Pope Benedict ordered change in baptismal liturgy before resigning


A post that’s relevant to our recent focus here on Baptism just came across the feed.

From the Deacon’s Bench:

The Sunday after the Epiphany is the Sunday of the baptism of Jesus. And on each of these Sundays, year after year, Benedict XVI administered the first sacrament of Christian initiation to a certain number of children, in the Sistine Chapel.

Each time, therefore, he had occasion to pronounce the formulas supplied by the rite of baptism in effect since 1969. But two of the words in this rite never entirely convinced him.

And so, before renouncing the chair of Peter, he ordered that they should be changed in the original Latin, and as a result in the modern languages as well.

The current baptismal liturgy reads in Latin, Magno gaudio communitas christiana te (vos) excipit, “The Christian community receives [or welcomes] you with great joy.” But in Pope Benedict’s judgment — and I quite agree — that doesn’t quite capture the fullness of truth that the Church of God subsists in the Catholic Church. Even Protestant churches are “Christian communities.” But this is the Church that Christ founded and gave to us.

In practice pope Joseph Ratzinger, as a sophisticated theologian, wanted that in the baptismal rite it should be clearly said that it is the Church of God – which subsists fully in the Catholic Church – that receives those who are being baptized, and not generically the “Christian community,” a term that also signifies the individual local communities or non-Catholic confessions, like the Protestants.

The alteration is slight but profound: from now on, at the end of the rite of reception, before signing with the cross the forehead of the child or catechumen, the priest will now say, Magno gaudio Ecclesia Dei te (vos) excipit, “The Church of God welcomes you with great joy.”

Read the whole original article by Sandro Magister, or the full piece at the Deacon’s Bench.

7 thoughts on “Pope Benedict ordered change in baptismal liturgy before resigning

  1. The phrase “Christian community” focuses on the believers, as if this community were a human invention, whereas “Church of God” focuses on the fact that the Church is the invention of God. “Church” in this context can indeed include all children of God as understood by the fathers of Vatican II. This is my theory on the change of language in the Rite of Baptism. But, I hope someone would ask the Pope Emeritus to clarify this important point. Have a great weekend. God bless!

    • Agreed. It was a relief to read about this change by Pope Benedict XVI. Over the past six years or so, my parish gradually began removing the words Catholic Church and/or just Church and replacing it with the words “faith community” until their identity as a Catholic Church just disappeared. A prayer petition for new Catholics who had entered the Church was, “That God would bless all the new Christians who were baptized ‘into this community’.” May our good Lord use this small change to begin to gradually lead many of His priests and people back to the knowledge of who we are and how blessed to be within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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