Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco

Ask the Fathers! about Baptism

Do you have a religious, ethical, or historical question for any of our Priests?

Ask the Fathers is taking a break. We will be taking questions again soon.

This page answers questions about Liturgy and Baptism. Other questions are sorted by subject matter at the links below.

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On January 30, we received these questions:

 

Hi,

At what age is parental permission no longer required for a teenager to be baptized and confirmed? My niece is very active in my church but neither parent supports her religious upbringing (they don't mind her attending with me, they just don't want to be involved). They don't want her to be baptized/confirmed but won't give a reason except to say they don't want to have to attend the parents classes. She's accepted that her parents don't want to be part of the ceremonies but doesn't know if she's allowed to receive these sacraments without explicit parental consent. Thanks for your help.

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

There is a part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children where the minor asking for baptism is asked if his/her parents are in agreement with his/her decision. The church conforms to civil law about when an individual is of legal age. (Patience is never easy. That is why it is a virtue.)

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Hello,

I have a question about qualifying to be my niece's godmother. I was raised Catholic, baptized and made my first communion in the Catholic Church. However, I never made my confirmation. Does this stop me from being her Godparent? If so, how long does it generally take to make my confirmation? Can it be done privately?

Thanks for your help,

G.P

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Gabrielle,

What an honor to be asked to be a godparent! I am a godfather – for the second daughter of my very first wedding. I have been close to her parents and her all her life. Her dad (groom of the first wedding) died last year and I did the funeral. I am blessed by her and her now husband, father of her children, as they are practicing the Faith and rearing their children in the authentic practice of the Faith. She and they give me good example and bolster my priesthood.

I am adding a P.S. at the bottom of this letter. It is an excellent article on Godparents, which explains the qualifications and duties of godparents. So this is an opportunity for you to fulfill your own initiation Sacraments. This is an invitation for you to review your Faith and its practice. Perhaps your parish has an adult initiation process on-going, the so-called RCIA, that is Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Or perhaps your diocese has a celebration of Adult Confirmation each year with special preparation for it. Consult your parish priest.

As you see the Sacraments imply practice of the Faith, both for those receiving the Sacraments and for those who are their sponsors or godparents. For if we are not practicing the Faith ourselves, how can we promise to uphold and encourage it for another? It becomes quite hypocritical! Let’s not fall into that.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

P.S.

GODPARENTS

by Paul Turner

Everyone baptized into the church receives a godparent. Godparents assist the baptized "to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it." That means we ask very little - or very much, depending on how you look at it.

To be a godparent you must be 16, baptized, confirmed in the Catholic Church, taking communion with us, leading a life in harmony with faith, and not a parent of the one to be baptized. Godparents may be chosen by the one to be baptized, by the parents or guardians, or even by the pastor or parish minister. A baptized non-Catholic may serve as a witness to the baptism if a Catholic godparent also takes part. Only one godparent is needed, although two may serve. The baptismal godparent becomes the preferred sponsor for confirmation.

Very often people will ask a family member to be a godparent. This has the advantage of binding families together. However, a godparent from the parish community may make a better choice. A parishioner can set a good example for the child from week to week and can represent the role of the entire parish community - bringing Christ to each new member.

Some families have further expectations of godparents of young children. They may expect a gift at the child's birthday or further assistance throughout life. Some godparents devote a lot of time to their godchildren; others do not. The church does not specify these extended responsibilities; families may discuss them with their godparents.

Godparents for adults play an important role during Lent. They support the catechumen at the rite of election and the scrutinies in addition to the rites of initiation. They usually are the sponsors who have accompanied the catechumens throughout their preparation. If the adult joining the church has already been baptized, their sponsor remains a "sponsor" since a godparent already exists.

During infant baptism, we ask godparents if they will help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. We invite them to renew their baptismal vows together with the parents, and they may assist in lighting the child's candle. However, parents hold the child for the baptism.

(Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University.)


Hello father, i have a questions. On feb 9,2013 my son was schedule to be baptize here in wisconsin at st josaphat basilica. I chose 10 total sponsors 5 godfathers and 5 godmothers. some of them were filipino and i know they were practicing catholic, members in the church and also baptized in the church and confirmed in the philippines. My church gave two paper for sponsors to fill up through their the parish. One of my sponsor will be confirmed in april 2013 and i havent recieved that paper yet is it going to be a problem to my priest? and one is my husband brothers which the parish where he was member decline to sign it because he was not confirmed. Now, i know i only need atleast one sponsor in order to baptize my son that the person must be baptized in catholic, confirmed and practicing catholic. Although one godmother is my sister that she was a member in church, baptized and confirmed in church in the philippines. How can i get to sign that priest knowing my sister was confirm and baptized in philippines? Do the priest need a proof in order to sign the paper? Im running out of time. And although i have so many sponsors none of them were confirmed here in america. What should i do? All my invitations were sent out and set the date and time for baptism. Please help i really appreciate it.

Thank you so much!

Maribel

Fr. Bob answers:

You need one godfather and one godmother, baptized, confirmed and practicing Catholics. Culturally, you can have other witnesses as well. Two official godparents are essential. With your group, it sounds like that is covered.

When you receive other sacraments (like confirmation or marriage) the churches where that takes place forward the information to your baptismal record. Contact the church where the baptism took place and they should have proof of confirmation. (They can fax it to the church you are dealing with.)

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Fathers,

Can a baby be baptized Catholic if the parents have been baptized but have not received any other sacraments?

Father Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Nancy,

It is legitimate in church law to baptize a child when there is a grounded hope that the child will be reared in the practice of the Faith. It is hard to form a child in the “practice of the Faith” when there has been little evidence of it in the family.

Jesus proclaims of his disciples: You are the light of the world. People should look at you, see such goodness in your lives, that they will give glory and praise to God.

Thus in seeking Baptism for a child, the parents should be catching up in their practice of the Faith by following the indications of the Church through the local parish to complete their initiation Sacraments of Eucharist (Holy Communion) and Confirmation themselves. Then it will make sense to baptize a child.

For all of this the family should be in a beautiful conversation with the local parish priest.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

What is the exact purpose of a baptismal candle? When do I use it and can I use it when I see fit or just certain occasions.

My daughter is 21 months old and has become afraid of her crib. I'm not sure why but I was thinking that maybe lighting her candle may help.

Thanks for any advice

Brittney

Fr. Bob answers:

Brittney,

The candle is yours to do with as you please. Some people light it on birthdays or anniversaries of baptism. Some people put it away in baby books.

If you are uncomfortable about her crib, look at replacing the crib with another bed. Go with what works for you and your husband.

If lighting the candle will make your daughter feel better, by all means light it for her. At 21 months be extra careful with an open flame.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


On January 24, we received these questions:

 

Dear Father,

Does an eight year old child who has been baptized Lutheran, and whose parents profess the catholic faith, need to make a profession of faith (in the catholic church) if he wants to celebrate the First Eucharist in the Catholic Church?

Thank you for your kindness

ofelia

Fr. Bob answers:

It sounds like there is more going on here. The parents who are practicing the Catholic faith but had their child baptized Lutheran may need to reevaluate their stance.

The parents and child could all make a profession of faith in preparation for the Eucharist.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


I have a 2 month old son and want have his baptism soon. The problem is when I was pregnant me and my fiance ( he is the baby's father, but we are not married) agreed that his brother and my sister would be the godparents. Now that my son is here he wants to change it to his brother and sister in-law. I really want my sister to be the godmother because she is my only sister and loves my son with all her heart. I know she will always be here for my son. The only problem is she's only 14 ( i'm 19) and my fiance says she's not old enough to be a godmother. Also i heard that I can not baptise my son until we get married. Is any of this true?

Thank you

Danielle

Fr. Bob answers:

Danielle,

To be a godmother one must be a practicing Catholic who has received all the sacraments of initiation (baptism, Eucharist and confirmation). If your sister is confirmed, she would be eligible.

You call your baby's father your "fiancé". When "fiancé" is used it seems to imply marriage is in the picture. Without a date and time and commitment, he might just be "boyfriend". The question will come up, but the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of matrimony are two separate sacraments. You will have to seriously look at the commitments involved in each of them.

The decisions involved must be mutually derived at, not imposed by one party or the other. I hope the two of you can do so.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


On January 17, we received these questions:

I was recently baptized and I don't remember if my pastor said in the name of Jesus or not. I also didn't receive the Holy Spirit, should I be baptized again, please contact me as soon as possible.

Thanks,

Antoine

Fr. John Malloy answers

Antoine,

If you were baptized in the Catholic Church, have no fear. You are baptized even if you did not hear the words.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hey there,

We baptized our daughter through a roman catholic church we are roman Catholics but we just found out that the godmother is episcopal catholic and really she's not in my daughter life since then my daughter was 2 yrs old and now she's going to be 5yrs old. So what can I do by revoking the baptism?

We really need advise and Also want her to be roman catholic too.

Thank you for taking the time to answer

Jose

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jose,

Don't worry. Your daughter is a validly baptized Catholic. IT WAS THE PRIEST'S FAULT FOR NOT CHECKING MORE THROUGHLY.

You can ask someone else to fill in as godmother. Ask the priest to make a note on the child's record. But carry on regardless.

Rev, John Malloy, SDB


On January 13, we received these questions:

I have been asked to be the godfather to my nephew. He is being baptized February 3, 2013. I am a college student and have not registered with my parish or my campus ministry. I need documentation that I am a practicing Catholic. How can I get the necessary papers when I am at a college facility and not the standard parish? Please advise.

Sincerely, Mark

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Mark,

The first step would be to go to campus ministry and explain your situation, and register with them. If you are not practicing your faith, being asked to be a godparent could very well be a graced moment inviting you to start. See your situation as a positive.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


My cousin and his wife recently had a baby girl. They have asked me to be her godmother. It is my understanding that since they are Catholic and I am not, that I can still be the baby's godmother as long as they choose a practicing Catholic male for the godfather, as long as I have a letter of proof from a church that I am a Christian. I was raised in the Zion Lutheran church but have not attended for many years. Am I still able to be the baby's godmother?

Thank you for your time and guidance!

Kacy

Fr. John Malloy answers

Kacy,

As a committed Christian you can stand in with the godfather at a Baptism.

According to Canon Law # 873, "one sponsor, male or female, is sufficient; but there may be two, one of each sex." But, "a baptised person who belongs to a non-catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a Catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the baptism." ." The role is together with the parents to present the child for baptism, and to help it to live a Christian life befitting the baptised and faithfully to fulfil the duties inherent in baptism."

Rev John Malloy SDB


Hello Father,

My husband and i want to have my two sons (age 4 & 4months) baptized between january 15-22 2013 but the godparents we have chosen are not confirmed, is this possible?

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Adriee,

They should seek instruction first from the priest. Confirmation isrequired.

ONE GODPARENT IS SUFFICIENT. A second could be honorary and need not be confirmed.

Rev John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

I was raised Catholic but haven't gone to mass in several years. My husband isn't Catholic and doesn't express any interest in converting. We were married in a church with traditional vows but a Catholic priest didn't perform the service. Our daughter is six months old and I have just made the decision to have her baptized instead of a dedication. I do want to start attending church regularly and devote my life to God. I have moved to a new state and know no one. I wouldn't consider most of the people in my life to devout Catholic. I. Know I need to have someone that is Catholic as a God parent. Could I ask my God son to do this? He will be 18 in several months and attends regularly. Will I have problems getting her baptized because of my marriage and lack of attendence described above?

Elisabeth

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Elisabeth,

You can regularize your Catholic status by joining the local parish RCIA program Your husband would not have to convert, but he must promise that the child be instructed in the Faith.

Your marriage is not recognized by the Church, so you need advice as how to straighten that out. It can be simply done.

A local priest can help you, and explain RCIA.(instruction in the Catholic faith)

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers, my sister and I are extremely close. She is having a baby soon and has chosen me to be the godmother. I really want to, but I'm concerned because I am married but my husband is not catholic, so we were married by a justice of the peace and not the catholic church. I'm I still able to be the godmother if all other requirements are met but this one???

Thank you for taking the time to answer.

Andrea

Fr. Bob answers:

Catholics can marry non-Catholics in the Catholic church. Since you already have a civil marriage with the justice of the peace, you can have that marriage "convalidated" by the Catholic church. Once this is done you can receive all the sacraments and also be a godmother. Talk it over with your husband.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


I have a question concerning the RCIA process I began last night at St Mary's. I am married to a catholic (civil marriage) and I have previous marriages ending with civil divorce. Am I eligable to join the Church and be Baptised or must I have annulments approved first? Please advise. Thank You!

Michael

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Michael,

Many blessings as you continue your faith journey – and asking questions!

Before attempting a response, there are a couple of things to ascertain first. Were you ever baptized in any Christian church?

If you were never baptized, the process of being clear for Baptism becomes simpler.

If you were baptized, then other details of your previous marriages become more relevant. For example: was your first wife a Catholic? Had she been married before?

You should enter a dialogue with your parish priest right away. Perhaps he may direct you to someone at your diocesan Tribunal who will be able to sort it out with you in legalities of Canon [Church] Law.

We are entering into Ordinary time in the Liturgical year. It is the ordinary time of God’s grace in our journey with Him.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father,

I'm a 13 year old girl named Madie.

I believe in god and want his blessing but I'm not baptized and my family doesn't have religion (I think we're Christian?) It doesn't look like i will be baptized anytime until I can do that my self. But I want to learn all about god. I don't know about the differences between religions, so I don't know what one is right for me? (My friend is Greek Orthodox, there's Catholic schools..) and will I still have gods blessing and be loved and tooken in by god if I'm not baptized?

Fr. Bob answers:

Madie,

When you are legally on your own you can be baptized without your parents' permission. As a minor part of the baptismal rite is asking if your parents have any objection to your being baptized.

Christians are baptized, whether those Christians are Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Serbian, Coptic) or Protestant (Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist) or Catholic. Anyone believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is Christian.

Whether you are baptized or not, God loves you. You are His child, His daughter. For you God the Father sent His Son as Lord and Savior. You do not have to worry about His love and care for you. Talk to Him (in prayer) and try to learn about Him where you can.

When you can, approach the church of your choice and see what steps they ask you to take. The Catholics will ask that you study with them for awhile to see if this is really what you want. That process is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. (They also have one for minors.)

Yes, you will continue to received God's blessings, His love and His protection.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


On January 8, we received these questions:

Hello Father

I am a practicing catholic. I was married years ago in the church and got an annulment. I then got married in a civil ceremony. We have twins. Can I get the twins baptized in the Catholic Church? Can I get my marriage blessed in the church or have a church ceremony now?

Thank you

Mary

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mary,

You can have your marriage blessed in the Church. Your local priest can help you. Your twins can be baptized hen.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

My husband is Greek and Greek Orthodox. I am a lifelong Catholic. We are going to have a child and he would like to baptize the baby as a Greek Orthodox. We intend on sending our child to Catholic schools and we would like our child to receive first communion, reconciliation and confirmation with his/her class.

Is this possible?

Heather

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Heather,

To respond completely and correctly, there are a couple things to ask: Were you married in a Catholic Church? Or, if married in the Greek Orthodox, did you have the Catholic Bishop’s permission to have the wedding in the Greek Orthodox church? There are a series of documents and forms done for a marriage either done in a Catholic church or with the direction of a Catholic priest with the permission of the Bishop. Among these is the formal commitment by the Catholic person to baptize and rear children in the Catholic Faith.

All of this assumes that the Catholic spouse continues life as a practicing Catholic. In this case it makes sense to rear children in the practice of the Catholic Faith and receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church. If one is not practicing the faith, doing all these things brings confusion into children’s lives instead of authentic belief and practice of Faith.

For all of these things you should be in contact with your local Catholic parish priest and follow his advice.

Blessings and peace in the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 6, we received these questions:

Fathers,

Back in the day after a baptismal, I recall my parents passing the infant into the godparents arm stating some der words such I give you my son, please receive him with love , then the godmother says I receive this child as my commitment to... I truly don't know the words, could you help with this? It is said in Spanish And a beautiful moment. I know that it is performed right outside the church doors before going home.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Rachel,

What you describe is a beautiful custom sealing the spiritual relationship of godparents [compadres and commadres] and their godchildren. I have never before heard of this custom. And I have not been able to find anything about it on the internet. So you will have to do a personal research among grandparents and great grandparents.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

Why can a priest not baptize my husband if he goes to church but does not want to join Catholic Church

Margaret

Fr. John Malloy replies:

Margaret,

An adult who wishes baptism in the Catholic Church must profess in the Church and accept the teachings of the Church. This includes the Ten Commandments and the Commandments of the Church, which includes Mass on Sundays.

Rev. John Malloy SDB


Dear Father,

I have two daughters that were baptized in a Methodist church as an infant. Although we have since then switched to a catholic church. Both girls are in there second year of CCD and studying to receive their First Holy Communion. But I was told by our parish that they will not be able to receive their first communion with their class because they were not baptized Catholic. I was told that they would receive the week before their class during mass while receiving their first communion they will also be confirmed. I was very surprised by this since they are both very young (7 and 9 years old) I feel like they are being treated like RCIA students. Is this the only way? I would like them to receive first communion with their class and wait to receive confirmation until they are older and can understand it better. Could you please let me know if this is correct and if there is any way they can be treated like the other students?

Thank you!

Melissa

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Melissa,

Yes, there is another approach (called RCIC--rite of Christian initiation for children).

With adults there is a "profession of faith" ("entering into full communion" with the church) for those validly baptized in another Christian church. Then they would receive whatever sacraments they lack, be that holy communion or confirmation or both.

For any sacrament, the one receiving it should have both understanding and freedom. If you feel the children do not have the understanding necessary at this age, talk to your pastor and make your concerns known.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB

Melissa followed up:

Thank you! One more question. Can my daughter be re-baptized in the catholic church?

Fr. Bob responded:

The Catholic church recognizes baptism in other Christian denominations (using the formula--"in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit") as valid. There is no reason for rebaptism. You daughter has been baptized, and we count baptism, like confirmation, as a non-repeatable sacrament.


On December 3, we received this question:

Fathers,

My boyfriend is a baptized catholic that has not been to church in many years. I am preparing to begin my RCIA lessons and we have an 18 month old daughter we live together but are not married. The RCIA woman at the church that I am joining says that after all my rites but before I can be baptized my boyfriend and I have to get married or I can’t be baptized. However, his mother, who is an old school Catholic German says that I should be able to be baptized even if we are not married. But it is my understanding that we are currently sinning and that that would still be a sin. So I guess my questions are

1. Do my boyfriend have to be married before I can be baptized?

2. Can I still be baptized if my boyfriend refuses to marry me?

3. When my daughter gets baptized does she have to be fully immersed?

I am really lost here please help.

