Conditional baptism? Three interesting thoughts

6 thoughts on “Conditional baptism? Three interesting thoughts”

  1. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for the information about conditional baptism. I will let the coordinators in the diocese know that you have entered it on your Web site.

    You may find the following to be of interest. I was questioned by one of the coordinators as to whether the person who will be conditionally baptized should come through the process as a catechumen or a candidate. In a book called The Catechumenate and the Law A Pastoral and Canonical Commentary for the Church in the United States (LTP), John M Huels writes:

    If the lack or invalidity of baptism is not certain, that is, if there is a doubt whether there may have been a valid baptism, then the candidate is not treated as a catechumen but is given the formation appropriate to baptized non-Catholics who are being prepared for reception into full communion. (21)

    So this person should be a candidate in the process.

    God bless,

    Eileen

  2. Hi Eileen,

    Thanks for the quote from John Huels. I’m still scratching my head a little, though. I think Huels is talking about people who were baptized and can prove they were baptized. (That’s clearer in his first paragraph of that chapter.)

    The problem in this instance is the Catholic Church either doesn’t recognize the validity of that tradition’s baptism or the parish has some serious doubt the baptism was validly performed. In that case, I’d agree that the seeker would not become a catechumen. Their formation in their previous tradition was their “catechumenate.” The emphasis on privacy and nonsolemnity in the RCIA is stated so strongly so as not to cause any ecumenical strain with the original tradition of the seeker. Also, in a case like this, I wouldn’t do the conditional baptism at the Easter Vigil for the same ecumenical reason.

    What I was addressing in my post was the case of a person who remembers he was baptized (or thinks he does) but can provide no documentation. In that case, our doubt is not about the validity, but about knowing if any baptism took place at all. If we have serious doubt that a baptism took place, we might also have serious doubt that a catehumenate took place. If the seeker never lived as a member of his original faith tradition and has no family that has done so, I think I’d consider the catechumenate as a possibility for him.

    Thanks for chiming in!

    Nick

  3. Nick,

    Thank you for the post. It supports what I have practiced over the past 20 years. When there is no proof and nobody in the family can remember if the person was baptized, we treat them as a catechumen and baptize them using the formula: “In case you were never baptized…”. It has never been questioned, although I wonder how many of the faithful actually pay attention to the words being spoken during the conferral of the sacrament.

    A side note, it was a pleasure seeing you at the RE Congress in Anaheim last weekend. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

    God bless,

    Jeff

  4. Derek Icenhour

    My knee-jerk reaction was that if a person thought they were baptized but couldn’t remember for sure and couldn’t prove it, then a non-solemn private conditional baptism could be conferred with the RCIA group rather than in a Mass. I think this would still have the dignity due a baptism without the full solemnity of performing it during the Mass.
    YIC,
    Derek

  5. My parents say i was baptised however there is no record only photos in my christening dress but no actual photo in the church with evidence of it happening. Would i qualify for conditional baptism?? Or would it be safe to say i have never been baptised and need to start this process so i can be.

    1. Hi Casey. Please ask your pastor about this. Usually, your parents’ statement that you were baptized should be sufficient evidence. Blessings on your journey.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Enter your email address and click the button below to get started.
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?
Where can we send your free resource?

Completely transform your RCIA inquiry process with five simple questions

Wednesday, December 7, 2022
11am PST / 2pm EST


"Five Inquiry Questions that Will Shape Your Seekers' Journey of Faith"

Where can we send your free sample?

Welcome to TeamRCIA!

Meet Rita!

Where can we send your free sample?

Be sure you are doing the catechumenate right!

Do your seekers disappear after Easter?
Learn how to form Christians for life.


"RCIA's Six Keys to Making Lifelong Disciples"

Sign up today!

Join over 20,000 subscribers

Enter your email address and click the button below to get started.

Free Training Resource: What to say instead of OCIA

Enter your email address and click the button below to get started.

Creating a Catechumenal CultureAn Amazing Vision
Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping
0