On the Question of Valid and Licit Baptism
© Copyright 2022, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)
As William Strojie observed in the 1980s, the baptism of the Novus Ordo church, particularly following the change in the sacramental rites in 1968, cannot be trusted as true sacramental baptism, for many reasons. Some would argue that because even heretics and can validly administer Baptism, per the teaching of the Council of Trent, then this means that we cannot question baptism as invalidly administered because the Church recognizes the baptism of these individuals. The caveat here is that the Church actually teaches that in baptizing others, even heretics and apostates must intend to “do what the Church does;” in other words even though they are not Catholics they must intend to do what true Catholics do in baptizing. This probably was true of validly ordained Novus Ordo priests who baptized up to the close of the Vatican Council in 1965, or even up to 1968. However, they baptized validly but not licitly, if they had received jurisdiction from the NO church. More on this below.
Not so those Novus Ordo ministers, however, baptizing after 1968, for here there is serious doubt about the intention of these ministers. As Mr. Strojie notes, there is no mention of the bestowal of sanctifying grace or the removal of original sin in the new rite of Baptism, the sole purpose in every baptismal ceremony performed in the Church prior to the false Vatican 2 council. Instead the child is “initiated into the community” and is “empowered to sanctify creation.” Strojie points out that the importance of the community is emphasized over and over again just as it was when eliminating the Latin Mass and promoting the NOM. We can relate this to a modernized form of communism — communitarianism — that has permeated society for decades, and as a form of heresy could scarcely be mentioned in the same breath as valid baptism. Also suspect here is the intent of using “Holy Spirit” vs. Holy Ghost. The Mormons use this form, but the “spirit” intended by them is Jesus’ “brother,” Lucifer! Strojie mentions the Theosophist Leadbetter’s baptism, identical to the Catholic form but intended to initiate the baptized into the mysteries of the Solar Deity.
The Church always has taught that one can never take chances where the Sacraments are concerned. If there is any positive (serious) doubt the Sacrament was invalid or would be invalid, it must either be performed again with the right intention or not performed at all until it can be performed validly. Those today who baptize, believing the NO is the true Church and intending to do what its ministers do, cannot convey this Sacrament to others.
Unfortunately the Novus Ordo church has returned to those teachings about the Trinity condemned in the early centuries and now holds concepts concerning Three Persons in One God that calls even the validity of Baptism into question. In his The Emergence of Catholic Tradition, Jar Slav Pelican, commenting in 1971 on the teachings of the early Fathers in regard to the Trinity noted that the word spirit could be used for the Divine in Christ, effectively separating His Divinity from His humanity. This is a denial of the Incarnation, one of the heresies for which Antichrist will be specifically known. This heresy was condemned in 680 by Pope St. Agatho at the Roman Council, (DZ 288). As Pelican explains, Christ’s “spirit” and the Holy Ghost have nothing to do with each other. He cited such a distinction as suggestive of a “binitarian mode of thinking,” and ascribed it to “those early Christian writings, which still showed marks of the Jewish origins of Christianity.” Early Hebrew heretics rejecting Christianity taught that the Holy Ghost was the “life-giving” or creative principle of the Trinity, a notion condemned in 451 by the Council of Chalcedon.
The Hindu teaching of Kundalini is responsible for this identification, teaching the “sacredness” of sex for its own sake and equating the creative power with the Divine creative principle in God the Father. Some heretics even described the Third Person as a female. This can be traced to the Egyptian “trinity” of Osiris, Isis and Horus, where Isis is revered as “God the Mother,” spouse of Osiris, (Fire of Creation, by J.J. Vander Leeuw). Vander Leeuw provided the missing factor in the androgyny equation: “It is by giving the worship of Our Lady the proper place in the Christian religion…that we can actively insist in bringing nearer that religion of the near future, which in its ideals will show us the unity that binds what we call the masculine and feminine aspect in all things…This precious heritage…the worship of God the Mother…(will), in the Christianity of the future, be a great and splendid religious ideal.”
