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Can we baptize our baby in the Catholic church even though we are not married?

Full Question

My boyfriend and I have been together for six years and we are both Catholic. Can we baptize our baby in the Catholic church even though we are not married?

Answer

As Catholic parents, you have an obligation to have your child baptized. Code of Canon Law states, “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” (CIC 867 §1).

However, to baptize your child licitly, the Church requires that

[T]here must be a founded hope that the [child] 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. (CIC 868 §1)










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50 comments

  1. Renee Barela Reply

    So regarding the question of ” can we baptize our baby if parents arent married in the church?” Would that be a yes or a no? Parents are married but through the church and both parents are catholics.

      1. piratesorka Reply

        You don’t need holy water to baptize. However the only time someone can baptize is if they are a priest or deacon. Only if the non-baptized person was in imminent danger of death and there is no priest of deacon present could you baptize and with any water on hand. I just can’t see God looking at this person and saying” Whoops that water was’t blessed…too bad for you!”

        If the person is simply needed baptism and not in danger of death then they need to contact their local parish.

        1. mommalovesherbabies Reply

          As I was studying under my catechist in RCIA , who was not only my pastor priest but a canon lawyer and an exorcist as well as a doctor of theology, any person who professes to be a baptized Christian, can baptize another person who wants to be baptized as long as they baptize them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit/Ghost. The mere act of using the water or blessing the water for the purpose of baptism makes the water holy.

          1. Deacon Steve

            That is true in an emergency where the person is in danger of death and a priest or deacon is not available. The ordinary minister of Baptism is a priest or deacon.

        2. Jonathan Vlietstra Reply

          Its all make believe magic so you can baptize with anything, or not, and it will make no difference in the end.

    1. Sheila Stewart Reply

      Yes, babies can be Baptied even if their parents are unmarried.

    2. Linda Reply

      Yes, they can have their baby baptized in the Catholic Church.

  2. Renee Barela Reply

    but not through the church. sorry

    1. Kathleen Kozlowski Reply

      sorry Renee, but they can have their child baptized even if they’re not married.

  3. Florence biire Reply

    Can u go for cominou while u re marriage in the traditional way but not in church.

    1. Margarett C. Zavodny Reply

      No, unless you go to confession and then refrain from marital relations (sex) until the marriage is blessed in the Church.

  4. Fr Matt Reply

    If you’re going to post the question, please post the answer.

    The priest is required to determine that there is a sincere hope that the Child will be raised as a Catholic. It is the priest’s obligation to determine that evidence exists. Yes, the Church will baptize a baby of unmarried parents, but it is up to the parents to provide real evidence that they have real plans to ensure an upbringing in the Church for that child and that they will work to teach that child to love and practice the faith.

    There are any number of ways they can establish that, but the burden of proof is on the couple to demonstrate to the priest that it’s going to happen. For example, do they attend mass every Sunday? If an annulment stands in the way, are they working toward resolving it. In short, are the parents in good standing with the Church or working toward it, and is there a real hope the child will be raised Catholic. If there is, then the Church can and should baptize the baby.

    Let me give you a more extreme example to illustrate the point. I once had a case of an unbaptized woman who had gotten pregnant in high school, and had an older girl. (now in high school) She was civilly married to a non-catholic (who had previously been divorced). The two of them had a child. She wanted to become Catholic, and had taken the RCIA classes, but could not be validly married unless her husband got an annulment (which he wasn’t willing to do) So she could not be baptized or received into the Church. Since they had an older girl, who was actively practicing her faith, and they attended mass every Sunday. She could provide clear evidence that she wanted to and was capable of raising her new son as a Catholic, even though neither her, nor her husband was currently Catholic. We baptized the baby.

    1. stenni ticoalu Reply

      Thank you dear Fr Matt

      The Salvation is always “On”… as Jesus Said : “Seek..; Ask…; and Knock…”

    2. Rosan Reply

      You got a clearer answer Fr. Matt. Thank you! God bless!

  5. Martha Lush Reply

    Yes if you intend to raise your child in the Catholic faith.

  6. Luis Hernandez (@TheLWord75) Reply

    Yes, while some parishes might opt not to baptize your child if the parents are married, many parishes, especially those located in communities with minorities (Latinos, Filipinos, etc.) will baptize your child even if the mother is unmarried. To them, protecting the soul of a child and welcoming them into the Christian faith is by far more important than the Church’s rules.

