Invalid Baptism?


#1

As a child I grew up in a very abusive home, and was forced to attend church with my grandmother at an evangelical megachurch. I hated it, and because of the abuse I underwent I rejected faith at a young age. At around 12 I was forced to go through a baptism at the church, but I never considered it to be valid because I was above the age of reason and intentionally disbelieved in what I was doing at the time of the baptism. Now I am much older and my angst toward God has fizzled out. I am seeking and have recently been very drawn to the Catholic church. I know the Catholic church recognizes most baptisms but what if it was done in a situation like this? Would I be eligible for a "valid baptism" or is the awful experience done outside of faith all I get?


#2

I suppose the baptism is valid, as long as it conforms to the proper form and substance of Catholic baptisms and done in the Trinitarian form. Catholics baptize infants - they don't have consent either, but that is why we all Catholics need the Sacrament of Confirmation, as a perfection of our baptism. If you are seriously considering conversion, I suppose you have to go through an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). I pray so.


#3

I believe in all likelihood you are correct and this is not a valid baptism.

In The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas it is stated, "If an adult lack the intention of receiving the sacrament, he must be rebaptized. But if there be doubt about this, the form to be used should be: 'If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee.'"

newadvent.org/summa/4068.htm#article7

Most likely if you completed RCIA you would be considered a Catechumen and baptized the normal way at Easter Vigil, but if any doubt exists, the prescribed course would be to conditionally baptize you privately before Easter Vigil. In either case, the difference in the actual process of joining the Church is small. (You would be considered a Candidate rather than a Catechumen, but in most places both undergo the same religious education during RCIA).

Hope this helps :)


#4

[quote="MysticSeeker, post:1, topic:317289"]
As a child I grew up in a very abusive home, and was forced to attend church with my grandmother at an evangelical megachurch. I hated it, and because of the abuse I underwent I rejected faith at a young age. At around 12 I was forced to go through a baptism at the church, but I never considered it to be valid because I was above the age of reason and intentionally disbelieved in what I was doing at the time of the baptism. Now I am much older and my angst toward God has fizzled out. I am seeking and have recently been very drawn to the Catholic church. I know the Catholic church recognizes most baptisms but what if it was done in a situation like this? Would I be eligible for a "valid baptism" or is the awful experience done outside of faith all I get?

[/quote]

Do you have a catechism? If it was against your will, then no it does not count. It is the same as parents who don't want their child to be baptised, and say, the grandparents take the child to be baptised - it does not count.


#5

Always go to the Catechism first for your answers. Many answers to questions like these can be found there.


#6

[quote="Slowride, post:4, topic:317289"]
Do you have a catechism? If it was against your will, then no it does not count. It is the same as parents who don't want their child to be baptised, and say, the grandparents take the child to be baptised - it does not count.

[/quote]

No, it is not the same at all.

With adults, if they explicitly rejected baptism then (as already quoted in the Summa) they must be baptized when they enter the Church.

Not so with infants. Canon law clearly stipulates that consent of at least one parent is needed for licety, not validity. Such a baptism would be VALID if performed on an infant.


#7

Canon 865 says: "To be admitted to baptism, an adult must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, must be adequately instructed in the truths of the faith and in the duties of a christian, and tested in the christian life over the course of the catechumenate. The person must moreover be urged to have sorrow for personal sins."

//an adult must have manifested the intention to receive baptism//
Question: Is age of 12 already considered "adult"?


#8

I say get on it. You are going to have to talk to a priest or RCIA director to start the rest of the process. Don't waste your time talking to us. Run to the Church! I commend you for a humble review of your life and your willingness to receive the love Jesus has for you!

Good job and my wishes are with you.


#9

If prudent doubt remains -- as it seems it very well may -- seek out a "Conditional Baptism" in the Church. (One would also go to confession....)


#10

[quote="1ke, post:6, topic:317289"]
No, it is not the same at all.

With adults, if they explicitly rejected baptism then (as already quoted in the Summa) they must be baptized when they enter the Church.

Not so with infants. Canon law clearly stipulates that consent of at least one parent is needed for licety, not validity. Such a baptism would be VALID if performed on an infant.

