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Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - kmd_long - 04-20-2010

I'm hoping to get some sound guidance...I have been a practicing Catholic since 2001.  I was married in the Church in August of that year and confirmed in October.  When I first became a practicing Catholic, I was totally ignorant of my faith and it is only in recent years that I have become very serious about it.

My problem: I was baptised as a Presbyterian in 1978.  I never thought to question the validity of my baptism, and no one ever suggested to me that I should.  Recently though, through a very powerful homily that I was fortunate enough to listen to and some research, I came to question how I was baptised.  Through my inquiries I discovered that I was baptised by sprinkling.

So, my (multiple) quandaries: While technically, provided the water touched my scalp and moved on my head, I am told that my baptism would be valid, there is no way to guarantee that either one of those conditions were met.  I live in Southern Texas and when I told a priest that I would like to be conditionally baptised, he basically told me I had nothing to worry about in part because of Ecclesia supplet.

Needless to say, I do not feel at rest with this situation.  I would welcome your opinions on the following points:

- Am I validly baptised?
- If not, am I validly married or confirmed?
- What can I do to rectify these issues?  Particularly if I can't find a priest who will take me seriously?

Thank you for you thoughts and please pray that God will have mercy on my soul until I can get this situation resolved and that He will lead me to people who can help me.



Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - JayneK - 04-20-2010

(04-20-2010, 11:25 AM)kmd_long Wrote: - Am I validly baptised?
- If not, am I validly married or confirmed?
- What can I do to rectify these issues?  Particularly if I can't find a priest who will take me seriously?

There is no reason to think that you are not validly baptized.  Usually Protestant baptisms are valid, The Code of Canon Law says:
Quote:Can 869§2. Those baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community must not be baptized conditionally unless, after an examination of the matter and the form of the words used in the conferral of baptism and a consideration of the intention of the baptized adult and the minister of the baptism, a serious reason exists to doubt the validity of the baptism.

There has to be a serious reason to doubt the validity of your baptism and, from what you have said, there does not seem to be one.

While this does not apply to you, a person who was not baptized could not be validly confirmed.
Quote:Can.  889 §1. Every baptized person not yet confirmed and only such a person is capable of receiving confirmation.

An unbaptized person can be validly married but it would not be a sacramental marriage.

I would expect that just about any priest would come to the conclusion that your baptism is valid.


Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - Historian - 04-20-2010

If you want a "second opinon" you can call the Chancery, or find a traditional Latin Mass in your area and talk to that priest; I can't think of a traditional priest who wouldn't take your question very seriously.

I'm pretty sure there are people here from southern TX - so hopefully someone can point you in the right direction.


Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - mike6240 - 04-20-2010

with all the goofy and weird shenanigans going on in Protestant circles nowadays (and some "Catholic" ones to boot) I'm very surprised the priest just shrugged it off.  I've heard of baptisms performed only  in the name of Jesus (no Father, Son and Holy Ghost), baptisms in the name of the "Creator", "Redeemer" and "Sanctifer" and in other heretical, weird and goofy ways.  Having water poured over your head is only part of the baptism.  Without the valid formula, "I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" it's just splashing your head with water.  It's not a baptism.

Go to a traditional priest (not a Novus Ordo priest).  You can always be conditionally baptized if there is any doubt, which sounds as if there is plenty.


Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - JayneK - 04-20-2010

(04-20-2010, 02:28 PM)mike6240 Wrote: with all the goofy and weird shenanigans going on in Protestant circles nowadays (and some "Catholic" ones to boot) I'm very surprised the priest just shrugged it off.  I've heard of baptisms performed only  in the name of Jesus (no Father, Son and Holy Ghost), baptisms in the name of the "Creator", "Redeemer" and "Sanctifer" and in other heretical, weird and goofy ways.  Having water poured over your head is only part of the baptism.  Without the valid formula, "I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" it's just splashing your head with water.  It's not a baptism.

Go to a traditional priest (not a Novus Ordo priest).  You can always be conditionally baptized if there is any doubt, which sounds as if there is plenty.

The only doubt expressed was due to the use of sprinkling.  That would not normally make a baptism invalid.  The OP did not say anything to suggest there was a problem with the baptismal formula.  Conditional baptism is not something that is done "just in case".  There has to be some serious reason to believe the baptism was invalid.


Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - kmd_long - 04-20-2010

OP here... :)  An update: 

The person who performed my baptism is deceased.  I have to go off of my parents' account of what transpired, and since it has been over 30 years, I'm not sure how accurate their account is.  I am trying to see if my mother can locate some photos of the event.

Here is the reply I was given by the current pastor of the Presbyterian church where I was baptised, with regards to how they currently perform baptisms:

"The Presbyterian practice has been farily standard from before you were baptized until now, so I am confident that what I explain below is what [the pastor who performed your baptism and the church where it was performed] did and said during your baptism.

