Does the Catholic Church believe that it would be better that someone NOT be baptized in some cases?

Based on this response in the Ask an Apologist section:

Why would the Catholic Church deny someone this indelible mark of sanctifying grace?

I understand that it is desirable for the parents to bring the children up in the faith, but it almost seems it would be better for the child not to be baptized than a child to be baptized but brought up non-Christian.

Baptism is a saving action. Baptism is more than a symbolic act. Something seems awry here. Perhaps someone with more knowledge on the subject can help me understand this more clearly and/or point me to some information that will help make this a little clearer for me. Thanks.

In the baptism of infants, the parents, godparents, and church community are pledging to raise the child in the Catholic faith. The child is being brought into the family of God. But if the child will not be taught the ways and rules of the family, and the duties and responsibilities that go along with being added to the Body of Christ, the covenant is not being sealed.

If they will not be brought up in the Christian faith, it is better for them not to be baptized and when they are older make their own decision about joining the Church.

For starters, God is free to act however He chooses. Baptism by water is the normal way, yet there’s still baptism by blood and desire.
Secondly, the code of canon law clearly states that baptism of a child should not take place unless there’s a well founded hope that s/he will be raised in the faith.
And finally, there’s an issue of scandal. If a child is baptized but never raised Catholic then they might perceive Catholicism as more social than religious.

The important thing to remember is that the Church does wish for all to be baptized. She just doesn’t always believe they should all be baptized NOW.

Sometimes there are good reasons to wait.

In the case of a baby in danger of death the Church would want that baby baptized now.

Baptism isn’t an automatic ticket into Heaven. “To those to whom much is given, much is expected.” That indelible mark is also a mark of commissioning and responsibility, to which the baptised will be held accountable. It does no good to be baptised and then to utterly fail to live the faith.

Far far more Catholics are in danger of losing Heaven because their pastors did not impress upon their parents the profound responsibilities of Christian parenting than there are children who are in danger of losing it because they died without baptism.

In the meantime, if parents have asked for baptism for their child, but have been made to wait for a good reason, the mercy of Heaven will not hold that against the child, any more than it would be held against an older catechumen.

\Why would the Catholic Church deny someone this indelible mark of sanctifying grace?\

It’s possible to carry this mark of sanctifying grace down into hell, to be endured for all eternity.

I was baptized as a baby, and I think (based on my early memories) that my mom was trying to learn how to be a Catholic, because I remember going to a church dinner, and her talking with a priest (maybe it was RCIA or something? I was only like 3 o 4 so my memories are vague). But for the most part, I wasn’t raised Catholic at all.
I was raised with a lot of new age type stuff, meditation and things like that. I do remember though my mom watching some of the televangelists on TV though (PTL) and stuff, so I guess she was searching at the time.
I believe though, with my whole heart, that had my mom not had me baptized, even though I think I wasn’t supposed to have been because she wasn’t Catholic, that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I believe that when she had me baptized that God sealed me to Him.
It took 41 years, but here I am, about to enter the Church, in RCIA and wanting to do whatever God wants me to do.
All that being said, if I were in the same situation as my mom, with a baby to baptize, I would do it the right way out of obedience.

The Church desires that ALL be Baptized.

But, in certain circumstances, it is preferred that they wait until they (or their parents) are better catechized and are willing to practice the Faith.

Thanks to all for your responses. :slight_smile:

This is my thought as well. I do not underestimate the power of the Sacraments - especially Baptism.

[quote=Rachel_]All that being said, if I were in the same situation as my mom, with a baby to baptize, I would do it the right way out of obedience.

This is perhaps the most useful insight with no slight intended to the others who responded. This to me shows a complete reliance on God and trusting His judgement in matters entrusted to His Church even with your situation of having been Baptised and raised without the faith. :thumbsup:

Faith is a necessary element of the Sacrament. In the case of infants, faith is supplied by the parents of the child. If the parents of the child have no faith, then it is better for the child to wait until he has faith of his own, before being baptized.

