Claytoonz: Bad faith is risen in Phoenix
I was born Catholic and then dragged into Baptist churches after my father bailed on us. Later, my mom married a guy in the Chicago suburbs and I was dragged back into Catholic churches. After they divorced, I was forced to move to the deep south and once again attend Baptist churches. So naturally, I’m an atheist. During the 90s, my wife at the time wanted us to be churchgoers and me having my fill of Baptist churches, told her yes but only if we were Catholic. So, we gave that a spin for a year or so. Baptist church…Catholic church…it didn’t matter. We were still always the last family to arrive and would enter during the sermon. I don’t think my wife ever fully understood how bad it was to have an entire church of Catholics angrily looking down their noses at you. While we’re at it, let’s go piss off a bunch of Jewish mothers.
Catholicism is a lot more confusing than Baptist. While they both say you’re going to burn in Hell if you don’t behave, they have the same foundation as they’re both Christian faiths, but Baptists come off judgier and Catholics have a lot more rituals. When it comes to putting on a show, Catholics win hands down. I can’t say I fully understand everything about both religions, but hey…full-fledged Catholics can’t say they understand all of Catholicism. And apparently, even priests can’t fully understand their own religion.
How are we expected to understand the Father, the Spirit, and the Holy Ghost when a Catholic priest can’t understand the difference between “we” and “I”? And, he didn’t understand it for decades.
Because one priest replaced “I” with “we” in Arizona, thousands of baptisms are now rendered invalid by the Catholic Church. What?
The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix announced that after careful study, Reverand Andres Arango had used the wrong wording in baptisms performed up until June 17, 2021. One word made them all wrong.
Father Arango said during baptisms, “We baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Hell, I don’t even understand why “name” is capitalized. But his wording doesn’t sound bad, right? He got all that religious hocus pocus mumbo jumbo stuff in there. It sounds good to me. Again, I never was a good Catholic. According to the Phoenix Diocese, the Father should have said, “I baptize you” instead of “we baptize you.”
I guess he thought he represented God and the church, so it was a “we” and not just himself doing the baptizing even though it was just him physically dunking people’s heads into water. You can get kicked out of a pool for doing that normally…or out of school if you use a toilet.
Are you confused? Well, you should be. This is Catholicism. It’s all confusing.
The church explains it like this: “It is not the community that baptizes a person and incorporates them into the Church of Christ; rather, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides at all sacraments; therefore, it is Christ who baptizes. If you were baptized using the wrong words, that means your baptism is invalid, and you are not baptized.”
Now I am confused. If it’s Christ doing the baptizing, and not the priest, when the priest says “I,” is he saying he’s Christ? Why does he say, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father and Myself and of the Holy Spirit?” I told you I suck at Catholicism.
But, the church says you’re not baptized if you were baptized with the wrong word. You gotta be careful with the proper wording with incantations because, in Army of Darkness, Ash was supposed to say “Klaatu verata nikto” to the necronomicon in order to return to his own time, but forgetting one of the words, he said, “Klaatu verata mumble mumble mumble” and ended up raising an evil Ash and an army of Deadites.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said this was confirmed after an
investigation by diocesan officials in consultation with the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. He noted that the
Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith affirmed in 2020 that
baptisms conferred with the phrase “We baptize you” are not valid.
That means this isn’t just an opinion from Arizona that can be overturned by a recount from Cyber Ninjas, but that this is straight from the Vatican. This is an official Catholic Church position. Unless the Pope says otherwise, these baptisms, which this particular priest has been giving since Toad the Wet Sprocket was huge and before Ross and Rachel were ever on a break, are all invalid. Maybe the church can pivot.
It gets even deeper. Even deeper than a swirlie baptism.
The church further explained that because baptism is the “sacrament that grants access to all the others,” a botched baptism could invalidate any subsequent sacraments, including confirmation, marriage, and holy orders.
I always thought a “botched” baptism would be something like falling into the church pool and next thing you know, you’re in the wrong religion.
By the way, when I was a kid, I had to live with my Uncle Rock, Aunt Charlotte, and my two cousins, Tammy and Debbie for six months while my mom was in prison. Seriously. They were very religious and I had to go to church twice on Sundays, once on Wednesday, and every night during revival week. One day, my uncle took us all to get baptized. My uncle, aunt, and two cousins each had their names called and would take their turn getting their heads dunked in a shallow pool. After they called the fourth one, they moved on to the next family. My name was never called. It was like the Baptist church looked at me and said, “Nope.” I was a pretty cynical kid. My mom never took me to be baptized, so I was never baptized. Maybe that explains a lot.
If you were baptized by this particular priest and he said “we” instead of “I” during the ceremony and you got married after, even if the ceremony was conducted by another priest, yeah, you’re not married, at least not in the Catholic Church’s eye. This priest has been doing it wrong since 1995 which means there are a lot of 26-year-olds just now discovering they’re bastards and mommy and daddy have been living in sin all these years. Hey, it works for Kurt and Goldie.
Even though the priest has resigned, the diocese says, despite him inadvertently condemning thousands to an eternity in Hell, he remains a priest in “good standing.” It’s not like he was fondling alter boys and they have to conceal it and move the priest to another parish.