We baptize with water (usually sprinkling, but immersion and pouring are also considered vaild). The words that are said by the clergy are:  "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  Some clergy will add:  "You are now sealed by the Spirit and marked as Christ's own forever."  The baptism is preceeded by a presentation of the candidate and vows made by the candidate (or the candidate's parents in the case of small children), an affirmation of the Apostles' Creed, and a prayer of Thanksgiving Over the Water.  It is followed by a welcome to the church and a blessing upon the family.

I'm not sure what you mean by "regenerative."  Our theology regarding baptism is that through baptism we share in the death and resurrection of Christ and are incorporated into Christ's body the Church.  Baptism is a sign and symbol of a true grace:God cleanses us from sin and gives us new life.  In baptism we are given the Holy Spirit, who guides, directs, convicts, and assures us, and binds us to each other and to Christ's ministry of love, peace, and justice."


My problem is, since I was definitely sprinkled, there is no way to be certain that water touched my scalp or flowed over my head.  Are the chances good that they did - yes.  100% - no.  Since the pastor that performed the baptism is no longer living, I cannot ask him directly how much water he usually used or the likelihood that it was not only applied to my hair.

My quandary continues as I went to the Chancery today and discovered that it is headed up by the priest I spoke to previously who told me I was covered by Ecclesia supplet. 

So far I've got  one Canon Law lawyer and four Catholic priests (one FSSP and one very conservative) who say that I am probably okay.  But the operative word in that sentence is "probably".  When an eternity in Hell is in question, "probably" is not comforting to me.  I'm going to drive an hour to the only local parish that offers a Latin Mass on Sunday to see what that priest has to say. 

So my question for all of you fisheaters out there: If that priest tells me he will not perform a conditional baptism, what is my next step?  I am under the impression that it is illicit to have a layperson baptise you except in emergency circumstances - does the innability to find a Catholic priest who will conditionally baptise me count as an emergency?  And even if that is okay, what of my marriage and confirmation?  If you were in my shoes, would you feel comfortable relying on the Grace of God to know that your intent was to be baptised? 

By the way, all jokes aside, if there are any priests who are reading this and willing to help me out, I live in Southern Texas and can make myself available whenever you would be willing to assist me.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful replies.  Please include me - and people like me - in your prayers tonight.  All I want is a resolution that will bring me peace and salvation - please ask the Lord to deliver it to me.   


Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - Historian - 04-20-2010

I would guess if you were to die today and the baptism was invalid, baptism of desire would cover you.  No, this doesn't constitute an emergency.  If you act against the opinions of lawful authority, you will have other issues.  I suppose you could go priest shopping until you find one sympathetic to you, but that's probably about it unless you get your bishop to tell someone to do it.

If you have a canon lawyer and 4 priests, one of them FSSP, telling you that you are OK, you might want to consider the fact that you are actually OK and that you are suffering from scruples; it could be the devil's effort to distract you from developing your faith by making you worry about your baptism instead of moving forward in the Faith.


Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - JayneK - 04-20-2010

(04-20-2010, 05:47 PM)kmd_long Wrote: My problem is, since I was definitely sprinkled, there is no way to be certain that water touched my scalp or flowed over my head.  Are the chances good that they did - yes.  100% - no.  Since the pastor that performed the baptism is no longer living, I cannot ask him directly how much water he usually used or the likelihood that it was not only applied to my hair.

Water usually contacts the scalp in a baptism by sprinkling.  This is why all the experts you have consulted think there is no serious doubt about the validity of your baptism.

(04-20-2010, 05:47 PM)kmd_long Wrote: So far I've got  one Canon Law lawyer and four Catholic priests (one FSSP and one very conservative) who say that I am probably okay.  But the operative word in that sentence is "probably".  When an eternity in Hell is in question, "probably" is not comforting to me.  I'm going to drive an hour to the only local parish that offers a Latin Mass on Sunday to see what that priest has to say. 

Eternity in Hell is not in question.  A person who wishes to be baptised but is not, through no fault of his own, is said to have the baptism of desire.  In the unlikely event that your baptism was not valid, you have fulfilled the conditions for baptism by desire by wanting to be baptised. 

(04-20-2010, 05:47 PM)kmd_long Wrote: So my question for all of you fisheaters out there: If that priest tells me he will not perform a conditional baptism, what is my next step?  I am under the impression that it is illicit to have a layperson baptise you except in emergency circumstances - does the innability to find a Catholic priest who will conditionally baptise me count as an emergency?  And even if that is okay, what of my marriage and confirmation?  If you were in my shoes, would you feel comfortable relying on the Grace of God to know that your intent was to be baptised? 

I would be comfortable relying on the Grace of God, especially since there is very clear teaching about this, going back for centuries.  The Grace of baptism is conferred through baptism by desire.




Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - matthew_talbot - 04-20-2010

Why not just ask a traditional priest to conditionally baptize you?


Re: Question regarding validity of Protestant Baptism... - Historian - 04-20-2010

(04-20-2010, 06:23 PM)matthew_talbot Wrote: Why not just ask a traditional priest to conditionally baptize you?

A trad priest would be the last one to do it without cause.