Can a lay person baptize a child


#1

A friend has upset her mother by not having her new child baptized yet. A few weeks ago her mother said that she had baptized the child with holy water whilst babysitting. When the childs mother said that she will have her child baptized, her mother said that its not necessary now that she has done it and this is perfectly fine as baptism is not one of the sacrements and its fine for her to do it in her home. Is she right?


#2

It may have been a valid baptism (I say "may" because you have to say the right words and do the right thing - like pouring water 3 times etc.). Though valid, it was wrong of her to do it against the mother's will. This would only be appropriate if the baby were in danger of death. The same is true of having a lay person baptize in the home. It should be done by a priest or deacon at the church unless there is a serious reason not to (like danger of death, not refusal of the child's parents). The baby's mother ought to seek the advice of a priest. I wouldn't be surprised if he suggests a conditional baptism, at which the priest will say something like, "If you are not already baptized, I baptize you in the...."


#3

[quote="vstead, post:1, topic:215997"]
A friend has upset her mother by not having her new child baptized yet. A few weeks ago her mother said that she had baptized the child with holy water whilst babysitting. When the childs mother said that she will have her child baptized, her mother said that its not necessary now that she has done it and this is perfectly fine as baptism is not one of the sacrements and its fine for her to do it in her home. Is she right?

[/quote]

Anyone can validly baptize with the intention to do what the Church does...with the right matter (water) and form "I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" while pouring the water on the person head...

otherwise it is not valid.

But a lay person is not to do this unless it is an emergency (the child is in danger of death etc)

In this case...she she and the Grandmother should go see the Catholic Priest with the Child...he can investigate etc...

it is important that the child be really baptized..but this can not be done more than once...in case of doubt the priest can do a conditional one.

But in any case she needs to contact the Parish Priest.

Baptism IS a Sacrament..the most fundamental one without which no other may be received.....it makes a person a new Creation in Christ etc


#4

(a) Canon law makes provisions for lay people to baptize in cases of necessity/emergency.

Can. 861 §1. The ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, a presbyter, or a deacon, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 530, n. 1.

§2. When an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly. Pastors of souls, especially the pastor of a parish, are to be concerned that the Christian faithful are taught the correct way to baptize.

(b) Outside the case of danger of death, and without the permission of the parents, it was **wrong **for the grandmother to baptize her grandchild. She should confess this serious breach of canon law and parental rights.

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.

§2. An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.

(c) This must be reported to the parish immediately so that the sacramental records can be properly updated and an investigation conducted to ensure the validity of the baptism. If the child was validly baptized by the grandmother, they cannot be "re" baptized. However, the preist can complete the Rite of Baptism with the other parts of the Rite-- such as anointing with oil, lighting of the candle, reception of the white garment, etc.


#5

I believe even a non-Catholic or non-Christian may baptize under dire circumstances. For instance, a Jewish doctor instructed by a new dying mother may baptize the baby using the correct words.


#6

Baptism IS a Sacrament..the most fundamental one without which no other may be received.....it makes a person a new Creation in Christ etc

As you say, baptism is a sacrement. Can you hazard a guess as to something she has confused this with, this is a lady who knows her religion. Thanks for response:)


#7

Valid, yes (assuming proper form, intention, matter)
Licit, no


#8

Yup, like everyone has mentioned, there's a certain "formula" that must be said "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."... and it can only be done when in fear of death.
Actually, my husband was baptized at the hospital when he was born by his own father. The doctors didn't think he'd survive...


#9

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:7, topic:215997"]
Valid, yes (assuming proper form, intention, matter)
Licit, no

[/quote]

Would you explain the difference between valid and licit in this context


#10

[quote="vstead, post:9, topic:215997"]
Would you explain the difference between valid and licit in this context

[/quote]

If it was done correctly....it is "a true Baptism" but if not done in an emergency like situation it is not right for it to be done....for it is to be done by a Priest or Deacon etc in Church with the full rite.

Again...please go see a Priest.


#11

As you say, baptism is a sacrement. Can you hazard a guess as to something she has confused this with, this is a lady who knows her religion. Thanks for response:)

Grandma was concerned with the child’s soul. She wanted to insure that if the baby should die unexpectedly, that the child would go to heaven. Many people are not informed about the cannon law. Even if she knew that it was illicit, she may have still decided to perform the baptism thinking that the result is a greater good.

At mass we profess that we believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is not a sacrament which can be repeated like communion or confession. Still, I remember my own mother re-baptizing me more than once during my childhood. She was a devout, but misinformed Catholic. Her thinking was, better safe than sorry.


#12

as has been answered, many many times on the sacraments forum and in AAA it is illicit for a lay person to baptize unless there is a clear danger of death. that question is highlighted today in the Q&A box on the homepage as well. The parents–not to grandparents or any one else–must bring the child to baptism and give their consent, and assurance the child will be raised Catholic. The grandmother should confess what she did, the parents should get their act together and fulfill their duty. The priest should be informed what happened in any case so he can either complete the rite or conditionally baptize. somebody should give this family some proper catechesis on the sacraments and rights and duties of Catholic parents.


#13

Agreed with what was posted above.

In case it ever appears in Trivial Pursuit, General George Patton (WW2 fame) was baptized in this manner by the family's Catholic house keeper shortly after his birth when his survival was in question. The only "problem" was his family was Episcopalian.:D


#14

[quote="MtnDwellar, post:11, topic:215997"]
As you say, baptism is a sacrement. Can you hazard a guess as to something she has confused this with, this is a lady who knows her religion. Thanks for response:)

[/quote]

Grandma was concerned with the child's soul. She wanted to insure that if the baby should die unexpectedly, that the child would go to heaven. Many people are not informed about the cannon law. Even if she knew that it was illicit, she may have still decided to perform the baptism thinking that the result is a greater good.

