by the same deacon who invalidly attempted to baptize Hood, it would be reasonable for them to review the tapes, if possible, or at least question whether their own baptisms may also have been invalid.

“If he did it in one case, could he have done it in other cases?” he wondered.

The Church presumes the validity of baptisms unless there is proof to the contrary. Still, he recommended anyone who doubts the validity of their own baptism to contact their local priest, as well as their archdiocese.

The words of the sacrament do matter, he said. However, “we always have to remember that God does not desire the death of a person, but desires that they live. And if a person has lived their entire life believing in God, and believing that they were baptized, God will bring them unto Himself.”

“Even though this person may have been denied the specific graces of baptism, it did not mean that he did not lead a life that was blessed by God.”

For his part, Fr. Hood said that he hopes his story will not cause people anxiety. He said he’s learning to trust in God’s Providence.

“I think for my situation, we were able to act because something was made clear, and I think God desired for that to happen. I don’t think people need to all of the sudden doubt the validity of their own baptism. By and large, baptisms are celebrated correctly in the Church,” he said.

“If someone knows for certain that the wrong words were used, then they can act. But if you don’t know, or there’s no evidence, you don’t need to be worried about it.”

“Being worried about it is not from God. Jesus says ‘have no anxiety about anything.’ So that’s just from the Evil One, I think — that concern that now I just need to be greatly worried about whether my own baptism is valid,” Fr. Hood said.

“If you know there’s a video— go ahead and watch it. But other than that there’s not cause for greater anxiety because of this.”

Being invalidly baptized does not mean that God was absent from a person’s life, Morozowich added, as was the case with now-Father Hood.

“God’s activity will not be thwarted by the ineptitude of a human being.”


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


About Catholic News Agency 483 Articles
Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com)

47 Comments

  1. This should deeply disturb Catholics about the Church’s claims concerning sacraments in general and the Eucharist in particular. Fr. Hood wasn’t validly baptized as an infant, and therefore wasn’t validly ordained originally, and therefore couldn’t consecrate the Eucharist: yet he and others believed they were receiving the Eucharist when all they were receiving was unconsecrated bread. Not one single Catholic could tell the difference in their lives between receiving the Eucharistic Christ from a validly ordained priest and receiving plain bread at Masses “celebrated” by “Fr.” Hood. If Catholics can’t tell the difference between receiving Christ and not receiving Christ, then what difference does the Eucharist really make?

    Think of all the people who believed they were adoring Christ in a monstrance when all they were doing is adoring plain bread because it hadn’t been validly consecrated by “Fr.” Hood. If adoration is real, if the Eucharistic Real Presence is genuinely real, then why didn’t anyone notice anything seemed wrong or different when adoring a host seemingly consecrated by “Fr.” Hood versus adoring a host validly consecrated by a real priest?

    Why didn’t anyone who had received validly consecrated Communion wafers from validly ordained priests on other occasions notice that something seemed amiss when they received unconsecrated bread at Masses “celebrated” by “Fr.” Hood? Why was there no discernable, detectable lack of sacramental or spiritual fruits or effects from receiving plain bread?

    This case is especially troubling because it provides evidence that perhaps the entire Catholic sacramental system is all just imaginary instead of being real. Because if it were real, people would have noticed in the case of “Fr.” Hood that something wasn’t right. But nobody noticed anything different.

    • Dear Kevin, there are many reasons not to be disturbed, as this is a theoretical case that has been considered countless times by many theologians. The life of the Christian is always a life of faith, of accepting that the things God has revealed about himself and the things that God does for us are truly occurring and that they are truly accomplished by God, sometimes through his instruments. That a given person is baptized or unbaptized is always taken on a matter of faith, even on the natural level, such as faith in the witness to the baptism that the baptism occurred. It is an analogous faith in God’s promises that when a baptism occurs, a man or woman is united with Christ in his life, death, and resurrection and is given the share of Divine Life that we receive on this side of heaven. No one claims that in ordinary life it is possible to discern–using the sense and and natural reason–whether any given individual is baptized. Likewise the difference between unconsecrated hosts and the transubstantiated Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord. Arguably, even if I met Jesus in the flesh when he first walked this earth, I could not discern with my senses alone that he was the Second Person of the Trinity incarnate. All Christians must accept the testimony not only of the Apostles but the testimony of God himself in his own self-revelation as to the truth of his person. In the Thomistic account (not binding for Catholics but always a helpful guide), faith is always a gift. If I could verify with my own skills, knowledge, and wisdom some truth of the faith (i.e., that this baby in front of me right now is God himself) this would no longer make it faith; it would no longer be a truth that is divine; it would merely be some difficult human truth. I cannot save myself. I likewise cannot “prove” by myself and for myself that God is present, that he is acting in a given moment, etc. God grants many signs and miracles and confirmations, but these are ultimately grounded in the sheer gift of faith in order to be properly understood.

