BAPTISM

SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

“This sacrament is primarily called baptism because of the central rite with which it is celebrated. To baptise means to “immerse” in water. The one who is baptised is immersed into the death of Christ and rises with him as a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This sacraments is also called the “bath of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5); and it is called “enlightenment” because the baptised becomes “a son of light” (Ephesians 5:8).” (from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2005), n.252).

Baptism removes original sin, all personal sins and all punishment due to sin. Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments and necessary for salvation by actual reception, is validly conferred only by a washing of true water with the proper form of words. Through baptism men and women are freed from sin, are reborn as children of God, and, configured to Christ by an indelible character, are incorporated into the Church (Canon 849: Church Law).

 

WHO CAN BE BAPTISED?

Only someone who has never been baptised can be baptised. A person who has been baptised in another Church or Christian denomination with a valid baptism is never to be re-baptised. If there is doubt about a valid baptism then the person can be conditionally baptised.

For the licit baptism of an infant it is necessary that:

  1. The parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully takes their place gives consent.

  2. There be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic faith.

 

PREPARATION

Both parents are required to attend a Baptism Preparation meeting with the Parish Priest. The parish priest is responsible for baptismal preparation and for the celebration of baptism within the parish. Parents are asked to call the Parish Office to arrange an appointment for the Baptism Preparation Meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is:

  1. To provide an opportunity for catechesis for the parents so that they can better participate in the Rite of Baptism and better understand the importance of baptism in the life of the child and of the Church.

  1. To provide information regarding the responsibility of parents and godparents in the continuing faith formation of their child through active Christian parenting.

  1. To enable the family to be more effectively integrated into the life of the parish community.

 

CELEBRATION

Infants are to be baptised as soon as practicable after their birth. An infant in danger of death is to be baptised without delay.

Parents are encouraged to provide a Christian name for their child.

Baptism is normally to take place in the parish of the parents with the parish priest baptising. The parish priest may give permission for another priest or deacon to baptise. If the baptism takes place in another parish, the parents should inform their home parish priest.

Sunday is the most appropriate day to celebrate baptism because of its connection with the Paschal Mystery.

 

GODPARENTS

At least one godparent is required for baptism. There is to be only one male, or one female godparent, or one of each (Canon 873: Church Law). If there are requests for more than two godparents, parents need to select which two they would like recorded. After the baptism has taken place, the parents cannot change the godparents.

Godparents are to be Catholic and have completed their sixteenth year. They are to have been a) confirmed; b) received their first Holy Communion; c) not bound by any canonical penalty; and d) not the father and mother of the child. (Canon 874: Canon Law)

A baptised person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is to participate only together with a Catholic godparent and then as a Christian witness of the baptism. The one exception is that an Orthodox Christian can be admitted as a godparent along with a Catholic godparent.

Godparents make a profession of faith during the baptismal ceremony with the parents for the one being baptised.

 

INTER-RITUAL ISSUES

In Australia four of the Eastern Catholic Churches are canonically established and have their own bishops. These are the Maronites, the Melkites, the Ukrainians and the Chaldeans. This means that those Australian Catholics that belong to one of these Churches are subject to their respective bishops and not the Latin Church bishops.

A child of parents who belong to an Eastern Catholic Church remains a member of that Church even if baptised in the Latin Rite Church. In the case of a child who has parents belonging to two different Rites, the parents can decide into which Rite the child will be baptised.

 

Information contained in this section is taken from St Jerome’s Parish Policy and “The Sacraments of Initiation Polices” of the Archdiocese of Sydney.