Skip to comments.on the validity of baptism conferred by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Posted on 01/14/2012 12:04:24 AM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
RESPONSE TO A 'DUBIUM'
on the validity of baptism conferred by
«The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints»,
Question: Wheter the baptism conferred by the community «The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints», called «Mormons» in the vernacular, is valid.
The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Response, decided in the Sessione Ordinaria of this Congregation, and ordered it published.
From the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 5 June 2001.
+ Joseph Cardinal RATZINGER
+ Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B.
Archbishop emeritus of Vercelli
RESPONSUM AD PROPOSITUM DUBIUM
DE VALIDITATE BAPTISMATIS
Â«The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsÂ»
Dubbium: Utrum baptismus collatus apud communitatem Â«The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsÂ», vulgo dictam Â«MormonsÂ», validus sit.
Summus Pontifex Ioannes Paulus II, in audientia concessa infrascripto Cardinali Praefecto, praesens Â«ResponsumÂ», decissum in Sessione Ordinaria huius Congregationis, approbavit et publici iuris fieri iussit.
Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei, die 5 iunii 2001.
+ JOSEPHUS Card. RATZINGER
+ Tharsicius BERTONE, S.D.B.
archiep. em. Vercellensis
|THE QUESTION OF THE VALIDITY OF BAPTISM CONFERRED IN THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS|
|Fr Luis Ladaria, S.J.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has given a negative response to a "Dubium" regarding the validity of Baptism conferred in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons. Given that this decision changes the past practice of not questioning the validity of such Baptism, it seems appropriate to explain the reasons that have led to this decision and to the resulting change of practice.
Doctrinal errors usually do not invalidate baptism
This explanation becomes even more necessary if one considers that errors of a doctrinal nature have never been considered sufficient to question the validity of the sacrament of Baptism. In fact, already in the middle of the third century Pope Stephen I, opposing the decisions of an African synod in 256 A.D., reaffirmed that the ancient practice of the imposition of hands as a sign of repentance should be maintained, but not the rebaptism of a heretic who enters the Catholic Church. In this way, the name of Christ attains great honour for faith and sanctification because whoever is baptized in the name of Christ, wherever that has taken place, has received the grace of Christ (cf. Denzinger-Hüngermann [DH] 110-111). The same principle was upheld by the Synod of Arles in 314 (cf. DH 123). Well known also is the struggle of St Augustine against the Donatists. The Bishop of Hippo affirms that the validity of the sacrament depends neither on the personal sanctity of the minister nor on his belonging to the Church.
Right intention is the intention to do what the Church wants, what Christ wants
Even non-Catholics can validly administer Baptism. In every case, however, it is the Baptism of the Catholic Church, which does not belong to those who separate themselves from her but to the Church from which they have separated themselves (cf. Augustine, On Baptism 1, 12,9). This validity is possible because Christ is the true minister of the sacrament: Christ is the one who truly baptizes, whether it is Peter or Paul or Judas who baptizes (cf. Augustine, Treatise on the Gospel of John VI, 1,7; cf. CCC n. 1127). The Council of Trent, confirming this tradition, defined that Baptism administered by heretics in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, with the intention of doing what the Catholic Church does is true Baptism (cf. DH 1617).
The validity of doubtful baptism is presumed especially in the case of marriage, as in the case of the Christians of Nagasaki
The most recent documents of the Catholic Church maintain the same teaching. The Code of Canon Law prescribes that those who have been baptized in non-Catholic ecclesial communities (as long as there is no doubt regarding the matter or the form or the intention of the minister or of the person being baptized) should not be baptized again (cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 869 §2), Intrinsically connected to this problem is that of who can be the minister of Baptism in the Catholic Church. According to the Code, in cases of necessity anyone can baptize, provided the intention is correct (cf. can. 861 §2). The Code of Canon Law confirms the fundamental elements of Tridentine teaching and makes more explicit what is the required correct intention: "The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation" (CCC, n. 1256. Evidently, the necessity of Baptism spoken of here is not to be understood in an absolute sense; cf. ibid., nn. 1257-1261). Precisely because of the necessity of Baptism for salvation the Catholic Church has had the tendency of broadly recognizing this right intention in the conferring of this sacrament, even in the case of a false understanding of Trinitarian faith, as for example in the case of the Arians.