      • But if there are no discernable spiritual effects that distinguish the aftermath of receiving the Eucharist from receiving mere bread, then how can one advance in holiness with confidence that sacramental grace is genuinely at work? For many years many people were receiving mere bread and invalid absolutions of sin from “Fr.” Hood. Yet some of them must have been convinced that they were receiving sacramental graces that assisted them in spiritual growth. Some must have felt “cleansed” and forgiven of sin even though thy had not received a valid absolution. Some must have felt closer to Jesus after communicating even though all they ate was bread. No sacramental grace was conferred because the celebrations of the sacraments were invalid. Merits from Mass intentions were not applied because no valid Mass was celebrated. People weren’t adoring Christ in the monstrance because he wasn’t present there in sacramental form. Yet some people must have been convinced they were experiencing spiritual graces from inauthentic adoration. Nobody said, “Father Hood, when I go to confession with another priest it feels more real than it does when I go to confession with you.” If sacramental validity and sacramental graces are not required for advancing in holiness, if the mere belief that one is receiving graces suffices to experience the purported effects of sacramental graces, if one can benefit from the same fruits and effects through invalid sacraments as through valid sacraments, then it would seem that the Catholic sacramental system reduces to psychology.

        • And you do not know. Maybe his parishioners did feel that something was missing, but they could not figure out what it was. s

        • Feeelz is not a necessary part of the Sacraments.

          “Yet some people must have been convinced they were experiencing spiritual graces from inauthentic adoration.”

          Do you think that God did not give them spiritual blessings because of their faith and love? What a very low opinion you must have of Him and His love for us.

          • Then why insist on sacramental validity at all? If faith and love are all that matter, who cares about the details, the laws, the regulations, the rubrics? That’s a very Protestant opinion, Leslie.

          • No, it’s not a Protestant opinion at all. But if a Catholic, knowing that the Church was founded by our Lord, knowing that in a validly consecrated Host Jesus is really present, is adoring what he has every reason to believe is the Blessed Sacrament, he is offering adoration to God. Do you imagine that God is going to say, “Sorry, but I’m not physically present there so your adoration is worthless?”

            The details, laws, regulations, and rubrics are of utmost importance. But if because of the negligence, disobedience, or sin of one person (in this case the one who invalidly baptized the priest originally), there is some flaw, I cannot consider that God, who loves us, is going to reject the worship that a member of His Church offers in good faith.

        • Catholic doctrine on “spiritual Communion” might be helpful here. There is no end of resources available on this topic currently, since many Catholics have not been able to go to Mass for months.

          In short, the willed desire for union with Christ via sacramental Communion is sufficient to bring about the fruits of sacramental Communion. And of course this desire, which is brought about by grace, can exist in the absence of the sacrament itself. Conversely, one who receives Communion without any desire for its fruits will not really benefit from it.

          This doctrine arises, I think, from the more general Catholic doctrine on the relationship between the sacraments and the “dispositions” of those who receive them. There is most certainly a significant subjective component to sacramental practice; the sacraments are not magic.

          This might be a helpful starting point: https://soundcloud.com/thomisticinstitute/the-eucharist-and-spiritual-communion-fr-dominic-langevin-op

        • In many comments along the way, it appears some do not even consider that GOD is actually present in our days and knows the errors and correctness and keeps an eye on HIS people and upholds them. This is one of those. Did not GOD correct this situation in a most strange way?? I think Father Hood nailed it when he said it happened for a reason. There may be others needing correction of form that was dallied with by some. We need all be eucated and informed of our faith. I have no doubt GOD cared for those along the way who had good will and hearts. IT is not a church of just rules and regulations but a living body supporting all members. Our own body favors weaker parts when needed. This does not imply we don’t need a body. Explaining my logic that GOD is still in charge and can be trusted.

          • This makes little sense. Vague assertions of there being some reason for it and that God is nevertheless present do not settle the matter. How about being more specific? How is this circumstance better than if the deacon who baptized invalidly had baptized validly from the start? So many problems would have been avoided. Your position amounts to, “Well, it shouldn’t have been done that way but wow I’m glad it was done that way because God did some super-whiz-bang thing that I can’t specify, but I just know he did!”

    • I have no idea why you come to that conclusion. As a matter of fact, according to Catholic teaching, God’s grace may flow to the person who received the host from this priest, just as if they had received it from a validly ordained and baptized priest. So your conclusion is just wrong.

