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Is a priest obligated to baptize a baby even if the parents are not married or are not practicing the Catholic faith?

Full Question

Is a priest obligated to baptize a baby even if the parents are not married or are not practicing the Catholic faith?


If there is no reasonable assurance that after baptism the child will be raised in the faith, the priest has valid grounds for delaying the sacrament–or even refusing baptism altogether, if it is certain that the child will not receive a Catholic upbringing, something which is required by the sacrament itself. “The Church must have a well-founded hope that the baptism will bear fruit” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Infant Baptism, 1980).

The Church does not take the matter of refusal of the first and most important sacrament lightly. The priest is obligated to keep in contact with the family and to attempt to secure sufficient assurances necessary for the celebration of the sacrament. Once the priest is satisfied that assurances are met, such as the choice of godparents who will be diligent in seeing that the child is raised in the faith, he cannot refuse to celebrate the sacrament without delay.


  1. Visuca Mazo Reply

    all of these explanation makes theological sense but not at all HUMAN sense. I cannot see ANY reason at all to deny a human being the infinite love of God as well as God’s grace. A VERY HARD WORKfor the poor priest in charge of such people; he shall have to WORK HARDER and PRAY HARDER than with the rest of us. Jesus did…

  2. Father Bernie, OSB Reply

    There is never a reason not to Baptize a child. It has nothing to do with being Catholic.

    1. Jean MacGillis Reply

      Interesting that you should say this. I thought being baptized and the promise of raising the child Catholic went together, but you would probably know better than I.

  3. Joyce Brown Reply

    I thought baptize was to erase original sin from our soul. These explanations do not deal with this fact. So am I wrong in thinking this. If this is correct than the state of the parents should have no effect on the soul of the child

  4. Roseanne Foley Gibson Reply

    Never a good reason not to baptize a child .Maybe it is the chance to pull the parents back to their faith!

  5. nancy leano Reply

    So can A Catholic priests baptize a child wherein the the father is not married to the mother because the mother is married to someone else wherein she also registered the child to her legal husband as the father. The husband does not know that is not his flesh and blood but from another man?

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