Is Infant Baptism Valid When Parents Are Not Serious?

A friend asked me about those parents who bring their children to be baptized just because it’s the socially “done thing”. Are such baptisms valid?

I was not sure what to say.

Part of me says YES, because for a sacrament to be valid, three things have to be present: the correct form, the correct matter, and the correct intention, and assuming the priest or deacon doing the baptizing has the right intention, it should be valid.

But part of me says possibly NO, When adults get baptized, they must have faith. Since a baby cannot have faith, they are baptized based on the faith of their parents until they reach the age of reason, at which time they are confirmed and make their faith their own. So if, say, the parents have no faith, then I am not sure what that means.

What do you say?

The baptism is valid. All that is required for a valid baptism is the right matter (water), form (Trinitarian forumla), and intention (to do what the Church does in baptism). In order for the grace to be of no effect the individual being baptized must be either forced against his/her will or be willfully opposed to the sacrament. An infant is neither of those, an infant places no obstacles to the grace of the sacrament.

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.

Priests should make clear to parents that by having their child baptized they are assuming the responsibility of raising their child in the practice of the Catholic faith. Note that the requirement for “founded hope” is only for licitness. Even if the parents deceive the priest, the sacrament is still valid.

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