[/quote]

Thanks for the clarification about the differences. I wasn't speaking of one parent agreeing. I was speaking as if both parents disagreed and someone took the child to be baptised without their permission. In the end I think we both agree - it was invalid.


#11

[quote="SonSearcher, post:8, topic:317289"]
I say get on it. You are going to have to talk to a priest or RCIA director to start the rest of the process. Don't waste your time talking to us. Run to the Church! I commend you for a humble review of your life and your willingness to receive the love Jesus has for you!

Good job and my wishes are with you.

[/quote]

Yep, I agree. It's always best to go to the source. do you have a parish nearby where you can make an appointment with the pastor? If you are unsure, check with your diocese's faith formation office. The listing for the diocese number should be in the white pages under D. That's how most of them list. Or google it. Best wishes and keeping you in prayer on your faith journey. So happy to have you wanting to come aboard! And, one of the best things about instruction as an RCIA candidate it's that, afterward, you'll be a "neophyte" and they continue to help you through your faith journey! They don't just kick you to the curb!


#12

[quote="SonSearcher, post:8, topic:317289"]
I say get on it. You are going to have to talk to a priest or RCIA director to start the rest of the process. Don't waste your time talking to us. Run to the Church! I commend you for a humble review of your life and your willingness to receive the love Jesus has for you!

Good job and my wishes are with you.

[/quote]

I don't see what the hurry is. It is almost Easter, and so most RCIA classes are coming to an end soon, not beginning. And besides, making such a huge life-altering decision is not one I feel I should enter into on a whim but rather after much study, prayer, and reflection.

I am also quiet and introverted by nature. It is much easier for me to express myself through writing with the ability to think and reflect as I write. I have been attending Mass at various locations almost daily since Ash Wednesday, but I am always too shy and nervous to talk to anyone there before or after the service; I just pray the rosary (which I have recently learned and which I find to be very comforting) and keep to myself.

[quote="carmichael2359, post:11, topic:317289"]
Yep, I agree. It's always best to go to the source. do you have a parish nearby where you can make an appointment with the pastor? If you are unsure, check with your diocese's faith formation office. The listing for the diocese number should be in the white pages under D. That's how most of them list. Or google it. Best wishes and keeping you in prayer on your faith journey. So happy to have you wanting to come aboard! And, one of the best things about instruction as an RCIA candidate it's that, afterward, you'll be a "neophyte" and they continue to help you through your faith journey! They don't just kick you to the curb!

[/quote]

There are plenty of parishes nearby, but I feel like I should visit them all before I decide which I feel the most comfortable with (so far there is one location that I have felt the strongest connection to, so ultimately they may be who I choose to speak with). I'm reluctant to begin the RCIA program at this point because I want to be able to commit to the study and preparation required 100% and as a full-time student (at a Catholic school, nonetheless) I don't know if I can make that commitment or not – in fact last time I looked into RCIA classes they seemed to mostly be on Wednesday nights which conflicted with a class I was taking at the time.

As far as the RCIA program itself, I have downloaded the audio recordings of several RCIA classes online and listened to them all, and it seems like the RCIA process varies wildly from parish to parish. I'm sure at some point I will pick up the phone and make that call, but right now I am just asking a lot of questions, praying a lot, and discerning whether or not this is truly the path that the LORD has set out for me (and I think it is).


#13

[quote="Slowride, post:10, topic:317289"]
Thanks for the clarification about the differences. I wasn't speaking of one parent agreeing. I was speaking as if both parents disagreed and someone took the child to be baptised without their permission. In the end I think we both agree - it was invalid.

[/quote]

No. A baptism performed on an infant against the wishes of even both parents is still valid; however, it is not licit.


#14

[quote="Slowride, post:10, topic:317289"]
Thanks for the clarification about the differences. I wasn't speaking of one parent agreeing. I was speaking as if both parents disagreed and someone took the child to be baptised without their permission. In the end I think we both agree - it was invalid.

[/quote]

No, you misunderstood me.

