I have a question. Baptism is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We use water when possible. Anyway, what I’m saying is that many Protestant churches have valid baptism. Are the people being baptized then, officially Catholic? If not, why not? In what way do they belong to the Universal Church?
They are not ‘officially’ Catholic. They are, however, imperfectly joined to the Universal Church by their valid baptism. All that would remain would be for them to renounce whatever heresies they hold, be catechised and receive the sacrament of Confirmation, Reconciliation, and finally receive First Communion. Often, these things are included in an RCIA program or something similar (as RCIA is intended for unbaptized persons).
When a person is actually validly Baptized they are Baptized Christian and are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ which is The Catholic Church. The what degree they are part of the Church is dependent on what they believe and how they live out their Christian life.
They have 1/7th of the sacraments Christ instituted for us in Trinitarian baptism.
Having rejected some or all of the rest, they are like the castaway at see who rejects various flotation devices and life jackets to cling to a piece of driftwood. Perhaps that will be enough to keep them afloat until rescue----perhaps not.
We use water and water only. See home.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm#VI
Here is how the Catechism puts it:
CCC#838 The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter." Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.
It is also useful to read the Church’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio:
Baptism therefore establishes a sacramental bond of unity which links all who have been reborn by it. But of itself Baptism is only a beginning, an inauguration wholly directed toward the fullness of life in Christ. Baptism, therefore, envisages a complete profession of faith, complete incorporation in the system of salvation such as Christ willed it to be, and finally complete ingrafting in eucharistic communion.
Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord’s Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.*
Baptism is the outward sign of an inward reality.
Baptism is only administered properly when it is given upon a personal profession of faith- though the one baptizing cannot know with certainty whether the profession is sincere- for no one knows the heart but God.
That is to say - Many who profess to believe in Christ and are baptized are not actually a part of the true Church. They simply have access into the visible congregation of the Faithful, but in no way does their baptism secure, or even effect their salvation.
Baptism is designed to reflect salvation- it is a declaration of faith, and a moving doctrine of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism is also a moving doctrine of Union with Christ- for it declares that when Christ died- you died in him, when Christ was buried- you were buried in him, and when he rose again- you rose again in him.
For true believers- this is the spiritual reality!
Oh! And don’t forget the asencion!
This is why Ephesians 2:4-6 says:
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
God bless you all!
All validly baptized non-Catholic has a right to belong to the Catholic Church if they accept her authority. God is waiting for them, just like the father waited for the prodigal son.