Cardinal Sean O’ Malley of the Boston Archdiocese is known for his ability to reach out to others, however, he did not think a recent action thoroughly.
During the conclusion of an ecumenical worship service at the Methodist church in Sudbury, Massachusetts; Cardinal O’Malley asked a female minister to “reaffirm” his baptism. This event was meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary when Cardinal Richard Cushing spoke at the same Methodist location.
Cardinal O’ Malley dipped his thumb into a bowl of “consecrated” water and made the sign of the cross on the forehead of Anne Robertson, a United Methodist minister. He then would ask her to reciprocate the same action telling him “Remember your baptism and be thankful” after saying the ritual words.
Robertson later on said she was moved to tears and left speechless by the Cardinal’s request. She wrote on her blog:
Ecumenical gatherings are not always warm, fuzzy events for women of the cloth. Most of us have experienced many types of exclusion, even within our own congregations, let alone when we try to join with Christian groups that don’t believe women are fit for ordination. And in this group there might well be those who wouldn’t have wanted such a blessing from any Protestant, even a male one. I was deep in thought as I received my bowl.
Our exit toward the overflow room took us directly past Cardinal O’Malley. Fortunately, Tom’s [a fellow clergy person at the gathering] brain was more engaged in the moment, and he was not about to lose out on the chance to have the man who might well be Pope someday anoint him. Tom stopped in front of the Cardinal and asked for his blessing. I stopped with him and Cardinal O’Malley was gracious enough to anoint me, too.
And then, as the two of us stood there together, Cardinal O’Malley looked me in the eye and asked me to anoint him. I did. The divorced, Scotch Protestant clergywoman anointed the Irish Catholic Cardinal in front of a pew of Catholic clergy and a Catholic Bishop, any one of whom would probably have given their eye teeth to have the honor. I choked back sobs all the way to the overflow room.
This farcical ceremony is sending the wrong message to Catholics and Protestants instead of what the Catholic Church warrants in her promotion of ecumenism.
Robertson is merely a lay women due to the fact that women cannot be ordained. She does not have the authority to bless or formally baptize. The role of women in the Church is clear in the Scriptures: 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Cardinal O’ Malley was wrong is asking her to “reaffirm” his baptism. This is already done during Easter or when we cross ourselves with holy water when entering a Catholic church.
By doing this, O’ Malley is giving the wrong message that this lady’s ministry is equal to the priesthood of Christ which is the only valid ministry in Christianity. Moreover, Methodists do not have the same theology on Baptism as Catholics. They do not believe that it removes original sin. (see: http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.5687105/k.77B9/Search_Results_UMCorg.htm?query=original%20sin&more=umc_sites)
Robertson is also the author of “God’s Top 10: Blowing the Lid off the Commandments” which is a book that endorses contraception, abortion and gay marriage. Just think about this for a moment. Here with have a divorced Protestant clergywoman reaffirming the Baptism of an ordained Cardinal/Archbishop of the one and only Church Christ founded, the Catholic Church. Scary huh?
Terrace C. Donilon, spokesman of the archdiocese of Boston said of the ceremony:
“It is not a blessing or a sacrament, it is a recalling of the grace of Baptism. Catholics do it every time they enter a church, by dipping their finger into the holy water font and making the sign of the cross.”
Ecumenism is important, but Catholic leaders participating in ecumenical ceremonies must be careful not to promote false ecumenism or indifferentism. Here are what Pope Pius IX said on the matter:
“Also perverse is the shocking theory that it makes no difference to which religion one belongs, a theory which is greatly at variance even with reason. By means of this theory, those crafty men remove all distinction between virtue and vice, truth and error, honorable and vile action. They pretend that men can gain eternal salvation by the practice of any religion, as if there could ever be any sharing between justice and iniquity, any collaboration between light and darkness, or any agreement between Christ and Belial.”
Qui pluribus – http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9quiplu.htm
Singulari Quidem – Pius IX
Unam Sanctam – Boniface VIII
Mirari Vos – Gregory XVI
Mortalium Animos – Pius XI
Unitatis Redintegratio – Vatican II Council
What were you thinking Cardinal O’ Malley!?
I think Cardinal O’ Malley was trying to send a message of humility and solidarity, but unfortunately we are not of “One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism” 100% (Ephesians 4:5). His display sent the wrong message that it doesn’t matter what religion we belong to and that the Catholic priesthood is not the only valid form Holy Orders.