Baptism

14 years ago I baptized my infant niece in secret. Her parents are not practicing Catholics. In fact they do not believe in baptism. Today as a 14 year old she wants to become a Catholic. Her parents are taking her to the RCIC classes and masses but not participating.I just told her I had baptised her many years ago and she was happy. I told her father as well. Her mother is furious and now doesn’t trust me with her children. Parents are recently divorced - mother’s choice. What are the church’s teaching on baptism in these circumstances? Thinking she would never be baptised I wanted to at least give her that.
Thank you
B

I’m not at all surprised she is upset with you.
The thing to do would have been to discuss it and try to make them see the benefit of being a practicing Catholic and offer to serve as her Godmother.
The church teaches that this is ok in case of **imminent danger of death. **

All this time, have you been a spiritual guide in her life?
Have you been taking her to Mass all her young life?

It’s good she wants to become a practicing Catholic, but really, this was not your call.

If she does go through RCIA, the priest may do a conditional Baptism.
She’ll just have to discuss it with him.

You messed up big time. You decided that you know better than the parents who have the right to raise their children. You decided that you know better than the Church which has procedures for baptism unless someone is in danger of death. Since you usurped the role of the parents in deciding to baptize their child, did you also take on their responsibility to raise her in the faith?

I wouldn’t ever trust you to be around my child alone since you have shown you are not someone who can be trusted. And you deprived your niece of the joy of baptism at the Easter Vigil.

The one thing you did right was tho own up to your error now.

I think you did the right thing, baptizing her. What if she had died unbaptized? I just wouldn’t have told her parents. I think her mom will get over her anger with time, especially now that her daughter is becoming Catholic. Maybe mom will follow. Pray for that.

This is contrary to what the Church teaches us to do, however. By baptizing someone, we are subjecting them to Church law. As the others have said, this was not the appropriate course of action, but now that it’s done, I would advise the OP to seek advice of his priest and pray for reconciliation with the family while expressing sincere regret and sorrow for usurping a parental role.

You grossly violated the Church’s teaching and discipline by this act and committed a delict. Such an action shows a warped and distorted concept of the Catholic theology of baptism.

You violated the trust of her parents in a profound way. I can imagine their trust is shattered. It should be.

If a parishioner of mine did this, I would never trust that person again for defying the Church and her discipline regarding this sacrament.

The only positive thing I can say is that you have admitted it so that the priest was spared from attempting to confect a sacrament that would have been invalid and without effect, which is an awful thing to have almost done to this priest; and also so that your niece can have her sins actually forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation rather than thinking she had received forgiveness in a baptism that would have been invalid.

You will need to inform the priest preparing her in RCIC of what you did, how you did it, and the surrounding circumstances, since you are the only one that can testify to what happened.

I hope you mentioned this action, that defied the Church’s teaching concerning the sacrament, in confession.

Thank you all for your posts. I truly appreciate them and take them to heart. I guess I really goofed. What a learning experience.

It’s all good. You did something that you hoped was the right thing to do. Now… go and make it right:

[LIST]
*]Let the priest who’s preparing her for baptism know about the baptism you performed.

*]Let her know that, although you wanted the best for her, you should have let her parents make the decision.

*]Apologize to her parents (your brother, I’m guessing, and his ex-wife), sincerely.
[/LIST]

Baptism isn’t ‘magic’. One doesn’t go to heaven just because they’re baptized – and neither are they condemned if they’re not baptized.

Exactly. If such “conversion” were possible, all we’d need to do is to hire planes to circle the globe and drop water on everybody, while broadcasting the words of Baptism to them. Would that solve anything?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.