I know affirmed pronouns are important these days, but isn’t the Catholic Church taking pronoun awareness to extremes? The Church has decreed that 16 years of baptisms are invalid simply because a priest used the wrong pronoun!
When this story broke last week, it made the email rounds at our office.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a baptismal recall, ” quipped James, our IT director.
“By their logic,” mused Barbara, “someone arrives in heaven, only to have Peter say, ‘Hmmm. Looks like there was a clerical error during your baptism. So you’re not really Catholic, sorrrrry.”’ Clerical error. Get it?
Dan, our co-president, posited a more cynical explanation: “It’s just a sneaky way for them to charge for more baptisms.”
Never mind pedophile priests and the Catholic cover-up. The Church regards this situation as the real scandal. Rev. Andres Arango even resigned over it on Feb. 1. He was pastor of his parish in Phoenix and admitted he had been using the incorrect baptismal pronouns for more than two decades throughout Arizona, California and Brazil. Horrors!
It seems that the proper formula (to use Catholic lingo) is: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Arango began his ministrations by saying, “We baptize you…” The church explains that this is wrong, wrong, wrong. Only “I,” it seems, refers to Jesus Christ working through the priest. Jesus is singular, therefore priests, even priests whom Jesus is working through, mustn’t use “we.”
Does this make any sense? Of course not! Especially if you examine the church’s views on the holy trinity — the absurd concept that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are one and the same. As illustrious 19th century freethinker Robert Ingersoll expounded:
According to the celestial multiplication table, once one is three, and three times one is one, and according to heavenly subtraction if we take two from three, three are left. The addition is equally peculiar, if we add two to one we have but one. Each one is equal to himself and the other two.
Ingersoll summed it up so correctly: “Nothing ever was, nothing ever can be more perfectly idiotic and absurd than the dogma of the Trinity.” (To ponder more about this ridiculous “celestial multiplication table,” listen to Dan’s humorous song setting Ingersoll’s amusing words to music.)
Although Church officials have been quick to reassure people that those who were not baptized properly will not to go hell, they muddy the waters by then adding that if a person’s baptism is invalid, subsequent rites of confirmation, or even ordination to the priesthood, are also not valid. Such logic apparently led to panic in a similar case in Detroit in 2020, where it was discovered that a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit had been baptized improperly as an infant. What to do? The priest had to receive a “valid” baptism, confirmation and ordination — and the archdiocese had to hunt down those whose rites the priest had presided at, to arrange “sacramentally valid baptisms.” (Now just think how many folks they must have missed? And did they do the “valid baptisms” for free?)
Why not change the wording or give a “dispensation” for such an understandable and innocent mistake? Well, that’s the problem with religion in a nutshell — particularly a religion like the Roman Catholic denomination. The Catholic Church is hardly known for its ability to adapt to change, evidence or reason.
In this instance, the Church is truly making a tsunami out of a baptism.