Words matter. And like most things, that can be taken to an extreme to the point that words can cause more harm than help.
The example I’m thinking of is the priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese who said “we” instead of “I” in the rite of baptism. The Diocese has decided that all the baptisms he performed are invalid.
I read the reasoning for this and I can grasp it. And I would say that the decision is wrong. While it might “technically” be correct based on the arguments presented, is it the right decision? I have yet to find an example where “technically” right is the right answer. If you have to qualify being right on a technicality, then are you really right?
Baptism offers grace, yet this decision offers no grace.
The decision creates numerous problems with huge ripple effects for many people’s lives. All unnecessary over a technicality.
See, the church is really good at shooting itself in the foot over things that it doesn’t have to shoot itself over. It’s really good at pushing people away when they should be receiving grace. It’s really good at silencing actual problems like abuse in its many forms, but digging up things that cause problems for others.
The church is supposed to be the messenger of Jesus’ message. Yet I’m failing to see who how invalidating baptisms for multitudes aligns with Jesus’ message.
It sounds more like the institution being more concerned with the technicalities of membership rather than what is more important – discipleship. This isn’t to diminish the importance of baptism. After all, baptism isn’t about who is performing the baptism so much as it is about whose name someone is being baptized in. It’s not the person doing the baptism that is making the promises. It is God who is making promises to the person being baptized. This is why in an emergency, anyone, even someone who is not a Christian, can perform a baptism. Even in the Catechism it offers certain words for the Latin rite that are different from the Orthodox rite. If the technicality is so right, then one of those rites is wrong.
Words matter. And the most important words in the baptism are the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.