Blessings,

Tiffany

Fr. John Malloy replies:

Tiffany,

1. Do my boyfriend have to be married before I can be baptized?

Answer: No. A good preparation will prepare you for baptism. No restrictions, if your faith is firm and spiritual life in order.

2. Can I still be baptized if my boyfriend refuses to marry me?

Answer: Certainly. His agreement has nothing to do with your baptism. , provided you are prepared.

3. When my daughter gets baptized does she have to be fully immersed?

Answer: No she does not. A simple sprinkling is sufficient. Immersion is used in some parishes, but it should be by choice.

My prayer is that you make the right decision.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On November 27, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I have two daughters that were baptized in a Methodist church as an infant. Although we have since then switched to a catholic church. Both girls are in there second year of CCD and studying to receive their First Holy Communion. But I was told by our parish that they will not be able to receive their first communion with their class because they were not baptized Catholic. I was told that they would receive the week before their class during mass while receiving their first communion they will also be confirmed. I was very surprised by this since they are both very young (7 and 9 years old) I feel like they are being treated like RCIA students. Is this the only way? I would like them to receive first communion with their class and wait to receive confirmation until they are older and can understand it better. Could you please let me know if this is correct and if there is any way they can be treated like the other students?

Thank you!

Melissa

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Yes, there is another approach (called RCIC--rite of Christian initiation for children).

With adults there is a "profession of faith" ("entering into full communion" with the church) for those validly baptized in another Christian church. Then they would receive whatever sacraments they lack, be that holy communion or confirmation or both.

For any sacrament, the one receiving it should have both understanding and freedom. If you feel the children do not have the understanding necessary at this age, talk to your pastor and make your concerns known.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


Dear Sirs, My Name is Vatche I am A Catholic.

Last August I became godfather To My Niece! Since my Sister had Twins the Other Babbie's Godparent was my Brother in Law's Brother.

What I wanted to inquire about is that. When I marry my girlfriend does she automatically become my Niece's Godmother?

Thanking you in Advance

Sincerely

Vatche

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Vatche,

The answer is NO. God parents stand up when babies (or adults) are baptized.

Marriage would have nothing to do with becoming a God father or mother.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father:

I am a devout Catholic and secretly baptized both of my grandchildren when they were infants. They are now 9 and 5 years of age.

I did it myself. It was not in a Church. The parents appear to have no intention of having them baptized.

I tried following the Catechism which says that this can be done in an emergency situation. I felt that this was an emergency since the childrens’ souls would be in danger.

I thought that I was doing a good thing, and the right thing.

Now I have recently read that, according to Canon Law, I did not do the right thing and that I may have committed a sin.

My questions are:

Were the baptisms valid?

Did I commit a sin?

Thank you,

Frank

Fr. Bob Stein answers:

Frank,

In an emergency anyone (even a non-believer) can baptize using water and the proper form(ula) with the intention of baptizing according to Catholic beliefs. That seems to be the case in question. Therefore it was valid.

For something to be a sin, according to what we learned years ago, it has to be wrong, we have to know that it is wrong, and we have to choose to do it. That does not appear to be the case from what you have said. Therefore, you did not sin in this regard.

Rest easy on both counts.

Fr. Bob Stein, SDB


On November 20, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

We are coming in from the east coast over the Christmas / New Year Week. Is there a possiblity I could have my grandson baptized during our time at there?

Thank-you

Diane

Fr. Harold Danielson replies:

Dear Diane,

Certainly possible. The request for Baptism should be from the parents. They should fill out the Baptism registration form; then come to the preparation class on the first Tuesday of December, including godparents. If godparents are far away, they should attend a baptism class in their own parish. Thus the class is December 4 at 7:00PM at our parish center at 620 Filbert St. Assumably the child and parents live in San Francisco. Technically, they should get the OK from their own parish for their child to be baptized here, unless they are of Italian heritage, in which case we have jurisdiction already as the Italian parish of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, besides being the parish of this section of San Francisco.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

Can someone marry the ex husband of her cousin of they have obtained an annulment. There are children from the marriage.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Katrina,

As long as you are not married to the ex-husband, and free to marry, you could marry the man in question.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On June 8, we received these questions:

Hello Fathers

I am an atheist, and my husband is Catholic, in good standing, and a weekly church goer. I was not comfortable being married in the Church, so we weren't. We don't have children yet, but the issue is that when we do, he wants them to be baptized in the Catholic Church, and I'm against an infant being baptized (I believe they should make that decision for themselves when they're older). Can the baptism take place without my involvement? I would allow it, but it would be without my blessing. I wouldn't attend any classes, meet with a priest, or attend the baptism itself. What requirements are involved, for both parents? And what is involved in having our marriage "blessed", which I believe would be required for our children to be baptized.

Stephanie

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Stephanie,

You remind me of my uncle Don. He married a Mormon lady, who then was my Aunt Mary. She was such a wonderful person. Her daughters, my cousins, are magnificent women, mothers of families. Back to Don: He was having a heart attack, Aunt Mary rushed him to the closest hospital, a Catholic one. In the admitting office while he was on a gurney being rushed into emergency, she was answering the questions of the admitting clerk. It came to “religion” (asked at a Catholic hospital so that they could contact clergy for the individual). My aunt did not know what to say, so she said “Mormon.” Uncle Don from the gurney interrupted: “I am not. I’m nothing!” That’s the way he lived, and died. Two weeks later he had another attack and died in her arms.

For your husband, unless he obtained the permission of the local Bishop to be married in another venue than by a priest in a parish church, would not yet be in “good standing” with regard to practicing the Catholic Faith. The tone of your letter tells me that you love him dearly. That being so, you would do everything you can so that he can practice his faith fully and freely. This would imply getting your marriage “blessed” [a non-technical word) or (technical word) convalidated in the Church.

This reminds me of my grandmother, and my mother. My grandmother married my grandfather who was not Catholic (I doubt if he was ever baptized) – in the Church. My mother married my father who was not Catholic – in the Church.

The expectation for the Baptism of children would be the underlying hope that they would actually be raised in the Catholic Faith. If there is no hope in this regard, no baptism should occur.

Peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 29-June 5, we received these questions:

Hello,

I am responding to the ask your question on your website. I certainly appreciate the opportunity and thank you in advance.

My sister-in-law is my sons God mother. However, she has left the Catholic Church and the sacraments. She and her husband and children belong and are very involved in a non-denominational church. We are very disappointed that at no time has she ever participated in her role as his God Mother. She has no intention of returning the Catholic Church. Now after 17 years she has decided that she likes our oldest child best and only wants to be involved in his life by only sending him a birthday card each year while ignoring the others. I am at wits end. I know that there is nothing documented that state that we can remove her as his God mother. However, I plan to do so anyway and ask someone to stand in for her and ask our parish priest to change the name on the baptismal document. My question is, can I do this and is there anything wrong with it?

Yours in Christ,

Bonnie

Father Malloy responds:

Bonnie,

You can tell your sister-in-law that she can no longer be the God Mother of you son. However, you cannot change the listing on the baptism record. Leave it to God who will take care of the removal. One God Parent is sufficient, so if you have a God-Father put him on notice.

You son can be polite and thank his aunt for the birthday gift. He could also tell her that the relationship would be stronger if she had not abandoned the Catholic Church. That may be too much for your son to do, but remind him that his aunt is no longer in good standing with the Catholic Church.

Meantime pray for your sister-in-law and ask God’s pardon for her sin.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


My son and his girlfriend who now live together just recently baptized their baby girl who is my first grandbaby. We are all catholics. Monsenor asked them to come back the following Sunday to light the baptismal candle. My son, Gloria and God parents could not attend. I strongly believe the candle needs to be lighted. My question is can the candle be lighted at home with prayer or do they need to light it at church?

Thank you

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jennifer,

The lighting of the candle would have nothing to do with the validity of the baptism. Lighting the candle in home or in the church would not change or add to the baptism. The pouring of the water and the recital of the proper words is essential for the sacrament. The lighted candle is sacramental in as much as it is part of the ceremony, but not of the essence of baptism.

It’s a shame that the parents are not living as Catholics

It would be much better for the faith of the child if the parents regularize their union so that they might see the child grow, hopefully in faith and morals.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello again Father,

I have spoken to both a parish priest from my diocese in NY and to my fiance (whom I address as husband, and he addresses me as his wife). We will be meeting with a priest from the parish closest to us now, as we live in another state. I'm sure all my questions will be addressed as well as his, but I would appreciate and value your feedback to the following issues. I'm not sure how long it will take to be in contact with the new parish in respect to getting more in depth with religion and Catholic teachings. My husband has many many questions which I cannot always answer, despite my religious upbringing and lifelong Catholic school education (all the way to college).

As I mentioned before, I made a promise to God and our Blessed Mother that I would help him find his faith again, so I am doing all I can. One big issue aside from his lying has been his addiction to pornography. His ex wife condoned and even pushed it on him but that sort of stuff has no business in a true, loving, Christian relationship. He knows I am against it and I see that he has gotten a lot better about not watching it, but he still doesn't understand why it is wrong. I threw his entire porn collection away when i found it in his old house which he & his ex wife used to live in. It hurts me so much that he watched any of this during our relationship, and i dont know how else to handle it. I feel that a great deal of his behavior has to do with his loss of respect for all churches and lack of faith. His mom blames his ex wife for this too because that is when he changed. He has not attended his services since he married that woman, except for a few times that I brought him to my parish. He questions God, thinks every bad thing that happens is because "God is up there laughing and getting a kick out of us." ...... His dad died when he was 10 and I know that affected him greatly. He also says that when he would ask his pastors questions about religion they would simply tell him "that's just the way it is." His stepdad was Catholic but converted to Methodist when he married his mom.

So my questions are these:

1. How do I help my husband understand that porn and checking other women out is wrong?

2. How can I help him find his way to our Lord in a manner that does not make him feel like I am pushing Catholicism on him?

Respectfully,

Grace

Fr. Malloy answers:

Grace,

Porn will break up the strongest of marriages. You would be better off if you withheld vows until he promises to seriously try to cure his addiction.

Certainly, the marriage will not be blessed if he refuses to change. God will not be part of the union. Its durability is doomed to failure.

You can’t do it alone. You can’t push Catholicism on him, but you can demand that he keep the law of God and his country, as long as he wants a relationship with you. He can’t love you and porn at the same time!

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

First and foremost, may the Light of the Holy Spirit enlighten you always. I am a Catholic woman from a very strong, religious family. Although they are good people who meant well, my family upbringing was very harsh and violent. I tried to always follow my religious teachings, however in my 1st year of college I became pregnant from my high school sweetheart. My dad forced me to marry him and knowing the circumstances were not good, I refused to marry in the church and chose a justice of the peace instead. Sadly, I knew inside that the marriage was not out of love and I did not see it correct to be married before our Lord. We did try to make it work but the families actually made it worse. Needless to say we later divorced amicably.

Fast forward several years... I am now engaged to the love of my life. This is a love that has truly endured the greatest and the worst. My fiance, who is a non-practicing Methodist, and I met 12 years ago in the military but had lost touch until 6 years ago. At the time, he was going through divorce of his own and we kept is friendly. After a year he told me he was divorced and we began dating. It wasn't until a year later when we became pregnant that he confessed to me of his divorce not being finalized. I never suspected because he lived alone and it has taken a lot to get past his betrayal, but we persevered and made it through once i found out WHY he lied. To make a longer story short, he married this girl because she lied to him about being pregnant (we have proof and witnesses to all this ). She also lied about her infertility. She made him believe it was all his fault and constantly threatened to kill herself if he left her, no matter how many times he tried filing for divorce. She knew about me before I knew of her still being in the picture. She became obsessed with our son and tried to kidnap him. It has taken police involvement and court orders to MAKE her divorce him and also to leave us alone. My fiance is trying to turn the divorce into a legal annulment. Is this acceptable by the Church?

Fathers, it has been pure hell and pain but love conquers all. In the nearly 5 years we have been together, we have been blessed with 3 beautiful children (our littlest just born) and have been living together for 3 years. His family loves us and in fact thank me for reuniting them. You see, his ex somehow made him lose his faith and when he refused to be near her she began pushing pornography on him as well as pushing him to drink. I took him out of all that and have slowly brought him back not only to God but perhaps even to Catholicism. All my children are baptized Catholic. I made a promise to God and our Virgin Mother the night before we unknowingly conceived our son, that i would help my fiance find his way back to Him. This is why I never gave up. It is my firm belief that this is what God wanted for us. My fiance feels the same and he is very devoted to our family. We want nothing more than to sanctify our unity. What can we do to be married in the Catholic Church? Can we be forgiven?

Respectfully,

Grace

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Grace,

The easiest part of your story is an answer to your question: “ Can we be forgiven?” You certainly can!

But we need some clarification.

I don’t understand how you could have had your three children baptized as Catholic, without the regularization of your marriage status. All your marriages are invalid for you as a Catholic.

Your present husband needs an annulment of his civil marriages, since they are accepted as valid.

However, you will have to do a lot of paper work. Get documentation of all marriages involved—yours and his. Approach your local Catholic priest with the document acquired and ask his help. He can help you make the needed corrections, acquire other papers. If needed, and obtain support from the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, which has authority in the case.

Retain your trust in Jesus and Mary and pray the grace necessary for and your family.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB

Grace followed up:

Dearest Father,

Thank you for your quick response. Let me clarify some things:

1. I was only married once through the justice of the peace. That ended in divorce and I understand it is considered invalid. Annulling my previous marriage, if necessary, won't be a problem as my ex feels the same.

2. I have 5 children altogether, 2 from my ex-husband and the 3 babies from my fiance. We are trying to do the right thing by getting married after meeting so much hell from the woman he married. That was his only marriage. After speaking with lawyers it seems HIS marriage meets the guidelines for an annulment. The problem is that his ex refuses to let him go and it is taking court orders to push the divorce, stalking charges against her, etc.. due to her infertility and his not wanting kids with her to begin with, he feels he was coerced into marrying her through the Methodist religion. Her constant threats to hurt herself if he left her were witnessed by everyone.

3. My parish never had a problem with baptizing my children. The only one not baptized yet is our newborn. They are aware of my divorce. Why would the church deny baptizing a child? As far as I've always been taught, the Rite of Baptism is for anyone wishing to be a part of God's community without any prejudice and it is our decision and responsibility as parents to raise our children in good faith. Is it not?

Respectfully,

Grace

Fr. Malloy answered:

Grace,

If your parish allowed your children to be baptized they should be able to help you through the process of making your marriage valid.

You don’t need a formal annulment, only a permission from the Bishop.

An annulment for your present companion’s marriage is also available.

If his first wife refuses to testify, others who know the circumstances can take her place and explain the circumstances of the marriage and her present refusal to testify.

Get your priest to work!

With God’s blessing,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

My name is Chei and I am completeing RCIA and will be baptised at Easter Vigil Service. If I cannot forgive a certain member for something they did years ago, should I still be baptised at Easter Vigil?

Thank you

Fr. Malloy answers:

Chei,

I realize that some hurts are so great that they have left a deep scare on our persona. But not letting go of past hurts, no matter how great, does more damage to you than your abuser.

If God has forgiven you, and me and many other sinners why shouldn’t we forgive?.

Leave “our enemies” punishment to the Lord.

No hurt or sin is so great that God cannot forgive it. As believers in Christ and his message of love, we are all called to the same forgiveness.

At baptism all your sins are forgiven and even those that you find hardest to let go of-- including lack of forgiveness.

When you die and appear before the Lord is a life of resentment going to make it easier for you?

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 19, we received these questions:

Fathers,

I am a practicing Catholic. My daughter is also a practicing Catholic. She will not be able to have her baby baptized until August because of some particular circumstances. In the meantime, she wants me to baptize my grand child. Can I do that, and would it be a sin? The reason is in case her daughter would, heaven forbid, get killed before her baptism in August and not be baptized.

Thank you,

Rita

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Rita,

You, or any one with the right intention, may baptize one who is in danger of death when there is no priest or deacon immediately available

You should not baptize your grandchild on a feeling that she might unfortunately incur death before August That’s a very long shot, and August is only a short time away.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hi,

My name is Claudia, and I have a question. My husband and I have a 3month old daughter and are planning to baptize her in the Catholic church of course, but my question is, can we choose to have two god mothers instead of a male and female?

Thank you,

Claudia

Fr. Malloy answers:

Claudia,

Only one godparent is necessary, but there are usually two: male and female.

Two men or two women are not allowed. However one may be selected as witness (either man or woman) and stand with the godparent at the ceremony.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On May 15, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I am 18 years old and have a 1 year old(I am not married). I was baptized and confirmed as catholic. I have actively gone to mass my entire life. My father belongs to the parish that I have gone to my whole life, but I no longer live with my father or the boundaries of that church, but I do want my son baptized there. Is that possible?

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ashley,

Are you still living with your baby’s father? If you are, you must get your marriage blest before you can get your child baptized.

If you have broken up you may get your baby baptized, if you promise to raise the child as a practicing Catholic and follow baptismal requirements.

There is no reason why you cannot have your child baptized in your father’s parish.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On April 30, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I have a child 13teen and iwant to have him a baptism. His father amd i are no longer togather. How do i go about this. Im not catholic

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Sabino,

A youngster who is already in school should be in a religious education program of the parish. Preparing for Baptism, Holy Communion, Reconciliation and Confirmation will probably take at least two school years of religious education before admittance to these Sacraments. Be sure to be enrolled at the beginning of the school year.

As your son/daughter is learning, you too can learn what the basic things that make Catholic Christians who they are. Who knows that you too might feel the tug of the Holy Spirit to enter the Church yourself. One is never forced into this. It has to be free choice, as it will be for your child, who is old enough to make his/her own choice at this point.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 25, we received this question:

 

Hello! I have a question

I baptized my brother’s son and am currently pregnant we are catholic, I want to know since I baptized his son can they baptize my baby when born, my mother who is Mexican and very catholic says both of the commitments from mine to his son and his to my baby will null. Is this true?? I really want him and his wife to be my child’s godparents. Thanks!

Fr. Malloy answers:

Nancy,

Your mother is mistaken. Parents may not be godparents of their children, but nothing prevents you or your brother from being mutual godparents, provided of course you are Catholics, confirmed and in good standing with the Church and its requirements.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On April 18, we received these questions:

My grandson (whose Father is Italian) is in Italy on vacation. He is scheduled to be baptized in the Catholic church. There will be a couple of member of the family named as Godparents. However, it is my understanding that my husband and I (Americans) would be raise the child in the event his parents were not able. We are not Catholic but are Christians.