Hmmm. That makes sense to me, yet it also confuses the issue a bit. My understanding is that someone who is not a Christian may Baptize someone else in case of necessity (such as upon the point of death). If the person isn’t Christian, that person’s faith appears to not be a factor in the Baptism.

The church instructs their priest to defer baptism to a later date when the parents show a unwillingness to properly raise their children in the catholic faith. It is not a question of the church position on baptism but rather a question as to the childs best interest at that particular time. Always baptism is seen as connected with faith.
CCC#1231;" By its very nature infant baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth."

A now retired Roman Catholic bishop told me of a time when he was the Catholic chaplin at a women’s college, and a young woman from an Arab-Muslim country asked to be baptized. Being prudent, he referred the question to the Vatican, who advise that under no circumstances should he do this. Conversion was a death sentence in her country. This woman is now fairly well known as a liberal Muslim.

With that in mind, it appears that if ‘instruction after Baptism’ does not apply - which would be the case of impending death, the fact the individuals would not be growing in faith would be non-applicable. Below is the Catechism which indicates when non-Baptized persons can Baptize (bolded for emphasis):

CCC#1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.[57] In case of necessity, any person, even someone not baptized, can baptize, if he has the required intention. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.[58]

[quote=Usbak de Perse]…Being prudent, he referred the question to the Vatican, who advise that under no circumstances should he do this. Conversion was a death sentence in her country.

It seems to me that this individual could have been Baptized but remained a “closet Christian” due to the danger she would have been in.

In that case, it is the person being baptized (or his or her parents, in the case of emergency baptism of an infant where a nurse who is not a Christian is the one performing the baptism) supplies the necessary faith for the sacrament. :slight_smile:

We are never permitted to baptize someone against his will, or against the will of his care-givers, if they are speaking on his behalf (as in the case of an infant or someone who has lost the use of reason).

Impending death? Where did that come from, and what relationship is the definition of whom can baptize have with my post? Did you perhaps misunderstand the church’s position on defering baptism?

I’m not so sure it’s a case of me misunderstanding what the Church teaches as much as me seeking to better understand the relationship between the prudence of deferring Baptismal grace upon someone and the prudence of Baptizing someone in the case of necessity.

Jesus said " Go out to all the world and preach the Gospel --He who believes and is baptized will be saved,he who does not believe will be condemned"

So the Catholic Church throughout the ages does this and Baptism is like a door or enterance into The Kingdom of God.So the normal custom is to Baptize a baby as soon as practically possible.

The delaying of Baptism is a PASTORAL decision,in other words,a “floor shop” judgement by the Priest, appropiate to the circumstances as already stated by posters.

It is the same reason that PASTORALLY Archbishop Fulton Sheen wanted to give The Sacrament of Confirmation only to 17 or 18 year olds–he saw it as an adult “yes” to be soldiers of Christ and a re affirmation of their Baptism that was made on their behalf my the parents and sponsors.(rather than to young 11 or 12 year olds)

ok This may help. The church wants the baptism to be a spiritual event, not only a social event. When the parents are unwilling to raise the child in our faith, not bring the child to mass, not following our requirements to attend mass themselves, etc…The church defers baptism until a later date in the hopes that the parents come back ,so to speak, to the sacrements, thus they will be better suited to raise the child in the Faith.

Baptizing in the event of necessity is a different position. I would think that no objections would be offered in that event providing the intention was correct.

Can only Christians administer baptism?

No. Anybody—even an atheist—can administer baptism if he has the proper intention. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1256) “the intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula.” The reason anybody can baptize is that it is, in fact, Jesus Christ who performs the baptism. Once again, baptism is God’s grace to us, not our work for him.

I suppose that when it comes down to it, no one can prevent Jesus from giving grace to another person, even if a priest/deacon denies someone Baptism. A delay of Baptism may occur, but if someone truly seeks God, they will find Jesus - or perhaps more accurately, Jesus will find them.

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