The Catholic Church is known for its attention to detail and its obsession with standards and uniformity. Few human institutions can even come close to this. Notable examples include the Armed Forces and the medical profession.
The Church insists on this detail for a variety of reasons. One reason is that the Church desires to follow Christ’s example, both in deed and in word, whenever possible. For example, if the Eucharistic prayer is altered and the priest does not state the words of the Eucharistic prayer precisely as Christ mandated it on Holy Thursday, then transubstantiation does not occur and the Eucharist does not become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Also, if someone other than a validly ordained Catholic priest attempts to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, then Communion is not valid as this person is not acting in concert with Christ’s commands on Holy Thursday, ie, only ordained priests can perform the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Another reason for the Church’s insistence on uniformity is to prevent a free-for-all that can occur when standards cease to exist. We can readily see this in protestantism, where there are now over 33,000 Christian denominations that have appeared since the reformation. Once an individual or group of individuals decides to make their own rules and set up their own liturgies, a literal Tower of Babel, both theologically and in practice, rapidly develops. We even find this occurring these days in the Church when priests, bishops, and other Church officials fail to follow Church teaching – this often leads to an exodus of otherwise faithful Christians who see this as hypocrisy of their leaders.
The same applies to the Sacrament of Baptism. The formula for a valid baptism requires not only the correct substances (water, oil) but also the correct words and actions. A baptism must have all of these elements correct and as the Church proscribes; if not, then the sacrament will not be conferred and the person being baptized will not be free of original sin. Furthermore, if the Sacrament of Baptism is not performed correctly and the sacrament is not conferred, then all future sacraments are null and void as they cannot be received if one did not receive a valid Sacrament of Baptism.
This recently came to light in the Archdiocese of Detroit, where a priest of the Archdiocese was watching a video of his baptism and realized that the deacon performing the baptism attempted to baptize this priest as an infant using a different formula than what the Church demands. Therefore, this baptism was invalid. The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed this on August 6, 2020.
What this means for this priest is that all of the sacraments he received are invalid, including Confirmation and Holy Orders. He had to repeat them and receive them in a valid manner. Diocese of Gaylord Administrator Bishop Walter Hurley released a memo this week regarding this issue.
We have received reports from more than one individual that Father Michael Haney has been performing invalid baptisms for years at Cross in the Woods parish, Indian River. One family notified us that they were specifically instructed by a faithful of this Diocese to avoid having Fr. Haney perform the baptism due to concerns as to the validity of the baptism. If you or one of your family has had a baptism performed by Fr. Haney, please review it (if you have a video of it) for its validity. If you are unable to determine whether or not the baptism was performed validly, please contact us and we will assist you in this determination.