My question is, “How legally binding is an Italian baptism?”. If something happened to his parents while they are in Italy, could I get my grandson back to the United States?

Thanks.

This is a concern.

Betty

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Betty,

Baptism wherever it is administered using the correct formula is valid throughout the world. In the event of parents’ inability a state’s [or nation’s] laws kick in for who would take care of the children. Certainly grandparents are in this equation. They do the best they can not only in our earthly life but also in faith for life hereafter.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

I am catholic, I attend church I teach my kids about the catholic church. I have four kids, I have been married twice none by the church, I feel I'm not ready to make that commitment since I fail once. Marriage is sacred and even though I love my husband I hesitate to make that decision. ( I pray for guidance every day) my two younger kids are not baptized, My kids want my sister and her husband (who are not married but not by the church) to be their godmother but the Father at my church told me they can not because they are not married by the church even though they attend church and were raised catholic what can I do to get my kids baptized?? The Father wants me to find someone else who is married by the church or single I know very little people in my community and I don’t like the idea of having some stranger who hardly knows my kids to take on that responsibility so sacred and meaningful, please help.

MTZ

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear MTZ,

Blessed Pope John Paul II encouraged people in awkward situations to participate as much as possible in the church notwithstanding. So when your pastor sees that all your children are participating in the regular religious instruction classes and sees you and your children regularly at Sunday Mass, then he will encourage you in your living the faith as much as is possible for you.

In your letter you state that your children want their aunt and uncle to be their godparents. That makes me ask: how old are they? Are they old enough to be attending catechism classes? If so, they should be in a Sacrament preparation class, probably with others in similar situations.

When you are bringing all you children to Sunday Mass, you are going to meet other people. This is a great resource in a parish community. You pastor was just quoting from canon [Church] law for the requirement of godparents. This can be an incentive for them to get into harmony with the Sacraments and the Church – and also for you as you have promised for our older children and now for the younger ones to bring them up in the practice of the Faith.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold danielson, SDB


I want to get my son baptized. I'm roman catholic my fiancée is Greek orthodox. I'm tired of fighting about which church the baptism takes place in. I'm getting heat from my mom (she expects roman catholic, his parents Greek orthodox) his family is no longer talking to me because I said my son will be what I am. I go to church sadly about four times a years but belong to a church. He and his family are none practicing. Also belong to no church. Can my son be baptized Greek othodox but be raised roman catholic? Receiving the sacrament of communion and confirmation in the roman catholic church? Bc I'm the only person that goes to church, plus I want him roman catholic. I can't take the family bickering any longer. Thank you for any insight in this matter.

Jonny

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Jonny,

The basic thing is “practice of the faith.” When there is little external practice of faith (Sunday Mass, frequent Communion and Reconciliation), one has to reflect on why baptize a child.

When there is very little participation in the life of the Church, baptizing in the kitchen sink would be just as effective as doing it in Church.

Practice of faith implies marriage in the Church. There no mention in your letter regarding this. If you had marriage preparation and celebration in the Church, this topic of Baptism would have been discussed and decided already.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


FATHER:

I WANT TO HAVE A PRESENTATION OF THREE YEARS FOR MY DAUGHTER AND I WAS WONDERING. CAN THE SAME GODPARENTS THAT BAPTIZE HER WHEN SHE WAS BABY CAN THEY BE THE SAME ONES? OR DO THEY HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT

THANKS

MARIE

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Marie,

Godparents are supposed to build relationships with godchildren. It is wonderful when they participate in celebrations of grandchildren.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Was just wondering, my nephew was born June 6 2006, want to get him baptized. But finding it difficult to find someone who will baptize him because of his birth date.

Kamila

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Kamila,

Once a child is already in school, he is considered to be “of catechetical age.” The means that the child can already understand some of the main things about our Faith. Thus the directives state that any such child should be given the basic instructions before baptizing him. Usually this is done along with other class companions. Often since there are very few unbaptized children they join the others who are preparing for Holy Communion and Reconciliation (confession). Then nearing the time when the class is ready for Communion, to then baptize those who are now ready for it.

This is why your pastors hesitate simply to baptize an older child. There needs to be some discernment for the possibility of practicing the Faith. The instruction period gives a chance for the child and the family to fulfill their responsibilities. Church law states that there has to be a real hope that this is going to happen before baptizing.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 15, we received these questions:

We would like to baptize our twin girls but our chosen godfather hasn't been baptized. Can he still be part of the ceremony as a witness? The godmother is a practicing Catholic in good standing.

My understanding is that we only need one godparent. Is this correct?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Natalia

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Natalia,

You are correct: while godfather and godmother are allowed as sponsors, one only is required.

Anyone may serve as witness.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Was there ever a ruling that mothers were not to attend their baby's Baptisms prior to Vatican II? I say no such ruling ever existed, my friend says yes.

Thank you

Lorraine

Fr. Malloy answers:

Lorraine,

You are correct. No such ruling existed.

However, it was often customary to baptize the baby as soon as possible, andsome mothers still bedridden could not attend the ceremony.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Father

I just want to know if I could have my mother and eldest brother baptism my son? Is that possible?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Elena,

They may serve as godparents provided they are both practicing Catholics,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On April 10, we received these questions:

Hi, I have a question.

Could my son be baptized by his grandparents?

Paola

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Paola,

You son would have to be baptised by a priest or deacon.

Grandparents may be godparents.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

My sister has just been blessed with a baby boy and has asked me to be godparent, I was baptised at 14years old as I chose to take classe to become a Catholic like the rest of my Family. I did not make my Holy Communion and was not Confirmed though. My sister is not Married and her partner is Church of England. The other Godparent is also Church of England also and we have been told that I would need to be a Full catholic in order to be a godparent. I have enquired about RCIA but have just missed the Term that finished in Easter. The thing is my sister plans to have the baby baptised in September, Is there any other way I can be Confirmed before then?

Many Thanks

Fr. Malloy answers:

Ashley,

A Catholic godparent promises to help raise the child in the Catholic faith.

From your account, the child would be baptized in another religious denomination, and so there is no way for a Catholic godparent to fit into this scenario.

Your sister would have to be a practicing Catholic before she can have her child baptized in the Catholic Church.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On April 3, we received this questions:

Fathers:

I was baptized as an orthodox christian yet raised in the catholic church. I've never been a practicing orthodox, as all I've ever known is the catholic faith. I've only attended church at catholic parishes and attended catholic school from K-8th grade. While I know that orthodoxy and catholicism are similar, the orthodox faith is foreign to me and I've never considered myself anything other than a catholicchristian. My brother now wants me to be Godparent to his baby. I love my faith and want to share it with my nephew, however it seems from previous responses that I would not be able to do this because of my orthodox baptism. What can I do? Would I still be able to baptize this child? Going through RCIA seems odd to me as I've already learned, embraced, and practiced the Catholic faith. Please advise.

Many thanks-

Anna

Fr. Malloy answers:

Anna,

To be a godparent one should produce a baptism certificate. If possible get it from the church in which you were baptized.

Your baptism is certainly valid. But a Catholic godparent must have been confirmed in the Catholic Faith. Do you receive Holy Communion?

From what you write, RCIA is a solution to set you on the right Catholic track, which would make you eligible to be a godparent.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB.


On March 29, we received these questions:

Dear Father, my husband and I just had a baby girl in July. She is almost 8 months old. My husband is Catholic and I am not, however I am converting. I haven't been baptized, but we would like to have our baby baptized before she turns a year. Even though I am not baptized can we still have her baptized? -Brittany

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Brittany,

What a blessing that you are looking into entering the Church! You did not mention if you are married in the Church. One of the forms usually done when there is a marriage between and Catholic and a non-Catholic is the promise by the Catholic person to raise any children in the practice of the Catholic Faith. Thus there is the expectation that your child is to be baptized.

Choose godparents who will be examples for your daughter.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father,

my question is that we are wanted to have my wife's maid of honor and my best man as godparents. The problem is that neither are catholic, both are active with the catholic church, but haven;y been confirmed. Now, my real question is, that because the husband of the maid of honor IS catholic is it possible for us to have both couples stand up as godparents?=

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Glen,

According to church law only one godparent is necessary, who must be a practicing Catholic and, if married, married in Church. A second baptized non-Catholic “godparent” is technically a “Christian witness.” Any others are simply family custom and cultural tradition.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 20, we received these questions:

I want my brother and my sister to baptize my children, is this possible or do the god patents have to be married and not related by blood?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Selene,

Your brother and sister can be godparents of a relative. The condition is that they are practicing Catholics.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I'm hoping you can shed some light on a situation we're currently faced with. My husband is Catholic and I'm Jewish. Given the mixed religions we were married outside of the church. My husband has been asked to be the godfather to our niece (he's been baptized, had his communion, confirmed, etc). Can you help me understand what needs to be done in order for him to do so? I completely respect his religion but given it's not mine I'm curious if he can cover any requirements alone or if I need to be involved in whatever is required for him to be eligible to be a godfather. I've heard we have to have our rings blessed by the church. Can only he have his rings blessed if this is the case? I really would appreciate your insight.

Thank you for your time.

Jessica

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jessica,

I admire your concern in this situation.

There is only one way your husband would be allowed be godfather of your niece. It would require that your marriage be acknowledged by the Catholic Church. As a Catholic, he entered an union not accepted by the Church.

It could be accepted, if you were willing to be married again by the Catholic Church.

It can be a very private ceremony: yourselves, a priest and two witnesses.

Your rings would both be blessed, if you wish, but it is not part of the ceremony.

You would not have to change your religion.

Rev John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

I am a 65 year old Protestant. My first husband and I were married for 14 years. He became sexually involved with my best friend and moved out, leaving me with our three young children to raise by myself. He asked me for a divorce. I did not want a divorce but had no choice in the matter. He married her and they are still married.

I have now been remarried for 14 years. He is a Protestant and does not want to join the Catholic Church or get an annulment from his first marriage.

I want to join the Catholic Church and am willing to apply for an annulment but I have read that even if my annulment is granted, I will not be able to join the Church because the Church does not recognize my 14 year old marriage. To join and take communion either my husband would have to get an annulment or I would have to leave him. I can't believe the church would ask me to leave my wonderful husband in order to join the Church.

My ex-husband and his wife joined the Catholic Church 10 years ago. They were never asked about prior marriages, were active in the church and took communion with no questions asked.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I am having problems understanding what I need to do to become a Catholic. I have been praying the Holy Rosary for a year and have asked my ex-husband to forgive me for whatever I did or did not do to cause him to leave me.

Sincerely, Patty HB=

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Patty,

We human beings can certainly get into complex situations. Sometimes they can be unraveled, sometimes not.

You have made some assertions which I am not so clear about. Your former husband and his wife joined the Church and were never asked about prior marriages. That is certainly something that should have been asked and resolved. If not, it is a situation which contradicts the Church’s understanding of authentic marriage.

If instead it was resolved, then you should have been notified also.

To the present! By any chance was your current husband’s wife a Catholic and not married in the Church or had been married before? Certain circumstances could be ascertained without your husband being involved.

On the other hand, in circumstances such as yours and a variety of others, we should follow the advice of Pope John Paul II, namely do the best you can, participate as much as possible, believe in God’s love for us notwithstanding everything. Through the ages, sometimes couples have promised to live as brother and sister, and thus are admitted to the Sacraments.

If the Church [i.e. us, the people] does not uphold its principles, then what depths we could fall into!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 15, we received these questions:

 Hi just had a questiom iam not married and I have a 14 year old son I would like to get baptised I heard the catholic church won't do it if youe not married is this true ? I was raised catholic please advice on what I can do

Fr. Malloy responds:

Cristina,

If you practice the faith and are free to marry, (whether or not you do) your son could be baptized.

If you are living with the boy's father or another man, you would not beable to have your son baptized, until you settle your status.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


My son is Catholic and he married a wonderful girl from Israel. They would like to baptize their new baby girl.

Is this possible since she is not Catholic. And could they raise the child with both religions. Thank you in advance.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Aleida,

It is possible to have the baby girl baptized in the Catholic faith.

The child should respect the faith of her mother, but cannot be both Christian and Jew.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Hello!

I am hoping you could help answer some questions for me. My fiance is catholic and I am a non-practicing Methodist. I was baptized by a non-denominational reverend. The Catholic church requires a Baptism record but I am not sure where to find this. Also, it was done in a home because several other members of our family were Baptized at the same time.

Where would I find a Baptism record?

I have my certificate of Baptism, does this count even though it was a non-denominational ceremony?

Thank you in advance for any help with my questions.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Stacy,

You state that you have a Baptism certificate. That generally would be sufficient even though the Church does ask for a newly-issued one. Most Christian communities maintain Baptism records. So perhaps someone from your family would know if and where a permanent record is kept.

In the process of getting married in the Catholic Church there is a witness or sometimes two witnesses for both the bride and the groom. This witness testifies regarding any previous marriages and the fact of Baptism in any Christian community.

You should be fine.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

My husband and I were married in the Catholic church and are curious about infant baptism. We have selected Godparents who are Catholic (and had attended our church until they moved) but their new church home is Christian- not specifically Catholic so we have been told they cannot be the Godparents. If we were to baptize our baby in a Christian faith vs. our church- what would that mean for him moving forward as far as Confirmation etc.

Thank you for your help!

Tiffany=

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Tiffany,

According to Church Law, official godparents are to be Confirmed and living in harmony with the Faith. Thus, if married, it must be in the Sacrament of Marriage.

Technically only one godparent is needed. Most times it is a godmother and a godfather. A baptized person, not of the Catholic faith would be a “Christian witness,” while the other one would be the godparent.

Baptizing a child in a Christian community other than a Catholic Church, would be somewhat lacking loyalty, but the actual baptism could be valid if the authentic form is used. [I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.]

Later on, if you are indeed practicing Catholics, in preparing for Holy Communion and the other Sacraments, you would approach your parish priest with Baptism document in hand. The parish priest will advise you on how to make the official profession of Catholic faith of your child and how that would be entered into the Sacrament register.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 10, we received these questions:

Hello,

I really hope you can help me. I am a catholic and have a two month old baby. I believe in baptism at an early age. My only problem is selecting godparents. I have a cousin (male) that i feel would be an amazing example and in my death would raise my child in the proper path. His isnt married. My son's father wants his cousin (also male). I agree they both would be excellent. Can two men baptise a male child?

They are in no way in a relationship together or living with a girlfriend (they are just a cousin of mine and a cousin of my childs father - not a couple). Just both people I would feel in my absense could (either one) adopt my child.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Patricia,

Only one godparent is necessary. If two, one is male the other should be female.

You can have one man as godparent the other as a witness.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 22-28, we received these questions:

I was baptized catholic when i was a baby, but nothing other than that. I am recently going through a divorce. I want to get my 6 year old son baptized and starting going myself again. My soon to be ex was baptized christian and wont let me baptize our son till he is old enough to choose for himself. This doesnt sit right with me and bothers me. I dont know what to do

Kimberly

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kimberly,

Seven years is recognized as the "age of reason"

Your son can be instructed in the faith and at seven he could have the choice.

Do continue going to Mass and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).

Taking your son to Mass and instructing him in the Faith will nourish his desire to receive Communion (and he cannot do this without baptism).

If you receive full custody of the child there is no problem. You will have the right do as you wish.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Fathers:

Hello, my name is Veronica. I have a dilemma that I would like help with. I have been going round and round with this issue that has caused me much problems with my in-laws. Here is the situation. My husband and I want my bestfriend to baptize our son and my bestfriend wants us to baptize her son. We have been planning this baptism since we were both expecting. We have been told by several family members that this not allowed, however, our priest in our parish did not see a problem with it. I am wanting another opinion. The family says that by baptizing this way our commitment becomes null because we our handing over the commitment that we agreed to follow. Please clarify if this is possible. The baptism was supposed to be in 2 weeks.

Thanks!

Veronica=

Fr. Malloy responds:

Veronica,

I presume you are talking about mutual godparents.

If you are both practicing Catholics and confirmed, there is no problem.

As long as the priest understands the status of both godparents, follow his advice.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers-

My husband and I were not married in the Catholic church even though we are both practicing Catholics.

My children were both baptised in the Catholic church, and my oldest child participated in her First Reconciliation last year. This year she studying to receive First Communion and Confirmation. I have been told that she may not be eligible for these sacraments, as our marriage did not occur within the church.

Is this true? If it is, what do we need to do to resolve this issue?

Best Regards-

Dianne

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dianne,

If you and your partner are practising Catholics, you should get your marriage blest in the Church. It could be a simple, private ceremony of exchange of vows before two witnesses with the priest officiating.

Your children are eligible for the sacraments, if they are old enough to understand the implications.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

My daughter's father is a practicing Catholic and a Mexican citizen with LPR status. He currently takes our daughter to a catholic church where we live in southern CA. I am a citizen of the U.S. and was baptized and raised in the Lutheran faith. My family church is in IL. My concern is ... I don't know if our daughter has been baptized. She will be six years old soon and not knowing is a constant concern.

My relationship is not good with the father. He is controlling, deceptive and manipulative. For our daughter ... This saddens me very much.

I suspect that she has been, but I want to make sure. I hope she is. This is very important to me. Unfotunately asking him is not an option. I have many times.

He took her to Acapulco Mexico (at ten months old) for a big family celebration. He has photos of her in a beauitful dress. He claims that she was only "blessed" ... Not baptized.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter.

Mother of a beautiful little girl...

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jerilyn,

You, or someone for you, can write to the Diocese of Acapulco and ask them to send you the addresses of the churches of the area.

The local Catholic priest might also help you. Check if your daughter is listed in their re cords..

If there is no record to be had, the presumption would be that the baby was not baptized.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I am deeply concerned that the church will not allow myself and my fiance to be the Godparents to my bestfriends child. Both parents are Catholic but we are not. We want to attend the classes necessary to do so. I guess my question is...Will the Catholic church allow two Christians to be the Godparents of a child from Catholic parents? Is it solely up to the local pastor to allow this baptism to take place with Christian godparents?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Krystal,

Church law requires that godparents be practicing Catholics. They must be baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith.

