The faithful shall be instructed on the meaning and necessity of baptism,
especially when the Sunday’s scripture readings lend themselves to the theme,
e.g., during Lent, Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20a)
Who, Where, and when
1. The right to baptize belongs to the pastor of the home parish in which the adult to be baptized or in which the parent(s) of the child to be baptized are registered or belong.
2. Baptism is to be celebrated either in the parish church or its missions according to the discretion of the pastor. Baptism is not to be celebrated in private homes. Outside the case of danger of death, baptism is not to be celebrated in a hospital or other place. (CIC 857, 860)
3. Outside the case of necessity, it is not lawful for anyone, without the required permission, to confer baptism in the territory of another, not even upon his own subjects. (CIC 862)
4. Outside of the case of necessity, it is not lawful for anyone, without the required permission from the proper pastor, to confer baptism in their territory upon those who are not his subjects. In those instances when permission has been obtained to have someone baptized in another parish, the responsibility for the paperwork, catechesis, and the judgment as to whether the baptism should proceed, still remain with the proper pastor unless other arrangements have been explicitly made.
5. Whenever reasonably possible, the sacrament of baptism is to be celebrated on Sundays in the presence of the Christian Community, not necessarily in the context of the Sunday Eucharist. Private ceremonies are strongly discouraged unless there is a reasonable cause in the judgment of the pastor of the place of baptism. (1)
6. Every parish church shall have a baptistry or at least a prominently located baptismal font, properly equipped for the conferring of baptism. (CIC 858) The font shall be treated with reverence, neatly maintained, and thoroughly cleaned at frequent intervals.
7. As the rite for baptizing, either immersion, which is more suitable as a symbol of participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, or pouring may lawfully be used. (Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Christian Initiation, General Instruction, 2nd editio tipica: 1973. n. 22)
8. The ordinary minister of the sacrament is one who has received Sacred Orders. For parishes or communities without an ordained minister, a non-ordained Christian faithful can licitly administer the sacrament by written permission of the Archbishop. (CIC 861, §2)
9. The faithful shall be instructed on the meaning and necessity of baptism, especially when Sunday’s scripture readings lend themselves to the theme, e.g., during Lent, Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord.
13. Only persons not yet baptized may be baptized. (CIC 864)
Adults and Children of Catechetical Age
14. Whenever an adult is seeking baptism, he/she ordinarily is to be prepared through the RCIA process (see the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (1988). Children of catechetical age are to be prepared through the RCIA process adapted for children. (2) See Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Infant Baptism Policy, for the preparation required when an infant is being baptized. When the baptism is to take place in a prison, see Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Sacramental Policies in a Prison Setting
In case of Doubt
15. If there is a doubt whether one has been baptized or whether baptism was validly conferred and the doubt remains after serious investigation, baptism is to be conferred conditionally. (CIC 889, §1).
15.1 If it is not prejudicial to anyone, to prove conferral of baptism, the declaration of a single witness who is above suspicion suffices or the oath of the baptized person, if the baptism was received at an adult age. (3)(CIC 876) If there is a question of whether baptism was conferred validly by a non-Catholic community, the rites of the non-Catholic community, as well as the intention of an adult baptized person and the ministers of the baptism, need to be investigated. As a rule of thumb, if water and the Trinitarian formula are used the baptism is conferred validly. (4)
15.2 If, after a serious investigation, it seems necessary to confer baptism again conditionally, the minister should explain beforehand the reasons why baptism is conferred conditionally in this instance.
15.3 The celebration of conditional baptism is done privately rather than in a public liturgical assembly of the community.
15.4 In conferring conditional baptism the Christian Initiation of Adults in Exceptional Circumstances (Abbreviated Form) is to be used, omitting the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens. When administering the sacrament, the following formula is used: “N., if you are not baptized, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The celebration of the sacrament of confirmation is deferred until the reception into full communion with the Church.
16. If there is doubt of whether the person or fetus is alive, baptism can be conferred conditionally. If aborted fetuses are alive, they are to be baptized if possible. (CIC 871) If there is no doubt that the person or fetus is dead, the minister may not baptize.
20. It is the duty of the pastor to see that as soon as possible the celebration of baptism is to be recorded in the proper parish book in accord with canon 877, §1.
21 When an EMERGENCY BAPTISM
Recording a Baptism
22. In recording the baptism of a child of an unmarried mother, the name of the mother is to be inserted if there is public proof of her maternity or if she asks this willingly, either in writing or before two witnesses; likewise, the name of the father is to be inserted if his paternity has been proved either by some public document or by his own declaration before the pastor and two witnesses; in other cases, the name of the one to be baptized is recorded without any indication of the name of the father or the parents. (CIC 877, §2)
Rule of thumb: Place the names that appear on the state birth certificate on the baptismal certificate. If the father is willing to sign the document in the presence of the pastor, he should be encouraged to do so in the presence of the civil authorities. The father should be informed that when the proper change is made in the state birth certificate his name will be added to the baptismal certificate. Written proof of the change in the birth certificate must be presented.
23. In recording the baptism of an adopted child, the names of the adopting parents are to be recorded. The names of the natural parents are not to be recorded since that is contrary to the norms for the State of New Mexico. (c. 877, §3) Please note that in the case of adoption after baptism, the names of the natural parents should be kept in the baptismal register, and a notation of adoption with the new parents’ names should be added to the record. Be aware that in the State of New Mexico the names of the natural parents cannot be given out without a court order, even after the adoptee is eighteen years old. (10)
24. No changes can be made in the baptismal register unless there is an authentic document that substantiates the change. The change is to be marked in notations, including the source of the change.
(1) Children of unwed parents or of parents who are in a marriage that cannot be officially recognized by the Church, ordinarily are not to be baptized within the celebration of the Eucharist.
(2) The sacramental preparation of children of catechetical age can be done through the regular religious education program offered at the parish; however, the rites of the RCIA are to be followed.
(3) In this case “adult” is to be interpreted as seven years old or older unless the person lacks the use of reason. (cf. canons 852, 97)
(4) As a result of the study by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome, Mormon baptism is not considered valid by the Catholic church. Since the church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) cannot be said to baptize in the name of the Trinity which the Catholic faith professes, converts from the Mormon Church must be rebaptized when they enter the Catholic Church.
(5) (6) (7) (8) go to Sponsor
(9) By proper parish is understood the parish where the parents, or the one baptized, are registered. If they are not registered in any parish, it is understood to be the territorial parish of their home address.
(10) For further information on the State of New Mexico Laws regarding adoption, see New Mexico State Statutes, 1978, 1989 Replacement Pamphlet, Chapter 40, Article 7, with special attention to Section 40-7-52 regarding the name of the adoptee, and 40-7-53 regarding confidentiality of records.