Is Church teaching on infant baptism a doctrine or dogma of the faith and what's the difference?


#1

My wife and I are currently in RCIA. In his presentation on Tradition, the leader (who seemed less than enthusiastic about the Church’s teaching authority) drew a distinction between Dogma and Doctrine. I understand what he meant by Dogma (and the Catechism confirms it). But as to Doctrine, he suggested that Catholics may “dissent” from Doctrine. This seemed surprising to me (at the very least, overbroad). When I asked him for an example of a Doctrine to which a Catholic might dissent, he surpised me even further by giving “Infant Baptism” as an example. I suggested that, given what the Church teaches about the regenerative properties of Baptism, it would be strange that individuals would be permitted to “dissent” from the Doctrine that infants should be baptised. My Catechism seems to make infant baptism a requirement (or at least a very strong suggestion) for faithful parents. This matter is pressing for my family, because we have a brand new son, whom we will want to have baptised in the Church.

I can’t help feeling that I have been given a fuzzy picture on the distinction between a Dogma and Doctrine, on one’s prerogative to “dissent” from Doctrine, and on the application of these concepts to infant baptism. Can you help clarify this for me?

God bless,
Kyle Duncan


#2

For an explanation of the terms “doctrine” and “dogma” see What is the difference between Doctrine and Dogma?

Concerning infant baptism your RCIA leader is just flat wrong - church teaching on infant baptism is a dogma of the faith dogmatically approved by the Council of Trent. In fact, canon law (CIC) requires Catholics to have their infant children baptized: “Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it” (CIC 867.1) Plan to have your son baptized as soon as possible.


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