One of the last significant changes made in our Rite of Baptism was made shortly before the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI. This is the news that Sandro Magister speaks of in his article today, “Pope Benedict’s Parting Shot.”
The official vernacular texts are not yet available, but you can read all of what is expected in Magister’s article. Antonius Cardinal Cañizares, the Prefect of the Congregation For Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments signed the decree on 22 February 2013. The decreed was effective on 31 March 2013.
What Pope Benedict does is to tighten up our sacramental and ecclesiological theology by changing those phrases that have vague or merely generic language. I am not a generic Christian: I am a member of the Catholic Church in all the fullness that it implies. The sacrament of Baptism as lived in the Catholic Church is clear: the baptized person is made a member of the Body of Christ –the Catholic Church, he is an adopted child of God, his is washed of Original Sin and he is given a pledge of eternal life.
The decree’s opening paragraph reads:
“The gate of life and of the kingdom, baptism is a sacrament of faith, by which men are incorporated into the one Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”
The push back from some may come down to saying that the Pope emeritus was being overly fussy or causing more ecumenical controversy or exerting more ecclesiastical power. All of which, in my opinion, criticism that is not well-placed.
I am curious, as Sandro Magister is, why the Holy See has been quiet about this change. While it is not appropriate to second guess the Holy See but it seems like there is something of goof here by not letting the rest of the world know about the change in the rite of Baptism. Remember: Baptism is the gateway sacrament to all else in our personal and ecclesial history of salvation in Jesus Christ.