      • I get that God is not bound by the sacraments because he has infinite power. But there has to be some difference between valid and invalid sacraments in the spiritual life and in people’s experiences, otherwise why would Fr. Hood’s bishop have gone through the trouble to validly baptize, confirm and ordain Fr. Hood after it was established that none of the sacraments he had received were valid? Why not just let things go and be as they were without saying anything so as not to disturb any of his parishioners about invalid sacraments? It must make some difference to have validly celebrated sacraments instead of invalid sacraments. But if nobody noticed any difference, or if graces were conferred anyway by God, then what difference does validity actually make, and by consequence what difference does adhering to the Catholic Church and Catholic faith make? Validity asserts reality; invalidity asserts unreality. Validity asserts efficaciousness of the sacramental sign; invalidity asserts impotence of the sacramental sign. Why did nobody notice nor suspect that sacraments celebrated by “Fr.” Hood were inefficacious or lacking?

        People who aren’t troubled by this aren’t thinking about it deeply enough. The efficaciousness of sacraments is at issue.

        If nobody can tell nor experience the difference between an invalidly celebrated sacrament and a validly celebrated sacrament, then validity and invalidity have no essential difference in meaning. It’s just a triviality with no real-world consequences.

        And then who’s to say that people in so-called invalid marriages aren’t validly married? Maybe the divorced and civilly remarried without an annulment actually are validly married. Or maybe there’s no such thing as a difference between an invalid and a valid marriage, just as apparently people couldn’t tell the difference between an invalid and a valid absolution nor an invalid and a valid consecration.

        • You bring up issues with which I have been concerned–especially the Sacrament of Marriage. My parents were not Catholic, so didn’t have any “graces.” They were faithfully married about 40 years, when a horrific bout of cancer claimed Mother’s life. Two siblings, also married without the sacrament, are still married 30 plus years through cancer, head injury, and alcoholism. An acquaintance has been with his “common law wife” through cancer, raised her children, paid for college, about 30 years now. Another acquaintance has been married about 10 years, through a nasty case of opioid addiction.
          .
          Three of my spouse’s pre-Vat II Catholic school educated siblings got divorced even though they married in the Church. The one who remains married does not practice the faith. Thete was an article on the Crisis Magazine website on the relatively high rate of divorce among “on fire,” faithful Catholics–who run to the Tribunal for Certificate of Nullity.
          .
          I do not believe the Sacraments are Fairy Dust, but they ought to be very clear signs that Something has occurred. This does not seem to be the case.

      • I am answering Kyle, 8-26 @1:22. As I read your entry I could not help seeing the whole salvation story of Jesus. Would it not have been better if God had just prevented the original sin and not gone through all the years, crucifixion etc. etc. Did HE not do all this out of love for us and to live it out LIVE in front of us so that we could understand what LOVE is and DOES? This is not “Hocus Pocus” HE has brought the importance of form and intent in front of all our eyes. To me, sacraments are discernable, but I don’t require that of everyone. Nothing about this is vague, It is the History of mankind and not room enough here to spell it all out, although I could. There are rules of our highways but some speed and crash and no one is killed so does that mean we dispense with the useless rules? No one died! Wrong. God gave us beauty and truth and corrects where needed. I’m good with that. God Bless

    • Can’t speak for all Catholics by any means, but I’m one who isn’t “deeply disturbed”; at least not in the sense in which I think you mean it, that being, that Catholics should be disturbed to the point of despairing of or denying their faith.

      Well formed Catholics will be unhappy that sacramental form was disregarded. That’s been part of an ongoing problem with some Church liberals who seem to want to “express themselves” by liturgical ad-libbing. But they will hardly lose heart, knowing the Our Lord is indeed Lord of the sacraments, as he instituted them Himself. They know that while we the faithful are bound by the sacrament, God Himself is not, and can therefore dispense His graces as He will.

      Those who received Him in good faith will not lose the blessing attained thereby.

    • You seem to be making an argument of discernment as in how does one ‘experience’ validity.

      There is no depth here; and how is your argument not legalistic in that all of laity must tremble from the past and realize they may be eternally null and void because of form and no watchdog guarding validity previously, and presently now unless there is validation that is confirmed at once? By whom and how and where and when? Otherwise, all sacraments must be null and void? Is there not a whiff here of a maddening scrupulousity that drove Luther mad in that this violation of words – an extrapolation of Solo Scriptura – must surely have happened countless times over the centuries and countless people were doomed? Does not God demand the proper words and form in our practice; so it must be ‘either/or’? Was not the Vatican right, urged by the ever protection of the Holy Spirit regarding the Deposit of Faith, in bringing out a grave violation of form as a reminder of scandal in the Churches of the world in a rebuke to any liturgical innovations? And the whole order of Sacraments, in its validity, must be false and nothing if that validity was not there or cannot now be confirmed, even once, as it must be all or nothing, human frailty and incompetence of humankind notwithstanding?