One parent is required for licety. If neither parent agrees and someone baptizes the child anyway, it is illicit but VALID.


#15

[quote="Willy_Jose, post:7, topic:317289"]
Canon 865 says: "To be admitted to baptism, an adult must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, must be adequately instructed in the truths of the faith and in the duties of a christian, and tested in the christian life over the course of the catechumenate. The person must moreover be urged to have sorrow for personal sins."

//an adult must have manifested the intention to receive baptism//
Question: Is age of 12 already considered "adult"?

[/quote]

Canonically, yes. Seven years of age, or "age of reason", is an adult.


#16

Oh --no, no! I didn't mean I agreed that you should hurry. I meant I agreed you should go to a valid source, like the diocese or a priest. No, you should do this with all sobriety and reverence. But don't mistake examination of intent with procrastination, either.
I have sponsored many people into the Church, and you're right: while the materials follow an approved form, the way they are presented depends very much on a lot of factors, including the presenters AND the class members. Sometimes the presenters have a difficult time if the class itself it's recalcitrant. ;-)


#17

[quote="1ke, post:15, topic:317289"]
Canonically, yes. Seven years of age, or "age of reason", is an adult.

[/quote]

Hmm, I thought "age of reason" and adulthood in canon law is quite different. Since the poster said he was baptized at 12 years of age, I presumed he was of minor age (so would have been exempted from the 'adults' referred to in Canon #865) and not yet adult at the time. Can you please clarify? I could be misreading canon law, see below.

//
Can. 96 By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and constituted a person in it, with the duties and the rights which, in accordance with each one's status, are proper to christians, in so far as they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a lawfully issued sanction intervenes.

Can. 97 §1 A person who has completed the eighteenth year of age, has attained majority; below this age, a person is a minor.

§2 A minor who has not completed the seventh year of age is called an infant and is considered incapable of personal responsibility; on completion of the seventh year, however, the minor is presumed to have the use of reason.

Can. 98 §1 A person who has attained majority has the full exercise of his or her rights.

§2 In the exercise of rights a minor remains subject to parents or guardians, except for those matters in which by divine or by canon law minors are exempt from such authority. In regard to the appointment of guardians and the determination of their powers, the provisions of civil law are to be observed, unless it is otherwise provided in canon law or unless, in specific cases and for a just reason, the diocesan Bishop has decided that the matter is to be catered for by the appointment of another guardian.
//


#18

[quote="Willy_Jose, post:17, topic:317289"]
Hmm, I thought "age of reason" and adulthood in canon law is quite different. Since the poster said he was baptized at 12 years of age, I presumed he was of minor age (so would have been exempted from the 'adults' referred to in Canon #865) and not yet adult at the time. Can you please clarify? I could be misreading canon law, see below.
...

[/quote]

Hello,

You are not misreading the law but in this case there is an exception to the normal way of defining "adult." See canon 852.1.

Dan


#19

[quote="dans0622, post:18, topic:317289"]

You are not misreading the law but in this case there is an exception to the normal way of defining "adult." See canon 852.1.

[/quote]

Canon 852.1 says "The provisions of the canons on adult baptism apply to all those who, being no longer infants, have reached the use of reason.".

Indeed there is an exception. The poster's baptism under such conditions does raise validity issues due to the intention aspect and indeed might require conditional baptism if the bishop so decides. Thanks for pointing it out Dan.


#20

[quote="MysticSeeker, post:1, topic:317289"]
As a child I grew up in a very abusive home, and was forced to attend church with my grandmother at an evangelical megachurch. I hated it, and because of the abuse I underwent I rejected faith at a young age. At around 12 I was forced to go through a baptism at the church, but I never considered it to be valid because I was above the age of reason and intentionally disbelieved in what I was doing at the time of the baptism. Now I am much older and my angst toward God has fizzled out. I am seeking and have recently been very drawn to the Catholic church. I know the Catholic church recognizes most baptisms but what if it was done in a situation like this? Would I be eligible for a "valid baptism" or is the awful experience done outside of faith all I get?

[/quote]

As others have said, go and talk to a priest or RCIA Coordinator.


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