Hundreds of baptisms ruled invalid in MI for one-word error

Father Matthew Hood celebrates Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Friday, February 18, 2022 in Detroit.  In 2020, a word caught the ear of a young Detroit-area Catholic priest as he watched a video of his baptism decades earlier.

Father Matthew Hood celebrates Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Friday, February 18, 2022 in Detroit. In 2020, a word caught the ear of a young Detroit-area Catholic priest as he watched a video of his baptism decades earlier. “Wait,” Reverend Matthew Hood remembers thinking. “Something doesn’t seem right here.” Indeed, a mistake by a deacon had spoiled the sacrament – ​​and, like a domino, meant that he was really no priest. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

PA

Nearly 800 baptisms of Michiganders have been ruled invalid after the Archdiocese of Detroit discovered a deacon used the wrong word while leading them.

Instead of saying “I baptize,” the now-retired Reverend Mark Springer used the phrase “we baptize” during baptisms at St. Anastasia Roman Catholic Church in Troy, Michigan, from 1986 to 1989. reported the Associated Press.

Among those baptisms was that of the Reverend Matthew Hood, whose sacraments and priesthood were revoked after he noticed the mistake while watching a video his father shared of his baptism in 1990, the outlet reported.

Springer’s error was corrected by the Archdiocese of Detroit in an August 2020 statement, in which Rev. Allen H. Vigneron said the baptisms were invalid because the incorrect phrase “does not convey the sacrament of baptism”.

“Ministers must allow Jesus to speak through them and say ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,'” Vigneron wrote. “In making this clarification, the Congregation made reference to the Council Vatican II, which reminded us that no one ‘even if he is a priest, can add, delete or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority'”.

The statement went on to say that Hood, who was first ordained in 2017, contacted the archdiocese as soon as he found the error in the video. Subsequently, he was validly baptized, confirmed, then ordained transitional deacon and then priest, restoring the sacraments he would otherwise have lost.

However, baptisms performed by Springer between 1986 and 1989, as well as those performed by Hood before he was rechristened, were still considered invalid, the statement said.

Baptisms weren’t the only sacrament affected — about 30 couples whose marriages were officiating had to redo their wedding vows, the Associated Press reported.

And now, over a year later, the church is still struggling to rectify the error. About 200 baptisms were reviewed and deemed valid, and 71 people were rebaptized and again received other sacraments, archdiocesan spokeswoman Holly Fournier told The Associated Press. But more than 400 people have still not responded to calls from the church to be rebaptized.

The discovery of botched baptisms in Michigan comes shortly after similar discoveries in Arizona – Reverend Andres Arango resigned from his Phoenix parish after thousands of baptisms he performed in California, Arizona and Brazil were were ruled invalid, McClatchy News reported.

These baptisms were canceled because of the same error. In a statement, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said the error is critical because baptisms must be from Christ, not people.

“The problem with using ‘We’ is that it is not the community that baptizes a person, rather it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides over all the sacraments, and so it is the Christ Jesus who baptizes,” Olmsted wrote. .

Although the invalidation of baptisms has drawn criticism, Hood told The Associated Press that the possibility of being rebaptized could force young people who had strayed from the church since their initial ceremonies to find their way back to the faith.

“The sacraments are the mystery of God that crashes into our lives,” Hood told the outlet. “This is not just a checklist you need to live a Christian life. It is something that changes us completely.

Vandana Ravikumar is a real-time McClatchy reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona State University. Previously, she reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News and Arizona PBS.

Comments are closed.