      God is demanding and exact…in words and forms…but is His determination of humans so devoid of mercy in His reasoning on events that have not shown to be systemic and therefore rebellious but singular events that were paramount in importance in the Church declaring that such an innovation must not be tolerated?

  2. Is anything in the Vatican really active since so many Jesuits were executed and both Pope’s gone? So, who is in charge now?

  3. While I understand the need for the rules to be followed, but there is a vast irony here. On the one hand there are a vast, supposedly Catholic politicians who support abortions, resulting in the murder of hundreds of thousands (100,000s) of babies each year, and for the most part bishops look the other way. More to the point there have been no excommunications for there evil deeds, so are still Catholic in the eyes of the church. Yet if I would find out that somehow the appropiate words were not used in my baptism I would not be considered Catholic. In the words of that illustrious philosopher Joe Biden “Come on Man”.

  4. This whole situation and the way it is being handled is distressing! I believe that God knows our heart and a misplaced word is not going to stop Him from blessing us when our intention is to do good.
    I think the last sentence in this article: “God’s activity will not be thwarted by the ineptitude of a human being.” should have been placed first in this article, not last. And it should settle the whole thing.
    Instead, we have given cause for many to doubt the validity of the sacraments!!!

  5. Similar argument was addressed by me in 1P5. Traditionalists of the third kind [perceiving themselves within the Church all others without] queried whether the host offered with valid words of consecration by a non believing priest was actually valid, and opined that it remained simply a wafer. My argument was a theological response held by some including my former Military Archdiocesan vicar, that in such situations God will provide. In this instance it referenced the invalid use of grape juice during Mass imposed on priests by some non Catholic chief chaplains. That was addressed and corrected by the Military Archdiocese and the Dept of Vet Affairs. The late Bishop Francis X Roque who investigated the matter assured me that “God will provide”. I’m convinced he was right. Pursuant to objections from some Traditionalists on 1P5 my response was, Loss of faith among clergy is not new. We’ve had many priests throughout the centuries who continued to minister but lacked faith [Judas for example disbelieved yet was sent out by Christ with the others healing the sick and casting out demons] and continued to offer Mass and absolve penitents during confession. I asked those opposed, Do you really believe all those persons throughout the centuries who confessed their sins to unbelieving priests were not absolved? That God would not supply what lacked? I believe that can be substantiated in canon law. I disagree with Fr Petri and Fr Mark Morozowich, who seem ambiguous and foster continued doubt suggesting tapes of baptisms to ensure. Certainly we all require exactitude regarding the sacraments, but we shouldn’t disturb the peace of Catholics. An intention is necessary, although intending what the Church ‘does’ is sufficient. “This is demonstrated a. From documents of the faith: In the profession of faith prescribed for the Waldensians by Innocent III 1208, there is required for the confection of the Eucharist ‘the faithful intention’ of pronouncing ‘the words of consecration’; likewise Martin V 1418, Eugenius IV 1439 and the Council of Trent 1547 require ‘in the ministers, while they confect the sacraments, the intention at least of doing what the Church does’” (C Mirus in MSGR. J.M. HERVÉ, S. Th. Dr.: THEOLOGIA DOGMATICA. VOL. III. Part 4: De Sacramentis in genere Chapter IV: De ministro sacramentorum).

    • I believe canon law should provide in these cases. I believe it is clear there was no ‘evil intent’ – obviously this was a mistake.

    • Just a reference to 1P5, that “Traditionalists of the third kind [perceiving themselves within the Church all others without]” is not a reflection on the Site, frequently misunderstood whose policy is more open to opposing views and regularly permits open, much needed argument on controversial issues more liberally than some other Catholic sites. My reference was to some participants, most seemed in agreement.

      • Actually, no. One Peter Five routinely bans anyone who disagrees with their pro SSPX, pro extremist traditionalist stance. It does not matter how nicely you phrase things, dissent is not allowed on that site. As with most extremist traditionalists sites, they must close debate because to allow free debate would show they are totally wrong. Therefore many are banned simply for taking the wrong stance.

        • Perhaps that is true in some instances, although I assure you Samton I have disputed some of the claims of extreme traditionalists and although at times questioned and criticized by the editor I’ve been treated quite fairly. I doubt that would have occurred on some other sites. My advice if I may is leave room for expression of opposing views, refrain from ad hominem [a test for myself at times], and enter comments. You’ve entered some critical comments on 1P5 that weren’t deleted.

