What if someone thought they were validly baptized, but they actually weren't?


#1

Scenario:

Someone grew up in a Protestant faith.
They then want to convert to Catholicism.
They do not get a conditional baptism because they think they were validly baptized already and they have documentation that a baptism has been performed in their Protestant community.
They then convert to Catholicism and get Confirmed and receive First Communion.
They live the rest of their life following Christ and His Church.

What if their baptism in the Protestant faith was not valid (i.e. the Protestant minister forgot to say "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit") and they never find out that their baptism wasn't valid?

What would happen to this person? Would baptism of desire cover them?


#2

Yes.


#3

Thanks for the response.

Is there any official Church teaching on this issue?


#4
  1. If there is prudent doubt remains after investigation --the person would receive a “conditional baptism” --“If you were not baptized --I baptize you…”

  2. As to the other Q

  3. Is it possible to be saved without Baptism?

1258-1261
1281-1283

Since Christ died for the salvation of all, those can be saved without Baptism who die for the faith (Baptism of blood). Catechumens and all those who, even without knowing Christ and the Church, still (under the impulse of grace) sincerely seek God and strive to do his will can also be saved without Baptism (Baptism of desire). The Church in her liturgy entrusts children who die without Baptism to the mercy of God.

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

God is not bound to the Sacraments – we are --but God is not.

God can act outside them.


#5

[quote="Bookcat, post:4, topic:314758"]
1. If there is prudent doubt remains after investigation --the person would receive a "conditional baptism" --"If you were not baptized --I baptize you...."

  1. As to the other Q

  2. Is it possible to be saved without Baptism?

1258-1261
1281-1283

Since Christ died for the salvation of all, those can be saved without Baptism who die for the faith (Baptism of blood). Catechumens and all those who, even without knowing Christ and the Church, still (under the impulse of grace) sincerely seek God and strive to do his will can also be saved without Baptism (Baptism of desire). The Church in her liturgy entrusts children who die without Baptism to the mercy of God.

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

God is not bound to the Sacraments -- we are --but God is not.

God can act outside them.

[/quote]

Thankfully....


#6

Thank you for the responses.

Does anyone else want to answer as well?


#7

What if the baptism was performed by a Catholic minister and the minister forgot to say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?”


#8

[quote="Zenkai, post:1, topic:314758"]

What would happen to this person?

[/quote]

He would continue to be loved by God who looks at one's heart .

Please don't be burdened by rules and regulations , but trust in God .


#9

Ecclesia supplex - the Church supplies.

That's what a priest told me when I had some doubts about the validity of my Protestant baptism - many years after becoming Catholic. That really put my mind at ease. :heaven:


#10

[quote="Bonnie, post:9, topic:314758"]
Ecclesia supplex - the Church supplies.

That's what a priest told me when I had some doubts about the validity of my Protestant baptism - many years after becoming Catholic. That really put my mind at ease. :heaven:

[/quote]

Ecclesia suppliet applies only to jurisdiction, not validity of sacraments.

In answer to the first person, baptism of desire would definitely cover it since he intended to live the Catholic life and expressly accepted all it required, including baptism. It won't be his fault if he dies without ever having known this.

Of graver concern would be if this person becomes a priest or bishop, since Holy Orders is invalid without baptism and could potentially spawn a line of invalidly ordained bishops. However, on this point, I trust the God will never allow this to happen, as the Church is indefectable.

That said, if the person has positive doubt about the validity of his baptism, he should approach his priest for help.


#11

[quote="porthos11, post:10, topic:314758"]
Ecclesia suppliet applies only to jurisdiction, not validity of sacraments...That said, if the person has positive doubt about the validity of his baptism, he should approach his priest for help.

[/quote]

Hmmm - I did ask my parish priest & he said "the Church supplies." At the time of my baptism I intended to be baptised properly & I assume the Protesant minister who baptised me intended the same. Unfortunately, I can't remember the exact words he used. I can't ask him either, because he's dead, as are my parents, who witnessed my baptism.

So - I'll still hold with "ecclesia suppliet." Fr. B. wouldn't steer me wrong. :thumbsup:


#12

[quote="Bonnie, post:11, topic:314758"]
Hmmm - I did ask my parish priest & he said "the Church supplies." At the time of my baptism I intended to be baptised properly & I assume the Protesant minister who baptised me intended the same. Unfortunately, I can't remember the exact words he used. I can't ask him either, because he's dead, as are my parents, who witnessed my baptism.

