Inappropriate use of "emergency" baptism"?


I was at Mass this morning and talking to a group of friends after Mass. One of my friends was talking about her sister, who has lapsed from the faith, and her 18 month old nephew. Apparently the sister has never had her son baptised. The nephew has already had surgery once (not sure what for) and the surgery has to be repeated. My friend is worried about her nephew but was talking about performing emergency baptism on her nephew without asking her sister’s permission, and without even telling her. I don’t know all the facts, but based on what I heard this just seems wrong. My understanding is that emergency baptism should only be administered if a person is in danger of dying before a priest can attend - and there is also the situation of it being done secretly, without the parent’s consent. I’m just interested to know what other people think?


It isn’t right to baptize a child without his/her parents consent who doesn’t appear to have the likelihood of being raised Catholic. If death was imminent ( dying at the scene of an accident, for example)that would be another story.


Yes, this is what I was thinking. Truth is, I didn’t hear the start of the conversation, so I don’t know how serious the child’s condition is. But from what I heard it didn’t seem to match the requirements for emergency baptism.


If the surgery was one that required anesthesia, there is always the chance of death during the surgery. Otherwise I too don’t see any reason for the emergency baptism either.


If she baptizes him, she brings him under Catholic discipline, e.g. binds hin to Catholic Marriage Laws. I think that by baptizing him she assumes responsibility for ensuring he is aware of his obligations in this respect.


Would an illicit baptism make a child Catholic?




Yes. There was a notable case in the Papal States a century or so ago where a Catholic nurse baptized a Jewish baby. The baby was taken from the parents by the State and raised Catholic.


But Mortara was in danger of death, and was therefore licitly baptized.


Can. 878 If baptism was administered neither by the parish priest nor in his presence, the minister of baptism, whoever that was, must notify the parish priest of the parish in which the baptism was administered, so that he may register the baptism in accordance with can. 877 §1.


While such a baptism may be illicit, if done in the proper form and with the proper matter it would not be invalid.


I don’t think that that really addresses the issue of illicit baptism.


Illicit baptism is baptism. If a person who is bound by canon law performs the baptism, then the baptism must be registered with the parish.


Except if a Catholic joins a Protestant ecclesial community and performs a baptism therein, the baptized person is not thereby made a Catholic.


My interpretation is that the registration of the baptism at the parish is what makes the child a Catholic.


Except that it is baptism which enrolls one in the Church. If a Catholic became a methodist minister and then reverted, he wouldn’t be able to make all the infants that he baptized into Catholics by the mere act of registering their baptism.


I don’t know that to be true. But it is the pastor of the parish who registers the baptism, not any Catholic.

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