    • “[T]he intention at least of doing what the Church does.” But how does one discern a disbelieving and fabricating priest whose intention might be only two squares and a flop? God might still provide for the flock, but around the charade rather than in it?

      • I believe with confession or the Eucharist Christ acts in and through the priest if he uses the correct form whatever his interior intent since in doing so he Does what the Church does [Trent]. If the form is incorrect but the intention is correct it remains valid [Innocent III Martin V]. Although if as you suggest the priest doesn’t conform to either condition my belief is that God still supplies the need of a faithful [unknowing] recipient as you put “around” the offending cleric. So if the person goes to communion and the matter [a wafer that is not unleavened bread] is invalid Our Lord will elect to be really present to the recipient [around as you say]. Similarly in Confession if the priest omits the form by forgetfulness or intent, the words of absolution the matter [the confession of the penitent] will be accepted and absolved by God. Otherwise these errors and omissions frequented throughout Church history would have inhibited Christ’s saving grace to members of his Mystical Body. Something no priest can prevent given the examples.

        • Again to further clarify an essential point, if “the matter [a wafer that is not unleavened bread] is invalid” or regarding the invalid use of grape juice “Our Lord will elect to be really present to the recipient [around as you say]” – that does not, cannot mean transubstantiation. It is not the Real Presence, the actual Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ since matter and form must both be valid. Rather really present understood in the Holy Spirit.

      • Also for edification the abuse of the sacrament, the invalid use of grape juice occurred at a VA med center I was assigned to. A priest had been using grape juice at the insistence of a Protestant chief chaplain following a sacristy break in. He had used the proper matter unleavened wheat bread for consecration. That consecration was valid and Christ Really Present. Persons who attended those Masses received communion under one species, the consecrated host. Although the priest invalidly offered the form of consecration for the grape juice which he alone consumed. This abuse was found to be frequented not only in the VA but in the Federal prison system which is under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop for the Military Services. The matter was brought to Congress by the Military Archdiocese and the abuse was curtailed by edict. Insofar as Confession to a priest who uses an invalid form [as with Baptism] Christ’s action the removal of sin or incorporation into the Mystical Body is correspondent to the repentance of the penitent and the desire of the catechumen. In the case of Fr Matthew Hood the priest nonetheless had the correct intention deemed sufficient in accord with, “Martin V 1418, Eugenius IV 1439 and the Council of Trent 1547 who required in the ministers, while they confect the sacraments, the intention at least of doing what the Church does’”.

      • “But how does one discern a disbelieving and fabricating priest whose intention might be only two squares and a flop?”

        It is impossible at first sight. But in a long term the good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit and vice-versa. So it is possible to discern.

        By the way, even this revelation of invalid “we baptize” (and many other unnoticed problems like symbolical Masses concelebrated by nuns and/or laity, “this is our body”) is the evil fruit which learns us about corrupt tree.

    • St. Thomas expressly teaches that the minister does not need to have faith in the sacrament in order to have the intention to confect it:

      “his unbelief notwithstanding, he can intend to do what the Church does, albeit he esteem it to be nothing. And such an intention suffices for a sacrament”

      Interestingly he seems to tie the opposed view to the Donatist heresy: https://aquinas.cc/la/en/~ST.III.Q64.A9

      • (so it is not so much a matter of ‘God providing’ — in the case of an unbelieving priest the sacrament is just valid, at least according to St. Thomas)

  6. Can’t believe the lagubrious replies! This is truly a sad commentary! Surely in the hocus pocus of “the clergy” they can retro the event!

    Wonder why our Church is shrinking!

  7. Bishop Sheen spoke on the intent to be baptized but you died before it happened — if I remember correctly he said that person would be considered ‘baptized.’

    We don’t want to get ‘hard of heart’ over this issue; but learn from it.

    The Lord works in mysterious ways.

    Blessed be the name of Jesus!

  8. The issue of the validity of Catholic baptism and the validity of other sacraments has drawn our attention to the efficacy of a pure heart intention. That then begs the question of the efficacy of actions by clergy who have an evil heart intention.

    Australian Broadcasting Corp ‘Radio National’ has a mini-series concerning systematic criminal child sexual molestation by Melbourne priests, from St Mary’s Parish, Thornbury: Frs. Anthony Bongiorno and Thomas O’Keefe (both deceased). Worse: these priests are considered ‘persons of interest’ by the Victorian Police in the unsolved ritualistic murder of Maria James, a single mum parishioner.

