Public Area Baptism


This is a bit crazy or off the wall. But I was just wondering, because of a question posed by many non-Catholics and Catholics. Some people want to be baptized NOW or they want their children baptized NOW. I understand the desire. So,

what would actually happen if those people desireing to be Catholic or their children to be Catholic went to a baptistry before, during or after mass and actually used correct formula to publicly baptize their own child while taking videos/pictures for proof? It seems to me that a non-Catholic desiring to become Catholic (but also wanting to be immediately baptized) should go to any Church that uses a valid formula for baptism. I’ve known of many people getting baptized that the leaders/preacher did not actually baptize them or allow someone to perform a baptism on their own child.

Sounds kind of messed up, but if their are witnesses the deed is done and the person can go straight into RCIA as a candidate (already baptized / Christian) rather than a catechumen (non-baptized / non-Christian).


I’m pretty sure that although that would be a valid baptism, it would be illicit and a sin on the part of the one doing the baptism. If a person is not dying, they should be calmed by the baptism of Desire until they can receive a LICIT Baptism.


Any person, ordained or not, Christian or not, is capable of performing a licit baptism so long as they are able to form the correct intent in their mind. There’s no reason you would have to use the baptistry of a church; any water is just as effective. Doing what you describe would be a valid baptism but could also get you arrested for trespassing.

The custom and ideal practice in the Catholic Church (and in most liturgical churches) is for the baptism to be performed by an ordained minister or an appropriately delegated replacement in a public ceremony. So if you are Catholic, this is what you should do. If, however, for some reason you feel like you need to baptize your child in the bathtub with no witnesses, it’s still just as valid and the Catholic Church will accept it as such assuming you can prove that it actually happened, e.g. with a video.


It’s only illicit for Catholics because we are bound by canon law. Since canon law does not bind anyone else, a non-Catholic can baptize his/her own child licitly or be baptized by someone licitly even if there is no danger of death.

We were having this discussion in another thread because a poster very much desires to have his child baptized but doesn’t belong to a religion that does that and is not quite ready to convert to Catholicism. With his/her belief in baptism if not Catholicism it is quite licit for that parent to baptize the child him/herself. The advice was to make sure there were plenty of witnesses if the baptism did go ahead, and that filming it would be a good idea.


However, there are severa canons dealing with Catechumens as being joined to the Church in a special way. I would say a true Catechumen, one who has gone through the Rite of Acceptance, has placed themselves under Church authority and should NOT seek to baptize outside of the laws of the Church. I would say an inquirer is bound by no obligation at all.


I agree, catechumens fall into a different category.


Well, the Church can declare your baptism invalid. If you are baptizing with the intention to bypass RCIA, then you have an intention other than the intention of the Church, therefore the Sacrament is invalid.


An excellent point. Here is a link to an article where about Pointe-Calumet Montreal parish where “295 baptisms had been declared invalid because they weren’t done properly”. and “The layperson in question did not baptize because she violated the essential rite of the sacrament. Having the parents pour holy water over the child’s head while she said blessings, incantations, or whatever, does not constitute the sacrament.”


I do believe that you are not correct on all points here. If someone baptizes their child or gets baptized to be initiated into the Christian Church, then the circumventing anything is irrelevant. Many grandparents get worried and jump the gun out of fear pretty often. However, the baptism is valid if the proper form is present. Water and the Trinitarian formula for remission of sins. It’s right out of the bible. I’ve seen plenty of invalid baptisms at a non-denom church. I didn’t accept them then and certainly know that if the Church found out they would all have to be baptized because the first act was not a baptism per Church teaching.

Now, I do know of a few Protestants convert to Catholic get conditionally baptized when they probably didn’t have to do it. That’s different.

Oh, and the only reason I chose the church baptistry was because of it being in a public area. Protestant churches also have baptistries. I baptized my first son in one where the entire Church stopped to watch my son’s baptism. It was a wonderful moment for us. Being a revert i realized my wrong, but in my heart I thought I was right. Besides, I’m pretty sure my son was secretly baptized by my father without our knowledge. He has a history of doing such things. I believe I was secretly baptized like my little brother. Mom was very anti-Catholic.


It would be a valid baptism but illicit (and possibly sinful for the one doing it) if the one doing the baptism was Catholic, if they are not Catholic it would still valid.

But such a baptism would not make the one baptized Catholic. It does not matter where a baptism takes place to make one Catholic, it matters who is doing the baptism.

For the recipient of a baptism to be Catholic the one doing the baptism should be the Church, so that means it would need to be a deacon or priest doing the baptizing not just any lay person who decides to walk into a Catholic Church and perform a baptism.

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