Can a non-believer baptize? And if so, how?

anyone may baptize an unbaptized person who is in immediate danger of death, by using water and the Trinitarian formula, and intending what the Church intends in baptism, even if the don’t fully understand or accept those beliefs, yes even a non-believer may validl baptize under those conditions. Search under baptism or emergency and you will find much fuller discussions of this topic. Do you have a particular case or reason in mind for asking that bring out other issues?

Thank you PuzzleAnnie, We will search the subject further as you suggest . We are concerned about a grandaughter (not in imminent danger, we hope) who was born 9/9/9, praise God, to our son and daugter-in-law, but has not been baptized. They are out of state and far away. We don’t know if it’s just a general “slows”, or a wavering faith-probably both- impediment, but want to know if we might ask them to baptize this little soul, with proper form, as you kindly explain. Would a formal Baptism be necessary then at another time, if the Spirit moves them?

No, baptism, if it’s done validly, can only be done once. There would probably be a way to register it with the parish as having been done, though.

An emergency baptism is to be done only in an emergency. Otherwise your son and daughter-in-law should approach their parish and have the baby baptized in the normal way by a priest or deacon.

If they are slow to have the baby baptized please don’t take it on yourself to do the baptism. You’re trampling on the rights of the parents and committing the baby to following a way of life that would be difficult at best if she isn’t being raised in the faith.

You might find these answers from apologists helpful:

What happens when a child is baptized against the parents’ will?
Should I baptize my nephews myself?
Can I baptize someone if I am not a priest?

there’s three things that are needed for a valid baptism

  1. proper matter - pure, clean water poured over the forehead or via immersion
  2. proper form - the Trinitarian formula, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”
  3. proper intent - that you do what the Chuch intends to do for baptism. that is to bring the person into the Church and wash away his/her sins

that is all. anyone can validly baptize, although it would be illicit for non-clergy to baptize in ordinary circumstances (not an emergency situation). the Church highly encourages that baptism be done inside the Church and using a proper Rite (the Rite of Baptism) and ministered by the Deacon or Priest (or if you’re family friends with the Bishop)

also, if a person is baptized outside of the Church by a non-clergy, you should report to the parish of that area that the person is baptized for the baptism to be registerd in the records

you may not licitly baptize your grandchild unless she is in danger of death. When that is done the fact of the baptism is reported to the parent’s parish so if the child recovers the rest of the rite can be supplied, anointing etc. and the fact entered in the parish records. Don’t even consider doing this. Canon law specifies there must be a well founded hope the child will be raised Catholic, and at least one parent must consent. Please do as I suggest and refer to those earlier threads.

I’m assuming you have a good relationship with your son. Have you asked him why their child has not been baptised yet.
You could remind them of the Church requirements on baptism. See below:

Can. 867 §1 Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it.

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