Any local priest can explain these requirements.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 22-28, we received these questions:

I was wondering if you could answer a question for me? My boyfriend and I planned on getting married in about a year or so, but recently we found out that I am pregnant. We would like to speed up the process, but due to scheduling conflicts and the short time frame, we won't be able to do the usual 4 month counseling before we get married. We talked about getting married at the court house, but my concern is that I would like our baby to be baptized in my church. I am a practicing Catholic, he is Methodist (nonpracticing). Will where I get married affect whether the baby can be baptized in the Catholic church? Also, if I do get married at the court house, is there any way of getting it recognized by my church? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Ann Marie

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Ann Marie,

A number of things come to my mind while reading your letter. Let us see how to put a context about it and your relationship to the father of your child. And so on.

First off, in respect to getting married in the Church, if I were your pastor, I would recommend that you think about that six months to a year after the child has been born. This will give time to figure out if you really want to be parents together for your child. You could enter marriage with a truly free heart.

Sometimes a couple enters a civil union that is then “convalidated” or “blessed” in the Church afterward. Not the ordinary way, nevertheless civil responsibility is established.

Regarding Baptism: You state that you are a practicing Catholic. I assume at least you are participating at Sunday Mass, praying every day, etc. If you stop to say hello to the priest each Sunday, he will rejoice with you on the progress of your pregnancy and look forward to baptizing the new person upon arrival.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


What can we do about the Godparents for our granddaughter? They are both alcoholics and now we have found out they are also abusing drugs. The wife is having an adulterous affair and they also have left the church and are not raising their 2 beautiful girls Catholic either. I would like to send them a certified letter removing them from being our daughters Godparents. He is my husbands brother and she is the sister in law. The entire family are in disgrace over the goings on and we all want to change them but them refuse to listen to us. They have been telling their own children that our family are devils and not good people. Is there any way to remove them from being Godparents and have someone of reputable character replace them. We are so sick over this situation. Everyone in the family has tried to help them but they feel we are the intruders and they are perfectly happy drinking and doing drugs.

Both my husband and I feel they should be told they are no longer wanted as Godparents and that we are replacing them with someone else. Is that an appropriate thing to do?

Fr. Harold answers:

A Baptism record is an historical document. You can’t change that. What you can do, however is choose a person who loves your granddaughter and who gives good example in practice of the Faith. Ask her to take on the wonderful responsibility of being a Sponsor [godparent]. Then when it is time for confirmation, this person can be the Confirmation sponsor when the relationship becomes technically formalized.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

Am Josemaria by name and from Nigeria. Am undergoing marriage course and catechism class presently. I want to get married but i have not Baptism in the catholic and also my wife has not Baptism too, she is not a member of roman catholic, Father i understood that do ask question before one can be Baptism. Can you please help me with the topic so that i can be studying at my own spear time.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Regards,

Josemaria

Fr. Malloy responds:

Josemaria,

If you are preparing to become a Catholic, studying the catechism and taking a marriage course you will find the answers to any questions you may have regarding baptism and marriage. Ask your priest for help.

To become a Catholic you must be baptized and as an adult profess the Catholic faith. Further questions will be no problem.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I am not a Catholic, but, I am a Christian. I plan on marrying someone in the Philippines. They told me they would like me to get married in their Catholic church. They said if I got Baptized in their Catholic church, I could get married in the church. Is this true?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Bruce,

You don’t have to be baptized Catholic to marry in the Catholic Church. The local priest can give you permission.

Don’t become a Catholic until you are ready and know the faith.

Fr. John Malloy, DDB


On January 23-25, we received these questions:

Oh Father

Please give me some clarity on this issue:-

I have been divorced and have met a gentlemen who is much younger than I am - we have met with this parents and mine and everyone has accepted our love, he is a christian and I was not - I have accepted the Lord and we now want to do what is right and get married - he has never been married (we have been living together as a couple for the last four months now) - Father please let me know if what I am about to do is right in the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ - he wants to get baptized and I would like to do it as well - I come from a hindu family - if I go ahead and get baptized does this mean that I cannot join my family in the occasional prayer in the hindu faith? - I have committed to Jesus - however I have children and a grandchild that follow the hindu faith - that I am a part of - please advise

Thank you Lord for this opportunity and thank you father that you will respond

Molly

Fr. Malloy responds:

Molly,

Approach your local Catholic Church and ask to join the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). The course is open to Catholic and non-Catholics and will explain the basic teachings of the Catholic Church. No obligation.

If you become a Catholic, you can still attend some of your former practices, as long as they don’t take the place of Mass on Sunday .

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


We recently found out that my child’s godparents do not believe the same Catholic beliefs as we do. We feel that in our absence this couple would not respect our wishes and make sure our child was raised in the Catholic faith. What can we do? Can we appoint new godparents?

Thank you

Christy

Fr. Malloy responds:

Christy,

The simplest thing you can do would be to appoint new godparents.

As to the church record, you would have to speak to the parish priest. He may put an annotation in the baptism record.

It is important that there be sponsors wiling help in the Catholic upbringing of the children

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I have been baptized as a Catholic when I was a baby. As the years progressed, I have lived a life as a Catholic. However, under some circumstances, I was not able not able to partake in my fist communion as well as confirmation. Furthermore, my relationship with God growing up was not intact. My mother was a strong believer, but growing up as a teenager, I had so many question and was always very skeptical. I had times when I questioned God, and to me, religion was just "another subject." It wasn't till I was sixteen that my world changed. Through my mother's prayers and my own eagerness to know more about this glorious Being who loves me and who sent His Son for the good of mankind, I have changed. I am almost eighteen now, and I believe God saved me. I receive his Son, my Savior Jesus Christ, and I love Him. My relationship with Him is something I never expected I would have.

My Step-Father is a Mormon, and we have Mormon missionaries coming to our house often.They would talk about their unfailing faith in Jesus, and I would always commend them for that. They also want my mom and I to be baptized. I have no answer as of now because I have questions still consuming my mind. I believe that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life" and that "no one comes to the father but through him." In the case of Baptism, i feel as if i am born again to the light of Jesus and I want to cleanse my sins. i respect their religion, but my heart is not set to be baptized as a Mormon. They baptize children at the age of eight as well as adulthood because they say that you should be baptize at a time when you discern right from wrong and have accepted Jesus. I bring this up because I feel this deep need to be baptize from my sins and restore my soul in God's hands. I was baptized when i was a baby, but it cleansed me only of original sin. I sinned again as i grew older and i was so far away from him in spirit. i feel so tainted and corrupted. Is there anyway, for me as a Catholic to receive this restoration? Is it possible for me to be baptize again as a Catholic?

Sincerely,

Kim

Fr. Malloy responds:

Kim,

Your faith in God is strong, but it does need to be directed.

You cannot be baptized a second time. But you can be forgiven from your sins and have your soul cleansed by the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).

Speak to the pastor of your local Catholic Church and ask to join the RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) This is a course which is open to Catholics and non Catholics who wish to know more about the Catholic faith. Following that you could receive first communion and confirmation.

The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. The Apostles spread it throughout the world. It was not founded on a man as was the Mormons.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Greetings

My name is Charles. I was brought up attending Presbyterian church. My parents died when I was just 14 years old. Since that time, I rarely attended church. I find myself now drawn to the Catholic Church and am looking into taking RCIA classes.

My question for you is: I am not sure if I was ever baptized. Since my parents are deceased, I cannot ask them. I have asked my older sister who is 12 years older than me and she said she is almost certain that I was not.

My older brother (6 yrs older) said that he did get baptized in our church but that it was as an older teenager. He also didn't think I would have been baptized either.

Since I cannot be sure, should I go ahead and seek to be baptized now?

Thank you and God bless!

Charles

Fr. Malloy responds:

Charles,

Consider yourself not baptized. Following the RCIA you can receive baptism, first Communion and Confirmation at the same time—the concluding ceremony).

May God’s grace be with you,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 20, we received these questions:

Can I ask my father to be the godfather of my daughter? He is catholic as are we, and he has been baptized, etc.

I know he is my dad but he's the best I know and I would love for it.

Shannon

Fr. Malloy answers:

Shannon,

There is no prohibition against having your father be godfather of yourchild.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I was wondering if its possible, or if the church allows us to choose two sets of Godparents to baptize our baby?

Brittney

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Brittney,

Technically in Church law, a person needs just one sponsor, though two are most common: a godmother and a godfather. However, there are customs in various parts of the world where children have lots of godmothers and godfathers. These are family practices, beyond what is required. Generally, the Baptism record has space only for the first two, whose names will be written in the record.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a husband who was raised Catholic and my wife is a "Born Again" Christian. My wife does not agree with a lot of the Catholic teachings/stances on things but I believe it is primarily because she has not been educated on the reasoning behind them and I am not the best knowledge source for her. At this point, she is adament about not ever wanting to convert to Catholisicm. I have 2 questions;

1) is there a good resource for me to read to possibly educate myself about the differences between our religions? I've read "Born Again Catholic" a while and found that helpful but wanted to ask.

2) We are expecting a child in May and want to get it baptised. We are planning on a Christian baptism outside of the Catholic church. It is my understanding that this is fine as there is only one baptism. Is this correct? Also, I've grown up having Godparents. Are these done with Christian baptisms compared to Catholic Baptisms?

Thanks!

Patrick

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Patrick,

You bring up several things in your letter. I shall try to sort them out a bit and respond to your questions.

Jesus and His Church never force anything on anyone. God encourages and calls but respects free will and conscience. So, your wife is certainly free to not enter the Catholic Church.

For a resource for yourself in grounding your own faith, get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Or: United States Catechism for Adults. These are excellent sources also for your wife to page through as she comes across them as you are catching up.

The way you presented your situation, leads me to a question: Have you been married in the Church, and thus are in the Sacrament of Matrimony? The Church holds marriage very sacred wherever it occurs according to law and custom. However, it does have a few basic rules for its own members. That is, as disciples according to Jesus are to be Light in the World, and thus are to be observed by all, and as the Church understands that marriage of baptized persons in a true Sacrament (sign of God’s presence among us), so it requires some things to be sure that the external circumstances are such that it is possible for two persons to be truly, validly married. Basically, these are: presence of the bride and groom, two witnesses, and the priest or deacon who officiates. Without these things a Catholic person is not validly married. The Church hopes that anyone in this condition seek the “blessing” of the Church. Otherwise they are “out of synch” with the Church and are in a situation of non-practice of the Faith.

I believe that most Christian faith communities have sponsors or godparents for Baptisms, infant or adult. The Church acknowledges the validity of Baptisms as long as the complete formula (I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit) is used. However, if later on person wishes the other Sacraments in the Catholic Church, they must be instructed and make a profession of Faith in the Church.

The latest General Council of the Church (that is, the Second Vatican Council held 1962 to 1965) emphasized the common beliefs of Christians. Then the scholars of the various church communities dialog about things to see what they believe in common. There has been a lot of communication among all groups in the past decades.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi I have been asked to be a godparent to my best freinds children but I have never been baptised or anything I have attended a church now and again please help as I dont want to let her down what can I do?

Thanks,

Jane

Fr. Malloy answers:

Jane,

There are requirements for Catholic godparents

Prime is that the person must be baptised, confirmed and practicing Catholic.

Your best friend needs instruction the Catholic faith and should never have asked this favour of you.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On January 20, we received this question:

I have spoken with my Chruch and the wheels are in motion to have my baby baptized. They asked that I meet with them this Sunday after Mass. Should I bring my record of baptisim? Will the priest ask for that? I don't know if I have any record of my confirmation or first Communion but I did complete both. Should I try to locate that paper work? What sort of paper work will the Godparents be required to show that they are Catholic? Lastly, my husband and I were not married in the Catholic church, will that be a problem?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dana,

Yes, it will be a problem if you are not married in the Catholic Church.

It would be good to straighten out your marriage status.

If documentation is in order, you can have a very private ceremony with two witness?

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On January 15-17, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I have a bit of a theological conundrum with respect to marriage. My wife and I are both practicing Catholics now. My wife was baptized in a diocesan parish while I was baptized by a Jesuit friend of the family while he was back from his missionary work in South America. I have been unable to locate the certificate and tend to think he never filed it as he was a bit of a "liberation theologist." I never went to church and only started going in my 20's. However, I attended the same "independent" chapel my wife did which had priests that were ordained by the Society of Saint Pope Pius X. We were married by an SSPX priest and had our children baptized, until very recently, in this chapel. Within the last few years we realized that the SSPX were illicit and we are now prisoners at a diocesan church in full union with Rome. We also had one of our children baptized in our new parish. I think you see the issue(s) here. The first is the validity of our marriage in the eyes of the church (something we did not think was an issue until recently as we were aware that an SSPX Mass was "valid" so we had assumed that the fact that an SSPX priest can call Christ to the alter meant that he could perform all the sacraments? In the eyes of the "state" it is valid, hence we do not have some issues, but my understanding now is that SSPX priest do not have "faculties" (something we had no idea of at the time) and are illicit. Can the Church validate the marriage as it may have been defective in "form"? Can the Church, through its mercy, provide the faculties in an instance of mistake? My second questions is that it seems like our 4th child slipped through the cracks on the baptism but how about, God willing, the 5th? Would the Church prevent the baptism? Of note also is will the fact that a baptismal certificate for myself be difficult (if not impossible) to find be an impediment? I would note also that we cannot track down the Jesuit in question. Needless to say, all of our children are raised in the Church in accordance with its teachings.

Does Can. 1116 §1 on "grave inconvenience" help?

Does Can. 144 §1 ("In common error, whether of fact or of law, and in positive and probable doubt, whether of law or of fact, the Church supplies executive power of governance for both the external and the internal forum.") help?

Respectfully,

Mark

Fr. Malloy answers:

Mark,

To answer the last question first: The Church will not prevent the baptism of your fourth child.

For peace of mind and to clarify any possible issues in your case. present these statements to the Diocesan Tribunal (Bishop’s office). The case can be cleared quite easily.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On January 12-15, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My name is Meagan I am Baptist I have taken some classes for RCIA but I did not complet my class but my fiancée is Catholic I am expecting and due anytime in order to have my daughter baptized as Catholic would there be any problem being that I am not Catholic?

Fr. Harold danielson answers:

Dear Meagan,

I hope you are preparing for Marriage in the Church, but that should happen after your child is born. In one of the pre-marriage forms to complete, there is a question: Is any circumstance forcing you to get married? With the child already here, then the parents are choosing to establish the family with full freedom.

One of the papers the Catholic person (father of the child) signs is the promise to raise the child in the practice of the Catholic Faith. So the child could be baptized whether or not you enter the Church. This reminds me of the very first wedding I officiated at. The bride was not Catholic; but I baptized the first child, and I became godfather to the second child.

If later on you decide to enter the Church, you may do that, or not. My Catholic grandmother married my non-Catholic grandfather. He never participated in any church, so you yourself are quite free.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi Fathers,

I'm stuck at a crossroads with getting my 1 year old daughter baptized. I am Catholic and have completed all my Sacraments through marriage. My dilemma is with choosing Godparents. We want my brother and his wife to be Godparents. My brother has completed Sacraments through Confirmation yet his wife is not Catholic and their marriage was not validated by the Catholic Church. There is no one close to us that is Catholic so I don't know what to do. If I baptize her in a non Catholic Church will that affect her later on with completing Sacraments? I really don't know what to do. I understand all the reasoning but what if I cannot find anyone that fits the requirements for Godparents? Any advice?

Thank you,

Susannah

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Susannah,

The formal expectations of godparents is practice of the faith, in harmony with all the Sacraments of the Church. Sometimes these expectations are a stimulus [invitation by the Lord] to get one’s personal circumstances in order. We have a candidate in our adult Christian Initiation group who has not had Communion and Confirmation. His nephew asked him to be his Confirmation sponsor. So he got busy in doing that himself so that he can serve as sponsor to his nephew.

In the meantime, if your brother is not working at this, then your parish priest may introduce you to some candidates for you. Of course, this implies that you yourself practice your faith. That means especially Sunday Mass, Communion frequently, Confession at least a couple of times a year. These are some of the external ways with which disciples of Christ become Light in the world, as Jesus proclaims.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


A grandmother wants to have her grandchild baptized but the mother does not attend church. If the grandmother is not the legal guardian can the 2 year old be baptized?

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Lynn,

The criterion for baptizing is “founded hope of practice of the Faith.” And the ones directly in charge of that are the parents. The role of grandparents is good example and prayer.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello, my brother asked me and my husband to be the godparents of his new baby. Can a husband and wife be the godparents of the same baby or do godparents of the same baby have to be non married or not a couple?

Fr. Malloy answers:

Betta,

Man and wife can be God parents of the same baby, but they should be practicing Catholics..

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


I am working with a family who went through RCIA three years ago. Their 7 year old, who was baptized Lutheran, now is ready to receive First Communion, he has attended Religious Education for the last three years. Does he need to make a formal Profession of Faith at Easter?

Thank you.

Debbie

Fr. Malloy answers:

Debbie,

The validity of the baptism can be determined by your local priest.

A formal profession of faith would be good, but the local pastor may not require it.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Is there any chance that a women can baptise a baby in the catholic faith I am wanting to know as one of my family members has had his baby baptised and is telling me that he had a female priest I have told him there is no female priests in our church can you please tell me if this poor child is baptised in our church if a women performed the baptism.

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kerrie,

The baptism would not be valid in the Catholic Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers

My son was baptized in the Maronite church and my sister Inlaw and brother were he's godparents my sister Inlaw has now changed her religion and is no longer a Christian is it possible to change her name on the certificate?

Janine

Fr. Malloy answers:

Janine,

The name cannot be changed on the certificate. However, you may ask some other practicing Christian to act as godmother.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 10, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am a Filipino Catholic living here in Tokyo Japan.My husband is non-Catholic but we got married in a Catholic Church in the Philippines.We have a daughter,baptized in a church in Manila, and a son turning one on March. we want our son to be baptized in a Catholic Church in Hawaii.Is it possible?because i`ve been reading some of the rules of churches and it requires that u are a parisioner of the church u want to be baptize.And the thing is, we dont have a Catholic God parent to attend and witness the ceremony since my family are all in the Philippines and my husband`s family are all non-Catholic.Please give me some suggestions of what is the best thing i should do.We`re planning to do it on March on his 1st birthday.

Thank You and GOD SPEED.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Julie,

Congratulations for your family! At a Baptism, the parents [and godparents] are reminded that children are to be brought up in the practice of the Faith. If we do not plan to practice the Faith ourselves, then there is no purpose in baptizing a child.

You asked for ideas – great! First off, you are currently living in Tokyo. I suppose that is a work related thing. You should be attending a Catholic parish there. You should attend the Baptism preparation class there. Then get the parish priest to write a letter of reference for you to present to the parish church in Hawaii. This letter would be asking the Hawaii parish to do a pastoral favor for the Tokyo parish in doing the Baptism.