    Between the ages of 11 and 14 an altar boy, James Shanahan, was often molested by Fr O’Keefe. Amidst a litany of obscene acts by this priest, were occasions of participation in Satanism, including ritual murders. Shanahan’s shocking evidence was accepted by Peter O’Callaghan QC and Archbishop George Pell who, in 2001 paid compensation of $33,000 to the victim.

    The offences by Frs. O’Keefe and Bongiorno were not one-of, moral slips but systematic; and, this indicates an entrenched contempt for vulnerable people. In this we have some of the worst extremes of clericalist betrayal of parishioners. The two priests took on ‘dual citizenship’ – publicly living in allegiance to Catholicism and covertly living an allegiance with outright evil.

    Dual allegiance is not uncommon; many catholics join freemason lodges and participate in ceremonies that dishonor Christ. Cannon lawyer, Dr Ed Condon has researched this type of dual citizenship and shows why faithful Catholics could never be Freemasons (summarized in The Catholic Herald of August 10th 2017). He reports Pope Francis has spoken many times of the scourge of Freemason infiltration, even of the Roman Curia.

    Dr Condon connects the on-going secular corruption of the Church with several decades of penetration by Freemason materialist ideology. People working in the Vatican have been shocked at being approached to join freemasonry. There, as elsewhere, Masonic lodges function as confidential meeting points and networks for those with materialist ambitions, heterodox philosophies, and agendas that are far from Catholic orthodoxy. In this markedly anti-New Testament heresy, sin does not matter because everybody (or nobody) will be saved. Therefore – do whatever you want.

    Dr Condon’s report rang a bell. Some years ago, as a new member of a Catholic parish, I was approached by a senior parishioner master-mason, who claimed close affiliation with our Archbishop and other bishops and priests. His blandishments failed as I had already seen the faith-destroying havoc wrought by freemasonry in university colleagues and relatives. The occult links between freemasonry and witchcraft were all too apparent.

    Faithful Christians can find strong support in Holy Scripture and in the magisterial Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Among many injunctions, section 450 of the CCC instructs:
    “From the beginning of Christian history, the assertion of Christ’s lordship over the world and over history has implicitly recognized that humans should not submit their personal freedom in an absolute manner to any earthly power . . .” Ephesians 5:11 reminds us: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Among many similar commands 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 makes matters especially clear. No equivocation can circumvent these strong Apostolic instructions.

    When priest who ARE legitimately baptized, confirmed, confessed, communicated, ordained, and installed in parishes have personally committed to occult allegiances and wicked practices are the sacraments they hypocritically administer valid?

    In discussions with women leaders from the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the Australian Catholic University (male clergy refuse to discuss this issue), we realized baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist, holy orders, and the creeds have not proven sufficient to stop clergy from making allegiances incompatible with Christianity. We were inspired to think of a simple ‘Personal Affirmation of Faith Allegiance’ as an easy way to increase clarity. A draft ‘PAFA’ is offered here for general comment.

    I …………………………………….. of …………………………………………………….. solemnly affirm I have no allegiance that conflicts with my Christian allegiance to the Catholic Church and obedience to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I affirm that I have no association with any pagan or occult or atheistic organization or freemasonry or witchcraft or their like. I appreciate that this is a solemn affirmation of my personal faith allegiance and that, if proven false, I may be held to account and be liable for legal sanctions and resultant fines and legal costs.
    Signed……………………………….Dated……………. Witnessed………………………………Dated…………….

    Many of us would feel more secure in receiving sacramental ministry from our priests if they bonded with us by such an unequivocal witness to their good faith.

  9. Unnecessary social distancing for those who seek convergence. The mistaken words may reek havoc for some, but the words are not as potent as the INTENT. God’s patience is all encompassing and loving. The God I know is not a fire breathing deity. Catholic dogma is sacred, but with some latitude. I ask what happens to the unbaptized? I truly struggle with the concept that an all omniscient and gift giving God would doom his entire human creation by a single event of the forbidden tree especially, when God knows that three forth of that humanity will never experience baptism.

    • That difficulty was addressed during 1201 by Innocent III in a letter to the Archbishop of Arles, in which the Pope instructed only those who commit mortal sin and refuse to repent are condemned, not those who are unbaptized and withheld the Beatific Vision. Consequently, the Church holds the opinion of an after death indeterminate state called Limbo for the non baptized infant. Today the Church in Catholic Catechism number 1261 endorses the view that non baptized free of mortal sin are subject to God’s mercy.

