Baptising a Child (Not by a Priest)


#1

Good morning,

I have a question as to baptizing a child (age 7), whose parents are not Catholic, but whose great-grandparents are (She and the child’s mother and grandmother live with the great-grandparents -mother has custody.).

The 7-year old is in the first grade at a Catholic school (attended in kindergarten also). Previously her mother did not want her baptized Catholic, but has recently signed a letter giving permission for her daughter to be baptised. However, the great-grandmother (who has been a great friend of mine for 53 years) is the one looking into the particulars -speaking with the priest, choosing God parents, and arranging everything. The child’s mother doesn’t want to be involved with this, but signed the permission letter over a month ago. The great-grandmother is dragging her feet to schedule the baptism. She is a devote Catholic and one of the sweetest, loving persons that you would want to meet. Unfortunately -it seems that she is by nature late with EVERYTHING (going to work, Mass, meeting someone for lunch, etc -). I tell her if it were possible to be late for her own funeral that she will,) And and she is not just a few minutes late) and procrastinates a lot. Other than telling our pastor the situation and getting the permission letter signed, she has done nothing further to get the child baptized -sort of dropped it with the God parents also.

I asked her why she didn’t go ahead and schedule the baptism (Father wants to have the Baptism during the children’s Mass on Mondays so that the other school children can witness this -my friend likes this idea.) and she always say, “I need to do it.” I reminded her, since I know her grand-daughter (the child’s mother) that she may want to go ahead and schedule the Baptism before the child’s mother changes her mind (which she is very capable of doing if she gets angry about any situation.). She just replies, “I know it.”

I believe that one reason that she is not “in a hurry” to proceed is that she told me years ago that she Baptized her great-daughter (this child) in the bathtub when she was a baby since her mother wouldn’t let her become a Catholic. She believes that is just as good as her being Baptized in church. This is my concern -and if I am incorrect, please let me know:

First of all, it can’t be a Sacrament of Baptism if she was baptized in the tub (She was not in danger of death, etc.) and not by a Priest or Deacon, can it? And secondly, I do not believe that she will be allowed to make her First Communion or Confession without the Church having a record of her being baptized as a Catholic.

I know that you cannot make anyone do anything that they don’t want to do. However, I know my friend wants to do this (She just is slooooow with everything), but believes since she baptized her 6+ years ago in the bathtub that she is baptized and the rest is just a formality.

She and I talk regularly and I just need to know if I am correct on the above concerns or not. I can lovingly “stay on her” to do this if she knows that she must be baptized in the church -even though she was baptized in the bathtub by her.

I will appreciate your feedback. Thanks so much!


#2

That there may have been a baptism needs to be brought to the Priest's attention (the person who did it likely would be best to bring this up-if possible).

A baptism in such a situation while well meaning is not what should be done (outside of danger of death...etc) but if done with the proper matter, form and intention -- would be valid. (they will investigate -asking the needed questions -and it is important to find out from her what she actually did -- before saying what was needed for validity --so she remembers right). Thus it would be a valid sacrament. Baptism.

Baptism can ONLY be done ONCE. It is forbidden to do so again. So the person can NOT be baptized again. If after investigation a prudent doubt remains of the validity the child would be *conditionally *baptized.


#3

The baptism may have been valid. So speak to a priest on the matter.


#4

Not only that, but at age 7, the proper route to baptism is through RCIA. The Rite of Infant Baptism is only for children under the age of 7.

Peace

Tim


#5

Does the child desire to join the Church. At age 7 she’s to be received into the Church through RCIA (if she desires). If a doubt remains as to whether or not she’s baptized then she will be conditionally baptized (if she converts).


#6

Sounds like Granny is dragging her feet because she is going to get found out for her deception of 6 years ago.

Yes, the baptism would be valid if done properly, which I am sure that devout Granny would know how to do.

Baptism cannot be repeated, so there will be no baptism during the Monday Mass for the other kids to see. The priest can complete the Rites that were not done-- anointing with oil, presentation of candle, but not the actual baptism.

Granny needs to fess up to her priest. She should have reported it to the priest 6 years ago.


#7

It may not have been licit, since the child was in no danger of death, and there was no guarantee of the baby growing up Catholic, but if the grandmother knew what to do and did it properly, it would have been valid, as 1KE said.

The grandmother should bring this info forward, and there will probably be an investigation. Worst case scenario, the child can be baptized conditionally since

"Can. 869 §1. If there is a doubt whether a person has been baptized or whether baptism was conferred validly and the doubt remains after a serious investigation, baptism is to be conferred conditionally."


#8

Thank all of you so very much for your responses. I will meet and speak with my friend today and ask her about her performance of baptizing her great-grandchild. Then I will encourage her to speak to the priest about this.

As far as the child being 7-years old, she just turned 7 about a week ago. She was 6 when my friend started talking with the priest (around a month or two ago). She is in First Grade and told the priest and others that she was 6 -which she was. I will mention that she should also bring up her great grand-daughter's age during the conversation about the baptism.

Again, thank you and may our Lord continue to bless you!!!!


#9

[quote="AugustaPat, post:8, topic:310846"]
Thank all of you so very much for your responses. I will meet and speak with my friend today and ask her about her performance of baptizing her great-grandchild. Then I will encourage her to speak to the priest about this.

As far as the child being 7-years old, she just turned 7 about a week ago. She was 6 when my friend started talking with the priest (around a month or two ago). She is in First Grade and told the priest and others that she was 6 -which she was. I will mention that she should also bring up her great grand-daughter's age during the conversation about the baptism.

Again, thank you and may our Lord continue to bless you!!!!

[/quote]

While 7 is generally accepted as the age of reason, it's not as clean cut as "if you turn 7 on Monday, you can be baptized as an infant on Sunday but if you request baptism on Tuesday you have to go through RCIA." The priest does have some discretion in the matter.


#10

[quote="canon 97, post:9, topic:310846"]
With the completion of the seventh year, however, a minor is presumed to have the use of reason.

[/quote]


#11

[quote="devoutchristian, post:10, topic:310846"]

[/quote]

Assume the age of reason all you like,, but if the priest has reason to believe that the child has not yet reached that age, the assumption can be disproven.


closed #12

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