Taking into account this deeply-rooted practice of the Church, applied without any doubt as to the multiplicity of non-Catholic Christian communities emerging from the so-called Reform of the 16th century, it is easily understood that when there appeared in the United States the religious movement of Joseph Smith around 1830, in which the matter and the words of the form of Baptism were correctly utilized, this Baptism was considered valid, analogously to the Baptism of so many other non-Catholic ecclesial communities. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, according to their teaching, received the priesthood of Aaron in 1829. Given the circumstances of the Church in the United States in the 19th century and the means of social communication at that time, even though the new religious movement gained a considerable number of followers, the knowledge that ecclesiastical authorities could have had of the doctrinal errors that were professed in this new group was necessarily very limited throughout the entire century. For the practical cases that emerged there was applied the response of the Holy Office of 9 September 1868 given for the Christian communities of Japan which had remained isolated and without priests from the time of the persecution at the beginning of the 17th century. According to this response: 1) those persons about whom there was doubt whether they were validly baptized should be considered Christians; 2) this Baptism should be considered valid with regard to the validity of marriage (Gasparri, Fontes, IV, n. 1007).
Current doubts about the validity of Mormon baptism
In the 20th century, the Catholic Church became more aware of the Trinitarian errors which the teaching proposed by Smith contained, though he used the traditional terms, and therefore more and more doubts spread about the validity of the Baptism conferred by the Mormons, in spite of the fact that the form, as far as the substance of the terminology goes, coincided with that used by the Church. As a result, almost imperceptibly there developed difference of practice, insofar as those who had a certain personal knowledge of the teaching of the Mormons considered their Baptism invalid, while the common practice continued of applying the traditional principle of the presumption in favour of the validity of such Baptism, since there was no official norm in this regard. In recent years, as a result of a request from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Bishops' Conference of the United States undertook a detailed study of this delicate issue with the hope of coming to a definitive conclusion. On its part the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith undertook a new examination of the material that came from the United States and thus was able to resolve the proposed question.
What are the reasons which now led to this negative position regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which seems different from the position of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries?
Huge divergence on Trinity and baptism invalidates the intention of the Mormon minister of baptism and of the one to be baptized
According to the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church there are four requirements for the valid administration of the sacrament of Baptism: the matter, the form, the intention of the minister, and the right disposition of the recipient. Let us examine briefly each of these four elements in the teaching and practice of the Mormons.
I. The Matter. On this point there is no problem. Water is used. The Mormons practice Baptism by immersion (cf. Doctrine and Covenants [D&C] 20:74), which is one of the ways of celebrating Baptism (application of the matter) which is accepted by the Catholic Church.
II. The Form. We have seen that in the texts of the Magisterium on Baptism there is a reference to the invocation of the Trinity (to the sources already mentioned, the Fourth Lateran Council could be added here [DH 8021). The formula used by the Mormons might seem at first sight to be a Trinitarian formula. The text states: "Being commissioned by Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (cf. D&C 20:73). The similarities with the formula used by the Catholic Church are at first sight obvious, but in reality they are only apparent. There is not in fact a fundamental doctrinal agreement. There is not a true invocation of the Trinity because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are not the three persons in which subsists the one Godhead, but three gods who form one divinity. One is different from the other, even though they exist in perfect harmony (Joseph F. Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [TPJSI, Salt Lake City: Desert Book, 1976, p. 372). The very word divinity has only a functional, not a substantial content, because the divinity originates when the three gods decided to unite and form the divinity to bring about human salvation (Encyclopaedia of Mormonism [EM], New York: Macmillan, 1992, cf. Vol. 2, p. 552). This divinity and man share the same nature and they are substantially equal. God the Father is an exalted man, native of another planet, who has acquired his divine status through a death similar to that of human beings, the necessary way to divinization (cf. TPJS, pp. 345-346). God the Father has relatives and this is explained by the doctrine of infinite regression of the gods who initially were mortal (cf. TPJS, p. 373). God the Father has a wife, the Heavenly Mother, with whom he shares the responsibility of creation. They procreate sons in the spiritual world. Their firstborn is Jesus Christ, equal to all men, who has acquired his divinity in a pre-mortal existence. Even the Holy Spirit is the son of heavenly parents. The Son and the Holy Spirit were procreated after the beginning of the creation of the world known to us (cf. EM, Vol. 2, p. 961). Four gods are directly responsible for the universe, three of whom have established a covenant and thus form the divinity.
As is easily seen, to the similarity of titles there does not correspond in any way a doctrinal content which can lead to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The words Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have for the Mormons a meaning totally different from the Christian meaning. The differences are so great that one cannot even consider that this doctrine is a heresy which emerged out of a false understanding of the Christian doctrine. The teaching of the Mormons has a completely different matrix. We do not find ourselves, therefore, before the case of the validity of Baptism administered by heretics, affirmed already from the first Christian centuries, nor of Baptism conferred in non-Catholic ecclesial communities, as noted in Canon 869 §2.
