Baptism during Mass ~ who can Baptize?

Can Deacons preform a Baptism during Mass? Our parish priest says no that only priests are allowed to Baptize during the Mass.

References would be helpful.

During any liturgical act, a duty should be fulfilled by the ordinary minister of that duty. For example, if there are two priests and one deacon at a parish, then those three should be involved in the distribution of Holy Communion before the use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (laymen) be considered. It is abusive and confusing to prevent an ordinary minister from fulfilling a duty by using an extraordinary minister in his stead.

So, onto Baptism.

Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium (1964) said that “It pertains to the office of a deacon, in so far as it may be assigned to him by the competent authority, to administer Baptism solemnly.” (29)

A recent instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship, Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), made this remark: “These purely supplementary functions must not be an occasion for disfiguring the very ministry of Priests, in such a way that the latter neglect … the baptism of children … matters which pertain in the first place to Priests assisted by Deacons. It must therefore never be the case that in parishes Priests alternate indiscriminately in shifts of pastoral service with Deacons or laypersons, thus confusing what is specific to each.” (152)

I don’t have the Rite of Baptism in front of me, but I would expect that, if a priest is present, the Baptism should be performed by the priest; otherwise, by a deacon (in a priest’s absence). However, LG makes it sound as though the Bishop can permit deacons to baptize even in the presence of a priest.

I could check the Rites for you, but I would also suggest asking your Bishop. But I would guess that Baptism, when performed in a Mass, should be done by a priest, since Mass necessitates the presence of a priest to begin with. But surely the priest can be assisted by a deacon.

I’m looking at my Rite.

In the section marked Rite of Baptism for several children during Mass it says “If there are many children and if there are several priests or deacons present, these may help the celebrant in the parts referred to below”. Those parts include the annointing with the oil of catechumen, the Baptism itself and the anointing with chrism. I guess ‘many’ would be defined by the priest himself.

In the Rite of Baptism for one child during Mass there is no provision for anyone but the celebrant to do any part of the Rite.

There’s your answer. Deacons can baptize in the event of several children being baptized during a liturgy. That’s been the case at our parish. But in the event of only one, the priest is the ordinary minister of baptism.

Thank you so much for your answer. I may have 1000 books ~ however sometimes I do not have a single answer! Bless you!

Since it’s only a “May assist”, the priest is free to opt to do the entire Rite for all children by himself.


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