What to do when there's doubt about Baptism?

Dear Apologist,

Thank you for taking the time to answe this. A very dear friend of mine has started the RCIA to be baptised. She was told a few months ago in passing by her father that her grandmother may possibly have baptised her as a child. The father doubts that it did happen and it seems there was no-one there to witness it and no real evidence that the baptism even occurred or, if it did occur, that it was validly carried out. My friend is terrified as she has not lived a godly life and she now looks to her upcoming baptism as a real washing away of her past and the start of a whole new chapter. Should she be concerned that she is already baptised? Is it reasonable to proceed on the assumption that she is not baptised?

You help is hugely appreciated.

God bless,


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.

In the situation you describe there is serious doubt about whether your friend was baptized. So at the very least she should be baptized conditionally. Because there isn’t any reason to believe she was baptized I would proceed as if she was never baptized. She should continue down her path as an presumed unbaptized person in the RCIA process.

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