May I baptize my friend?



I have a friend who has been a Protestant christian for around 15 years, and I recently found out that she has not yet been baptized. I asked her why not, and she said that she just doesn’t understand why it’s important. I replied that Jesus tells us we should get baptized, and wasn’t that enough reason. She said she knows that, but that she doesn’t understand why it’s necessary since it’s only symbolic (she rejects the Catholic reasoning for baptism), and it seems she won’t be baptized until someone can show her why it’s important.
I’m wondering how serious her refusal to get baptized (even though she knows Jesus commands it) is. Should I continue to strongly encourage her to get baptized?
One of the problems is that she attends a “house church” of about 20 people where baptisms don’t occur on a regular basis, and my friend doesn’t like to be the center of attention. In this situation, would it be improper for me to baptize her, if that is the only way she would do it?
Also, I’m wondering if the Catholic church would consider someone who has faith in Christ but refuses to be baptized to be a christian.

Thanks for your help.


Brigitta Powers


Dear Brigitta,

Catholic laity are allowed to baptize only in an emergency situation. In Jn. 3:5 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” In Mk 16:16 He says: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” In Col. 2:11-12 Paul says that baptism has replaced circumcision. “…and your were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead.”


It is not up to us to down-play what the Lord Himself has emphasized. Her real problem is that she doesn’t belong to the only Church Jesus founded. Keep praying for her. If she is sincere in her ignorance, the Lord will show her mercy.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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