But, if I understand Christianity correctly, all you have to do after any sin is ask God for forgiveness. The Baptists don’t do this but the Catholics have confession, where you enter a booth and confess all your sins to a priest. Then your slate is clean of sins until you rack up new ones and you go back, confess again, and get your slate cleansed again. So I guess if you were in one of these botched baptisms, after you are re-baptized…or baptized for the first time, then re-married…or married for the first time to the person you thought you have been married to for years, you can enter a confession booth and say, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…but it wasn’t my fault this time.” Now, is it my writing that makes it all confusing, or is it Catholicism?
I have an opinion on this. Now, keep in mind that when I talk about religion and everything else that goes with the existence of a god, it’s my opinion. It’s how I, not “we,” feel about it. I am NOT telling you it’s a fact. Nobody knows facts about God and the afterlife. That is a fact. You and I know just as much about the afterlife as the Pope. Fact.
If the Catholic Church has authority and say over whether you’re married or not, they only have that authority because you gave it to them. If you believe the Catholic Church has to approve of your marriage, does that mean you believe all non-Catholic marriages are illegitimate? I don’t believe that. If you’re married, then you’re married…no matter what anyone else says. And if Chandler and Monica can get married by Joey, then you’re still married despite this one priest botching a single word.
Religious people would always describe marriage as being between a man and a woman…and God. But who are they the ones to say who can get married? Didn’t we go through this with gay marriage? Who’s the government to say who can marry who? I believe anyone can marry anyone, as long as it’s not your dog or your sister. Basically, humans can marry any other non-related human…if they’re of legal age. Hell, Rudy Giuliani is Catholic and the church let him marry his cousin. So, who is the Catholic Church to say you’re married because one priest said “we” instead of “I”? And don’t get me started on the father giving away the bride like she’s a piece of property.
It’s kinda like for the Supremes to be signed by Motown Records, they had to give their guitar player to Smokey Robinson. It was a trade of one recording contract for one guitar player. Guitar players are not property! Hey, did you hear about the band that locked their keys inside the van? It took them an hour to get the drummer out. OK, I’ll stop digressing.
Back to these Phoenix Catholics, the diocese said that while the situation may seem legalistic, the words, materials, and actions are crucial aspects of every sacrament, and changing any of them makes them invalid.
The diocese explained, “For example, if a priest uses milk instead of wine during the Consecration of the Eucharist, the sacrament is not valid. The milk would not become the Blood of Jesus Christ.” Also, if people walk into a situation expecting wine and they get milk, there will be Hell to pay. Catholics can drink, yo. Also, can Mad Dog serve as the Blood of Jesus Christ? What about Ripple? Can you do it with a Zima?
Does this work with crackers too? If someone uses a knock-off Brand for Ritz, does that mean that cracker is not the body of Christ?
This is just another reason why I’m atheist, or more specifically, agnostic. I don’t have the answers and will never claim to have them. I’m open that there may be a higher power, even though I seriously doubt it. But, I don’t believe in organized religions’ descriptions of a god. Now, I’m not a person who tries to convert people. I respect your faith. It’s nice to be honest and say I believe in something without any physical proof. It’s like believing Trump won.
But, I will say that being agnostic is easier. Hell, it’s even easier than atheism because those people are starting to have meetings now. Atheists are like vegetarians. They will tell you they’re an atheist when you never asked. But, free of religious and atheistic commitments, I get to sleep in, I don’t have to be lectured to while trapped in a pew for hours, I don’t have to listen to religious music (Christian rock is the worst and if there is a God, then that music was created by Satan), I don’t have to give money to a minister who’s just going to spend it on a private jet and lots of hair gel, I don’t have to pray or ever get down on my knees unless there’s a really good beneficial reason, and I don’t have to worry about shit like “we” and “I”.
I think religion is superstition and makes as much sense as believing in Santa Claus. I mean, you believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy because your parents told you to…or maybe a Tim Allen movie. At some point, either your parents told you they had been lying or you opened your own mind and figured it out for yourself. That’s what happened to me when I got a dollar for a tooth and then later found it in the dishwasher. Your parents were also the first to tell you to believe in a god and they put you into your religion. But they never “pivoted” and told you it wasn’t real, probably because their parents never did the pivot. You are probably like most people, still in the same religion your parents forced you to be in. You should have done a Ross and screamed “pivot” over and over until your parents finally relented and screamed back there is not a god and those are generic Aldi crackers you’re eating.
I also think people believe in a god because it’s scary to think you’re here alone and nobody’s watching over you and will be sure it’ll be alright in the end. You mean I’m the one who has to take care of all this crap? It’s all on me? Oh, fuck.
I accept most people are religious, even most people I’m friends with. That’s why I don’t try to convert or even talk about religion. When a friend wants to talk to me about religion, I warn them first. Of course, I also have the kind of friends who don’t try to rope me in. They respect my belief while I respect theirs. Sheep.
You can be a good person without being a member of a religion. Even the Church of Satan says “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”
Now, if you’re one of the unfortunate souls who was baptized by this Arizona priest and you can’t sleep at night over it, then, by all means, go get baptized…again. But, If there is a Hell and you’re going there, it’s not because someone said “we” instead of “I”. You know what you did.
Music Note: While coloring today’s cartoon, I listened to Toad the Wet Sprocket.
Clay Jones is the 2022 recipient of the RFK Human Rights Journalism Award in Editorial Cartooning, and won a 2021 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists. He was a finalist for the Herblock Prize in 2019 and a finalist for the National Headliner Award in 2020. See more award-winning editorial cartoons from him at Claytoonz.com.