So - I'll still hold with "ecclesia suppliet." Fr. B. wouldn't steer me wrong. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

Ecclesia supplet again only supplies lacking jurisdiction. The Church cannot supply for defective form or matter of a sacrament.

canonlaw.info/2007/02/we-need-to-be-careful-with-notion-of.html
ewtn.org/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=411941&Pg=Forum9&Pgnu=6&recnu=141

That said, if your priest said there is no need for you to undergo conditional baptism, that's that. But the use of the term ecclesia supplet is wrong in this context.


#13

[quote="Zenkai, post:1, topic:314758"]
Scenario:

Someone grew up in a Protestant faith.
They then want to convert to Catholicism.
They do not get a conditional baptism because they think they were validly baptized already and they have documentation that a baptism has been performed in their Protestant community.
They then convert to Catholicism and get Confirmed and receive First Communion.
They live the rest of their life following Christ and His Church.

What if their baptism in the Protestant faith was not valid (i.e. the Protestant minister forgot to say "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit") and they never find out that their baptism wasn't valid?

What would happen to this person? Would baptism of desire cover them?

[/quote]

It would, once they died but in the meantime I'd be discussing it with a priest and arranging to get officially baptized. I'm a little confused as to how someone has a fake baptismal certificate. I know that our RCIA takes proof of prior baptism very seriously and unless there is absolutely no doubt you were properly baptized they do a conditional baptism just to be safe.


#14

Cconditional baptism used to be standard practice, prior to the emphasis upon ecumenism.

Since the post-war era, the tendency has been to accept baptism from any Protestant tradition which is known to accept the Trinity and which employs ordinary water and the Trinitarian formula.

Only baptisms from non-Trinitarian ecclesial communities--the LDS, the Jehovah's Witnesses, United Pentecostal Church, Christian Scientists, etcetera--are automatically assumed invalid.

If there is reasonable doubt however--an Episcopal baptism by an Anglican clergyyperson known for flaky theology--I suspect most RCIA directors would advise a conditional baptism.

Just surmising.


#15

[quote="Cider, post:13, topic:314758"]
I'm a little confused as to how someone has a fake baptismal certificate.

[/quote]

He would still have a certificate. I was just wondering about being baptized, but the Protestant minister forgetting to say "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


#16

[quote="QNDNNDQDCE, post:7, topic:314758"]
What if the baptism was performed by a Catholic minister and the minister forgot to say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?"

[/quote]

I seriously doubt this would ever happen. It might happen in some Protestant Churches because there is less emphasis placed on how a person is baptized in some of them. Take the Southern Baptist Church.The phrase "...in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" is often recited, but because baptism is seen by that particular denomination as a mere outward expression of what has already taken place inwardly (salvation through faith), less care is sometimes taken with the methods employed.


#17

I'd second what the other posters have said about Ecclesia Supplet. It doesn't apply to faulty sacramental form. If invalid words are used, then the sacrament is not valid. If Ecclesia Supplet covered faulty sacramental words, then using the right words would be irrelevant. This is not the case. Using invalid wording nullifies the sacrament.

An example of this is how the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that baptisms done "In the Name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" are invalid (wrong wording). You can read about it here: catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=27028

In this example, the Vatican said very clearly that this faulty baptismal formula wasn't valid. So, Ecclesia Supplet doesn't apply when a minister uses an invalid formula. If it did, then these "Creator Redeemer Sanctifier" baptisms would have been valid. Since they are not valid, it shows that Ecclesia Supplet does not cover faulty sacramental wording.


#18

This seems to be an important issue. Does the Church have any teachings that would answer my question?


#19

Anyone?


#20

As others have said, the correct thing to do would be to receive conditional baptism. If the person is in the process of converting via RCIA, it's no big deal for them to receive conditional baptism (you'll be baptized along with all the catechumens during the Easter Vigil Mass). If one has already become a member of the Catholic Church, but suspects that his or her baptism was invalid, the person should bring the matter to his or her pastor and arrange for a conditional baptism (as well as conditional Confirmation, convalidation of marriage if necessary, etc.) Since baptism is the gateway to the other sacraments, if the baptism was invalid, then so was Confirmation. It may also have an impact on marriage validity if the person married in the Catholic Church (someone can correct me on this if I'm wrong...if the person wasn't baptized, then technically their spouse married a non-Catholic, which requires a dispensation for validity...I could be wrong on this). It would have no impact on a marriage's validity if the couple was Protestant or non-Christian when they were married.


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.