So here we have the reason why Theosophy reveres Our Lady, and New Age priestess Annie Besant is even featured in one photo holding a rosary. The Church had grave reasons indeed for mandating the use of Holy Ghost in the English language, particularly in prayer and the Sacraments when administered in English: to eliminate the possibility of error in reference to this blasphemous and heretical idea of spirit. The use of Holy Spirit versus Holy Ghost began to creep into Catholic missals and prayer books in English in the 1940s, 1950s. In his work New Age Bible Versions, G.A. Riplinger contrasted newly translated biblical texts to the King James and (in some instances) the Douay-Rheims versions. He concluded that all these modern translations have replaced “Holy Ghost” with “Holy Spirit” in key passages, a change arising, he said, “from ecumenical practices.” He cited the rebuke from Job 26:4 to those who were moved, not of the holy Spirit of God, but by their “human spirit;” and also referred these changes to Gal. 3:5 and Cor. 2:11 which mention “unclean spirits.” This affords us further insight into what may be intended by the Novus Ordo usage.
In “returning” to the primitive usage of Holy Spirit on the ruse that this return reflected a greater faithfulness to Tradition, the Novus Ordo church failed to explain to its members why the usage was suppressed in the first place. The Kabbalistic Jews believed in an ever-generating (and incestuous) quatrinity. They even represented Christ as synonymous with the pagan god Metraton and Samauel, the evil principle in Kabbalism, (The Kabbala Unveiled). And the Gnostics who infiltrated first Jewish then Christian ranks taught man’s divinity. Protestant author Texe Marrs provided a more sinister explanation of the term Holy Spirit along these same lines in his Dark Majesty. Quoting Rex Hutchins’ A Bridge to Light, Marrs wrote: “There is a Life-Principle of this world, a universal agent, wherein are two natures and a double current of love and wrath…It is a ray detached from the glory of the Sun…It is the Holy Spirit, the universal Agent, the serpent…”
Since spirit can refer to the soul of Christ excluding the Holy Ghost from the Trinity, or even to Satan as a “necessary” component of that same Trinity, can this ambiguous usage, so suggestive of Manichaean dualism, be accepted as innocuous, particularly in the administration of the sacraments? In condemning the errors of Michael Molinos, Pope Innocent XI taught that a probable opinion could never be used in administering the Sacraments, the safer opinion being abandoned, (DZ 1151). So if it is a matter of mere opinion (which it cannot be, since the Church has suppressed the usage to avoid the danger of a wrong conception of the Trinity) the safer opinion and that adhered to traditionally by the Church must be preferred. Other errors of Molinos condemned by Pope Innocent XI include the use of ambiguous words, (DZ 1177). The Sacraments convey the graces necessary for salvation and the Church tolerates no possibility of error or a false intention in their administration.
Spirit is an ambiguous word that could be interpreted as man sharing literally in Christ’s divinity, Satan’s long-coveted ambition, and many today believe such a thing is possible. Such a conception of the Mystical Body is in direct contradiction of all Church teaching on the matter; for while Catholics are granted a share in the Church’s earthly, spiritual upbuilding, they are invited to heed only the call to be “other Christs,” not THE Christ. To avoid any confusion on this matter, Pope Pius XII specifically proscribed any idea of membership in the Mystical Body that passed “beyond the sphere of creatures and wrongly enter(s) the Divine, were it only to the extent of appropriating to themselves but one single attribute of the eternal Godhead,” (Mystici Corporis). As stated above, these heretics wish to limit the identification of the Holy Ghost with a ”Christ-spirit” emanating from His soul — a spirit they say we share with Him.
So in Mystici Corporis Pope Pius XII went to great lengths to identify the Holy Ghost as a separate person in one God, not an indistinct extension of Christ Himself. To pervert the Holy Ghost’s action in the Sacrament of Baptism or any of the Sacraments, or to omit His existence at all disfigures the intention requisite for sacramental validity. Depending on the minister and his understanding of theology, it could refer to the “holy spirit” of Christ indwelling (a heresy), which is entirely separate from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost is lost through commission of mortal sin, but this spirit referred to in Novus Ordo usage is bestowed on recipients as a constantly abiding principle. This would explain why the form in Novus Ordo baptism no longer refers to taking away original sin. For if all are divine by nature, who can sin?
