VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Prompted by questions about Mormon practices, the Vatican recently confirmed that the sect´s baptism is invalid.
Last month the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted the invalidity of the Mormons´ baptism given their misconception of the Trinity and, consequently, the identity of Christ.
Father Luis Ladaria, a theologian at the Pontifical Gregorian University, explained today in L´Osservatore Romano the Church´s view about Mormon baptism.
“The baptism of the Catholic Church and that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the theologian said, “differ essentially as regards faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose name baptism is conferred and, at the same time, in regard to Christ, who instituted it.”
Father Ladaria pointed out that even non-Catholics can administer baptism validly, as the minister of the sacrament is, in fact, Christ himself. But the baptizer must do so in the name of the Trinity and “with the intention of doing what the Church does,” he added.
Joseph Smith founded the Mormons in New York state in 1830. He was inspired to find the place were golden tablets were placed, which expressed the revelations of the prophet Mormon, written by him and his son Moroni. Mormonism is a “sacred history” rewritten in America, in which God revealed the “latter-day saints.”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith´s response is based on research requested by the U.S. bishops.
Father Ladaria said the formula used by the Mormons for baptism states that, “having received Christ´s mandate, I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
But there is no real invocation of the Trinity, the theologian said, because, for the Mormons, the “Father,” “Son” and “Holy Spirit” are not the three persons in which the one divinity subsists, but three gods who form a divinity.
The term divinity itself has no “substantial” content, because, according to this Mormon concept, divinity has come into existence given that the three gods have decided to unite and form the divinity to bring about the salvation of man. This divinity and man share the same nature and are “substantially the same,” according to Mormon belief.
Such divergence in doctrine implies, Father Landaria said, that the Mormon minister does not have the intention, when baptizing, of doing what the Catholic Church does when it confers baptism.