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Brisbane Tribunal vicar comments on invalid baptisms

Fr Adrian Farrelly of the Church's regional tribunal in Brisbane has declared that Catholics baptised with an adapted "inclusive" formula of words in the South Brisbane parish over the past ten years "simply haven't received baptism".

ABC Radio's PM was last night inferring that the hundreds of parishioners baptised with the words "Creator, Liberator and Sustainer", instead of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit", may have to be re-baptised.

The Courer-Mail reported earlier this week that doubt has been cast on the validity of hundreds of baptisms at St Mary's South Brisbane because Fr Peter Kennedy and his assistant Fr Terry Fitzpatrick used the wrong words, in the interest of makingn the sacrament "more inclusive, less patriarchal". Archbishop John Bathersby wrote to the priests requesting compliance with last April's Vatican instruction Redemptoris Sacramentum that stipulates that liturgical norms must be followed exactly. The priests conformed immediately.

Fr Farrelly told the ABC: "They simply haven't received baptism. They've gone through - they've gone through a ceremony and they may well think that it's baptism, but the fact of the matter is that it isn't."

Using the language of consumer protection legislation, he suggested the notion of quality assurance applies to the situation in which the faithful were provided with a service that was not what the priests were representing it to be.

He said: "For all sorts of good reasons, at times people will decide well we can do it this way or that way, but when you're dealing with the spiritual lives of people, there is a need to have like a quality assurance that one that one is giving to the people what it is they're asking - the words, the words that you use are important words that I use at mass, are important like the words even in a contract, if you were going to if you were going to sell me something. If the words didn't say what I thought they said, like, I might believe that you sold it to me, but in actual fact you haven't so, like the implications are quite serious."

The story was first broken by Online Catholics last month. At the time, Archbishop Bathersby expressed his confidence that "a solution agreeable to all" wouldbe reached.

Parishioners to be re-baptised after 'invalid' service (ABC Radio PM 24/11/04)

Toe the line, church tells priest (Sydney Morning Herald/Australian Associated Press 24/11/04)
Australian bishop rebukes priests for invalid baptisms (Catholic World News 23/11/04)
Non-traditional baptisms ruled invalid (The Courier Mail 24/11/04)
Brisbane Archbishop stops "inclusive" baptism (CathNews 23/11/04)
Church rebuked for 'new' baptism (The Courier Mail 23/11/04)
Bathersby censures St Mary's Church (Online Catholics 13/10/04)
Catholic Parish of South Brisbane
Vatican Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum

25 Nov 2004