The apostate priest Abbe Roca puts this usage into context by predicting, in his work Glorious Century, that “The convert of the Vatican…will rest content with confirming and glorifying the spirit of Christ, or Christ-spirit [divine humanity], seed of the Word, in the public mind.” The Catholic Encyclopedia under Holy Ghost explained that in the works of St. Paul the word spirit, particularly the use of the term “spirit of God, [can] signify at times the soul or man himself.” In denying the existence of the Holy Ghost as a Divine entity, some ranked Him among the highest choir of angels. Others identified Him as the female principle, or “feminine side” of God. And evidence that these heresies still exist is readily available.
Rev. Bernard Leeming in his Principles of Sacramental Theology (1957) verified the Church’s condemnation of the above interpretation for spirit. “St. Iranaeus tells us that certain of the Gnostic sects taught that the ‘Father’ whom Christ revealed was different from the Creator of the Universe, and that the spirit who came upon Jesus was really Christ. They carried out their false beliefs in the ceremonies of Baptism, for Iranaeus says they baptized ‘in the name of the unknown father of all, truth, mother of all and in him who descended into Jesus,’” (#597). Others, St. Epiphanius says, baptized “’in the name of the uncreated God, the created Son and in the name of the spirit of sanctification, created by the Son.’” The Fathers were suspicious of the use of the names, Father, Son and Holy Spirit by these sects because they could be understood in a sense different than that of the true Trinity. The Paulinists used the above formula and were condemned by the Council of Nicaea, (DZ 56). The Sacraments of Baptism and Orders administered by the Paulinists were to be entirely repeated for this reason, since the Trinitarian formula is used for both Sacraments.
This topic, to the best of the author’s knowledge, has never been addressed. But it is important to address it because like all the other Sacraments, Baptism can be validly but illicitly given and/or received, and if this is the case then the graces it is meant to convey are absent. This is true anytime one who is not a priest (for whatever reasons, including invalid and/or illicit ordination) attempts to perform Solemn Baptism, not the simple baptism performed by the laity; or when one who may be validly and licitly (or illicitly) ordained and does not possess jurisdiction performs Solemn Baptism.
Rev. Stanislaus Grabowski, in his examination of St. Augustine’s idea of the Church, (The Church, 1957), notes: “Without the Holy Ghost are such as have been baptized in heretical and schismatic factions… Baptism so administered produces in the soul of the recipient an effect which Augustine calls a form or ‘forma,’ [the indelible mark?]. However, since it is produced outside the Church, it is irregular and illicit and consequently it does not convey a life of grace, it does not bring a rebirth of the soul, it does not effect a participation in the Holy Ghost,” and unfortunately this includes Traditional sects because they are not Catholic and not in communion with the pope. Grabowski says such a Sacrament from heretics and schismatics “is not worthless. Because it is valid it impinges a ‘form’ on the recipient… On account of the sacramental ‘form’ impressed on the baptized one, when such a person returns from heresy and schism… to the fold of the Church,” he becomes a member of the Mystical Body, returns to grace and receives the Holy Ghost.
“The sinner administering it in the Church does not hinder the Sacrament from producing that life which he himself does not have, for it is Christ who is the principal minister. The sacrament is not affected by the sinfulness of the dispenser,” and this is the entire thrust of the Donatist heresy fought by St. Augustine and mistakenly applied by Traditionalists to the situation today. Sinfulness is one thing; lack of membership in the Church quite another. “…The sacrament, however, does not produce the supernatural life it is intended to convey…[when] administered or received outside the pale of the Church of Christ. This Church is the sole legitimate possessor of the sacraments. Just as they are said to be the sacraments of Christ they are the sacraments of the Church.” There is a dissenting opinion on this, however, as seen below.
Lay Baptism preferred to schismatic priest baptizing
In his 1943 Catholic University of America dissertation Communication in Religious Worship With Non-Catholics, Rev. John Bancroft notes on page 92 that baptism of desire will not suffice whenever it is possible to receive water Baptism. And most importantly, Traditionalists should notice here that NO heretical or schismatic minister should ever be preferred as the minister of Baptism to the ordinary, duly instructed lay Catholic! Bancroft quotes Sylvius on a previous page, who teaches: “Heretics and schismatics can licitly baptize in necessity even if they remain such and impenitent, but… no other Sacrament can be conferred by them licitly unless they repent at least internally.” (St. Augustine disagrees, characterizing such baptisms as valid but illicit. To the best of this author’s knowledge, this is a matter yet undecided by the Church.) Lemkuhl believes that heretic, apostate and schismatic priests are the equivalent of vitandi. And Bancroft quotes a decision of the Holy See (a bull issued by Pope Pius VI) which indicates that even when there is a question of Baptism by lay non-Catholics versus a non-Catholic priest, the lay non-Catholics are to be preferred!
