Emergency Baptism


#1

Let's say an atheist who was never baptized suffered a heart attack and you are near the atheist. Would it be morally correct for you to baptize the atheist, even if it is against his will? My gut answer says yes, since his outcome in the afterlife would immediately change for the better if he got baptized. I just need some clarification (or correction) in this subject.


#2

No.

They cannot be baptized against their will…

but is to have manifested in some way the intention to be etc


#3

[quote="Inquiringperson, post:1, topic:296148"]
Let's say an atheist who was never baptized suffered a heart attack and you are near the atheist. Would it be morally correct for you to baptize the atheist, even if it is against his will? My gut answer says yes, since his outcome in the afterlife would immediately change for the better if he got baptized. I just need some clarification (or correction) in this subject.

[/quote]

No, you may not baptize an atheist against his will, even in danger of death.

Can.* 865 §1. For an adult to be baptized, the person must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, have been instructed sufficiently about the truths of the faith and Christian obligations, and have been tested in the Christian life through the catechumenate. The adult is also to be urged to have sorrow for personal sins.

§2. An adult in danger of death can be baptized if, having some knowledge of the principal truths of the faith, the person has manifested in any way at all the intention to receive baptism and promises to observe the commandments of the Christian religion.


#4

[quote="1ke, post:3, topic:296148"]
No, you may not baptize an atheist against his will, even in danger of death.

Can.* 865 §1. For an adult to be baptized, the person must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, have been instructed sufficiently about the truths of the faith and Christian obligations, and have been tested in the Christian life through the catechumenate. The adult is also to be urged to have sorrow for personal sins.

§2. An adult in danger of death can be baptized if, having some knowledge of the principal truths of the faith, the person has manifested in any way at all the intention to receive baptism and promises to observe the commandments of the Christian religion.

[/quote]

Can babies be baptized that are in danger of death be baptized without their parent's consent?


#5

I agree 100%. However…

By baptizing him, you might end up saving his soul. If, on the other hand, the atheist’s views concerning the existence of God turn out to be correct, you haven’t caused him any harm. You just got his head wet.

But as 1ke indicated above, it shouldn’t be done.


#6

[quote="Inquiringperson, post:4, topic:296148"]
Can babies be baptized that are in danger of death be baptized without their parent's consent?

[/quote]

Yes, it's licit to baptize babies who are in danger of dying, even against their parents' wishes.


#7

If you did so and the atheist survived, they could prosecute you. would you be prepared to face that.


#8

[quote="BettyBoop416, post:5, topic:296148"]
By baptizing him, you might end up saving his soul. ...] But as 1ke indicated above, it shouldn't be done.

[/quote]

Maybe, but we ought to attain ourselves to the teachings of the Church. I think it is a matter of very careful discernment: the requirement for the unbaptized person is

(a) to have some knowledge of the principal truths of the faith

This Catholic document (I do not know if it is 100% accurate) summarizes the following:

The Truths Absolutely Necessary to be Known and Believed , as a Means of Salvation:
1. The principal mysteries of our holy Catholic Faith;
2. That there is a God who will reward the good and punish the wicked.

III. The Principal Mysteries of Our Holy Faith Are:
1. The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, that is, the mystery of one God in three Divine
Persons.
2. The mysteries of the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus
Christ.

The Catechism does not say full knowledge but some knowledge. While the document talks about truths that we need to know *and *believe, the requirement for the emergency baptism appears to be limited to some knowledge.

(b) the person has manifested in any way at all the intention to receive baptism

"Any way at all" means that as soon as we can reasonably assume that the person is willing to receive Baptism, we should be clear to proceed.

(c) promises to observe the commandments of the Christian religion

This one is more complicated in context: to make such promise, the person should first know the commandments. Perhaps this could be done through a series of questions (ex. Do you promise to ... ).

I ignore if a basic official guideline exists on this matter and it would be very interesting to know about it.


[quote="englishredrose, post:7, topic:296148"]
If you did so and the atheist survived, they could prosecute you. would you be prepared to face that.

[/quote]

I think that's the last concern that a Christian would worry about when trying to save a brother's soul.


#9

[quote="Phemie, post:6, topic:296148"]
Yes, it's licit to baptize babies who are in danger of dying, even against their parents' wishes.

[/quote]

I disagree. A baby is brought in for baptism with the consent of a parent or parents with the intention of raising the child in the faith. If the parents are present and they do not consent to their child's baptism then one should not impose upon the stewardship granted them by God. Unless you can show me any documentation stating otherwise I would have to uphold the Church's teachings on infant baptism.


