The 11-page text published only in Italian on Feb. 3 reiterates that for all sacraments in the Catholic Church, the “observance of both matter and form has always been required for the validity of the celebration.”
“Both matter and form, summarized in the Code of Canon Law, are established in the liturgical books promulgated by the competent authority, which must therefore be faithfully observed, without ‘adding, removing or changing anything,’” it says.
The document adds that arbitrary changes to either matter or form “jeopardize the effective bestowal of sacramental grace, to the obvious detriment of the faithful” and that the “severity and invalidating force” of such changes. “must be ascertained on a case-by-case basis.”
“Gestis Verbisque” frequently refers to the dicastery’s 2020 doctrinal note on the modification of the sacramental formula of baptism, which clarified that changing the words to the baptismal formula to “we baptize you” invalidated the baptism, requiring anyone who had been baptized with this formula to be considered as not yet having received the sacrament.
Fernández writes that in 2022 cardinals and bishops taking part in the DDF’s January plenary assembly had already expressed concern about “the multiplication of situations in which they were forced to note the invalidity of the Sacraments celebrated.”
Specific examples, listed by the cardinal, include using “I baptize you in the name of the Creator …” or “In the name of your father and mother … we baptize you,” instead of the established baptismal formula.