At mass we profess that we believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is not a sacrament which can be repeated like communion or confession. Still, I remember my own mother re-baptizing me more than once during my childhood. She was a devout, but misinformed Catholic. Her thinking was, better safe than sorry.

Thanks again. When i asked what she might have confused, i was referring to when she said that baptism is not one of the sacrements and that this was why she was able to do it. Im just wondering what made her think that it wasnt one of sacraments. Are there other differences from the other sacraments. Other that the ones you mentioned.


#15

[quote="vstead, post:14, topic:215997"]
Thanks again. When i asked what she might have confused, i was referring to when she said that baptism is not one of the sacrements and that this was why she was able to do it. Im just wondering what made her think that it wasnt one of sacraments. Are there other differences from the other sacraments. Other that the ones you mentioned.

[/quote]

Note: Yes, I am a Methodist, but we have had this subject raised before, & I think I know what happened, precisly because I am a bit of the:shrug: "outsider":

I think that what happened is something we talked about once a while back. Baptism is different from other sacraments because it can be performed by "anyone with the same intent as the Catholic Church".
Now, when I first heard this, back in that time ago, I assumed that this meant: 'Any Catholic', or, possibly, 'any Christian'. Its not that; its that anyone (includingly non-Christians) can baptize, because that baptism is so important, that it is permitted in the cade of an emergency.
However, that is **not **the way that it is supposed to be done; it is supposed to be done in an orderly manner, by a priest, like the rest of the Catholic sacraments. Nevertheless, it is still a real baptism, IF it was properly done, (which is presumely why it is meant to be done in the usual fashion).
However, "real" and "done accordingly to the prescribed order" are 2 different things, and it would appear that the grandmother has gone ahead & baptized the child, leaving everyone in this pickle....which is, of course, why there is a prescribed way of doing things.

I don't doubt that her intentions were out of love for the child. The trouble is, that we are not supposed to run out & do things for people, nor to people, simply out of "good intentions". That sort of thing has caused all kinds of trouble in the past.

I will now let the actual Catholics back in to tell me how:o badly I just muddled things. (Out of :ogood intentions).


#16

[quote="Zooey, post:15, topic:215997"]
Note: Yes, I am a Methodist, but we have had this subject raised before, & I think I know what happened, precisly because I am a bit of the:shrug: "outsider":

I think that what happened is something we talked about once a while back. Baptism is different from other sacraments because it can be performed by "anyone with the same intent as the Catholic Church".
Now, when I first heard this, back in that time ago, I assumed that this meant: 'Any Catholic', or, possibly, 'any Christian'. Its not that; its that anyone (includingly non-Christians) can baptize, because that baptism is so important, that it is permitted in the cade of an emergency.
However, that is **not **the way that it is supposed to be done; it is supposed to be done in an orderly manner, by a priest, like the rest of the Catholic sacraments. Nevertheless, it is still a real baptism, IF it was properly done, (which is presumely why it is meant to be done in the usual fashion).
However, "real" and "done accordingly to the prescribed order" are 2 different things, and it would appear that the grandmother has gone ahead & baptized the child, leaving everyone in this pickle....which is, of course, why there is a prescribed way of doing things.

I don't doubt that her intentions were out of love for the child. The trouble is, that we are not supposed to run out & do things for people, nor to people, simply out of "good intentions". That sort of thing has caused all kinds of trouble in the past.

I will now let the actual Catholics back in to tell me how:o badly I just muddled things. (Out of :ogood intentions).

[/quote]

Thanks so much for your reply. Sounds good to me. :)


#17

quote="1ke, post:4, topic:215997" Canon law makes provisions for lay people to baptize in cases of necessity/emergency.

Can. 861 §1. The ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, a presbyter, or a deacon, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 530, n. 1.

§2. When an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly. Pastors of souls, especially the pastor of a parish, are to be concerned that the Christian faithful are taught the correct way to baptize.

(b) Outside the case of danger of death, and without the permission of the parents, it was **wrong **for the grandmother to baptize her grandchild. She should confess this serious breach of canon law and parental rights.

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.

§2. An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.

(c) This must be reported to the parish immediately so that the sacramental records can be properly updated and an investigation conducted to ensure the validity of the baptism. If the child was validly baptized by the grandmother, they cannot be "re" baptized. However, the preist can complete the Rite of Baptism with the other parts of the Rite-- such as anointing with oil, lighting of the candle, reception of the white garment, etc.

[/quote]


#18

As you say, baptism is a sacrement. Can you hazard a guess as to something she has confused this with, this is a lady who knows her religion. Thanks for response:)

It’s odd that this grandmother thinks that Baptism isn’t a sacrament. In most religions Baptism is a sacrament (or an ordinance, whichever term that religion uses but it’s the same thing) So (and please don’t take this the wrong way) but that grandmother may not know her religion as well as folks thinks she does.


#19

So if following this story correctly, the parents did want to baptize the child, but they just hadn't gotten around to it yet, yes? There was not threat of imminent death.

So the grandmother just got impatient and took things into her own hands.

Now here's the question: What if the mother of the child wanted the child baptized, but the father absolutely did not? (Catholic mother, lapsed Methodist father who refuses to allow his wife/children to set foot in a catholic church again. In fact, father refuses any/all organized religion).

Now, if the grandmother baptized the child in this case, is it a sin for the grandmother? Of course, grandmother is hoping that the child's father will come around one day and convert to catholicism, and is worried about the child's soul in the mean time. However, I personally don't see this happening (and no, it's not my child. just a situation I'm aware of). Also, grandmother has opportunity to take child to church (behind father's back), but does not, and doesn't actively work toward educating child about catholic faith.


#20

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.