Why is RCIC a requirement for baptizing an older child?

From where does the requirement derive that an older child complete an RCIC course prior to baptism? Is that part of Canon Law? Or is it a just a good practice that has become accepted over time? Or is there another reason? Thanks in advance.

RCIA (of which RCIC is an adaptation) is the normal way that adults are to be baptized. Older children (usually considered those over age 7 or so) are considered adults.

I have a feeling there’s more to the question, but I’m not sure what.

Basically with younger children, baptism takes place with the parents’ and godparents’ assurance that the child will be raised in the faith. With older children, there’s preparation for the child and his or her commitment to becoming Christian (along with the support of the family). As has been mentioned, this is based on the Rite o Christian Initiation of Adults, the liturgical rite the Church has created.

SMD - You’re very perceptive. My 10 year old son was secretly baptized Catholic per my wife’s request in August. (See forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=709749 for details.) Just this week the priest finally returned my request to speak with a parish authority regarding the matter and among other questions I have is why he was allowed to bypass the RCIC requirement (which is posted on that parish website.) He had been attending LDS services his entire life through July with my wife and I, and I have no clue still how it happened so fast. Between that and the fact that no one from the parish cared to contact me for my opinion regarding the matter has left somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth. What’s that verse about forgiving 70 times 7 times again?.. Anyway, that’s behind my question, What are RCC policies, if any, were violation by this baptism? The Fort Worth diocese has a policy posted on line stating that a non-Catholic parent must consent to a Catholic baptism in order to not cause hard feelings in the home. I can’t find any such policy posted by the diocese in my area, not that it doesn’t exist.

It’s hard to know what to say in this situation except that’s not the way it’s supposed to happen.

I didn’t read through the other thread completely – it’s long! – but I can understand why you’re upset.

Did you have a chance to talk with the priest? What did he tell you? And did his explanation help at all?

How can those of us here help you?


I think policy varies. But the canon law is a norm:

CIC (Latin Canon Law)

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.


The son is 10. He’s not an infant.

I believe a lot can be left up to the priest. My youngest son was 13 or 14 when he was baptized and confirmed and took first communion all at one time in a private ceremony. He did not attend RCIA but completed some work with me and some with the priest. I was a recent convert and he’s never had the opportunity to attend CCD as a child.

The priest should be able to answer your questions. I also believe at that age, they have to want to be baptized, you can’t force a child into this. Our priest did ask my son if that was what he wanted to do.

If the child is over the age of seven, then he needs to undergo an age-appropriate process of preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation. He will be baptized, Confirmed, and receive his First Holy Communion together in one ceremony. In our Diocese, he will take Preparation for First Reconciliation as soon as possible after that, if he is over the age of 8.

In practice, it’s common courtesy to let the parents know that this is happening, but strictly speaking, the only consent required is that of the child. If the child does not have his parents’ permission to do this, then he must also demonstrate that he can get to Mass every Sunday by himself, and fulfill his obligations without help from them - but if he would require their help, then he does also require their permission.

How long the process would take depends on the age and maturity of the child - at our parish, the process is about three or four weeks in total (about 6-8 hours of instruction).

Any person of the age of reason (generally considered to be age 8 in Canon Law) is not to be baptized until after a catechumante period. This is, in fact, one of the more ancient traditions of the church, dating back to the 2nd century. Back when instruction of converts would be given to the whole family, with all persons in the house of the age of reason or above were expected to attend. In fact, some hints of this are even 1st century - a careful read of the Pauline epistles and of Acts will show whole families instructed.

Thank you, so the adult norms apply then, and the permission of the parents is not required.

Can. 852
§1 The provisions of the canons on adult baptism apply to all those who, being no longer infants, have reached the use of reason.
§2 One who is incapable of personal responsibility is regarded as an infant even in regard to 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.

SME - My appointment with the priest is in a couple of weeks. Your sympathy is helpful.

To my untrained eye it appears that Can. 865 is the answer to my question.

I can’t help but wonder if my son was given an “emergency” baptism.

Here’s the rub for me (and please ignore any indignation that’s over the top!). My son was born with a heart defect that the doctors describe as “moderate to severe”. My son has not needed surgery yet and he is examined annually by a cardiologist. There is a good chance that surgery will be necessary in the future. The cardiologist states that surgical options are not always ideal for his condition. When a church baptizes a child without the father being apprised and the child knows that things are being kept from his father, the church is blatantly ignoring the commandment “honor thy father and thy mother”. That commandment comes with an attendant blessing “that thy days may be long upon the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee.” If ever there’s someone who needs the blessing of long days it’s my son. To me it sends a message that my son can ignore that commandment and by the way, I guess the blessing of long days for him just isn’t very important to that church.

Thank you to all who replied.

That’s supposed to be done in case of imminent danger of death which doesn’t sound like the case.

I really don’t have answers for you. A child your son’s age should go through RCIA. The process takes a year or more and at the Easter Vigil he would receive his sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist. I’m curious if your son received all the sacraments of initiation, or baptism only.

Many parishes don’t follow all of this, especially with children. There’s sometimes resistance to confirming them, for example, when they’re only 8 or 10 even though that’s what the rite calls for. There are no liturgy police who can enforce doing things the right way.

Your wife, your son, and her priest will be the ones who can tell you what’s going on and why they’ve done what they’ve done.

My son is enrolled in some sort of course that prepares children for confirmation around Easter. (Whenever I show up to observe the class, my wife removes him from the class immediately.) Thanks again SMD.

My sister and her ex husband did not have their kids baptized as infants. Both are fallen away Catholics. They eventually consented to my mother taken them to a child’s version of the RCIA at her church with about 4 or 5 other kids ranging in age from 7 to 12 years old, and receiving all 3 sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. The kids do receive some form of religious education when they are at my mother’s home with materials my mother got from her church’s religious education director.

“A Church” did not baptize your child, “a person” did. We do not know the circumstances and it is useless to speculate regarding what occurred.

You said you have an appointment with the parish priest, and that is good because he can explain the specifics of this situation.

You have posted on this before, and while everyone here can understand your hurt, confusion, and feelings of betrayal, we cannot answer the questions of why and how this occurred. So, go talk to the priest.

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