    1. Sheila Stewart Reply

      Luis, I have never heard of any ‘rule’ that says the parents have to be married. Is there?

      1. piratesorka Reply

        Ideally it is hoped that the catholic parents will do the right thing and get married because they are going to be the primary teachers of the faith to their child. However, we cannot deny the sacrament for the child. I would certainly ask why the couple wanted this when they themselves do not take advantage of the sacrament of marriage. I have seen the great value of the sacrament of baptism on young parents as it very often brings them back to the life of the church. Nothing is as neat and tidy as we wish it could be.

        1. Sheila Stewart Reply

          Thre’s a lot of ‘ideally’ in this world. But, no, the parents do not have to be married. And only one actually has to agree to the Baptism. As Fr Matt pointed out – the important thing is that they intend to raise he baby in the faith.

  7. Anita Hudson Reply

    “Protecting the soul of a child and welcoming them into the Christian faith is the purpose of Baptism, not following rules.” Imagine if Simeon had turned away Mary and Joseph? The most intimate and joyous moment they shared, welcoming that Baby. Who knows but the Holy Spirit what has brought these people before you. In these uproarious times, even the faith of a mustard seed is enough.

    If you know that you have been baptised, the Holy Spirit will ache in you. The road may be shorter if parents are committed to teaching and practising their faith with you, but once the Holy Spirit is given, it will not let you rest until you rest in Him. He will visits in dreams, in meditation and serendipity, he’ll lead you, kicking and protesting through the mud even, to Jesus.

    You read books, learn prayers, puzzle over strange words, mysteries and certainties. You wonder why your Beloved in church hangs limp on a cross, when you’ve seen him, heard him, so warm, tender, so intimate you’ve blushed. Even his admonishments lift you high.

    But the Church can be like a fortress, and one is left wandering the walls, wondering how to get in. You come to a doorkeeper, who calls through the hatch – we are full, we are busy, here’s a form, come again next year. People pass you, belonging. They know the words, the steps of this secret dance. The priest is there, but the burning questions are not for doorstep greetings.

    So, even if that child has no parental guidance, they have the Holy Spirit… they will return, even if it is not in your lifetime. That has been my experience.

  8. Domingo De Guzman Soria Reply

    If the Catholic Church denies you the right to Baptize your child in that faith, just switch to the United Methodist Church, that have the following principle as one of its cornerstones: INCLUSIVENESS: All persons are welcome to attend our churches and receive Holy Communion, and are eligible to be baptized and become members. Of course, the other alternative is to become an Atheist.

    1. Andrea Reply

      Domingo, I think you are not seeing the point. The Catholic Church takes sacraments very seriously. You are standing in Church before God promising, entering a covenant with God, that you believe in the Creed and will follow the teachings of the Church. It is not about inclusiveness. It is about making a commitment to God. All parents are questioned as to whether they are “in good standing”, not just those who are unmarried. Too many people bring their children to be baptized and never bring them to church. I am sure all religions even the Methodist Church wants people to seriously consider Baptism before they do it. The act of Baptizing is never in question, it is about follow through. Are you going to raise this child according to God’s law?

      1. MarMay Reply

        Thank you, Andrea. I would also like to add, Domingo, that Holy Communion in the Methodist church or any Protestant church is NOT the same as Holy Eucharist in the Catholic Church!!

        1. Carol Reply

          ActHalley, it is exactly the same. The prayers, the reasons, the teachings… Same.

          1. Chris Donofrio

            Carol, in the Catholic Church, we receive the true body, blood, divinity and soul of Jesus Christ. In a Protestant church, they may have bread and wine, or crackers and grape juice, but they are ONLY a symbol, NOT the true body and blood of Jesus Christ.

          2. Sheila

            Some Protestants do bleieve in a real presence, but oddly enough, they think He’s only there until the end of their Mass. No tabernacles. O.o But no – it’s not the same. It’s one of the few real differences between us and Proestant faiths.

  9. Lissa Reply

    if raising your child in the faith matters to you, getting married matters too….what in the world are you waiting for?get married!

    1. MarMay Reply

      That’s what I say, Lissa!!! Thank you!

    2. Sheila Stewart Reply

      Separate sacraments. We do not leverage one sacrament with another one.

