7 thoughts on “A fake baptism and the Real Presence”

  1. I agree with your main point about sacraments being something real. But I’m not sure about the whole “if the story were true, they’d have to notify everyone” thing. Baptisms, as you note, are valid anyway. Marriages, in Latin-rite theology, are conferred by the spouses on each other, so I would think they’d be all right (though I’m merely a theologian by training, not a canonist, so I could be wrong; but marriage tribunals don’t worry about all the putative marriages out there of people not seeking annulments because they want to stay married, so these seem to fall in that category). Confirmands from any Easter vigils, certainly, would have to be actually confirmed. Perhaps First Communions would have to be re-recorded, though I would be surprised if anyone had never received from any other priest. Confessions and Last Rites, true, didn’t really happen, but that matters less in this sort of circumstance. That is, no one should stress over whether grandma went to hell because she unknowingly made her last confession to a fake priest (or, for the scrupulous, whether they have to remember all the things they confessed over 15 years to redo it because none of the previous ones counted); we are bound by the sacraments, but God isn’t.* Anyway, this isn’t meant as a critique of what you wrote, just as a musing on what, practically, would have to be done if such a loony situation were real (which, I agree, probably isn’t, for all the reasons you and Cordelia each gave).

    *At least in the direction of generosity. That is, He is bound by them insofar as He shows up that way no matter how crummy the people are He is coming to – the most grudging teen confirmand, the most distracted Communicant, the showboatiest priest, Jesus will be right there in the sacrament anyway.

    1. I did check with a canon lawyer, and based my article on what she told me. It’s rare, but it does happen.

    2. Thank you, I think you are more in the right about this. And what about Baptism of desire? A priest who has said a thousand times in his prayer…”I love you, I adore, you, my life is an *oblation*…”

      Sounds baptized.

    1. Under the circumstances given, it would have been baptism by desire if the man had then died; one notes that, since the man lived, they decided it needed to be done with actual water as the sand didn’t really count.

  2. Surely an urban legend. A lay baptism properly administered is of course valid, but I understand it to be the Church’s usual practice in those cases to provide a later “provisional” baptism on the chance the first wasn’t really valid. That happens to converts at least if they cannot provide a valid baptismal certificate.

    A pity, though, that we don’t all have ready access to the Baby Jesus test for sacramental validity. So handy, especially in the marriage tribunal.

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