As for godparents, it is possible to have a proxy, that is, a stand-in, at the Baptismal ceremony, as long as the godparents know that they are in fact the godparents. The godparents should attend a Baptism preparation class in their own parish and send you the notice of attendance which you can also present to the parish of Baptism.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 8, we received these questions:

Hello Fathers,

I am a 54 year old life-long catholic. I have concluded that it is highly probable that I may have never been baptized. However, I made my first communion and confirmation in the U.S armed forces in 1976. I realize that the military archdiocese should have confirmed/verified my baptism. However, they did not.

In an effort to determine whether I had been baptized, I called and wrote twice to the archdiocese of the parish where I would have been baptized. I have not received any response from them. I spoke with one of my parish’s catholic priests about this matter and he said that the parish would contact my “baptism” parish and inquire about my “baptism”. To my knowledge that has not occurred.

However, during my discussion with my parish priest he said he would “conditionally baptized” me. However, I am concerned about the form he used. First, no conditional statement was made by the priest. Secondly, words resembling “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” were not even remotely said. Thirdly, no water was used. Lastly, he prayed over me in tongues (sounded like pure gibberish to me). I do not believe that the “conditional baptism” performed by my parish priest is valid. What do you think?

Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do about this situation. Please know that it is critical for me to ensure my baptism. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Juan

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Juan,

You certainly have baptism—at least baptism of desire.

I understand your concern and I myself would want to confirm the actual event.

Ask your parish secretary to give you a baptism certificate.

If you don’t receive this, call the Vicar General of the Diocesan office and ask his help.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 7, we received these questions:

Dear father , I have been baptize and have done my communion but not my confirmation. Can I still baptized a child ???

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Arasel,

You can have your baby baptized.

It would be fairly simple to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initial of Adults) would deepen your understanding of the faith and benefit your child.

This program is held in most parishes. Check with your priest.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I are expecting our first child in August and have been arguing over how we are going to raise the baby. My husband is a non-practicing Catholic and I am a semi practicing-Methodist. We both want our child to be baptized but are not sure which direction to go in. He refuses to go Methodist and I would consider going Catholic if I knew more about the church. My husband has no interest to go back to church and I have been going to mine off and on now.

Can a Methodist mother baptize her child in a Catholic church?

I would prefer to stay Methodist but out of respect for my husband, I am trying to find some answers.

Any advice you would have would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Jaimie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jaimie,

if your husband in not practicing his faith and you are Methodist, unfortunately, you cannot have the baby baptized Catholic.

I suggest you speak to the local Catholic pastor. He can offer you a solution.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On January 2, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers.

When my parents married, my father was Anglican and my mother, Catholic. They were married in the Anglican Church in 1951.

When I was born, at the urging of my grandmother, my parents allowed me to be baptized in the Catholic Church. They now can’t even remember which Parish it was. Soon after I was baptized, my grandmother died and my mother never attended church again. I was never taken to the Catholic church at all and grew up without any religious training.

I’m not thrilled with the idea of being counted in the membership numbers of a church I’ve never attended, especially when I’m not even religious. I would certainly have appreciated being old enough to give consent to such a ritual. But in any case, I just attended a Memorial Mass for an Uncle and it was the first time I’d ever been to a Catholic service in my life and it got me thinking.

I’m just curious as to what the Catholic Church would consider my status to be. I’m pretty much an atheist, as is my mother, although I’m somewhat opened-minded about it.

When I was a child, if any asked, I said that I was Catholic, for lack of anything else to answer. But am I? Again, I’m just being curious.

Best Regards,

Leslie S.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Leslie,

You were baptized Catholic and so you are, unless you have rejected the teachings of the Church.

If you want to learn more about the faith you can refer to the Catholic Church in your area.

Catholic Parishes have RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) programs. THE PROGRAM IS OPEN for Catholics and non Catholics who wish to know more about the faith.If you wish to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation , your baptism may be renewed conditionally, if documentation is not available and there is no one to attest to the fact.

My prayer for you and your search.

Rev. John Malloy


Hi im rocio im 26 yrs old I was never batized my family are catholic and some are christians I was diagnosed with cancer in july 2011 and I had surgery done but it was not a success yet moths has passed and I would like to be batized and my 7yr old daughter too I dont know how much of life I have left but I would like to be saved and my daughter to be baptized a soon as possible.

Fr. Harold danielson answers:

Dear Rocio,

What a wonderful desire you express! You sent your message to Sts. Peter & Paul Church in North Beach, San Francisco. What you need to do is contact the parish priest in the area you live. Realizing your health situation, he can expedite instructions and preparation for entry into the Church. Speak to him about your daughter also. For you being part of the Catholic community of faith during your journey to new life will be a marvelous blessing. For your daughter the possibility of continued practice of the faith will be a top concern.

Blessings and peace,

 

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 1, we received this questions:

Fathers,

I am was baptized catholic at birth, however I never studied to take my first communion. How does this affect me...can I not participate at services, will I not move on to be with my loved ones, is it too late to make my first communion through study? I apologize for all the questions, this is in light of a family members recent passing. I do have faith, I do believe, I want to see my family again. Please, any advice would be most appreciated.

Regards

Lester

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Lester,

What a beautiful goal you have set for yourself! For a variety of reasons your situation with regard to the Sacraments of the Church is not uncommon. Each year in our group of adults inquiring into the Catholic Church, there are some baptized as infants who have not received the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. So for yourself please contact your local parish priest. Explain your situation. Then plan the steps for your entering into full communion with the community of Faith with these Sacraments. A few years ago when I was in Watsonville, CA, we had three candidates in our adult class who were in their 80’s. We received them into the Church at Easter that year. Then all of them passed away during the following year, ready for heaven. So, you take the first steps. And most welcome!

Blessings and peace,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 31, we received these questions:

Our Children were baptized in a UCC Church, but we have decided to raise them Catholic. Can our children receive the rest of the Sacraments from the Catholic church from this point on or do they have to be baptized again in the Catholic church?

Thank you,

Kristin

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Kristin,

There is only one Baptism. So the children are not to be re-baptized. What you should do is speak to your parish priest. He might invite you to a celebration of the rest of the Catholic rites [ceremonies] of Baptism . Or perhaps will make a notation on the occasion of First Communion that this preparation accounted for a Profession of Faith in the Catholic Church. Parishes all over have a variety of options for accomplishing this.

Remember all of this implies authentic practice of the Faith of the family. Without this Sacraments do not carry much meaning.

Blessings and peace,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a non-denominational Christian and my boyfriend is Catholic. I have attended Catholic masses with him and he has come to non-denominational services as well. I really love Jesus and love to worship him, but I always find myself very confused during mass. I do not think it is the service or Catholicism, I just think that I am confused and not getting all I can out of the service. I would really love some advice on how to become more educated on Catholicism, or how to get more out of mass. Thank you so much for your time and advice.

Best Regards,

Arielle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Arielle,

It is simple enough to join the Catholic Church. There is a program called RCIA and almost all the parishes have it. Approach your nearest Catholic Church and ask what you must do.

It's a simple program with meetings usually weekly until Easter time. The program is for Catholics (who want to know more about their faith) and for those interested in joining the Church.

God is ready to show you the way. I pray you find peace in your faith.

With God's blessing,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On October 18, we received these questions:

Fathers:

My husband and I are both Catholic, we each made all of our sacraments. We recently had a baby and really want to get him baptized. I honestly can't believe how hard this is. The church that my family and I go to won't let us baptize him there because we don't live in the same town as the church. So I called the church in my town, which I have also been too and picked up a parishioner registration form. Knowing that if we wanted to baptize our baby there we would have to become parishioners of that church. Anyway, on the form it asked if my husband and I were married in a catholic church. We were actually married on the beach. I have been reading that we will not be able to baptize him because of this reason. I'm so frustrated, why is this so hard? Shouldn't churches want to baptize your child?My parents were not married in the church and my godfather is Jewish and when I was baptized there was no problem. I also have four sisters that were baptized. Seems like there are always new rules that some parishes follow and others don't.

Its very disheartening .

Rachel

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Rachel,

Even with the differences you describe, nevertheless both parishes are following the customs (and laws) of the Church.

It is understandable that a parish community desires that parishioners be registered in the parish, whether or not their home is within the parish boundaries.

And yes, the parish would like to know that parents are in the Sacrament of Marriage. Then they will be able to encourage couples to have their marriages convalidated [technical term, commonly stated “blessed”] in the Church.

There is a rationale for this, since the Canon [church] Law states that for a licit Baptism, there should be a real hope that the child will be reared in the practice of the faith. Thus parishes want to be instruments of conscious choices in this practice of the faith, even sometimes by postponing Sacrament celebrations till some of these choices have been made. Otherwise children are being put in an awkward situation, where their parents promise in the Baptism liturgy to bring their children up in the Faith when they themselves are not doing it.

On occasion this stems from parents not being married according to the regulations of the Church: that is, making their marriage vows before the official representative of the Church [a deacon or a priest] and two witnesses in a designated sacred place [most usually the parish church]. Without the deacon or priest, there is “lack of Form.” Every parish most willingly wants to help couples to enter the Sacrament of Marriage for the upbuilding of the parish community.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

I have been in a 10 yr relationship and have 3 children. I was never baptized (for some reason baptism stopped at my siblings and I, I am not sure why) . I only went to church with my grandmother sometimes when I was growing up. All I know is is my family and his including him have been baptized catholics. I would like to get married by church and baptise my children. But don't know how this effects us. Any information would be appreciative.

Thank You,

Jessica

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jessica,

It’s a simple process, but does take a commitment.

Check with the Catholic Church nearest to you and ask if they have an RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) ) or how you can take baptism classes . You would be directed to one who can pave the way for you and will be delighted to meet you. A Church wedding could follow.

My blessing and prayers for a successful search.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On October 02, we received these questions:

Fathers,

Hello, my name is Claudia, and am interested in baptizing my 9 year old son. I was baptized myself, but have not been involved in the catholic church since my mother converted to another religion. What are the steps I need to do for myself and my son?

Thank you,

Claudia

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Claudia,

It seems that the Holy Spirit is nudging you to re-integrate the practice of the Catholic Faith in your and your son’s life. How wonderful are the Lord’s inspirations when there is an open heart!

All parishes have a religious education program for school age children. Most often there are not large groups of un-baptized pupils. So an un-baptized student simply participates in the class for preparing for Reconciliation and First Communion. Then at an appropriate moment the child is baptized and then continues as part of the class for the other Sacraments.

Most parishes also have a Christian Initiation group: adults looking into being fully incorporated into the Catholic Church. There are a variety of personal situations in every group of people. Some are baptized Catholics, but never did any of the other Sacraments, some are baptized in some Christian church, some never baptized. You should ask about this for yourself. Then your son and you might do one or other Sacrament at the same time.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 02, we received this question

Dear Fathers,

I am writing this question in hopes of getting some information on baptisms. In May of this year, my ex-husband and his wife welcomed a baby girl. At that point, my son decided to run away to his father's house to live. Now that the baby is 4 months old, my son announced that I should not attend my home church on the weekend of October 15, 16 because the new baby was being baptized.

This troubles me because my home church where my children are members and have been baptized, confirmed, and taken communion is a Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. My ex and his wife are non-practicing Catholics and don't attend any church. They were not married in a Catholic church either. They claim that my church is the only church they know where they can baptize their child. There is a Catholic church in our city as well as two other Lutheran churches. My ex-husband has been to my church at best 5 times in the last 10 years. His wife has never attended my church.

I feel that this is just another in a long list of things that they have done to me to flaunt their relationship that started as an affair while my ex-husband and I were still together. I do not begrudge anyone who wants to have their child baptized, but I just feel that they are only doing this to me to continue their assault on me.

Any help, suggestions, or contact people that you can provide me with would be much appreciated.

Thank you,

Karen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Karen,

When and where you go to church is your business not your son’s.

Your ex husband and his wife have not entered a valid marriage.

Their baby would not be allowed baptism in the Catholic Church since they are considered not married. How could they promise to raise the child as Catholic? The Lutheran baptism would be valid.

Ignore the slights of your ex and wife. Keep giving fidelity to your religious beliefs and practices. Example is more powerful than words.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On September 30, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I hope that you can help with some questions regarding Baptism for our 10-month-old daughter.

My husband and I are members of your Parish and we have been struggling with the requirements for Godparents. We have chosen my brother, a practicing Catholic, to be her Godfather. However, our choice for Godmother is member of the Episcopal church. I see from one of your responses on the website that she would not qualify as Godmother, but as a Christian Witness. My questions are as follows:

1) What does "Christian witness" signify in terms of her relationship with my daughter (ie, does this give her special standing in terms of her bond with my daughter in the eyes of the Church)?

2) Would the Christian Witness require any documentation in order to qualify for this role?

3) Would a Christian Witness participate in the Baptism ceremony?

4) Would we still choose a Godmother in addition to a Christian Witness?

5) If the Godparent is from out of town, is a certificate of attendance at a Baptism preparation class be sufficient or must the individual also provide proof of Baptism?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Alessandra

Fr. Malloy answers:

Alessandra,

Sponsors:

When infants are solemnly baptized, persons assist at the ceremony to make profession of the faith in the child's name. This practice comes from antiquity and is witnessed to by Tertullian, St. Basil, St. Augustine, and others. Such persons are designated sponsors,. The English term is godfather and godmother..

These sponsors, in default of the child's parents, are obliged to instruct it concerning faith and morals. One sponsor is sufficient and not more than two are allowed. In the latter case, one should be male and the other female. The object of these restrictions is the fact that the sponsor contracts a spiritual relationship to the child and its parents which would be an impediment to marriage. Sponsors must themselves be baptized persons having the use of reason and they must have been designated as sponsors by the priest or parents. During the baptism they must physically touch the child either personally or by proxy. They are required, moreover, to have the intention of really assuming the obligations of godparents. It is desirable that they should have been confirmed, but this is not absolutely necessary. Certain persons are prohibited from acting as sponsors. They are: members of religious orders, married persons in respect to each other, or parents to their children, and in general those who are objectionable on such grounds as infidelity, heresy, excommunication, or who are members of condemned secret societies, or public sinners (Sabetti, no. 663). Sponsors are also used in the solemn baptism of adults. They are never necessary in private baptism.

1)What does "Christian witness" signify in terms of her relationship with my daughter (ie, does this give her special standing in terms of her bond with my daughter in the eyes of the church?

Answer: No special bonding, other than that the witness should be a good Christian ready to support the moral life of the child.

2)Would the Christian Witness require any documentation in order to qualify for this role?

Answer: No documentation is necessary

3) Would a Christian Witness participate in the Baptism ceremony?

Answer: Yes, as a presence near the child.

4) Would we still choose a Godmother in addition to a Christian Witness?

Answer: A Godfather or Godmother may be by proxy.

5) If the Godparent is from out of town, is a certificate of attendance at a Baptism preparation class be sufficient or must the individual also provide proof of Baptism?

Answer: That depends on what the local parish requires.

Rev. John Malloy SDB


Hello,

I am currently engaged to be married, I wish to marry in a catholic church but have not yet been baptized, my fiancé was baptized as a child but not in the roman catholic church. My fathers family are all roman Catholics. I have 2 sons with my fiancé who I wish to also be baptized along with myself, is this possible? And would this then allow for us to marry in the catholic church?

Thanks for your help.

Kirsty

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kristy,

No reason you cannot marry in the Catholic Church, if you fulfil the conditions: Be baptised Catholic, straighten out your marital situation: You could be married in the Catholic Church. You and your fiancée must promise to raise the children as Catholic.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On August 28, we received this question:

Hello fathers,

I just had a son and am not married. I am in a loving relationship with the father and it is as is we are married , and we plan to marry, but are not yet. My question is , can i still baptize my son ? And when the time comes can we marry in a church? If yes, we always dreamed to marry outside ... Would that type of ceremony be recognized by the church ?

Thank you.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jia,

You can marry in the church but cannot have your son baptized there until you do.

Why delay the wedding? If it is because of money, know that a simple ceremony costs very little.

Most churches do not allow garden weddings, as the bishops ordinarily refuse to give approval.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On August 24, we received these questions:

My sister choose me and my husband to baptize both her sons, one who now is 7 and the other is 1. I just had my son and would love my sister to baptize him, my mother told me she couldn't since I already baptized her sons. Is this true?

Sandra

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Sandra,

I think you mean being godparents. It is quite frequent that aunts and uncles be godparents for each other’s children.

The important thing for godparents is to be good examples in practice of the Faith for their godchildren. Children are very observant. They learn quickly what is truly important by the example of their parents and godparents.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


I am a divorced woman who is in a relationship with the father of my 5 and 2 year old children. He was baptized catholic. He wants to get the kids baptized in the catholic church, but I don't think we are allowed considering our very un-catholic arrangement. Are we required to be married? Are the kids too old now? Do I need to be catholic? Are we even able to get married since I am divorced? I was married in the catholic church to a catholic man. So many questions! Please help.

Thank you for your time,

Kim

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Kim,

First of all, regarding your children. The older one is attending school and therefore is “of catechetical age.” This one should be enrolled in a religious education class. Not many parishes have a group of unbaptized students to have their own preparation according to the Order of Christian Initiation of Children. So what happens is that an unbaptized student prepares for Reconciliation and First Communion with the regular class and then at the appropriate moment is baptized and joins the rest for the other Sacraments.

The younger one upon the promises of being reared in the practice of the Faith could be baptized as is.

Promises of “practice of the Faith” are best fulfilled when the parents are doing it themselves, at least as much as possible according to circumstances. And this is where the Church wants most to help.

The process begins when you approach the pastor of your Catholic parish to describe your situation and see what can be done. The Church has to uphold its principles. When human situations get in the way, the Church through its Tribunal tries to see if anything is possible. This means in the first place looking at your former marriage to see if there was anything present before or at the time of the marriage which by itself made that marriage invalid. Sometimes it is very simple; other times it becomes complex. In the end if a “Freedom to Marry Decree” is issued, then you could then be married in the Church.

Then also you could discern if you are called by the Lord to enter the Church yourself. This is distinct from your marriage, and the promise of practice of the Faith for your children.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Fathers!

A few questions, please. My husband is catholic. He was baptized, had his first communion and confirmation with the church. We were married in 97, at a methodist church. We had 2 children together. We attended catholic services on and off. He always took part in the Eucharist, of course I did not. We divorced in 05 and then remarried each other before a judge in 2009. Our children, now 10 and 13, were never baptized.

My husband is currently in the military and deployed to Afghanistan. I am starting RCIA classes. I have wanted to become catholic and join the church for a long time. We would also like to get our children baptized.