    3. Deacon Steve Reply

      There are many reasons not to get married prior to baptizing the child. If the couple comes to me to get married and she is pregnant I am supposed to ask them to wait to get married. The fact of being pregnant can affect the validity of the consent that the couple gives when getting married. The other party involved could be abusive, we would not force them into that kind of marriage. There are many situations where we would baptize the child without requiring the couple to get married. What is required is that there is some founded hope of the child being raised in the faith.

  10. Barbara Miner Reply

    Try St Josephs University Parish on Main St. As long as u join the church and take the class I think you’re ok. There was a lesbian ciule and a single mom during one f the classes a friend took

  11. Lorito kara an Reply

    in basic rules thê parent should be married.
    the priest will give the waiver or promise to the parent to get married as soon they have money to finance their wedding

  12. Jeanette Reply

    can the Godparents you choose be taking of the batism certificate and others replace them. The Godparents that were chosen turned out not to be what we thought they were. They totally changed once they Baptized the baby.

    1. Sheila Stewart Reply

      Nope. You got who you got. While the Church encourages the Goparent to be the Sponsor at the child’s Confirmation, it doesn’t have to be. The child can choose someone else then to fulfill that responsibility.

  13. Steven Reply

    Need to know this? Ok what about the godparents can they baptize the child if they are not married by the church just living together? Cause I see that a lot of catholic church are not allowing it n that is so so wrong its nobody business if that’s who the parents pick them let it be!

    1. Margarett C. Zavodny Reply

      The godparents have to be in good standing with the Church. Living in an extramarital sexual situation does not constitute being in good standing.

  14. Bernadette Scala Reply

    I know of two parishes that the pastor will not baptize the child if the parents are not married and they know that they do not go to church. Is this wrong?. Also there are a lot of Catholic churches in cook county that will baptize the child! What is going on?

    1. Sheila Stewart Reply

      The issue is: If no one is going to Church, how do you intend to raise the child Catholic? I don’t think there is any rule that says they HAVE to go to Church as much as it is just common sense. The reason so many priests will Baptize the baby anyway is that they know that by doing so, they family may well come back to an active faith life. It’s a risk he’s willing to take.

  15. Pat Reply

    Of course a baby can be baptized despite the fact that you and the father are not married. We are talking about the soul of the child and saving that. Not saving you soul. By the way, you might have gotten married before having the child which the church can also do for you. Then you can be baptised and ask forgiveness for your sins.

  16. Cecy Reply

    Do the Godparents need to be married???

      1. Cecy Reply

        Here in my church they say God parents have to be married.

        1. Sheila Stewart Reply

          They don’t even have to know each other. The mother’s cousin can be one Godparent, and the father’s roommate can be the other.

          MAybe this is what’s tripping you up: If the Godparents are two singles living together as a married couple, that can pose a problem because you and the Godparents are promising to bring the child up in the faith. I think the priest may feel because everyone is just living together, maybe they don’t understand the faith well enough to pass it on. Does that make sense? Could that be the problem? Finding two Confirmed Catholics in good standing is becoming more and more of a problem these days.

        2. Margarett C. Zavodny Reply

          That can’t be right. My own godparents were an aunt and uncle from each side of the family, and we’re too young to be married. And this was just before Vatican II.

  17. Denise Reply

    yes you can I was unmarried and belong to The Cathedral Of The Assumption and the Arch Bishop

    1. Cecy Reply

      Hi do the God parents have to be married??

  18. Tracy Hargett Reply

    What if the parents circumvent the rules and send the baby with an aunt or uncle to be baptized? To me it should be much more about the baby’s safety than about the actions of the parents. The baby cannot help that the parents are stupid. But if that baby dies in a car crash next week, then what? Sorry kiddo, it’s Limbo for you. Baptism is easy and free. To deny a child this because of the actions of the parents is incredibly unfair and dangerous.

  19. josmile Reply

    Hold a moment.
    Taking at face value the question and answer given.

    “[T]here must be a founded hope that the [child] will be brought up in the Catholic religion”
    Why are the parents, boyfriend and girlfriend?

    To raise the child in the Catholic religion means firstly that the parents must set an example. That the parents are not married to each other is evidence that they are themselves not practicing the Catholic religion, and therefore evidence that the child will not be brought up in the Catholic religion.

    Therefore the answer is no.

    But I won’t just leave it at “no”.
    What is the reason they are not married?
    Why do they want their child baptised given that they are not living the Catholic religion themselves?

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