#10

That IS the Church’s teaching on infant baptism:

Can. 868 §1 For an infant to be baptised lawfully it is required:

1° that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent;

2° that there be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.
**
§2 An infant of catholic parents, indeed even of non-catholic parents, may in danger of death be baptised even if the parents are opposed to it.**


#11

Just baptizing someone doesn’t make them a candidate for heaven, right? An atheist who you baptize is still an atheist, assuming he/she remained in that mind frame until the “accident” forced a coma, or whatever.
They would still not know, love, or serve God.
Am I correct, or missing something?


#12

Conditional baptism might be appropriate in such a case, i.e., "If you are able to be baptized, then I baptize you in the name of..."


#13

[quote="Phemie, post:10, topic:296148"]
That IS the Church's teaching on infant baptism:

[/quote]

I stand corrected, Thank you! I was remembering the first part and glossed over the second.

Canon 868. §1. For an infant to be baptized lawfully it is required:

1° That the parents , or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent; 
2° That there be a well founded hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion.  If such a hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in  accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.   [size=3]**§2. An infant of Catholic parents, and indeed even of non-Catholic parents, may in danger of death be baptized even if the parents are opposed to it**.[**]("http://www.rosarychurch.net/answers/qa082005.html#_edn1") [/size]

#14

Actually, it does.

As the Magisterium teaches in the Catechism and in other documents, the Sacrament of Baptism acts ex opere operato, that is:

“by the very fact of the action’s being performed” i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.

Baptizing someone does makes them a candidate from heaven in that it grants the person sanctifying grace for the first time since birth, regardless of what they later do to keep or loose it, as well as an indelible sacramental character.

his configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible,it remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. …] Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.


#15

Re:
I don't understand. That makes no sense to me, no offense. I cringe to type it, but how can this be? If I "hate" God, the very idea, even, and deny His exsitence all my life, then come close to death, and have water poured on my head, words said, etc., that does not change anything. I may even hate the sacrament occurring! My point is, someone who has led that kind of life, according to everything I've been taught, cannot enter heaven. Those who reject God will be rejected by Him.
I'm shocked to hear this!


#16

[quote="ReachingFaith, post:15, topic:296148"]
Re:
I don't understand. That makes no sense to me, no offense. I cringe to type it, but how can this be? If I "hate" God, the very idea, even, and deny His exsitence all my life, then come close to death, and have water poured on my head, words said, etc., that does not change anything. I may even hate the sacrament occurring! My point is, someone who has led that kind of life, according to everything I've been taught, cannot enter heaven. Those who reject God will be rejected by Him.
I'm shocked to hear this!

[/quote]

Yes, I don't believe it's the case that baptizing, for instance, a brain-dead atheist will universally result in his entering Heaven on death. The Catechism passage cited above only means that baptism is efficacious regardless of the worthiness of the celebrant or the recipient of the sacrament. In other words, "baptism" works by virtue of God, not by virtue of me. It does not follow that you can baptize just anyone. For people past the age of reason, baptism requires consent, which is presumably absent in the case of an atheist -- hence why I said a conditional baptism might be suitable, since we cannot after all rule out the possibility of some kind of interior conversion, perhaps produced by direct revelation by God to the soul of the person prior to death.

For babies of course, consent is not required (and is impossible anyway), so it is always in principle licit to baptize an infant in danger of death and it is de fide that a baptized baby who subsequently dies will enter Heaven.


#17

@ReachingFaith: as sw85 said, the Sacrament will not “force” a person to heaven, because we know that it is not the Lord who condemns us, but it is we who condemn ourselves, and we also know that the merciful Lord cannot “force” us into heaven - else we would all be there as of right now. If a person rejects God, it is he who is rejecting entrance to heaven. Nevertheless, the Sacrament of Baptism is equally effective because it does not depend either on the person who celebrates nor on the person receiving it: it is God that acts. Period. To be noted that according to the Catechism a person who does not believe in God or does not promise to obey the Christian commandments may not receive Baptism, not even on deathbed, thus making this argument sort of pointless.


#18

[quote="englishredrose, post:7, topic:296148"]
If you did so and the atheist survived, they could prosecute you. would you be prepared to face that.

[/quote]

I'm a criminal defense attorney. I am at a loss to find an offense in the penal code to prosecute someone who baptized an atheist against his will. Perhaps Class C Misdemeanor Assault by Offensive Touching. But the worst you can get for that is like a $500 fine and no judge and jury in the world (at least in Texas...even in wacko Austin) would find someone guilty of that.


#19

If someone was forced to be baptized, would the baptism be valid?


#20

Yes, the Baptism would be valid.

As far as I understand, it would be called "valid but illicit".

The person that "forced" the Sacrament on the baptized is subject to sanctions according to Canon Law - not exactly sure which sanctions, though.


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