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  #1  
Old Jun 23, '11, 11:41 am
BKD BKD is offline
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Default Baptizing an infant after death...

I have a friend who is training to be a lay hospital chaplain. A non-Catholic couple approached her and asked her to baptize their deceased infant. The child had not recently died but had been dead for some hours. She baptized the child.

I told her I thought this was not correct. I've heard different things from different priests though. For example, I have heard that once medical death has been declared, the child is not to be baptized. I have also heard that if it is right after the baby has been declared dead, then it is acceptable to baptize. The argument was that we don't know how long the soul hangs around the body after death. I have never heard it said that if the child has been deceased for a number of hours that it was acceptable to baptize.

She just went and talked to a priest, one who works as a hospital chaplain, who told her that he didn't see a problem with what she did. He was arguing that you meet people where they are and you meet their pastoral needs.

I need some definitive documentation references on this. Any suggestions? Any universal or local (diocesan) pastoral guidelines would be appreciated.
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  #2  
Old Jun 23, '11, 1:39 pm
ejlo1 ejlo1 is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

This is from the Archdicese of St. Louis:
http://archstl.org/files/worship/ima...mmendation.pdf

and this is from the vatican:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/co...nfants_en.html
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  #3  
Old Jun 23, '11, 1:45 pm
Shin Shin is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

How to Baptize in the Case of a Miscarriage
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  #4  
Old Jun 23, '11, 1:52 pm
Shin Shin is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

'It may be added that the fact that a fetus does not breathe is no proof it is dead. It is not unusual for a full-term child not to breathe for an hour or longer after birth. These are valuable hints for those concerned. Who are they? After the mother's death, when the Caesarean section is not only permissible, but required in order to baptize the child or fetus, a surgeon is to be called in to perform the operation. He should not be easily believed if he asserts that the child is dead. In that case any one else who has the skill and courage to extract the fetus may be invited, provided it is not against the law. Whether the fetus is certainly alive can be discovered by diagnosis in the earlier stages of pregnancy, and by breathing in the later stages, although, as stated above, non-breathing is not an absolute proof of death. At any rate, as long as putrefaction has not set in, conditional baptism is to be administered.'

Rev. P. Chas. Augustine, A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law
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  #5  
Old Jun 23, '11, 1:54 pm
Shin Shin is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

I have read of an extraordinary case in which a person revived even -after- putrefaction has set in.

If life is doubtful, but death is not definite, then conditional baptism.
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  #6  
Old Jun 23, '11, 2:17 pm
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BKD View Post
I have a friend who is training to be a lay hospital chaplain. A non-Catholic couple approached her and asked her to baptize their deceased infant. The child had not recently died but had been dead for some hours. She baptized the child.

.
she was being kind and pastoral
had she been a priest she might have acted differently, or a doctor who could have definitively ruled on time of death, but can you think of a way she could have refused without hurting the couple?
by expecting her to refuse we are expecting her to exercise professional expertise that belong properly to the doctor and to the priest.
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Whatever the Lord pleases He does, on heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. Ps. 135
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  #7  
Old Jun 23, '11, 4:37 pm
heathernoel heathernoel is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Two of my sons have died before birth. In Marshall's case, I was told no baptism because he'd been gone for too long (maybe a day?). In Jonah's case, he died JUST before birth, but there were complications. But because he was born within 4 hours of his death, he was baptized by our Cathedral's priest.

I cherish that baptismal certificate and with I had one for Marshall
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  #8  
Old Jun 23, '11, 6:53 pm
happymommy happymommy is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shin View Post
I'm not real thrilled with
Quote:
When a fetus dies without baptism through no one's fault, it is not a great tragedy. It will live forever in Limbo and have every ounce of natural happiness of which it is capable.]
They don't know where the baby went. None of us now where any of our loved ones are, so I find they are overstepping their bounds a little by saying this. And where is "Limbo"?
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  #9  
Old Jun 23, '11, 9:02 pm
ConstantineTG ConstantineTG is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

A priest told me (and a class) once that even after about 3 hours of death, they can still baptize since we do not know when a soul leaves the body. If the soul is still there, then good. If not, then nothing happens.
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  #10  
Old Jun 23, '11, 9:06 pm
SonCatcher SonCatcher is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by happymommy View Post
I'm not real thrilled with

They don't know where the baby went. None of us now where any of our loved ones are, so I find they are overstepping their bounds a little by saying this. And where is "Limbo"?
That document is from 1959. Understanding has changed quite a bit since then.

Limbo was originally a term to refer to the place where the righteous deceased of the OT resided before Jesus opened the gates of Heaven. Someone reused the term to describe what happens to unbaptized infants because they couldn't resolve the contradiction that Baptism is necessary for salvation and that babies committed no actual sin to require damnation.
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  #11  
Old Jun 23, '11, 9:20 pm
happymommy happymommy is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonCatcher View Post
That document is from 1959. Understanding has changed quite a bit since then.

Limbo was originally a term to refer to the place where the righteous deceased of the OT resided before Jesus opened the gates of Heaven. Someone reused the term to describe what happens to unbaptized infants because they couldn't resolve the contradiction that Baptism is necessary for salvation and that babies committed no actual sin to require damnation.
thank you
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  #12  
Old Jun 23, '11, 9:37 pm
thistle thistle is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by happymommy View Post
I'm not real thrilled with

They don't know where the baby went. None of us now where any of our loved ones are, so I find they are overstepping their bounds a little by saying this. And where is "Limbo"?
Limbo for Infants has never been a Church teaching. It has only ever been a theological hypothesis.
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  #13  
Old Jun 24, '11, 4:57 am
Vincent1984 Vincent1984 is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzleannie View Post
she was being kind and pastoral
had she been a priest she might have acted differently, or a doctor who could have definitively ruled on time of death, but can you think of a way she could have refused without hurting the couple?
by expecting her to refuse we are expecting her to exercise professional expertise that belong properly to the doctor and to the priest.
I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a lay hospital "chaplain" (though of course, chaplains must be priests) to know that sacraments are for the living. If someone doesn't know that, what else doesn't she know which would seem essential for her role?

If a person may be dead but may be living, conditional baptism is fitting, with explanation to those concerned of what is happening. If a person is undoubtedly long dead and it is clear to all concerned that the body is a corpe, baptism is not possible so should surely not be attempted.
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  #14  
Old Jun 24, '11, 9:19 am
happymommy happymommy is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by thistle View Post
Limbo for Infants has never been a Church teaching. It has only ever been a theological hypothesis.
okay, thank you. I have a hard time thinking that God would do that to a baby, but maybe that's because I hold on to hope of getting to see my miscarried baby in Heaven someday
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  #15  
Old Jun 24, '11, 9:33 am
Will S Will S is offline
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Default Re: Baptizing an infant after death...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonCatcher View Post
That document is from 1959. Understanding has changed quite a bit since then.

Limbo was originally a term to refer to the place where the righteous deceased of the OT resided before Jesus opened the gates of Heaven. Someone reused the term to describe what happens to unbaptized infants because they couldn't resolve the contradiction that Baptism is necessary for salvation and that babies committed no actual sin to require damnation.
Yeah, it was just "someone" called St. Thomas Aquinas. A real nobody apparently...
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