Is protestant Baptism licit?

In another thread (post 25), I made the following statement:

… protestant Baptism would not be considered illicit Baptism. If a Catholic layman/laywoman Baptized someone who could have otherwise been Baptized by Catholic clergy, it would be illicit (ie, valid but not done in the proper fashion). But, if an extraordinary minister acts when no ordinary minister is available or reasonably expected to be available, it is not illicit. Protestant baptism (using water and the Trinitarian form) is both valid and licit. (emphasis added)

But, thinking about it later, it occurs to me that my statement was my own opinion, and I could not think of any actual teaching to back it up. It seems correct, but it also seems very strange.

If a colony of Catholics (with no clergy) were stranded on an island, and they Baptized their children, it would be both valid and licit. It seems that protestants are stranded on an island of their own making, but stranded nonetheless - separated from Catholic clergy. They have no recourse to Catholic clergy while they remain protestant. Their Baptisms should be just as licit as Gilligan’s.

What sayeth you?

(if you are unaware that protestant Baptism is (usually) valid, refer to CCC 1256.)

I’m not sure that its either as Protestants fall outside of Church law and licitness is a matter of following or breaking Church law. Validity speaks to whether the sacrament really happened and would apply to Prots. Some Prots have valid baptisms, some don’t. I might be wrong, though and will stand corrected if someone demonstrates otherwise.

I was a Methodist before converting and had been baptised using water with the Trinitarian formula. The Catholic Church fully accepted that as valid and licit.

Yes, in fact I know a convert from a Protestant church, and he wanted to be baptized in the Catholic Church really bad, but he was baptized using water with the Trinitarian formula, the Church said it was 100% valid.

Licety has to do with being allowed under the law. The current code of canon law does not claim authority to regulate baptized non-Catholics (which is a change in the law from times gone by) so licety is not an issue.

Non-Catholics are not bound by ecclesial law.

Seems to me (personal opinion here) that it would be “licit” because they don’t know that they have recourse to the Catholic clergy, so to speak. Sure they may know Catholic clergy are out there for Baptisms…but if they have not realized that the Church is “The Church”…then it’s not really an option for them.

As long as the Trinitarian formula is used, most Protestant baptisms are valid. The major exceptions would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons. Their baptisms are NOT recognized as valid by the Catholic Church (although there are a few others).

Can. 869 §1. If there is a doubt whether a person has been baptized or whether baptism was conferred validly and the doubt remains after a serious investigation, baptism is to be conferred conditionally.

§2. Those baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community must not be baptized conditionally unless, after an examination of the matter and the form of the words used in the conferral of baptism and a consideration of the intention of the baptized adult and the minister of the baptism, a serious reason exists to doubt the validity of the baptism.

If a protestant Baptism is Licit then can we also assume that protestants lose the state of grace when then commit a grave sin? If protestants can lose their baptismal state of grace through commiting a grave sin how do they regain God’s grace without the Catholic sacrament of Confession? I have been told that protestants can make a perfect act of contrition without the sacrament of confession, but I am not sure how that works.

Right. I think for the purpose of this thread, Mr. Filmer is assuming a valid Baptism. The only question is whether it’s “licit”.

My understanding is exactly as you have stated it. Grave sin is not something only for Catholics…it applies to all mankind. So if a non-Catholic were to commit grave matter with full knowledge and freedom of will, thereby rejecting God’s grace, they would either have to have perfect contrition (which only God can know) or have access to Sacramental Confession…or pray that God imparts His Grace to them by some other means (since God is not bound by the Sacraments which we are bound to). **

**I may have worded that poorly, and probably should have referenced the Catechism which does cover this subject…but I’ve got the children tonight while my wife has “ladies night”…so it ain’t gonna happen.

Well, that’s a very good point. “Licit” means done in the proper manner (usually according to Canon Law or the GIRM). Protestants are not under such rules, so (I suppose) we cannot even apply the term “licit” or “illicit” to protestant Baptism from a Catholic standpoint.

Most protestants perform Baptism under their own set of rules (some baptize infants, some do not, some immerse, some sprinkle, etc). So (I suppose) a protestant Baptism is “licit” if it is performed according to the rules of that communion.

Of course, the Catholic Church is concerned only with validity. As long as the rules of the protestant denomination conform to Catholic validity, we accept it. We don’t care if the pastor sprinkled when he ought to have immersed.

Good answer. I asked a non-question.

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