III. The Intention of the Celebrating Minister. Such doctrinal diversity, regarding the very notion of God, prevents the minister of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from having the intention of doing what the Catholic Church does when she confers Baptism, that is, doing what Christ willed her to do when he instituted and mandated the sacrament of Baptism. This becomes even more evident when we consider that in their understanding Baptism was not instituted by Christ but by God and began with Adam (cf. Book of Moses 6:64). Christ simply commanded the practice of this rite; but this was not an innovation. It is clear that the intention of the Church in conferring Baptism is certainly to follow the mandate of Christ (cf. Mt 28,19) but at the same time to confer the sacrament that Christ had instituted. According to the New Testament, there is an essential difference between the Baptism of John and Christian Baptism. The Baptism of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which originated not in Christ but already at the beginning of creation (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith [AF], Salt Lake City: Desert Book, 1990, cf. pp. 110-111), is not Christian Baptism; indeed, it denies its newness. The Mormon minister, who must necessarily be the "priest" (cf. D&C 20:38-58.107:13.14.20), therefore radically formed in their own doctrine, cannot have any other intention than that of doing what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does, which is quite different in respect to what the Catholic Church intends to do when it baptizes, that is, the conferral of the sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ, which means participation in his death and resurrection (cf. Rom 6,3-11; Col 2,12-13).
We can note two other differences, not as fundamental as the preceding one, but which also have their importance:
A) According to the Catholic Church, Baptism cancels not only personal sins but also original sin, and therefore even infants are baptized for the remission of sins (cf. the essential texts of the Council of Trent, DH 1513-1515). This remission of original sin is not accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which denies the existence of this sin and therefore baptizes only persons who have the use of reason and are at least eight years old, excluding the mentally handicapped (cf. AF, pp. 113-116). In fact, the practice of the Catholic Church in conferring Baptism on infants is one of the main reasons for which the Mormons say that the Catholic Church apostatized in the first centuries, so that the sacraments celebrated by it are all invalid.
B) If a believer baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after renouncing his or her faith or having been excommunicated, wants to return, he or she must be rebaptized (cf. AF, pp. 129-131).
Even in regard to these last elements it is clear that the Baptism of Mormons cannot be considered valid; since it is not Christian Baptism, the minister cannot have the intention of doing what the Catholic does.
IV. The Disposition of the Recipient. The person to be baptized, who already has the use of reason, has been instructed according to the very strict norms of the teaching and faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It must be maintained therefore that one cannot think that the Baptism received by that person is anything different from what he was taught. It does not seem possible that the person would have the same disposition that the Catholic Church requires for the Baptism of adults.
Difference of views: Mormons hold that there is no real Trinity, no original sin, that Christ did not institute baptism
Summing up, we can say: The Baptism of the Catholic Church and that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differ essentially, both for what concerns faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose name Baptism is conferred, and for what concerns the relationship to Christ who instituted it. As a result of all this, it is understood that the Catholic Church has to consider invalid, that is to say, cannot consider true Baptism, the rite given that name by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.
It is equally necessary to underline that the decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is a response to a particular question regarding the Baptism of Mormons and obviously does not indicate a judgment on those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Furthermore, Catholics and Mormons often find themselves working together on a range of problems regarding the common good of the entire human race. It can be hoped therefore that through further studies, dialogue and good will, there can be progress in reciprocal understanding and mutual respect.
Weekly Edition in English
1 August 2001, page 4
L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Cathedral Foundation
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Well, it’s correct
Certainly. Its also a long winded way of the Vatican saying, “LDS are not Christian.”
A fact that the media just will not reveal, I don't recall ever seeing mention of it in the media, right or left.
I hope you get the word out.
What does it take to be Christian?
Not dunking Japanese in under an hour from first handshake to baptism? This isn’t exactly controversial.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
I take issue with any religion that goes around “baptizing” my dead ancestors! What gall!
Oh, yes, they will.
The day after the idiot Republicans nominate Romney, there will begin a nine-week MSM seminar in LDS theology, custom, and practice that will leave even Mormons scratching their heads. All this "the Republicans are religious bigots for not wanting Romney" is only for the pre-convention coverage.
Well said. Makes my stomach hurt.
Jesus said you need baptism too.
This is a very important posting.
I know and have known many Mormons and every one of them was an upstanding citizen.
But, I cannot for the life of me understand how anybody can believe this stuff. It’s like Hinduism. It’s polytheism. Mormons are more different from Christianity than is Islam. But, look at it: the Mormons and the Hindus function as citizens of democratic countries, while a large number of Muslims do not.
This dissertation by then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) on Mormon so-called baptism, is clear, objective and compelling.
I will pray that the President of the Mormon Church will have a message from God to reconcile his church’s doctrines and history with the fundamental doctrines of the Christian Church.
