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Old August 18th, 2017, 11:40 AM   #1

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Re-baptism in the medieval Latin church


Hi all, I was just reading about a Byzantine debate in the eleventh century about conversion to orthodoxy, and namely that Armenians who converted at that time had become subject to re-baptism because they were associated with dualist, and therefore Manichaenean, beliefs. This is a new thing in the orthodox church, and previously there's even some evidence of Armenians taking communion with the orthodox despite the former being officially in schism with the Council of Chalcedon.

In any case, this got me thinking: does the western church do re-baptism for heretics or non-Latin Christians? Do theologians and canon lawyers ever discuss this topic in the middle ages?
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Old August 19th, 2017, 03:57 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Kirialax View Post
Hi all, I was just reading about a Byzantine debate in the eleventh century about conversion to orthodoxy, and namely that Armenians who converted at that time had become subject to re-baptism because they were associated with dualist, and therefore Manichaenean, beliefs. This is a new thing in the orthodox church, and previously there's even some evidence of Armenians taking communion with the orthodox despite the former being officially in schism with the Council of Chalcedon.

In any case, this got me thinking: does the western church do re-baptism for heretics or non-Latin Christians? Do theologians and canon lawyers ever discuss this topic in the middle ages?
As far as I know they don't re-baptize those already baptized according to the trinitarian formula ("in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"), but receive them only by chrismation, impositon of hands or a simple profession of faith, depending from case to case. This was the general ruling of their doctors. Among the Eastern Orthodox there have been differences in this regard, e.g. the Russian Church has received those already baptized according to the trinitarian formula without re-baptism, while the tradition of the Greek Church is to re-baptize them.
Concerning the Holy Eucharist, again as far as I know, it is always forbidden to commune with heretics (or schismatics), because the boundaries of the Holy Church of Christ are the boundaries of the Holy Eucharist: it would be a non-sense to regard them as heretics (or schismatics) and at the same time to commune with them.

Last edited by Ficino; August 19th, 2017 at 04:20 AM.
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Old September 9th, 2017, 07:29 PM   #3
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This is hard to say. The Roman Catholic church has two rites a Latin Rite and a Greek Rite. The Latin Rite is the main branch of Roman Catholic church and it certainly does not practice re-baptism, but the Greek rite is much more like Greek Orthodoxy and they might be allowed to do it. Their priests are allowed to be married unlike the Latin Rite Catholics. Latin Rite priests are not allowed to switch to the Greek Rite.
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Old September 10th, 2017, 02:07 AM   #4
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This is hard to say. The Roman Catholic church has two rites a Latin Rite and a Greek Rite. The Latin Rite is the main branch of Roman Catholic church and it certainly does not practice re-baptism, but the Greek rite is much more like Greek Orthodoxy and they might be allowed to do it. Their priests are allowed to be married unlike the Latin Rite Catholics. Latin Rite priests are not allowed to switch to the Greek Rite.
The Byzantine rite (which you call "Greek") is not the only Eastern Catholic rite, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Catholic_Churches. I don't know from where did you take the idea that "Latin priests are not allowed to switch to the Greek rite", e.g. Vladimir Ghika was authorized to serve in both the Latin and the Byzantine rites.
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Old September 10th, 2017, 05:36 AM   #5
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There was a heresy in late Roman times called Donatism. The Donatists said that rituals performed by corrupt priests were invalid. The mainstream, Catholic, Church decreed that a priest's authority came from his office, not his character, and therefore any acts he performed were valid regardless of any character flaws the priest might have.