    • Good point, MorganB.
      The New Testament can help us. Hebrews 9:27 instructs that a person dies once and is judged. 1 Peter 3:19 has Jesus Christ preaching to the departed. Perhaps we can consider that every human soul is SO valued by God (even to the extreme of the giving of God’s only begotten Son on the Cross) that everyone, without excepetion, is given a final opportunity to hear the glorified Christ and make their Life-giving assent (or their final refusal).
      Luke 12:48 assures us that if you have had little opportunity in this life, Judge Jesus will be lenient with you.
      For us who have had every provision and grace upon grace, much more is expected.
      Lukewarm Catholics are in danger of being ‘vomitted out’ by God, as in Revelation 3:16. Hebrews 10:31 warns us that it is a truly fearful thing to fall under the judgment of The Living God.
      Basically, we should probably leave the salvation of other people to God and focus all our attention and energy on obeying God’s commandments; on sincerely informing others of the amazing Good News of King Jesus Christ; and, in comitting to make our local Catholic Church community a place where God’s Holy Spirit is welcomed and joyfully works wonders among us. We CAN do all of this if we ask Jesus to help us.

    • Morgan. Added to Baptism and Judgment those who refuse baptism will be condemned, those who accept will be saved. That means in effect those who are capable of hearing the Gospels and deciding which excludes infants. There is no Catholic doctrine that teaches the ‘departed’, that is those who have died will be preached the Gospel and provided a second opportunity to make up their minds.

      • Dear Reverend Doctor Morello what you say is true and it is good doctrine for The Church to warn people against presuming they can do what they like and then put things right when they die and come face to face with Judge Jesus.

        Yet, The Church, like her Lord himself, not only provides efficacious disciplined procedures for her children but also extends her arms in mercy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church at 1260 & 1261 instructs us to suppose salvation for all those (including children) who would have desired baptism explicitly if given that opportunity. This harmonises with the unique Apostolic revelation of Christ preaching to departed souls (1 Peter 3:19).

        It is The Church’s doctrine (CCC 169 & 620) that she does not save, for God alone saves. Only Jesus Christ knows who it is that genuinely loves God (e.g. 2 Timothy 2:19). In essence when a soul departs this world, they meet The Judge, King Jesus Christ. That is the most serious interpersonal encounter possible. How will they respond to The Shepherd’s voice? Everything hinges on that, as Apostle John makes plain (e.g. John 10:27-30).

        Priestly rituals and rites have important roles in the lives of the people of God but are always subservient to Christ’s omnipresent, unshakeable, unbreakable, unbeatable authority (Matthew 28:18-20).

        Sadly, one sometimes hears clergy declare that the Church’s sacraments have marked them indelibly for salvation. That can not be true for King Jesus Christ has warned them that if they betray their charges they will be cut off and included with the eternally damned (Luke 12:46). Paul is of the same inspiration: clergy who misrepresent or pervert the Gospel will be eternally cursed (Galatians 1:8,9).

        As with the Israelites of old, belonging does not guarantee ones approval by God. Belonging privileges one to be a light to the nations; honoured, in our manifest imperfections, to be a faithful witness to the perfect holiness and truth of God.

        • Dr Rice I appreciate your fine sentiments on Christ’s love and true adoration. Similarly we mustn’t neglect a profound reality, of Christ’s actual presence in the sacraments, signs that signify what they effect instituted by him out his merciful love that infinitely surpass the notion of his omnipresence. Most especially the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist by which those who eat his flesh and drink his blood are saved. Not solely by personal effort although that is required of us – we must do our part in salvation, but rather by the work of grace, in each of the seven sacraments that none of us may match or replace by personal effort. Again nothing may replace or compare with Christ’s Real Presence brought to us by “ritual”, better said by his saving gift the Sacred Liturgical worship of the one true God.

          • Dear Reverend Doctor Morello, thank you for the courtesy of your response.

            Some matters arise. Obviously, you’re not teaching that an atheistic genocidal murderer and serial rapist who happens to drift into Sunday Mass and eucharist is automatically saved for eternal life.

            It’s surely not Catholic Church doctrine that: “those who eat His flesh and drink His blood are saved.” Much more needs to be understood.

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church (at 1345 & 1355 for example) cites the impeccable authority of Saint Justin Martyr (circa 155 AD), who teaches that it’s our life and actions and our obedience to the commandments that obtains salvation. That accords with the whole Apostolic witness.

            Further, Saint Justin instructs us that a person’s capacity to participate in the “eucharisted bread and wine” depends on their believing the Gospel truth, baptism for forgiveness of their sins and new birth, and their living of a life in obedience to Christ’s instructions.

            Certainly, over the decades one falls more and more in love with Apostle John’s passionate description of Jesus’ words in chapter 6, verses 51 to 58. The serious matter is how can Christ’s words be correctly exegeted.

