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Canadian parish church says 295 baptisms invalid

In an embarrassing slip-up, the baptisms of nearly 300 children in a Quebec parish have been declared invalid because they weren't performed properly.

Starting in 1991, the lay person who officiated mistakenly let the parents pour holy water on their children's forehead while she pronounced blessings.

Now the families have been told that this was an erroneous procedure and that the same person should have performed both acts. The Catholic church does not require that person to be a priest.

No one noticed the problem until 1996, when a sharp-eyed, knowledgeable grandmother spotted the anomaly.

Fr Dan Donovan, theology professor at St. Michael's College, at the University of Toronto suggested to the Mail and Guardian newspaper, that parents shouldn't worry about it.

"In the old days, people used to think that if a little child wasn't baptised and died before reaching the age of reason, he wouldn't be able to go to heaven," he said. "It's no longer part of contemporary Catholic faith."

"Catholics take their sacraments seriously but it's not the only way Christ comes to us," said Fr Donovan.

Globe and Mail

Quebec Diocese Says 295 Baptisms Invalid (Zenit)
Diocese of Saint-Jérôme
The Code of Canon Law: Book 4 - The Sanctifying Office Of The Church

15 Jan 2003