Rev. Anne Robertson And Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Moving Photo Sends Shock Waves Through Internet

Have you seen this HuffPost story? Cardinal O’Malley recently invited a female Methodist minister to bless him with water in remembrance of baptism at an ecumenical service.

HuffPost writes:

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley surprised many people when he asked Rev. Robertson, a pastor in the United Methodist Church, to anoint his forehead with consecrated water in an ecumenical baptism reaffirmation ritual … The spontaneous and genuine gesture moved Robertson almost to tears. She told The Huffington Post that she is “grateful for those times when people can see across the divide and see our common humanity– and in this case our common faith.”

Read the whole write-up here.

This is good news ecumenically. And utterly unobjectionable from the standpoint of Catholic teaching and liturgical legislation. It’s unfortunate that the explosive term “anoint” is employed, a word which Catholics use in connection with several of the seven sacraments. As long as we all understand that the term is being used in a different sense here, there is no problem and the heresy hunters can call off their dogs.



  1. I was reading a recent rant on a blog of heretical traditionalists who labeled Pope Francis as an antipope of the Vatican II sect. His biggest crime was praying with and for Jews and Muslims. John Paul II came into the same picture…in a cartoon he appears before the gates of hell because he practiced inter-religious dialogue. I have a theory that most heretics are conservatives caught in some time warp. Whatever happened to the theology of baptism? This was most encouraging.

    1. @halbert Weidner – comment #2:

      Truly, how are these folks different than say, Westboro Baptist? THEY know that JP2 is in hell because he worked with other faiths. Francis is an anti-pope because, why? He promotes the basic teachings of Jesus? Frankly, these people should be excommunicated. I wonder what gate they’ll arrive at….

  2. I was thrilled reading the original article – events such as this are long overdue and rare – and hopefully a harbinger of even deeper and more frequent ecumenical encounters. I fully concur with the editorial comments – except that I find no need to “apologize” for the use of the word “anoint” (even if that may rile certain Catholics). I believe it’s time that all Christians (and especially Catholics) take seriously the call to a deeper ecumenism. When I consider the “state of today’s world” on all levels and the detriment (or scandal) that a divided Christianity witnesses to the world, I angrily lament “if not now … when” will all Christian churches let go of the barriers still in place. For example, it’s approaching 1000 years, and the Eastern & Western churches are still estranged – even though both sides mutually acknowledge each other to be intimately connected with the apostolic era? And after almost 500 years, Western Christianity is still divided – with only some isolated agreements, between some churches, on some doctrinal matters? Do we have to wait for “official high-level” talks and signed agreements among all concerned parties – whenever they get around to it? As a Catholic proudly formed in the pre-Vatican 2 church, and who experienced a profound metanoia during and after Vatican 2, I’ve come to appreciate the special gifts that all Christian traditions & churches bring to the Body of Christ – and the urgent need to end the divisions, not only at the top but at the grass-roots levels as well. I’ve resolved any “conscience issues” long ago regarding my collaboration with other Christian churches on ministry outreach – and fully participating in their worship services, including and going well beyond, weddings & funerals.

  3. I note that the Decree on Ecumenism (UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO) draws a distinction between the Churches of the East that
    “possess true sacraments, above all by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked with us in closest intimacy. Therefore some worship in common (communicatio in sacris), given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not only possible but to be encouraged.” (Paragraph 16)
    and those of the West with whom “there exist important differences from the Catholic Church, not only of a historical, sociological, psychological and cultural character, but especially in the interpretation of revealed truth.” (Paragraph 19)

    I suspect that geographical and linguistic proximity with Protestants leads to greater exchange with them than with those of the Eastern Churches with whom the theological differences are fewer. If so it prompts the question as to why similar initiatives are not attempted with the SSPX in the west. In attempting to answer this I wonder if we will consider afresh what we seek to achieve with ecumenist initiatives.

  4. Does the term “consecrated water” have any particular meaning in either the Methodist or Catholic world? Just asking.

  5. Beautiful. And thanks to Cardinal O’Malley for acting so spontaneously, especially since the blessor was a woman.

  6. Should we offer umbrellas at Mass where the asperges will be used, so the sacramental doesn’t accidentally land on non-Catholics, or the non-baptized?

    Is it heretical to recall my baptism when I splash water on my face? Scandal if I scoop up water from the font at the Easter Vigil to bring up to the choir director, and bless her with it in full view of the congregation, as she is not free to leave to join the procession to the font?

    Grace is not ours to hoard, and sacramentals are not only for those in communion with us.

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