Baptism & Legal Names


I’m curious what you all would say to the following:

(1) Someone who is unbaptized is being baptized in the Catholic Church this upcoming Easter;

(2) They have, for some years, been using a full name which they were not given at birth;

(3) They are currently in the process of changing their name to this other name legally;

(4) They would like to use this new and as yet non-legal name for their baptismal record documents;

(5) They have not confided in their priest that their alias is not their real name.

Do the above points sound problematic insofar as receiving baptism is concerned? I’m not quite sure how to go about this situation with a friend of mine, but it seems they’re doing something wrong. I’m especially not sure what would happen if, by Easter, their name-change was not complete. What would happen sacramentally and canonically if they got baptized under an alias but not under their legal name? I’d love some help on this!


If they have been using their current name for years, the process to legally change their name should be a mere formality. If this does drag on, for some odd reason, he.she should discuss it with the priest. Names will not be a bar to baptism. God knows who we are.


I think a birth certificate is required or some other proof of identity. I don’t think the parish can list a name other than that on the birth certificate unless the name change has legally taken place.


NOTE: I know that my Mother was baptized using a “baptism” name (like a Confirmation name) which was not part of her legal name. Reason, her full legal name did not contain a Saint or Biblical name. But this was in the 1950s and the Parish was not part of the USCCB.


Lent has not even started yet. A legal name change is a very routine process, and even if started next week, could likely be completed before the Easter Vigil, making the question moot.



But if not completed by then, it is the legal name that would be used. The baptismal or confirmation name can also be listed parenthetically but not a nickname or alias. The source data for a baptimsal record is the birth certificate and any other legal documents, such as a name change, marriage certificate, etc. If a married adult female is baptized, their name and maiden name are listed.


I thank you all for your responses, and the quoted text above has been especially helpful.


I once had an elderly woman pass away while under my care on an ambulance. She had a legal Do Not Resucitate Order signed by a valid physician and there was very litte I could do- legally to save her life. However her daughter who was present confided in me she did not know if she was every baptized but had never attended church in the DAUGHTERS life and rarely spoke of God. I took some water from the onboard sink and made the sign of the cross on her forehead saying "If you have never been baptized I now baptize you in the name ofbthe Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. She had stopped breathing but her heart still had electrical activity and I had medical reason to believe she was still alive. The following Sunday I spoke to my pastor about the situation to evaluate my actions and mentioned I did not address her by name. He told me that what I did was valid as a “Conditional Baptism” and congratulated me for my effort. So I wouldbsay if completely omitting the name from the Rite of Baptism can be valid than even an alias shouldn’t hide her identity from God who knows everything. I would say so long as your friend has a pulse the baptism will be valid no matter what however it would be kosher to discuss it with your priest or deacon who will be performing the rite, God Bless

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