Terminally ill, non-baptized child

One of my husband’s co-workers has an eleven year old child with terminal cancer. They do not go to church and I assume the child has never been baptized. We are not that close to the family personally, just through a long time work association. I’m very touched by this situation and especially so since we also have children near that age. The child has been on my heart and in my prayers. Is there anything else we can do?

You can ask the child if he wants to, if he understands what baptism is. Or you can ask the parents. Either way there must be consent. The child is alredy 11 and is already in the age of reason, therefore it is only right that they have the choice to receive baptism or not. It is also important that the child understand what baptism is before asking for it.

Best thing you can do is encourage the child and/or the parents to seek the graces of God through the Sacraments. Given the condition, the child will probably receive all Sacraments of Initiation plus anointing from a priest.

OR you may be told by the child’s parents to mind your own business. I’m not trying to be mean, and I would hope they would see the benefit in what you are proposing. But, you have to be prepared for others. You may also find the child has been baptized in another faith in which case I would think you’d be happy with that and continue to support the family with your prayers and support.

First off, you don’t even know if the child is baptised or not.
Second, if the child is not baptised the consent of the parents would be required and if they say no that is the end of it. The child may be of the age of reason but it is still a minor and under the guardianship of the parents. Nothing can be done without the parents’ consent.

These parents don’t go to any church, Catholic or Protestant. I know that I can’t take the child and baptize her. But is there something that can be said to the parents? A way to try to evangelize them, and if so how? What would you say? How could you bring up the subject in a compassionate manner? Just looking for ideas.

Since their child is sick, you can start by asking them if its okay for you to pray for their child. I mean, you don’t need their permission to do so, but letting them know this way is a way to introduce the faith to them.

I’m just responding as another member of CAF. :slight_smile: I would suggest asking if there is any way you can be of help to the family. Parents of a dying child must have a lot of stress–the way to show them your Christian love is to help them in any way they might need, be it grocery shopping or picking up dry cleaning or walking the family dog or driving their other kids to school or babysitting when they have to take the sick child to the doctor, etc.–anything that might take some of the stress from their lives. I don’t mean that this should just be a means to an end–the baptism of their child, but rather to be of temporal help to them out of Christ’s love cannot help but show them that faith is worthy of their attention, and you will have gained new friends who might then be open to listening to your words.

Thank you for your suggestion Jean Anthony. Sounds like a good way to start. Unfortunately there are no other kids to baby-sit or take care of as she is an only child. Please remember this family in your prayers.

If the child wants baptism, but is resisted by the parents, this seems like a good case of “baptism by desire”. The physical act is being confunded by the parents. Pray, and leave the question of eternity in the hands of the Almighty.

The best evangelism is simply being there for the family. Help them and pray for them.

Where does it say that the consent of the parents is required? This is a Sacrament.

Why not ask the child if he wants to be baptized, and if he says yes, why not just do it yourself?

If the child is about to die right this minute, you can do that - but for as long as the child is under the care of his parents, you have to go through proper channels, and a member of the clergy should do the baptism, along with the other Sacraments of Initiation and Healing.

Consent of parents in normally required before a sacrament is given to a minor.

Why not ask the child if he wants to be baptized, and if he says yes, why not just do it yourself?

Would you like it if another religion tried to perform a religious ceremony on your child without your permission?

While human beings need sacraments, God does not require a sacrament to act.

Here is the relevant canon from the Code of Canon Law.

Can. 868 §1 For an infant to be baptised lawfully it is required:
1° that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent;

2° that there be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.

§2 An infant of catholic parents, indeed even of non-catholic parents, may in danger of death be baptised even if the parents are opposed to it.

If a member of another religion performed one of their religious rituals on your Catholic child, I bet you’d go into orbit.

At the very least, this child’s parents would probably be highly offended. Worst case, they might claim it was an assault.

Thanks for the quote from the relevant part of the Catechism. I stand illuminated.

Ah, but other religions are nothing like the Catholic Faith. To equate them or compare them as things on the same level would seem to be a grave error.

To expect a non-Catholic to share you beliefs and to be understanding about you performing a Catholic ritual on their non-Catholic child without their permission would also seem to be a grave (and possibly quite painful) error.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.