Do we need to have our marriage blessed in order for our kids to be baptized?

Will it take two years for our children to attend classes to get baptized? (This is what I was told)

Should my husband continue to take the Eucharist, since he was not married in the church?

I can not provide proof of my own baptismal, but was indeed baptized. What will be done regarding this issue? Why would my word not be acceptable?

Thank you for your time and response.

Pamela

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Pamela,

I wish you the best in beginning the RCIA in your parish. The parish priest will be interested in your marriage history. There are a few things to get in order as you enter the Church. Being in harmony with all the Sacraments is very important. That includes Matrimony.

Do you have missalettes in your parish? Usually there is a statement from our Bishops about the dispositions needed for receiving Communion somewhere in the book. Often it is the inside front cover.

Both of your children are in school. That makes them of “catechetical age.” This means they are to be instructed in the Faith and its practice according to their age and understanding. In most parishes as children prepare for First Reconciliation and First Communion, there is usually a two school year program. Often there are not enough unbaptized students to make a group themselves for the Order of Christian Initiation of Children. Thus they join the groups preparing for Reconciliation and Communion. Then at the proper time they are baptized and then join the rest. This all varies from place to place, but the principles are the same.

In the RCIA candidates are helped to document whether they were baptized or not. The Church recognizes Baptism received in other Christian communities. Very often the churches keep records. Even if not, and you have relatives or friends who witnessed the Baptism, a sworn affidavit would be sufficient. Otherwise you could be conditionally Baptized. In other words, the deacon or priest prefaces the ritual with “If you have not yet been baptized, I now baptize you ….” And the parish where this takes place keeps the record.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


I have been asked to stand as Godmother to my new nephew and am very proud to do so. The father of the child has not been baptised and does not practise any religion, however he promises to raise the child Catholic. He has asked his brother, who is also not been baptised but raised Protestant to be the Godfather, will this be allowed? Any guidance is appreciated.

Kat

Fr. Malloy responds:

Kat,

Sponsors or godparents are to be selected by the parents according to the requirements found in Canons 873 and 874 which states that there is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.

The father’s brother cannot be godfather.

He could be in at the baptism ceremony, as long as there is a designated godmother.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On August 22, we received these questions:

Hello,

I would like to ask if I have been seperated from my wife for more than 5 years and there is no way we would get back together, am I able to get baptized? I started going to church every Sunday, but I want to do things right.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

There is no reason why you cannot be baptized as long as you take proper instructions.

Check with your local priest.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On August 16, we received these questions:

 

My 22 year old unwed daughter has a child whom we would like to baptize. Our priest will not do it and we are having a hard time finding a priest who will baptize him. Is it unethical for this to occur. It is making me angry, that my grandson is being treated as such.

Mary Jo

Fr. Malloy answers:

Mary Jo,

Is there is a guarantee that the child will be raised Catholic?

Is there a man in picture whom she is living with? If so a prime requirement of baptism of a child is missing.

If she is living on her own with the child and agrees to be a faithful Catholic there wood be no reason to deny baptism.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 14 we received these questions:

I have a daughter who will b turning a year and I have waited to baptize because I chose my sisters who are in very good standing with the church and who just got confirmed I. May. I wasn't aware that since they are both girls they can't both baptize. Is there any way around this? I don't want to favor one over the other and they are both going to be very influential in her catholic up bringing.

Demon Rock

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear demon rock,

Yes, according to Church practice, one godparent is necessary; if there are two godparents [sponsors], one is a man, the other a woman. In your family you want your daughter’s aunts to be both involved. Here is a possible way: Ask your sisters who wants to be the Confirmation sponsor, then the other be the Baptism sponsor. Church practice is that a person may choose a Confirmation sponsor different from the Baptism sponsor if the candidate so wishes. That way both participate at both celebrations, but they share sponsor responsibilities for different Sacraments.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

My sister is a catholic but her son’s father isn’t, he is a Christian. Well, my sister wants to baptize my nephew and the father is okay with it. But the situation arises because he wants to represent himself as the father the day of the ceremony. Is there a reason why he couldn’t stand up with my sister, godparents and son during the ceremony? The local rectory claims he couldn’t stand up with them while they perform the sacrament.

Denise

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Denise,

If the parish allows the baptism, I see no reason why the father can not stand up at the ceremony.

You can always check with another priest or another parish,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 12, we received these questions:

Good Day,

My 25 year old consertive jewish daughter, (of 2 jewish parents), has asked what we think about her being baptised in a Catholic Church. The young man she is dating is a practicing Catholic of 2 Catholic parents. My major concern, of many, is the result to her "jewish religion".

What doe's this mean to the future of her Jewish religion?

I believe she is contimplating this to please her boyfriend and his parents.With that said, I believe she may be being pressured, as they are talking marriage lately, and I know his parents, (and most likely him too), wanta Catholic marriage ceremony. Followed, most likey, by raising their children Catholic.

As a jewish mother and father, with NO interfaith first marriages in either of our families. We are concerned.

Doe's a catholic baptism negate her being a jew?

Will she have to accept Jesus?

I am not very happy about this, but, I DO understand. If we had raised her in a Reformed or Orthodox jewish life, she would probably not even be contimplating this. However, raised as a Consertive Jew, the line's have been a little "grey" in her upbringing, due to our notkeeping our Jewish faith ever constant in our home.

She has always called herself a jew, and still doe's, but she has asked our opinion on a "late in life baptism." I'm trying to be open minded but, with my Consertive Jewish upbringing, this is a bit of a blow. A little Catholic wisdom and information would be of great help to us parents, as we are not educated in situations like this.

My real "question's" are the one's itlicized. However, my greatest question is:the question that has me up at 4am today is:

Will my daughter no longer be a Jew, once baptised in the Catholic church?

With greatest respect for all religions,

Martie

Fr. Malloy responds:

Martie,

Will my daughter no longer be a Jew, once baptized in the Catholic church?

She will always be a Jew. Jesus was always a Jew.

Catholic baptism will make her a Catholic Jew.

A Catholic Church marriage would make for greater unity of the marriage. For the Catholic partner this would be required.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 8, we received these questions:

Good day father,

I am a mother of three beautiful children. My youngest, was baptized a year ago in a catholic church. The God-father could not attend, thus was not present. The god-mother was able to attend. However, since then, there has been a large falling out between our families, and the god-parents (who are a married couple). they are not practicing Catholics, nor have their children baptized. We realized we made an error in asking them to represent our child, as they do not show interest in teaching her her belief, nor in being a large part of her life. they have hurt me personally, and there is a large void on aspects with my child, and myself. I understand that they are the 'witnesses/sponsors' for her baptism, and have read numerous times, that that cannot be altered. The woman who we truly want to be her god-mother, has been present in her life since she was in utero, and was even present at her birth. She deeply wants to be a part of our little one's life as a God-mother, as do we.

How can we go about this? Is there anything that we change religiously, or spiritually, to make her our little one's respected Godparent? Any advice would be appreciate. Thank you in advance,

Melanie

Fr. Danielson answers:

Dear Melanie,

Oh, situations within families and friends! The Gospels forewarn us of this. By the time the Gospels were written down, these things had already been happening.

Yes, what is already written and recorded in a Baptism record cannot be changed. However, if you have a special friend who is having a wonderful relationship of goodness and example in your little one’s life, encourage that. Then when Confirmation time comes, your daughter [with you supporting] could have her for the Confirmation sponsor. That will seal the relationship with a Sacrament.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

Melanie follows up:

Thank you father, for your response. We are aware of the confirmation, and do plan on having our good friend present as her godmother then. However, since my daughter is only one, we would like to know if there is anything in the interim... Our good friend has a strong belief as the life of a godparent, and we would really like them to be bonded religiously, going forward. A blessing perhaps? Anything at all? I thank you again,

Melanie

Fr. Danielson answers:

Dear Melanie,

Here is something you might do. Remember the lighted candle that you received at the Baptism for your daughter? Every year on the anniversary of Baptism, light the candle just for a minute or two. It will very quickly be a special candle for her.

Have your friend there to share the moment of lighting. Say a short prayer together. You will observe them growing closer each year. Her presence at First Communion will be special. Then as Confirmation sponsor!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 2, we received these questions:

Good day father,

I am a mother of three beautiful children. My youngest, was baptized a year ago in a catholic church. The God-father could not attend, thus was not present. The god-mother was able to attend. However, since then, there has been a large falling out between our families, and the god-parents (who are a married couple). they are not practicing Catholics, nor have their children baptized. We realized we made an error in asking them to represent our child, as they do not show interest in teaching her her belief, nor in being a large part of her life. they have hurt me personally, and there is a large void on aspects with my child, and myself. I understand that they are the 'witnesses/sponsors' for her baptism, and have read numerous times, that that cannot be altered. The woman who we truly want to be her god-mother, has been present in her life since she was in utero, and was even present at her birth. She deeply wants to be a part of our little one's life as a God-mother, as do we.

How can we go about this? Is there anything that we change religiously, or spiritually, to make her our little one's respected Godparent? Any advice would be appreciate. Thank you in advance,

Melanie

Fr. Danielson answers:

Dear Melanie,

Oh, situations within families and friends! The Gospels forewarn us of this. By the time the Gospels were written down, these things had already been happening.

Yes, what is already written and recorded in a Baptism record cannot be changed. However, if you have a special friend who is having a wonderful relationship of goodness and example in your little one’s life, encourage that. Then when Confirmation time comes, your daughter [with you supporting] could have her for the Confirmation sponsor. That will seal the relationship with a Sacrament.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 30, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I was wondering if it is a requirement of the Catholic church to provide a birth certificate in order to have an infant baptized and if so would it be possible to find out where that it written via Catholic Church law.

Thanks,

Doug

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Doug,

THE CHILD'S PRESENCE IS PROOF OF BIRTH.

The Catholic Church would not require a birth certificate other than to make sure the record is true.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 28, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

After 20 years away from the church, I am trying to become a good catholic and am scheduled to have my special needs son baptized in 2 weeks. I had an abortion 20 year ago as a young girl, can I still get my son baptized. My husband is Lutheran, although he is thinking of converting. If I go to confession, will that help?

Heidi

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Heidi

Going to confession is certainly required. Your sin of abortion can be forgiven and your son baptized.

You should attend Mass faithfully, but you cannot receive Communion until your marriage is blest in the Church. It can be a simple ceremony, very private, if you wish.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 24, we received these questions:

Father,

I have just recently being asked to be a sponsor for my cousins child.

I was baptized Catholic, made my Confirmation, but got married Methodist. Could I still be considered as a sponsor since I was not married Catholic?

Thanks, Amy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Amy,

Your marriage outside the Catholic Church would make you ineligible to be a Catholic godparent.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


My son will be Baptized this month and we would like for my brother to be the Godfather. He has been through all the sacraments but because he does not belong to a parish the church refuses to allow him to be the Godfather.

Is there anyway to solve this issue? I don't want my brother to be the christian witness.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Adam,

One of the conditions for being a godparent is to be a practicing Catholic.

Your brother can be a godparent if he attends mass, even if he is not enrolled in a particular Catholic parish.

I suggest you ask the priest what your brother can do to show he is a practicing Catholic.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 19, we received this question:

My uncle and I baptised my nephew a few years ago. At the time I was engaged, now that I am married does my husband also become my godson's godfather?

Nancy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nancy,

Your husband does not become godfather unless he was so designated in the baptism ceremony, but he can certainly assist you in concern for the Catholic well-being of your nephew, as he grows up in the faith.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 16, we received these questions:

Fathers,

My question is, if one parent is catholic and the other one is of no faith at all and you were not married in any church can you still baptize your newborn child? The father is a practicing catholic,

Thank you,

Melissa

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Melissa,

If one parent is a practicing Catholic, the child can be baptized. Certain promises must be made, however, to raise the child as Catholic and to see to the child's understanding of the Catholic faith, as far as possible.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

If a child is baptized but the father is not, during the baptismal does the father indirectly become baptized?

Jessai

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Jessai,

The Baptism of an infant is always an invitation to family members. It shows God’s love for all of us and his active presence in our lives. No one is “indirectly” baptized. However, being a parent of a baptized child keeps one close to God. By the example of those around him, perhaps in time the Holy Spirit may move him to inquire about entry into the community of Church. Let us give praise to God and sing Alleluia!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers,

My husband and I are expecting our 4th child in September. My husband is military and as such we move a great deal. We do not have a church that regularly attend where we would want out child baptized. We live in monterey but would like to have our child baptized in your church in San Francisco. Our 2 older children were baptized at St. Louis Bertrand in Louisville, Ky and our 3rd child was born in italy and baptized in the Vatican before we moved back to the States in 2009. If possible could we attend classes at the military base church (if they offer them) and still have our 4th child baptized in your church? Also, in order to have Godparents at the vatican we needed to have letters from our Godparent's parish stating they were in good standing with the church and practicing Catholics, is this something you require as well?

Thank you so much for your time and God Bless,

Catherine

Fr. Danielson answers:

Dear Catherine,

What an interesting, complex story! Certainly you can have conversations with your military chaplain to see about your readiness for baptizing your # 4 (!). If they have a formal class, as parishes everywhere have, wonderful; if not, a talk with him suffices. Godparents should attend a class wherever they live.

Attached to this e-mail is the parish Baptism registration form. Please complete it and send it to me.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 3, we received these questions:

Good Evening Father,

I am going to have by two granddaughters baptized and i would like my sister to be the godmother. They gave us paperwork that says that in accepting the responisibility, according to the teacing of the catholic church an individual must;

be a practicing catholic in good standing - which she is
be a registered member of the parish - which she is
have completed the sacraments of initiation - which she did
be at least 16 years of age- which she is

if married be in a valid marriage according to the rites of the catholic church - she is currently separated but was married in an episcopalian church, but currently a practising catholic.

Will they allow her to be godmother because of her marriage?

Thank you,

Diana

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Diana,

The fact that she had an invalid marriage would not effect her being the godmother, especially now that she is a practicing Catholic.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

I am a catholic mother of an eleven months old son. I came to America 3 years ago and married a man. He is not a catholic and we didn’t get a Catholic Matrimony. I really want my son to be baptize. I don’t know if it is possible and also we don’t have anybody who are catholic around this area to be his godfather. Is there a way to have my son baptize? Do I need proof of my baptism and confirmation?

Thank you for your help

Anya

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Anya,

As for godparents, the local priest can always supply them when needed.

It would be good to see if your marriage can be convalidated. A catholic ceremony to follow can be very private and simple.

It would be good also to have a copy of your baptism and confirmation certificates..

Records are always kept and can be obtained by writing to the church or diocese where the ceremonies took place. Speak to a local priest for further information as to the baptism of your son.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I have a nine year old grandson who has asked to be baptized . His Mother, my daughter, has received all the sacraments, but is not a practicing Catholic. I had asked that he be baptized over the years but it never happened. I have taken him to Mass often and he enjoys it and wants to receive communion. I really feel that he has a connection to the Church and he has convinced his Mother to look into baptism. Would he need to go through the RCIA program at this age or could I teach him the basics of our faith and have him baptized?

Judith Ann

Fr. Malloy answers:

Judith,

Your grandson should be enrolled in a catechism class (if you have one).

If there is a local RCIA for young people it would be good to enroll him there.

It would depend on your parish priest to allow you to instruct the youngster for baptism.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hi father, I am currently pregnant and am planning on baptising my child in a catholic church here in California. However, my partner is married in Mexico and never got a divorce. Are we still able to baptism our child in a catholic church??

Fr. Malloy answers:

Gina,

I hope you will look into the possibility of marrying in the Catholic Church.

As to the baptism, the local priest should be contacted. He will explain what your should do..

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 28, we received these questions:

Fathers,

My granddaughter will be baptised Catholic.

My son would like his sister to be godmother, however we are greek orthodox.

I realize the catholic church will only recognize a sponsor who practices the catholic faith. But, can his sister stand in as well and participate in the ceremony?

Shiatsu

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Shiatsu,

No reason why his sister could not stand in at the baptism. Hopefully she can be a good influence on his faith.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 25, we received these questions:

Well, here is my problem. We are expecting a new baby in a few months and my husband and I, both being Catholic, would like our child baptized. The problem is none of the candidates we would want as Godparents are confirmed. They are practicing Catholics though. We really don't have any close friends or relatives that are confirmed and we don't feel comfortable asking people we are not especially close with and who our child will barely know. Is it a true baptism if neither Godparent is confirmed?

Nikki

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Nikki,

The baptism is certainly valid, even if godparents were not confirmed.

That at least one of the sponsors be confirmed (the other may serve as witness) is a basic requirement. According to the Code of Canon Law (874), "a sponsor for a Catholic confirmation must be a confirmed Catholic."

Your two friends can always be witnesses, and the parish can supply (pro forma) the godfather or godmother who fulfill the law, even if they have no dealings with the child.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 13, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I am a mother of a one year old boy who just recently moved to the states weeks ago, I am still looking for the right church to attend. I would like to have my baby boy baptized, however, I have no way to prove that I am baptized myself cuz i did it 33 years ago in my home country and my mother (now very old) don't remember which church it was and we cannot find any record of it anywhere. Can I still have my baby baptized ??? Please help !!!

Thank you for your help

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

Find a Catholic Church and speak to the pastor.

Select two practicing Catholics as Godparents to assure the priest that the child will be raised Catholic.

Attend the baptism classes.

You should have no problem to have the child baptized.

Have your mother write a letter stating that you were baptized Catholic, if the priest requires it.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Father,

My husband is Catholic and I’m not, nor have I ever been Baptized. I would like to be baptized and joint the church. My question is this.. I was married before, does the church recognize that marriage even though I was never baptized or married in a religious ceremony?

Trista

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Trista,

Your first marriage was valid in the eyes of Church and State.

Being baptized would make it easier for you to marry in the Church, but your first marriage would have to be examined as to grounds for annulment.

A local priest can help you with this.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 6, we received these questions:

When a person is married in the Catholic Church do you need a Marriage License issued by a Country Registrar? If so, is a Catholic Marriage legal if there was NO marriage license issued through the County Resistrar?

Thank you for your time.

Charlotte

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Charlotte,

You can not be married in the Church without a civil license.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello,

I am sorry to bother you guys, but...

I am in a bit of a pickle so I thought I would try to write to the few experts I know of to write to, to try to find a proper answer to my question. Please think on it and write me back with what you think should be our course of action.

Thank you.

Eagerly and anxiously awaiting your response,

Kate

Here’s the question, as I worded it on some forums...looking for help:

My husband and I converted (went throught RCIA and converted Easter of 2010.)

