Why are sacraments performed by priests who don't care about God valid?


If baptism is made as a part of movie scene, it’s not valid. What’s the difference with sacraments performed by priests who don’t believe in/don’t care about God? How can priest’s words “This is my Body” and “This is my blood” (reffered to Jesus) haave any effect if priest doesn’t believe in them?


The priest offers the sacrament in alter christus. The priest is but a vessel. It is Jesus Christ that confers the grace of each sacrament. The holiness of the priest that offers the sacrament is irrelevant to the validity of the sacrament, if offered correctly.

See the following from the CCC:

1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. the Father always hears the prayer of his Son’s Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power.

1128 This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God. "From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.


Eltoro is correct.

Think of what it would be like if this were not the case. The laity would never really know if the sacraments were doing what they were supposed to be doing. We’d have to be able to see the interior of the priest’s soul in order to really confirm that the sacraments were working.


If you have a particular priest in mind, how do you know what his inner beliefs are and that he “doesn’t care?”


What about lay persons doing emergency baptism? That is perhaps the situation that is most similar to the actor who, dressed as a priest, performs “baptism” in a movie or on the stage. The only difference between the stage/screen baptism and the lay performed emergency baptism that I can see is the intent.


I believe that is the case, as canon law does discuss the intent when talking abuot licit baptisims. See 865 and 868 below.

Can. 864 Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is capable of baptism.

Can. 865 §1. For an adult to be baptized, the person must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, have been instructed sufficiently about the truths of the faith and Christian obligations, and have been tested in the Christian life through the catechumenate. The adult is also to be urged to have sorrow for personal sins.

§2. An adult in danger of death can be baptized if, having some knowledge of the principal truths of the faith, the person has manifested in any way at all the intention to receive baptism and promises to observe the commandments of the Christian religion.

Can. 866 Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, an adult who is baptized is to be confirmed immediately after baptism and is to participate in the eucharistic celebration also by receiving communion

Can. 867 §1. Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.

§2. An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without delay.

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.

§2. An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.

There is no actual emergency, so the emergency clause doesn’t come into play in either of the baptisms. Therefore, you still have to meet the standards of intent on the part of the consenting adult or on the part of the parents. I am no way an expert in canon law, but that’s my take on it.


The intent that is supposed to be manifest is that he is doing what the Church does. This is assumed when a priest performs a baptism in a church, or when Baptists do it to obey Christ, etc.

When a baptism is portrayed in a theater or on a set, there is no intention of performing a baptism, only of portraying one.

The intent is more the intent inherent in the act rather than on the mind of the person baptizing.


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