            Context is often an important determinative in biblical exegesis. The context of Our Lord’s teaching is the synagogue establishment at Capernaum, and we know that in such contexts Jesus deliberately concealed the mysteries of God’s Realm (Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 4:11,12; Luke 8:10). Understanding why He does that would make for a fascinating conversation – at another time.

            Reading those beautiful, life-giving verses in the context of the whole New Testament is salutary. Jesus’ flesh is the means of His humble obedience to Father God’s commands and His shed blood manifests the servanthood of His self-giving love. These two divine character traits resonate most wonderfully in His willing sacrifice for us on the Cross of Calvary.

            In the larger context then, those who eat Jesus’ flesh are all who follow Him in obeying God’s commandments; those who drink Jesus’ blood are all who follow His way of self-giving love.

            Without doubt, eating and drinking in this way leads a person into the Realm of God and eternal joy. There is nothing automatic about it, each person needs to freely listen to Christ and to follow His way (especially clear in John 10:27-30).

            Apostle John’s assurance of our being given eternal life, never perishing, and being eternally secure in the hands of Jesus and The Father, was never intended to be imposed by sacramental actions per se, no matter how often repeated. That’s never been good Catholic Church doctrine.

            Yet, in no way does such indispensable Apostolic teaching diminish the personal and communal blessings of our regularly participating in Catholic Holy Mass and frequently receiving Jesus’ Most Holy body and blood, from His own hands, indeed; as at The Last Supper.

          • Dear Reverend Doctor Morello, thank you for the courtesy of your response.

            Some matters arise. Obviously, you’re not teaching that an atheistic genocidal murderer and serial rapist who happens to drift into Sunday Mass and eucharist is automatically saved for eternal life.

            It’s surely not Catholic Church doctrine simplicitus that: “those who eat His flesh and drink His blood are saved.” Much more needs to be understood.

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church (at 1345 & 1355 for example) cites the impeccable authority of Saint Justin Martyr (circa 155 AD), who teaches that it’s our life and actions and our obedience to the commandments that obtains salvation. That accords with the whole Apostolic witness.

            Further, Saint Justin instructs us that a person’s capacity to participate in the “eucharisted bread and wine” depends on their believing the Gospel truth, baptism for forgiveness of their sins and new birth, and their living of a life in obedience to Christ’s instructions.

            Certainly, over the decades one falls more and more in love with Apostle John’s passionate description of Jesus’ words in chapter 6, verses 51 to 58. The serious matter is how can Christ’s words be correctly exegeted.

            Context is often an important determinant in biblical exegesis. The context of Our Lord’s teaching is the synagogue establishment at Capernaum, and we know that in such contexts Jesus deliberately concealed the mysteries of God’s Realm (Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 4:11,12; Luke 8:10; etc.). Understanding why He does that would make for a fascinating conversation – at another time.

            Reading those beautiful, life-giving verses in the context of the whole New Testament is salutary. Jesus’ flesh is the means of His humble obedience to Father God’s commands and His blood manifests the servanthood of His self-giving love. These two divine character traits resonate most wonderfully in His willing sacrifice for us on the Cross of Calvary.

            In the larger Scrptural context then, those who eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood are all those who submit themselves to following Him in obeying God’s commandments and to following His way of self-giving love.

            Without doubt, as Jesus taught, eating and drinking of Him in this way unites a person with Him and will lead into the Realm of God and eternal joy. There is nothing automatic about it, each person is called to freely listen to Christ and to choose to follow His way (made especially clear in Jesus’ assurance in John 10:27-30). Saint Justin, as in the CCC, has it that this is a prerequirement for receiving the Holy Eucharist.

            Christ’ assurance of our being given eternal life, never perishing, and being eternally secure in His and The Father’s hands, was never intended to be imposed automatically on anyone who participates in a eucharistic liturgy. Though that has been one of the common misunderstanding of Catholic Church doctrine.

            Yet, in no way does such indispensable Apostolic teaching diminish the personal and communal blessings of our regularly participating in Catholic Holy Mass and frequently receiving Jesus’ Most Holy body and blood, from His own hands, indeed; as at The Last Supper. I hope you agree, the liturgy and correct doctrine work in perfect harmony with the Catechism of the Catholic Church in this.

  10. Kevin T,
    You commented on whether someone could sense a validly consecrated Host versus one that’s not.
    A former pastor told us that when he visited a state psychiatric hospital a few of the inmates who appeared to be suffering from some demonic oppression could always detect when he carried the Blessed Sacrament in his pocket.
    On those occasions they’d begin screaming and tearing their clothes off.
    When he paid a visit without Our Lord in his pocket the same afflicted patients were peaceful.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. My baptism was valid…right? - Catholic Mass Search

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.


*