In Defense of the Latin Church

NOBODY baptizes by sprinkling, normally. In my travels among Protestants and also Orthodox, I’ve seen occasional reference to alleged Latin sprinkling, usually derogatory, considering it a poor substitute for the speaker’s own preferred method of baptism. (Orthodox, like some Protestants, prefer triple immersion, and even attempt it with adults, as we saw with John Corbet’s character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding [though most of us don’t get Gia Carides to smear oil all over our torsos!!].)

The truth of the matter is that sprinkling, even smudging (not the Native American kind – water, not tobacco smoke!), are permitted only when necessary by the Latin Church. Their usual method is pouring a small amount of water over the candidate’s head – which of course might also be called a poor substitute for triple immersion. But when even pouring isn’t possible, whether because of insufficient water at the particular time or place, or concerns about the candidate, e.g., a water sensitivity or allergy, the fact that they still insist on water at all might be considered by some to be pretty hard-core, considering that many Protestants now use grape juice instead of wine for communion, whether in deference to persons with alcoholism or for other reasons.

I’m not endorsing it *or* criticizing it. “I don’t make the news, I just report it!!” But I thought in fairness a clarification was called for. If we’re going to critique anybody, let’s do so for something they really do as a rule, and not their oikonomia so much.

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