He concludes: “What has been said has referred to the administration of Baptism by a [validly ordained] non-Catholic priest. The doctrine applies a fortiori to a non-Catholic [non-ordained] minister. He has no consecration to act as a minister of the Sacraments [so is] really only a layman.” This is the very doctrine those who keep the faith at home have been holding all along, and in retrospect it makes perfect sense. Even pray-at-home Catholics who believe they are guilty of communicatio in sacris in the past but who have made reparation and publicly retracted their errors would be considered as less culpable in such matters and more worthy. For they have satisfied the laws of the Church concerning the preliminary steps necessary to being accepted once again into the Church. The various opinions below from the work cited give a fairly comprehensive survey of what the Church teaches.
Theological opinions on illicit Baptism
“After irregular baptism, received at the hands of heretics or schismatics, the recipients should be reconciled to the Church and receive the baptism of the Spirit… Theodori Poenit. li. il. 13, a.d. 673, in Haddan & Stubbs, in. 192 : “If an ordained priest discovers he has not been baptized let him be baptized and reordained, and all whom he previously baptized be re-baptized. The same is repeated i. ix. 12, Ihid. in. 185, with this addition: It is stated that another decision has been given on this point by the Roman Pontiff, according to which the grace of baptism is not conferred by the man who baptizes, although he be a pagan, but by the Spirit of God. See note 110 above. Nicolaus l. a.d.865,ap. Gratian in. Dist. iv. c. 24: You say that many in your country were baptized by a Jew who may have been a Christian or may have been a pagan, and ask what ought to be done. If such have been baptized in the name of the Trinity . . . they ought not to be re-baptized… Theodori Poenit. li. ix. 3. 1. c. p. 197: Whoever has a doubt about his baptism let him be baptized. Alexander in. a.d. 1180, in Decret. Lib. in. Tit. xlii. c. 2 : Concil. Westminster, a.d. 1200, Can. 3: We charge according to the holy canons that the sacraments of which there is a doubt be conferred. Const. 1, Langton, a.d. 1223 ; Const. 11, Edmund, a.d. 1236: If he find by full evidence that baptism was given in the form of the Church let him approve the fact, whether he did it in Latin, French, or English. But if not let him baptize the child.” (From: The Complete Manual of Canon Law, By Oswald J. Reichel, M.A., B.CAL., F.S.A.; author of “The See of Rome in the Middle Ages,” 1923).
We have “Solemn Baptism,” (irregular) received at the hands of heretics and schismatics (Traditionalists, Novus Ordo ministers) and we are not sure if they had the intention of baptizing “in the name of the Trinity.” One cannot proceed on doubt concerning a matter involving the Sacraments. When possible, one must always be certain to have received Baptism by water. What to do?
Because Baptism is a Sacrament necessary for salvation, there cannot be any doubt concerning its validity for it to take effect. It is the common opinion of theologians that anytime there is any question in our minds about the validity of any of the Sacraments, we are not to partake in them or presume they are valid if we have done, without realizing the dangers. Since the Novus Ordo and Traditionalists are non-Catholic sects just like any other sect, and because we have no bishops or pope to put this question to, in my opinion it is wise to conditionally baptize anyone who has been baptized in the Novus Ordo after 1968 or in Traditionalist sects, since the minister’s right intention cannot be assumed or proved. And this can and should be done, if no true Catholics are available, even by an honest, well-intentioned non-Catholic. For as stated above, such a baptism is always to be preferred to relying on Baptism of desire. I am not saying that baptism by NO heretics pre-1968 who intended to do what the Church does in baptizing is invalid, only illicit. This because it is most likely that such Baptism was performed solemnly and as such those performing it possessed no jurisdiction from the false NO sect. See Rev. Bancroft on this below.
