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BAPTISM


264


BAPTISM


the same pontiff's reply to the Bulgarians (Resp. 15) on another occasion when they consulted him on a practical case. They inquired whether certain per- sons are to be rebaptized on -nhom a man, pretending to be a Greek priest, had conferred baptism? Pope Nicholas replies that the baptism is to be held valid "if they were baptized in the name of the supreme and undivided Trinity". Here the pope does not give baptism in the name of Christ only as an alter- native. Moralists raise the question of the validity of a baptism in whose administration something else had been added to the prescribed form, as "and in the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary". They reply that such baptism would be invalid, if the minister intended thereby to attribute the same efficacy to the added name as to the names of the Three Di\'ine Persons. If, however, it was done through a mis- taken piety only, it would not interfere with the validity (S. Alph., n. 111).

VII. CoNDiTiON.\L B.iPTisM. — From the foregoing it is evident that not all baptism administered by heretics or schismatics is invalid. On the contrarj', if the proper matter and form be used and the one conferring the sacrament really "intends to perform what the Church performs", the baptism is undoubt- edly valid. This is also authoritatively stated in the decree for the Armenians and the canons of the Council of Trent already given. The qviestion be- comes a practical one when converts to the Faith have to be dealt with. If there were one authorized mode of baptizing among the sects, and if the ne- cessity and true significance of the sacrament were uniformly taught and put in practice among them, there would be little difficulty as to the status of converts from the sects. But there is no such unity of teaching and practice among them, and conse- quently the particular case of each convert must be examined into when there is question of his reception into the Church. For not only are there religious denominations in which baptism is in all probability not validly administered, but there are those also which have a ritual sufficient indeed for validity, but in practice the likelihood of their members having received baptism validly is more than doubtful. As a consequence converts must be dealt with differently. If it be certain that a convert was validly baptized in heresy, the sacrament is not repeated, but the ceremonies which had been omitted in such baptism are to be supplied, unless the bishop, for sufficient reasons, judges that they can be dispensed with. (For the United States, see Cone. Prov. Bait., I.) If it be uncertain whether the convert's baptism was valid or not, then he is to be baptized conditionally. In such cases the ritual is: "If thou art not yet bap- tized, then I baptize thee in the name", etc. The First Synod of Westminster, England, directs that adult converts are to be baptized not publiclj' but privately with lioly water (i. e. not the consecrated baptismal water) and without the usual ceremonies (Deer. xvi). Practically, converts in the I'nited States are almost invariably baptized either abso- lutely or conditionally, not because the baptism ad- ministered by heretics is held to be invalid, but be- cause it is generally impossible to discover whether they had ever been properly baptized. Even in cases where a ceremony had certainly been per- formed, reasonable doubt of validity will generally remain, on account of either the intention of the administrator or the mode of administration. Still each case must be examined into (S. C. Inquis., 20 Nov., 1878) lest the sacrament be sacrilegiously repeated.

As to the baptism of the various sects, Sabetti (no. 662) states that the Oriental Churches and the "Old Catholics" generally administer baptism ac- curately; the Socinians and Quakers do not baptize at all; the Baptists use the rite only for adults, and


the efficacy of their baptism has been called in ques- tion owing to the separation of the matter and the form, for the latter is pronounced before the immer- sion takes place; the Congregationahsts, Unitarians, and Universalists deny the necessity of baptism, and hence the presumption is that they do not admin- ister it accurately; the Methodists and Presbyterians baptize by aspersion or sprinkling, and it may be reasonably doubted whether the water has touched the body and flowed upon it; among the Episco- palians many consider baptism to have no true efficacy and to be merely an empty ceremony, and consequently there is a well-grovmded fear that they are not .sufficiently careful in its administration. To this may be added, that Episcopalians often baptize by aspersion, and though such a method is undoubt- edly valid if properly employed, yet in practice it is quite possible that the sprinkled water may not touch the skin. Sabetti also notes tnat ministers of the same sect do not everJ^vhere follow a uniform method of baptizing. The practical method of recon- ciling heretics with the Church is as follows: — If bap- tism be conferred absolutely, the convert is to make no abjiu-ation or profession of faith, nor is he to make a confession of his sins and receive absolution, because the sacrament of regeneration washes away his past offences. If his baptism is to be conditional, he must first make an abjuration of his errors, or a profession of faith, then receive the conditional bap- tism, and lastly make a sacramental confession fol- lowed by conditional absolution. If the convert's former baptism was judged to be certainly valid, he is only to make the abjuration or the profession of faith and receive absolution from the censures he may have incurred (Excerpta Rit. Rom., 1S7S). The abjuration or profession of faith here prescribed is the Creed of Pius IV, translated into the vernacular. In the case of conditional baptism, the confession may precede the administration of the rite and the conditional absolution be imparted after the bap- tism. This is often done as a matter of fact, as the confession is an excellent preparation for the recep- tion of the sacrament (De Herdt, ^^, viii; Sabetti, no. 725).

VIII. Rebaptism. — To complete the consideration of the validity of baptism conferred by heretics, we must give some account of the celebrated contro- versy that raged around this point in the ancient Church. In Africa and Asia Minor the custom had been introduced in the early part of the tliird century of rebaptizing all converts from heresy. As far as can be now ascertained, the practice of rebaptism arose in Africa owing to decrees of a Synod of Car- thage held probably between 218 and 222; while in Asia Minor it seems to have had its origin at the S'vmod of Iconium, celebrated between 230 and 235. The controversy on rebaptism is especially connected with the names of Pope St. Stephen and of St. Cj"p- rian of Carthage. The latter was the main cham- pion of the practice of rebaptizino;. The pope, how- ever, absolutely condemned the practice, and commanded that heretics on entering the Church should recei\'e only the imposition of hands in pocnitcntiam. In this celebrated controversy it is to be noted that Pope Stephen declares that he is up- holding the primitive custom when he declares for the validity of baptism conferred by heretics. Cj-prian, on the contrary, implicitly admits that antiquity is against his own practice, but stoutly maintains that it is more in accordance with an enlightened study of the subject. The tradition against him he declares to be "a human and unlawful tradition". Neither Cyprian, however, nor his zealous abettor, Firmilian, could show that rebaptism was older than the centurj' in w-hich they were living. The con- temporaneous but anonjTiious author of the book "De Rebaptismate " says that the oxdinanees of