I don't know if this has any relevance toward your question of valid vs invalid baptisms or not. It would seem to me that a baptism performed by an ordained priest is valid, but I don't know if the Orthodox Church recognized Armenian ordinations. Today, the Catholic Church does not recognize Anglican ordinations but the Anglican Church does recognize Catholic ordinations.
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Old September 12th, 2017, 05:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ficino View Post
The Byzantine rite (which you call "Greek") is not the only Eastern Catholic rite, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Catholic_Churches. I don't know from where did you take the idea that "Latin priests are not allowed to switch to the Greek rite", e.g. Vladimir Ghika was authorized to serve in both the Latin and the Byzantine rites.
I took the idea from Catholic sources, as I did calling them "Greek Rite". One ordained one is not allowed to switch rites, but the Catholic church is willing to break all of it's rules provided that the rule breaking is done by them and under their authority. One can find exceptions for anything they prohibit "absolutely".
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Originally Posted by kirialax
...In any case, this got me thinking: does the western church do re-baptism for heretics or non-Latin Christians? Do theologians and canon lawyers ever discuss this topic in the middle ages?
I don't know whether or not you're aware of this but Baptism in the Catholic Church is not like baptism in Orthodox Churches. In the Catholic church baptism does not make one a member of the church and is in the Latin Rite never redone. The Catholic church has a two step baptism: baptism and confirmation, rather than a one step baptism as in Orthodox Churches and the original church. They never re-baptize fallen away members with a full remission of all sins upon re-baptism and have the doctrine that if any sin is not confesses to one of their priests even a forgotten one that sinner is going to hell. Of course in the early church there was neither re-baptism nor infant baptism -if one committed mortal sins once baptized one was kick out of the church and not allowed back in.
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Old September 14th, 2017, 12:40 PM   #7
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I don't know whether or not you're aware of this but Baptism in the Catholic Church is not like baptism in Orthodox Churches. In the Catholic church baptism does not make one a member of the church and is in the Latin Rite never redone. The Catholic church has a two step baptism: baptism and confirmation, rather than a one step baptism as in Orthodox Churches and the original church. They never re-baptize fallen away members with a full remission of all sins upon re-baptism and have the doctrine that if any sin is not confesses to one of their priests even a forgotten one that sinner is going to hell. Of course in the early church there was neither re-baptism nor infant baptism -if one committed mortal sins once baptized one was kick out of the church and not allowed back in.
Re: confirmation in the Orthodox Church see https://orthodoxwiki.org/Chrismation. Baptism and confirmation are different mysteries/sacraments.
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Old September 16th, 2017, 04:55 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kirialax View Post
Hi all, I was just reading about a Byzantine debate in the eleventh century about conversion to orthodoxy, and namely that Armenians who converted at that time had become subject to re-baptism because they were associated with dualist, and therefore Manichaenean, beliefs. This is a new thing in the orthodox church, and previously there's even some evidence of Armenians taking communion with the orthodox despite the former being officially in schism with the Council of Chalcedon.

In any case, this got me thinking: does the western church do re-baptism for heretics or non-Latin Christians? Do theologians and canon lawyers ever discuss this topic in the middle ages?
Admittedly my knowledge of canon law is not very good but from what I understand, baptism is considered a 'once-for-all' sacrament. For example, the Catholic Church recognises the baptisms of people from many other denominations including the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian churches because the theological reasoning and formula is pretty much the same. The idea of a second baptism might be considered sacrilegious because by its very concept, you are questioning the validity of the original administering of this sacrament although this might be necessary if there is little to no evidence that the person in question had been baptised before especially as an infant.

There is a pretty good article I found which analyses the question of rebaptism according to canon law - Do Converts Have to be Rebaptized? - Canon Law Made EasyCanon Law Made Easy

Regarding the Middle Ages, again, I am not sure the Catholic Church's position regarding the validity of baptisms of people from the Eastern Churches or any other denominations deemed heresies. Again, it would have depended on whether the respective theology behind those initial baptisms was sound especially with regards to the Holy Trinity.

Arian Christians apparently practised rebaptism and this was something mentioned in Victor of Vita's "History of the Vandal Persecution" when Catholics in North Africa were targeted.
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Old September 17th, 2017, 09:55 AM   #9
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Admittedly my knowledge of canon law is not very good but from what I understand, baptism is considered a 'once-for-all' sacrament. For example, the Catholic Church recognises the baptisms of people from many other denominations including the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian churches because the theological reasoning and formula is pretty much the same. The idea of a second baptism might be considered sacrilegious because by its very concept, you are questioning the validity of the original administering of this sacrament although this might be necessary if there is little to no evidence that the person in question had been baptised before especially as an infant.
Baptism is a sacrament that can be administered only once, the problem is if and when a Church recognizes as valid the baptism administered outside that Church.
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