When we married in 1996, the wedding was outdoors and done by a Lutheran pastor, and my husband was NOT baptized at that time. (Three things wrong there.)

I was baptized Lutheran (born and raised Lutheran.)

After RCIA, when we came into the Catholic Church Easter of 2010, my husband got baptized, and we both received first communion and confirmation.

We've been going to Mass faithfully ever since and confession regularly...doing everything right! So I thought...

But now I read about convalidation ceremony. Were we supposed to get our marriage convalidated after coming into the Church and after my husband got baptized?...so that we would not be considered "living in sin" and fornicating?

Are we still considered to be living in sin and fornicating...since we never did this convalidation ceremaony? Because that means we've been going up for the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin constantly??!?!?...though I suppose that our ignorance about what we were doing made it not a mortal sin, going up for communion like this. But now that we know...

The priest never told us??!?!?! Like after RCIA was over. Never told us to do this next. Or what we should do next. So I had no idea.?!?

Sometimes I think I know more about The Faith than our priest does...especially when it comes to these conversion issues.

Now that my husband is baptized, and we both went through RCIA and converted and both got our first communion and our confirmation, is everything all fine now? OR do we need to have this convalidation ceremony? And, if so, are we living in sin until we do?

And here’s a very important secondary question:

At the convalidation ceremony, I read that you need to have two witnesses who actually HAVE their marriage all done exactly as it was supposed to be done...absolutely correct process. I'm not sure I KNOW anybody like this! Everybody seems to be someone who is a Catholic but married a Protestant w/o dispensation...but then just comes to Church and up for the Eucharist like no big deal!

Or someone who DID finally have their Protestant hub convert years later, but then they never convalidated.

Or...

So...DO we HAVE to have this CERTAIN TYPE OF WITNESS at the ceremony???

Or will some other type of witness do? I want to make sure I am doing everything right. Once and for all.

And there is no sense asking the priest...or the priest we had before him either.

PLEASE HELP!!!

Kate

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Kate,

I suggest you call the Chancery Office and speak to the marriage tribunal. The would willingly handle your case.

As for marriage witnesses: they don't have to be a couple and any one of age can serve.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 30, we received these questions:

Father I was wondering if you could answer something for me...

When I had my son baptized his actual godmother (my cousin) wasn’t able to come up from Florida to Philly so my sister stood in as a proxy for her.

Over the last 4 years me and my cousin have gotten into a lot of very huge fights and ended with us no longer talking.

My son starts school in September and when we went to tour the school we went into the 3rd grade classroom. They were preparing to make there first holy communion and it got me thinking, is there any way I can change my sons godmother to my sister? the one who was actually there when he was baptized. He should have his godparents there when he makes his sacraments that is something that is very important to me and to his father. and no matter how much I tried I can not mend things between his godmother and myself...

Is there anything I can do?

Thank you for taking the time to read and answer this

Vickiey

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Vickiey,

Sorry, you can't change godparents, after the original sacrament.

Let your sister serve as acting godmother and encourage her to carry out the duties.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 24, we received these questions:

I was wondering about the rules of Baptism. I am wanting to have my daughter baptised by my cousin, But I was told she is not able to do so because I baptised her son. Is this true?

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Amber.

I am confused on how you use the word “baptized.” Technically this word is used only for the person who officiates at a Baptism and actually uses the water with the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father ….”

Sometimes I have heard it used by parents or godparents. If you used the term in this way, then there is a simple response. Quite frequently relatives such as aunts, uncles, cousins become godparents of each other’s children. So if you are a godparent to a little one, certainly his mother can be a godparent to your daughter. This keeps both of you within range to continually be a good example in practice of the faith to your godchildren.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 16, we received this questions:

Father....thank you so much for this opportunity !!

First, let me give you a little bit of my background so you see that ( humbly) I feel I have a better than average grasp of the teachings of the Catholic church. I am a former nun, I am still a very devout Catholic, frequently attend Mass during the week , spend an hour of adoration each week and have taught RCIA !!.

Now, the background on my situation. My niece ( who is also my godchild ) is seeking to have her second child baptized. She is a holyday only Catholic and her husband is a Japanese Buddhist. They had their first child baptized soon after returning to the states....held at her Mom's parish and no questions at all about her practice of the faith. Her child's godparents are both lapsed Catholics. She had no problem getting the parish to baptize her firstborn. . Now she has moved to my state and wants her second child baptized at my parish. This is going to be difficult without fibbing a little because my priest is very strict. I would be asking him about this situation but I don't want to run the risk of sabotaging the potential baptism .

Here is my real question.... why is it not better to baptize a child and put them in the state of grace as opposed to leaving them in original sin just because they may not be raised Catholic ? Is the Church really saying that if you baptize them and they ( the child ) don't practice the faith in their adult life, they are somehow held responsible ? I understand that we all want the child experiencing the fullness of the baptismal graces and to be completely a part of her new faith community . Short of that, isn't baptism better than no baptism ?

This question is one that none of my nun friends ( ex or active ) can answer .

Could you also do a little more clarification on the difference between valid and licit.

Pray for my niece and for me that I guide her in the right direction.

Thank you !

Judy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Judy,

I will certainly pray for you and your niece.

One should not be baptized if there is no hope of a Catholic upbringing.

Not being baptized does not mean lack of salvation. It's personal intention and fulfillment of God's law that saves us. (But I am sure your know that.)

Baptism of desire also saves.

Your first grand-niece is validly baptized, even if the priest's part was illicit--i.e against the practice and directions of the diocese.

Yes, baptism is better than no baptism but it is not a sacrament that one can claim without adherence to the faith. If there was assurance that the child would be raised Catholic there would be no problem, but the example of your niece's practice renders baptism inadvisable at this time. There will be no fullness of the faith without practice. Responsibility will not be on the child, but on the mother.

P.S

"Valid but illicit, also known as valid but illegal, as it pertains to Roman Catholicism, refers to the unauthorized but valid celebration of the sacraments. In the Catholic Church several kinds of people have authority to celebrate the sacraments. However, to be lawful or licit, that authority must be exercised in accordance with the guidance of the church and the rules of canon law."

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB

Judy then had a follow-up:

Thank you so much for your very quick response and for your time. At the risk of belaboring a point, I'd like to ask again if it I am really having trouble understanding why we wouldn't baptize even if it is not the perfect situation with "fullness of faith ".

Thanks again for your time...this is a wonderful outreach that you have !!! Judy

Fr. Malloy responded:

Judy,

"I have another former nun friend who baptized her grandchild because the parents were lapsed and were not intending to have the child baptized. The child was not in danger of death.. Even though it is not licit... "

Answer: it was illicit, even though the baptism may be valid.

"Is It not better to have original sin removed and grace bestowed on the baby as opposed to doing nothing?"

Answer: The effects of original sin are not removed, and grace is lacking if the will is not committed to the articles of faith. The commitment is on the parent(s), until the child is old enough to act with his/her own free will. In our baptisms the presumption is always that the child will be raised Catholic.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 12, we received these question:

Hi Fathers,

I live here in San Francisco, I am catholic but my husband was never baptized as a child.. I tried to talk to my my parish (St. Philips),but they will only baptize him if he enrolls in a 7month program once a week and completes confirmation and first holy communion. He would rather not complete all that because of his own reasons. He wants to be baptized. Can I go to another parish and just have him baptized. I feel the church is making it to difficult. Can’t he just be baptized. He believes in the father, the son and the holy spirit, We are having a son in July and I would love to have them both baptized together. Is this at all possible? Thank you for your time

Lynda

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lydia,

Babies are baptized, with the presumption that they will be raised as Catholics and learn the tenets of faith as they grow up. When one is in danger of death, baptism may be immediate for he/she who desires it.

Adult non Catholics do not have this preparation and it is expected that they know the faith before they receive baptism.

The Second Vatican Council recommended that the Church renew its way of receiving Adult Candidates. A revised rite called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was approved by Pope Paul VI in 1972 and has become the norm for the Church. RCIA stresses formation in doctrine, liturgy, Church life, and service and involves the larger Church community in welcoming, instructing, helping and praying for Candidates.

If an RCIA schedule is too difficult, because of time restrictions, arrangements can be made for private instruction.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hi,

My questions are.

I was raised Catholic and due to personal complications with our towns priest I ended up baptised at a Methodist church. My soon to be husband was raised with a father from the south with religious values and mother who was raised all around the world. No exact religion was paracticed, but mainly Christian. He was never baptised. We just had a baby and we would like to get her and him baptised. Would this be possible and how would we go about in doing so?

Tai

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Tai,

You present an interesting situation. My first response is to consult with your own parish priest. He will be able to direct you what to do right there in your own home locality. I can only make some general observations here.

Did you receive your First Communion in the Catholic Church? And Confirmation? These are first indications of your practice of and [at least informally] your initiation into the community of Faith of the Catholic Church. Along with that are you planning to celebrate your marriage as a Sacrament in the Catholic Church?

Without these external, observable things, the Church would not have a “grounded hope” [technical term in church law] that the child would be raised in the practice of the faith to licitly [lawfully] baptize in the Catholic community of Faith.

Regarding your “husband to be.” He is an adult. Thus he would be expected to follow the formation process of adult Christian initiation in your local Catholic parish community. This would usually culminate in the initiation Sacraments [Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist] at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. This is an introduction to the lifelong journey of practicing the Christian faith within the framework of the Catholic community of Faith.

I hope this gives you some basic background information for your conversation with your local parish priest.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 3, we received these question:

Me and my husband are married , but not by church. We want our son to baptised in a catholic church. I have all my scaraments. Now being the fact that my husband and I are not married in church and he has only been bapisted ..... Can we still have my son in bapisted in church ????????

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

Speak to your priest. It is possible to have your son baptized but you must promise to raise him Catholic (including Church on Sunday.)

If you and your husband were not previously married and are now free to have your union blessed by the Church (a very simple process) why not rectify your Catholic status?

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a Catholic, married to a wonderful man who converted a few years after our Catholic wedding. His sister, who is not Catholic, had a baby almost a year ago. She and her husband are talking about having their child baptised by a Catholic priest, but neither of them is Catholic, or are converting. I don't think the child will be taken to Catholic mass or brought up Catholic. I don't think any priest would perform the baptism under these circumstances. The mother is Christian and did attend a church prior to the baby's birth. The father may or may not have been baptised Catholic, but was raised Episcopalian, and does not practice any faith.

Thank you, A. F.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Amy,

You ask "Is this baptism something any priest would perform?"

No priest in good standing would perform this baptism.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 30, we received these questions:

Hi,

My boyfriend was raised in Scotland. He was first baptized in the Protestant church. After his parents' divorce, his mother married a Roman Catholic. His stepfather insisted that he be baptized in the R.C. Church. He was baptized at the age of 9, however he was baptized under his stepfather's surname and not his own legal surname. His stepfather never legally adopted him. My boyfriend says that he was forced to be baptized in the R.C. church. My question is, is he a Protestant or a Roman Catholic?

Norrie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Normie,

Once one is baptized he/she can not be baptized again. I presume the Protestant baptism was legal and accepted by the Catholic Church.(civilly and ecclesiastically).

At the age of nine it is presumed he had enough intelligence to make a free choice. His reluctance to be accepted as a Catholic, would indicate he is still Protestant, validly baptized in that faith.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 15, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am very much bothered and awfully sad that my 3 granddaughters (they will be 6, 8 and 10 years old this year) have not been baptized. My daughter was baptized and so was my son-in-law. However, they are not practising Catholics and was not married through Catholic rites but by a Protestant pastor in one of New York's public park. I am a devoted Catholic, a Eucharistic Guardian, daily mass goer; in short, a serious practising Catholic. So, you can imagine how this condition pains me so much. I have been praying that my granddaughters will be baptized. They live in California and this summer, my daughter and the 3 girls will come to New York for 3 weeks as her husband will be in training in the military service. In my last conversation with my daughter I told her that I want the girls to be baptized while they are here in New York. She said Ok. I want to take this golden chance and have the baptism done because I know that when they go back to California, she and her husband won't take the extra step to have the girls baptized. I kind of know the requirements for baptism, especially the baptismal preparation; but due to the circumstances I mentioned above, is there any chance that the Church will give this case special consideration so that my granddaughters can be baptized while they are visiting here? I will appreciate very much your reply on this. Thank you.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Edwina,

I feel your pain and pray for a happy solution.

It will not be easy to have the children baptized in New York, but it is possible. It really depends on your parish priest. With your involvement in the Church, you probably are on good terms with your pastor, which makes the baptisms possible.

Entrust the solution to Mary Help of Christians and approach your priest with prayerful confidence.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 3, we received this question:

Dear Pastor:

I would like to know if a child at the age of 8, can be the godfather of a newborn. He has been baptised and is now doing his first communion on May 21st. He is the uncle of the child, yes at age 8, and they do not want anyone else to be the godfather. Is this possible??

Please let me know

Mrs. B

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Mrs. B,

Sorry, but it is not possible for an 8 year old to be a godparent.

Church law insists that a godparent be at least 16 years old (for maturity's sake), fully initiated (having received Confirmation and Eucharist), be someone other than the legal parents and one who leads a lifein harmony with the Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 3, we received these questions:

Dear Father:

My step-daughter was baptized in the Philippines, she is now getting married here in the United States on June 18th. She doesn't have a copy of her baptismal certificate and when she asked family in the Philippines to go to the church and get a copy, they were told that the records were destroyed or lost long ago. What is the procedures to get her re-baptized and/or acknowledgement of baptismal in a foreign country. Thank you for your time and god bless.

Dennis

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dennis,

It is not possible to be re-baptized.

Conditional baptism is always possible, though not advisable..

The church where she was baptized should do all possible to find witnesses to the baptism and make affidavits to that effect.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello Fathers,

I feel like a bad catholic mother. You see I have a 19year old who I made sure he was baptized when he was an infant and all his scraments are up to date now he is a very proud Catholic US. Navy Sailor. My issue is I have a 12yr old that I have done nothing for although we worship everyday so he knows Jesus. I am back on track now, but I am also a single mother so my question is can he still be baptized? Or is it to late?

Sincerely,

Tina

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Tina,

It's never too late to be baptized.

Your 12 year old should be instructed in the basics of Catholic faith.

I suggest you get him a catechism text and help him go through it.

Check with your parish for a text, (or your local Catholic school, or a religious articles store).

I am sure your local parish will be happy to help him and to baptize him.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 20, we received this question:

Hi!

My wife is 23 years old and is going through the RCIA program at our local parish to be confirmed. She received the sacraments of Baptism and First Communion when she was 7 years old. However, it has recently come to light that her baptism might have been under some unusual circumstances. Although her parents regularly attended church (they don't anymore), they "catechized" her from home, not sending her through any sort of church-sponsored faith formation or education program. The problem, she is finding out, is that she might have been taught some bad information as a child about the church, including that Hell and Satan didn't really exist. Although she now believes in line with what the church really teaches, she didn't come into this belief until her adult life. However, the baptism was performed in a Catholic Church by a deacon when she was 7, and she has what we presume to be a valid baptismal certificate. Her question is whether her baptism was valid and/or licit, given that she was technically at the "age of reason" when she was baptized, if her parents made her believe things about the church that weren't true. Does an improper catechesis invalidate a baptism? If so, should she be baptized "again" when she is confirmed at the Easter Vigil?

Thanks!

Mike

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mike,

If she was baptized in the Catholic Church by a deacon, it was certainly a valid baptism. She could not be re-bapized.

Hopefully her faith formation, through the RCIA, can remove any errors she might have picked up earlier.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 7, we received this question:

Fathers,

Are there any rules that need to be followed when a Catholic man and a non-Catholic woman are having their child baptized? The man did not obtain a traditional annulment for his first marriage to a Catholic woman (they were married in a Catholic church). The man did receive what he refers to as a "Internal Forum Annulment" and the priest even performed a "wedding ceremony" (exchange rings, kiss the bride) in the presence of the young daughter from this man's first, non-annulled, Catholic marriage. The woman from the first marriage claims she has been told by the local Archdiocese that they do not recognize the second marriage. The man also had a civil ceremony for the second marriage. Should the baptism ceremony for the child from the second marriage be discrete if the young child from the first marriage is present? Would it be inappropriate to have the baptism at the church where the young child from the first marriage is about to take their First Communion? Would it be inappropriate to do the baptism on the same day as the First Communion ceremony for the young child from the first marriage? Should the baptism be performed at a church other than the church the young child attends with their classmates (Catholic school)?

Thanks,

K

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear K,

You present some things which turn out to be somewhat complex and have to be worked out with your own parish priest. However, I shall attempt to put things into context.

For a licit (lawful) Baptism of a child in the Catholic Church, there should be a real hope that the child will be reared in the “practice of the Faith.” That is why there is an expectation that parents and godparents attend Baptism preparation classes in order to give the parish community a “hope” that this will happen. Everybody usually states that this is what they have in mind. So the Church receives the child into the community of Church through Baptism. Since disciples of Jesus are supposed to be “light” in the world (Chapter 5 in the Gospel of Matthew), the community and the world watch to see how the parents fulfill their promises.

Much too frequently the opposite happens. The community does not see them again till “First Communion.” Then they disappear again. Maybe there is Confirmation – with the same results. And so on.

How this is “practice of the Faith” remains a mystery for the pastoral ministers [priests and lay people] and the universal Church.

Where parents do not have a relationship to the parish community and do not plan to have any, then Baptism in the kitchen sink is just as valid as in a church ceremony and as far as the family is concerned a more logical thing to do.

The Catholic Church understands that the most important thing it does in this world is celebrate Eucharist. It is from this liturgical act that everything else flows. Unless this is an integral part of the Catholic person’s life, then who is fooling whom?

These are the things about which any dialog regarding Baptism and First Communion and mutual knowledge and formal nullity of marriage issues should be based upon. So consulting with your own parish priest has to be the first step.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 30, 2011, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am agonizing over this situation:

I have been a practicing Catholic all my life. My son was married in the United Church but chose not to obtain the appropriate dispensation before his marriage. He is not a practicing Catholic. My granddaughter, his child, is due in a few months. I know he will come to me and ask me for my blessing when he baptizes his daughter in the United Church. What can I say and can I attend her baptism in the United Church.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Paula,

I sympathize with you and promise my prayers for your granddaughter and your family.

Unfortunately the rejection of his Catholic faith is all too common in our world today.

You can't stop loving him and praying for his peace with God.