Until the matter is settled by the Church, it would appear that that such baptisms would remain doubtfully licit, and therefore, to insure inclusion in the Mystical Body and be assured of the reception of graces, it would seem prudent to conditionally baptize if the recipient of baptism harbored doubts of any kind. This, however, would be left to the individual.
Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey writes in his Dogmatic Theology (1959): “In case of necessity, anyone who has the use of reason can baptize, even licitly. This is certain: first, from the declaration of the Lateran Council IV (‘The sacrament of baptism, rightly performed by anyone in the form of the Church, is useful unto salvation for little ones and for adults’ — DZ 430); from the Council of Florence (“In the case of necessity, however, even…a layman or a woman, yes even a pagan or a heretic can baptize, so long as he preserves the form of the Church and has the intention of doing as the Church does.’ — DZ 696); also Canon 742; secondly, from the practice of the Church…thirdly, it is most fitting that Baptism, so necessary for salvation, be able to be easily conferred — hence that it be able to be conferred by all.”
“Of the Time and Place of Baptism”
The following on Baptism is taken from A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, by Rev. Stanislaus Woywod and revised by Rev. Callistus Smith. Vol. 1, (Imprimatur and Copyright 1943, pages 353 and 354):
“668. Infants shall be baptized as soon as possible. Pastors and preachers shall often remind the faithful of this grave obligation.” (Canon 770)…“The meaning of quamprimum (as soon as possible) cannot be determined with absolute exactness. In fact, the law did not want to specify the exact number of days, as it could easily have done, for circumstances are so varied that a narrow law in this matter is not desirable, at least as a general law. The individual bishops who know the conditions of their dioceses, the facility or the difficulty of reaching the parish church, climate, roads, etc., can make particular regulations. It is considered to be within the power of the Bishop to demand that the Baptism be conferred within eight days after birth, making due allowance for circumstances where that regulation would impose undue hardship. In an Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda, July 31, 1902, to the missionaries among the Nestorians, it states that Baptism shall be conferred on the infants at least within eight days after birth, and if necessary, Private Baptism should be given rather than wait longer for Solemn Baptism.
“669. If there is no particular law limiting the time and no special danger of death from the condition of the child or other circumstances, one may hold with Noldin and Vermeersch Creusen that one cannot delay Baptism over a month without sinning gravely against the law. If circumstances are such – and they certainly exist in the scattered districts of the United States — that the priest cannot be had within a month — some layperson should be asked by the parents to baptize the child, rather than delay the Baptism. The Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda approved an Instruction given to the catechists and other well-instructed Catholics to baptize any of the infants of the Christians, though they are in good health, if the priest is absent or it is difficult to go to him. We saw that the Instructions to the missionaries among the Nestorians insisted that Baptism should be conferred within eight days, and that, when necessary, the infants should be baptized privately rather than delay Baptism and expose the infants to the danger of dying without it.
“670. Private Baptism may, in case of necessity, be given at any time and in any place (Canon 771). Solemn Baptism may be given on any day. However, in accordance to the most ancient rite of the Church, it is a becoming practice to baptize adults on the vigils of Easter and Pentecost, especially in metropolitan and cathedral churches, if it can be done conveniently (Canon 772). The proper place for the administration of Solemn Baptism is the baptistery in a church or public oratory (Canon 773).
“Up to about the ninth century, Solemn Baptism in churches of the Latin Rite was given only on the vigils of Easter and Pentecost. In the Oriental Rite and in the diocese of Northern Africa, the Epiphany was added to the baptismal days. In Spain, they began to baptize also on the feasts of the Apostles and martyrs, but the Roman Pontiffs objected to that practice. As the number of baptisms of adults got fewer, the practice of baptizing on the two vigils only ceased of itself. Pope Simplicius (d. 483) is said to have appointed several priests at Rome who had to be ready any day and at any hour of the day to baptize infants. Very likely baptism of infants in danger of death is meant. When there was even a slight danger, the infants were baptized immediately at the time when Solemn Baptism was still limited to the two days. A certain Bishop Fidus in Africa had, in 253, contended that it was not lawful to baptize infants before the eighth day because in the Old Testament circumcision was to be given only on the eighth day after birth. Saint Cyprian writes to him: ‘Nobody in our council agreed with what you thought should be done; on the contrary, we all have held that to no human being born into this life should mercy and grace be denied.’”