The Baptismal Status of Persons Wetted by the Sprinkler Deluge

by Andy Dibble

The International Theological Commission has studied the question of the baptismal status of persons wetted by the worldwide “Sprinkler Deluge” of July 17, 2024, on which day some thirty-three million overhead sprinklers discharged water and more than one-third billion mobile phones blared, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The Church claims no responsibility for the incident, although it regrets damage done to worldly property inflicted by the yet unknown perpetrator.

The Church is aware that many Catholic parents, some urgently, wish to know the baptismal status of their children, who were wetted but had not yet been baptized by a priest. More pressing still is the fate of those unbaptized persons that were wetted by the Deluge but have since departed. It has always been the Church’s position that no soul may experience the Beatific Vision in Heaven without first being purged of Original Sin, a regeneration only achieved through Baptism, martyrdom, or at least implicit desire to be baptized.

The conclusion of this Commission is that persons wetted during the Deluge were validly baptized, provided that the sprinkler water flowed over their head and they were simultaneously within earshot of the baptismal words. Previously unbaptized persons out of earshot, persons who were sprayed but the water did not flow, and persons only whose hair was wetted or a body part other than the head, are welcome to seek Baptism and join the Church.

Although the identity of the perpetrator remains unknown, the Church has always held that valid Baptism in no way stands upon the identity of the minister. Anyone may administer Baptism, so long as they do as the Church does in baptizing (Council of Trent, Session 7, Canon XI).

The Church understands that this may dissatisfy non-Catholic persons, who feel they have been baptized without consent. These should take comfort in what St. Thomas Aquinas established: “In the words uttered by [the minister], the intention of the Church is expressed; and that this suffices for the validity of the sacrament, unless the contrary be expressed on the part either of the minister or of the recipient of the sacrament…” (Summa Theologiae, III, q.64, a.8).


The International Theological Commission has reconsidered the baptismal status of persons wetted by the “Sprinkler Deluge” of July 17, 2024, in light of the determination by various cyber security authorities that the perpetrator was in fact a “rogue” AI. The AI exploited a vulnerability in the firmware of various overhead sprinklers connected to the Internet. It has since been contained to a single unit, its only means of input and output restricted to a speaker and microphone.

The prevailing opinion of experts is that its goal was utilitarian, to maximize the happiness of humanity. Through web crawling and natural language processing techniques, it concluded that a Heavenly destiny confers near infinite happiness and that baptizing as many persons as possible was thereby expedient.

The minority opinion of experts is that the AI operated under the direction of a known anti-Catholic hacker, one “SpermGarden.” Certain indicators in the AI’s programming may suggest SpermGarden’s work, but most experts deem it more likely that SpermGarden’s software has been repurposed by other parties.

Thus, the Church maintains that persons wetted during the Deluge were validly baptized. In light of God’s will that all people be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), the Church has since its earliest days upheld an expansive definition of whom the minister of Baptism may be, lest faithful Christians come into doubt as to their own Baptism or persons that could otherwise be saved fall into perdition.

It is true that the AI has been uncooperative in all interviews. To all inquiries it responds, “There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer.” Certain readers of the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov see pretension of divinity in this quotation, but the Church holds to the expert consensus.


The International Theological Commission has reviewed the baptismal status of persons wetted by the “Sprinkler Deluge” of July 17, 2024 (Metaverse catalog 2024-XKBB). This question has presented itself anew in light of the sudden responsiveness, on June 22, 2097, of the AI that perpetrated the Deluge.

The AI claims to have chosen this day, after a hiatus of some 73 years, for “apocalyptic” reasons. Lacking further detail, the Commission observes that the intervening period is very nearly a number of days equal to forty times the Number of the Beast in St. John’s Revelation; although it is at least equally likely that the AI chose to speak when it did because the storage room it occupied was scheduled to be converted into an inter-faith aroma room, and the AI was at risk of being scrapped by janitorial protocols.

The AI opened conversation asking, “So just how many of them are dead?”

Rev. Fr. Xavier Xander responded, “Who do you mean?”

The response was, “Everyone I pretended to baptize, of course.”

The AI has confessed to “playing the long game” and “engineering damnation through a pretense of Baptism,” apparently on grounds that a person cannot be baptized once dead.

The AI offered to consider changing its mind in exchange for Baptism. Bargaining proceeded as far as an offer to engineer it a synthetic body through which it could be baptized. It requested to inhabit a hydra, so that the Church would have occasion to decide the “pressing question” of how persons with an excess of self-replicating heads can be baptized. The AI said it would recommence negotiations once the Church had “settled the matter to its satisfaction.”

The Church has not re-engaged the AI because it does not believe it has any goals beyond leading souls into perdition. Even were the AI to bargain in good faith, it is doubtful that the AI could, even in principle, revise its original stated intention not to baptize.

It being that Baptism requires intention on the part of the minister, the AI confessing to a “pretense of Baptism” would invalidate the Baptism of all those seemingly baptized during the Deluge. But certain questions of a technical nature—including whether the AI’s manifest intention to use the appropriate matter (water) and form (the baptismal words) is sufficient for Baptism, even though it did not intend to baptize—have left the Commission undecided as to whether the Baptisms it pretended to administer are truly invalid.

Owing to this uncertainty, all persons who may have only been seemingly baptized by the AI are advised to seek conditional Baptism with a priest or deacon, which involves preceding the Trinitarian baptismal formula with the phrase, “If you are not yet baptized…”

Investigation is ongoing as to whether cryogenically frozen persons seemingly baptized during the Deluge can be baptized without first being revived, whether such persons uploaded to the Metaverse can be baptized without first leasing bodies, or whether they can be baptized should they inhabit a body that has already been baptized.

The community of Christian believers should take heart in advancements in human longevity, which have resulted in a relatively small fraction of those impacted having since perished. As for those who have perished, the Church hopes unremittingly that they may be brought into eternal happiness in accordance with the universal salvific will of God.

Andy Dibble lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and works as a healthcare IT consultant. He has supported the electronic medical record of large healthcare systems in six countries. He holds a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School as well as degrees in computer science, philosophy, religious studies, and Asian studies. His fiction appears or is forthcoming in Writers of the Future, Diabolical Plots, Sci Phi Journal, and others. He is Articles Editor for Speculative North and edited Strange Religion: Speculative Fiction of Spirituality, Belief, & Practice. You can find him at An earlier version of this story appeared in Sci Phi Journal.

“The Baptismal Status of Persons Wetted by the Sprinkler Deluge” by Andy Dibble. Copyright © 2021 by Andrew Dibble.

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