Romans was written to the Church, those who had already believed in Jesus Christ and had their sins washed away, recieved the gift of the Holy Spirit and were placed into Christ by baptism.
see Acts 2:38 and 22:16.
“Certainly. Its also a long winded way of the Vatican saying, LDS are not Christian.”
LDS is not Christian in the typical sense of the word. LDS members seem to be clueless about all this “cut and paste” stuff. Most of the LDS members I have encountered are Trinitarian (One Godhead), especially if they grew up in a Protestant church.
If they grew up Mormon, they tend to be a little less sure. It will be interesting when the first debate moderator asks Romney if God had sex with His wife.
This is one area where Protestants and Catholics agree. I don’t believe that there is any major Protestant denomination which accepts Mormon baptism as valid.
I hope so, but I doubt it, the media portrays resistance to Mormonism as a bigotry only held by a few knuckle dragging “Evangelicals”, they are always making it seem like only a fringe of backwards, unsophisticated, fundamentalist churches do not accept Mormonism as Christian. The media will go after Romney with bulldozers, but I think they will not break down this carefully constructed barrier and continued marginalization of their worst enemy, the Evangelical voter. They really do not want it learned how on almost all public issues all Christian Americans should be on the same united page, and in fact, are.
I have spent years here at FR posting the Catholic and the Orthodox position on Mormonism and it is only now starting to get reflected.
Even at FR, the biggest defenders of ‘Mormonism being Christian’ have been Mormons of course, but Catholics as a close second, many like ‘GOP_Lady’ are now gone because of their hard nosed devotion to Mitt Romney, atheists also show up on the Mormon threads to defend Mormonism.
We need to spread the information posted on this thread, I would even like to see Catholic Caucus threads where it is discussed among other Catholics and deals with Catholics who continue to rebel against the church in behalf of the anti-Christian cult.
Catholic Answers also addresses Mormonism as being “non-Christian”, many FR Catholics have attacked my use of Catholic Answers for this topic, but it has always struck me as a reputable source for Catholic teachings.
Huge divergence on Trinity and baptism invalidates the intention of the Mormon minister of baptism and of the one to be baptized
Colofornian does great work in her exposure of Mormonism, she needs more Catholic participation and supportive rebuttal of those Catholics who are sympathetic to Mormonism though, in my opinion.
I remember GOP_Lady for instance, I don’t know why she wasn’t under constant attack by her fellow Catholics, she was a fierce warrior for promoting the idea that Mormonism was Christian, I fought her tooth and nail, and constantly exposed her to the official Catholic view.
If the tract has an Imprimatur on it, then that will tend to quite the protests down a bit.
What do you mean?
You mean for Catholic Answers?
Some of the Catholic Answers tracts do in fact have an Imprmatur and Nihil Obstat on them. That is what I was refering to.
Even many, if not most Catholics don’t know what that means, only a rare non-Catholic would, I was asking what they are.
When Catholic Answers was rejected when it came to Mormonism, I never saw any Catholics come to it’s defense, is CA just no good as a source?
Most of the LDS members I have encountered are Trinitarian (One Godhead), especially if they grew up in a Protestant church.
- - - -
Actually they are not, not really. They are more henothesists. They believe there are millions of gods, and that there are 3 separate gods who are the “God” for this world. They flat out reject the Trinity.
I grew up in Protestant churches but never ‘got it’, converted to Mormonism, then left and became a Christian after several years.
Mormons WILL lie to you and use Christian terms that make them seem Christian or trinitarian but they aren’t really and they know it.
“Mormons WILL lie to you and use Christian terms that make them seem Christian or trinitarian but they arent really and they know it.”
Which begs the question; How do you know they are lying?
How do *I* know? Or how can a casual never Mormon know?
Jesus answered, The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.
1 John 3:21-24
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps Gods commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Not to that thief fellow next to him on the cross.
And, in Acts, chapter 15, it somehow never got mentioned.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.
12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. Brothers, he said, listen to me. 14 Simon[a] has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 After this I will return
and rebuild Davids fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things[b]
18 things known from long ago.[c]
19 It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.  [d] 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
PAUL was a little limp on it's REQUIREMENT...
1 Corinthians 1:10-17 10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloes household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, I follow Paul; another, I follow Apollos; another, I follow Cephas[b]; still another, I follow Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I dont remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospelnot with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
I am TIRED of these softballs!
Got anything harder to swing at? ;^)
That’s why you didn’t answer it.
Well; since it wasn't directed expressly to me and I was just butting in...
I've noticed that... ;^)
You Christians need a LIFT this morning?
Read the comments!
I run the video projector at my church and many of the images in that video I have in my picture database and use them often.
I don’t hear worth a darn and another fellow runs the sound system.
I love the images in the video