In August of this year, we reported on the scandal of invalid baptisms in Michigan parishes. We received word of a long history of baptisms performed by Fr. Haney that were problematic and downright invalid. This has been going on for years despite concerns parishioners had brought up to clergy. Nothing was done.
Finally, in large part due to a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit who watched a video of himself being given a phoney baptism, dioceses across the United States had to confront this issue as it made national news, at least national Catholic news.
On October 25, 2020, in the parish bulletin, Fr. Haney (incompetently) admitted to his incompetence. Here is the statement he published:
In cooperation with a statement recently issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a Vatican office, Bishop Walter Hurley has encouraged pastors in the Diocese of Gaylord to invite parishioners who think they have witnessed an invalid Baptism to contact the office of either the bishop or their pastor for further assistance. That Congregation has identified Baptisms wherein the priest or deacon uses the formula “WE baptize you…” instead of “I baptize you…” as invalid Baptisms. Catholic and secular media outlets have brought this matter to the public’s attention, and the Catholic Church stands ready to assist parishioners who feel they have been improperly served.
It has been brought to my attention that I have celebrated Baptisms in this way during my time at Cross in the Woods and, if such is the case, these Baptism(s) would be invalid and should be celebrated again using the proper form. I apologize for this error on my part, as well-intentioned as it may have been, and wish to correct it to the degree that I am able. You may either contact me to make such arrangements or contact the Diocese who will assist you in making alternative arrangements for Baptism.
What is most concerning with Fr. Haney’s statement is that “it has been brought to my attention that I have celebrated Baptisms in this way (invalidly)…and if such is the case, these Baptism(s) would be invalid”. It seems as if Fr. Haney is ignorant of how a Baptism is to be properly performed. The second part of his statement (“…and if such is the case…”) seems to further indicate his inability to know what constitutes a valid Baptism and what is not a valid Baptism.
This leads to many questions. Was he properly trained? If he was, then why did he change the rubrics of such a basic part of our faith? If he was not properly trained, are other priests who trained with him missing this basic knowledge of the priesthood? Is he really competent to be pastor of a parish when he can’t get the basics correct? Would you go to a doctor who didn’t know how to prescribe medications? Would you seek out the services of an accountant who couldn’t count? What other gaps of knowledge are there with Fr. Haney? Is he competent to perform other sacraments such as Confession, Holy Communion, and Anointing of the Sick?
Certain activities of human interaction require strict adherence to proper protocols to protect their legitimacy. This occurs most importantly in the Church, as certain actions cannot be considered legitimate if they do not adhere to a strict code of word and action. The sacraments are no exception; in fact, they are among the most important treasures the Church possesses and they should be zealously guarded and respected so that Heavenly graces will flow from them. We can rejoice that hopefully, this situation will be resolved in Cross of the Woods parish and perhaps in other parishes where this may have occurred.