You may be present at the event, as long as you take no part in the ceremony.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a practicing Catholic who is married to an atheist man. We were not married in the Catholic church due to his beliefs. I am currently expecting and would like to Baptize my daughter when the time comes. Would this be possible? It sounds as if we would need to undergo some sort of sacrament of marriage in the Catholic church, but if this is not an option, is there no other way to allow my daughter to be raised Catholic?

Thank you,

Andrea Pingitore

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Andrea,

One does not have to be Catholic to be married in the Church to a Catholic person. My grandmother married my non-catholic, not baptized grandfather in the Church. My mother married my non-Catholic father in the Church. So I do not understand that your husband, father of the child on the way, would expect you to disregard your practice of your Faith by making you marry him without the blessings of your Church.

And on that note, for good reasons, your Bishop could have made exception for you to get married in a place or circumstance other than a parish church, if you had requested it. Perhaps that would have led to dialogue and discernment with regard to your marriage commitment and promises.

Nevertheless, it is not infrequent that a Catholic person may be in a similar situation as you are.

For the Baptism of a child, there are a couple of things to consider. It would not be normal practice to baptize a baby without the consent of both parents. Is your husband expressing any thoughts in this regard? Another thing would be the real possibility of bringing up the child in the practice of the Faith. Church law states that without that hope, it is not lawful to baptize. Oh, any Baptism, done with water and the correct formula, would be valid [even done by a layperson in the kitchen sink]. I exaggerate, of course, but it is true.

Prior to a formal Church Baptism, the parents and godparents are expected to attend a Baptism preparation class, usually in their own parish. And the specific qualification of godparents is that they be baptized and confirmed Catholics, and, if married, to be married in the Church.

Blessings and peace in this new year! Love the little one growing within you; God our Father and Creator does!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello,

My question is, if my husband and I were not married in a Catholic Church, but

were raised Catholic, can we baptize our daughter in the Catholic Church?

Mariah

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mariah,

You can have your daughter baptized. Hopefuly you will follow Catholic practices as to Mass especially, and confession and comunion when your daughter reaces the proper age.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


We are planning to have our 4 year-old twin sons baptized very soon. Their older brother (now 7) was baptized as an infant.

I'm concerned that my older son will feel very excluded during the baptism ceremony. (The only ones present will be my husband & myself and the godparents). Is there any way that our older child can participate in the ceremony, eg perhaps by receiving a special blessing from the priest at the same time?

I love our parish priests and feel very comfortable talking about this with them - I just thought I'd ask beforehand and see what the protocol is.

Thanks for your help.

Elizabeth

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Elizabeth,

There is no reason your seven year old can not receive a blessing at the ceremony. It's a good time to remind him of his baptism..

It's also a good time for your own renewal of faith. You have waited too long for the twins' baptism.

That you have a good relationship with your priests is a good sign and should help strengthen your faith.

With my blessings,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 5, 2010, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

In our Parish the the custom is to baptize the infant by immersion. Our former pastors always held the infant during the immersion and recited the words of Baptism. Our new Pastor however allows the infant's father to immerse the child while the Pastor recites the words. I think it is beautiful and meaningful to have the father assist in this way, but shouldn't the Pastor also touch the infant as he recites the words. I am just curious because he says "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" yet he is not touching the infant nor even the water as he speaks.

Thank you for considering this question and May God Bless You

Kathleen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kathleen,

The one who baptizes by sprinkling does not ordinarily touch the child (or the water). The pastor would not have to touch the child to baptize him or her by immersion, much as it might add to the signifance of the ceremony.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On November 30, 2010, we received this question:

Fathers,

I would like to know if my sister who was raised Catholic and received all of the Sacrements but married in a Methodist Church could be the Godmother of my child.

Sharon

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Sharon,

"A Catholic who does not practice the faith by regularly attending Mass or who is in an invalid marriage disqualifies himself or herself from being a godparent. Parents need to find good practicing Catholics for godparents. Sadly, this task can be very difficult in today's world. The best place is to look for relatives, even grandparents, who have a blood relationship with the godchild and have kept the faith over the years. Good friends are also appropriate, but sometimes friendships wane, leaving the godchild without an active godparent. Godparents should be faithful individuals who are ready to accept the responsibility of being a part of a godchild's life for the rest of his life."

Saunders, Rev. William. "The Role of Godparents."

Fr. John Malloy


On November 15, we received this question:

Hello Fathers,

I'm a non-practicing catholic. I was born and raised in the Catholic church, and received my baptism and communion. However, I have not completed my confirmation. My sister has asked me to be a godparent to her three children. Although I'm extremely happy and excited, Since I have not practiced the Catholic faith in years .I occasionally go to a christian apostolic non-denominational church but am not a member of that church. My questions for you are:

1. Can i be a godparent even though I'm not a practicing catholic?

2. If not, what route would you suggest me taking, in order to become a godparent?

3.Is there a Class/Certificate i can obtain? Are they available online?

Thank you, your help is greatly appreciated,

Eileen

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Eileen,

What a compliment to you that your sister asks you to be godparent for her children!

Of course, this brings up several things, for which you have inquired about through the question section on our parish website.

First, I give you a technical response from the Code of Church Law. A sponsor for Baptism [a godparent] must be a baptized and confirmed practicing Catholic, and, if married, should be married in Church with the Sacrament of Marriage.

After this technical answer, I approach the context and reflect upon the situation of your self and your family. First of all for yourself. Perhaps this invitation is the Holy Spirit nudging you in respect to your own Faith and its practice. Jesus insists in the Gospel that the one who simply calls out, “Lord,” does not enter heaven, but the one who actually carries out the expectations of God during life’s journey.

Jesus invites us to be his friend and disciple, but says “You are my friends when you do what I ask you.” And then he proclaims his command to love one another as he loves us.

Jesus concludes his instructions to the Apostles in the last line of the Gospel of Matthew: “I am with you always till the end of time.”

So I am challenged by Jesus to make a decision: “Anyone who is not with Me, is against Me.” [Matthew Chap 12, verse 30]

When we make a decision for Jesus, then we take steps to become one with him in the community of his chosen disciples, the Church. This means for you to prepare for and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, the seal of the Spirit, God’s faithfulness to us on our journey. Most parishes have introduction to the Faith programs in one way or another. You need to go to the local parish and find out in the area you live.

In reading in your letter that there are three children for you as godmother. I have to conclude that your sister is on her faith journey also, since each one was not baptized as they came along. So it is a renewal of faith for all of you. What a blessing and response to God ‘s grace!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 6, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

My husband and I want to officially convert to Catholicism. We have been together for over 5 years and have 2 sons, one age 3 and one 9 months. The reason I am questioning whether we will be allowed to convert is the fact that our first son was born out of wedlock and we were married in the Lutheran Church. Would this prevent us from being allowed to convert and have our children baptized as Catholics?

Thanks so much for your concern,

Ashley

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ashley,

No. It would not prevent us from being allowed to convert and have your children baptized as Catholics.

I suggest you call a local Catholic Church and ask about the RCIA program (Christian Initiation of Adults).

May God guide you as you seek the truth.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

I got married in a catolic church in Mexico i never signed any forms or an of the requirement necessary. I wanted to get an annulment but i wanted to know if my marriage was valid in the first place or even if it is register at church. How can i know or get documents/marriage license when all the violents in Mexico is happening? Or how can I contact? Is there a way i can get a copy or information online or website?

Mina

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Minu,

Churches are still functioning in Mexico and it should be too difficult to get information as to the status of your marriage there.

You can always write to the Bishop of the diocese where the church is situated, if you get no response from the parish.

If you know the church and the diocese where the ceremony took place, you can try to find a website by checking the name on the internet.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 22, we received this question:

Father,

My husband and I want to baptize our daughter. I have a few questions:

1. Does my husband need to do his first communion in order to have our daughter baptized?

2. Do we need to have a godmother? And a godfather?

3. Do the godparents need to be catholic?

4. Do the godparents need to be baptized in a catholic church?

5. What is the godparents live outside California?

6. What preparation do the godparents need in order to be godparents?

7. What fees are involved with the baptism?

8. My husband and I were planning on having our wedding at St. Peter and Paul, but due to financial problems at the time, we decided to postpone this. We only got married at City Hall and we’ve been happily married for 7 years.

9. Anything else that I need to know?

Paulina

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Paulina,

I shall answer your questions in order, then add some other things.

1. No, technically he does not have to have received Communion in order to be a father of a baptized child.

2. A child need have only one godparent, either a man [godfather] or a woman [godmother]. If there are two, there should be a man and a woman.

3. Yes, godparents are to be Catholic. If one is baptized, but not Catholic, that one is technically a Christian witness.

4. Godparents are to be practicing Catholics, having been baptized, received Communion, and received the Sacrament of Confirmation. If married, should be married in the Catholic Church.

5. If godparents live in another State or a far away part of one’s own State, they should attend a Baptism preparation class, and send a certificate of attendance to you for presentation at your parish. If they cannot attend, a proxy may stand in for them, but their name will appear on the child’s Baptism record and certificate.

6. As in #5 above, godparents should attend a Baptism class, possibly with the parents, who also need to attend a preparation class.

7. Some parishes have an established fee, many simply accept a donation from the family, if they give one.

8. You touch on a very important thing. The technical thing in Church Law is that a child have the real possibility of growing in the practice of the Faith. In fact, this is why there are Baptism preparation classes – in order to build up a hope that this indeed will be true for a child. In the ceremony parents promise to bring their child up in the practice of the Faith – two times in the ceremony. The Church only finds out the real intentions of the parents with what happens afterward.

So, continuing from here, we approach #9: other things.

It seems that it would be quite difficult to promise to bring a child up in the practice of Faith when the parents are not practicing the Faith. In that case a child would essentially be in a worse position than not being baptized.

So the parents should be examining their life in this regard. One very important thing is participation at Sunday Eucharist. The Church believes that Eucharist is the single most important thing it does in the world. In fact everything of Christian life leads to and flows from the Eucharist [Mass]. Without that nothing else really makes sense.

Whether because of circumstances we can receive Communion or not, makes no difference. The expectation of Sunday Mass still holds. [Note: the best place to nurse infants is the front row.]

I wrote “circumstances” in the previous paragraph. This is particularly yours at the moment. Baptized persons are only truly married when they celebrate their Sacrament in the Church. Without that, there is simply no marriage yet. I’m sure parishes take into account when a couple cannot give a full fee to the parish. Couples should marry in the Sacrament without any fanfare, then 10 or more years later celebrate with a big party with family and friends.

For couples who find themselves in situations such as yours, they should approach their parish priest and begin the process of gathering documents, filling out forms, etc. in order to get married in the Church.

Without this in the real planned future, a parish could legitimately ask, “How can you promise to bring your child up in the practice of Faith, if you yourself do not plan to do it?”

This brings us back to question #1: The father’s plan to prepare for and receive Communion, is certainly within the realm of “practice of the Faith.”

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 17, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am having my 3rd child Baptised in January.

The form asks that one of the given name be one of a saint. For my other 2 children I gave their two first names (as on their birth certificate) And then added a third given name being the one of a saint e.g. Will Kirk Anthony. I wish my third childs 'saint' name to Mary (due the canonisation of Mary Mackillop...I am from Australia!).

My question is I have only just wondered if this is ok? That is that the Baptism certifcate has an extra name to the actual Birth certificate. Is this a problem?

Thanks for your help

Erica

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Erica,

It is a common practice in many places that a Baptismal name different from the given names on a birth certificate may appear on a Baptism certificate.

It is wonderful that you remember the first Australian canonized Saint in your family.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 7, we received these questions:

First Question

My wife was raised Baptist and I was raised Catholic. We were married in a Presbyterian church by a Baptist minister (who happened to be my wife's step father). When our daughter was born, we decided to have her baptized as a Catholic and raise her in the Catholic tradition. At that time, we were told by my mother that we needed to be re-married in a Catholic church in order to have our child baptized as a Catholic. We went through the process of getting re-married in the Catholic church (which did not go over well with my mother-in-law and her second husband the minister) and attended a baptism class before the actual baptism ceremony. Recently, my wife's friend (who works in the administrative office of our local church and attends church more religiously then us) told my wife that we were duped and that we didn't need to get re-married in order to baptize our children as Catholics? Did my Mom trick us into getting re-married for no reason at all, or can the child of a Catholic and a Baptist who were not married in a Catholic ceremony get baptized as a Catholic?

Second Question

I know a Catholic man who got married and divorced, but never got the marriage annulled.

Several year later, he got married to a Catholic woman (his second marriage, her first marriage) in a civil service ceremony at a courthouse? Does the church recognize their marriage as valid?Can their children be baptized as Catholics with obtaining an annulment of his first marriage and being re-married in a Catholic ceremony?

I look forward to your answers

Brian

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Brian,

First Question:

Your first wedding, though civilly legal, was not acknowledged by the CatholicChurch as valid, since you were a Catholic.

With such a union, most Catholic parishes would not allow baptism of the offspring. After all what example could a Catholic give to a child when he/she cannot receive the sacraments? Legally you might find it admissible to baptize a child in the circumstances you have given, but certainly it is not advisable. Your obligation is to uphold and practice Catholic teaching and witness to your child.

Second Question:

The Church does not recognize the first or second marriage. A valid Catholic ceremony would remedy the situation of the child's baptism.

Baptism and annulment do not go hand in hand. Eventual baptism would depend on the will of the child.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello,

My daughter is 17 and is due to have a baby boy any day. We are practising Roman Catholics and she very much wants the baby baptized in our church. Her boyfriend is Russian Orthodox. He wants the baby baptized in the Russian Orthodox church. We live in Vancouver BC Canada...not sure if that makes a difference.

Anyway I am wondering if they baby can be baptized in both. He is going to be raised Catholic, I am thinking her boyfriend and family want the Russian baptism as more of a tradition than anything else. What is the churches view in this matter?

Thanks so much for you time,

Michelle

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Michelle,

God loves little babies! Notwithstanding less than ideal circumstances, nevertheless God loves little babies! And so must we.

The important thing for the Church [that is, all of us disciples of Jesus] is that a baptized child have the opportunity to grow in the practice of the Faith. Without that hope, it is not licit [though valid] to baptize.

Regarding Catholic doctrine, there is only ONE Baptism. The Church recognizes valid Baptism in most Christian churches. Regarding the relationship between the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Churches, you must consult with your own parish priest in your own diocese. Perhaps permission to Baptize in an Orthodox Church could be given. I do not know. What I do know is this: there are not to be two Baptisms, only one.

Go step by step in faith. Time will tell under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whether the parents are to be one family or not.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On September 10, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I was brought up catholic and have received all of my sacraments up to being married in the catholic church. My husband was brought up Lutheran. Once we had our children and they were ready for school we decided to put them in a Lutheran school because we liked what they had to offer and figured it is still Christian. My two kids were baptized in the catholic church but they have both made their first holy communion in the Lutheran Church . So I guess at this point they are being brought up Luteran. My dilemma is: I have not attended the Catholic Church in some time and want to be a Godparent to my sisters baby along with my husband. Her church told me I was considered a fallen Catholic and therefore they would assign her Godparents. This is out of the question so I then thought over my absence from Church and decided this was Gods way of calling me back. I went and registered at another Church but now I am scared that they are still not going to allow me to baptize my nephew. I have been a registered member at the church that I went to occasionally and I am preparing to take the class. Can her church turn me down because the rest of my family practices at the Lutheran Church ???? Please help we are desperate and the baby is already 8 months old. We are of Mexican/Irish descent this is a priority.

Vanessa

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Vanessa,

Your letter brings up several things. Your first parish gave you a push [“God’s way of calling me back” –in your words].

You state that you have registered in a parish and are ready for the Baptism preparation class. This is a wonderful start. I doubt that there will be any further obstacles.

There is more than that in the long run.

Do you remember the form and the promise that you made and signed in order to get the OK to marry a non-Catholic in the Church? By that formality you promised to practice your Catholic Faith and to raise your children in the Catholic Faith. Sending your children to a Lutheran school, in itself, does not imply non-practice of the Catholic Faith. But not sending your children to the parish Catholic religious formation program and thus to prepare for the Catholic Sacraments would seem to indicate some confusion.

Certainly there can be confusion in your children, having made their Communion in the Lutheran Church. We Catholics believe that the reality of the Sacraments [except Baptism] is not the same between Catholics and Protestants. So, as you renew your own practice of the Faith, your children should also prepare for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Communion and Confirmation in the Catholic Church. This is what is ahead of you.

What a wonderful blessing of your sister inviting you to be your nephew’s godmother!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello Father,

I have a question about Baptism and Being a Godparent: My question is I was recently asked to be Godmother to my cousins little boy I am a practicing Catholic who was Baptized and Confirmed. Five years ago I got married thru the courthouse by a judge and court witnesses and 10 months later got divorced. My question is can I still be the Godmother in the Catholic Church?

Peace and Love

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Michelle,

You are now a practicing Catholic with conditions fulfilled for being a Godparent.

Yes, you may be Godmother.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 20, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am Roman Catholic and my husband is Greek Orthodox. We were married in the United church as we wanted to respect eachother's faith and equally upset our families as we couldn't choose. Now we have been blessed with twin girls and have been struggling on which baptism to proceed with and our families have not been taking either decision well, our religions are very similar and what we believe at the core is the same and we continue to struggle with the decision.

I have been thinking of proceeding with baptism in the Greek Orthodox church in order to have the children baptized and my husband and I have agreed to raise and have the girls go to Catholic school - as education is very important to us and we want them to have the best opportunities. If we were to baptize our girls in the orthodox church will the catholic church recognize these sacraments or would we have to proceedwith a Catholic baptism afterwards? A lot of this is to please our families, but at the core our children will attend catholic church and schools. We're very confused and unable to please our families and our beliefs are the same so we don't understand why everyone is so upset with us.

Karen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Karen,

Your marriage is not recognized by the Catholic Church. I believe It would also not be recognized by the Orthodox. This might make baptism in either church difficult.

You would have to see the local pastors of the church in which you would prefer the ceremony be performed.

Orthodox baptism is considered sacramental.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 15, we received this questions:

Dear Father,

Hello Father, My bestest friends want me to become a godmother, but I am not catholic. So what can I do instead of taken classes because I go school too. Please help if you can. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Sophary

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Sophary,

Sophray,

Non-Catholics cannot be godparents at a Catholic baptism.

You could be an honorary godmother, provided a Catholic godmother is present.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 20, we received this question:

As a devoted Catholic since childhood I have to ask this question regarding the schedule baptism of my grandson. My daughter-in-law has picked up, without my son knowledge, her brother and living-in companion girlfriend (they are non-devoted Catholics and living in sin together for at least 7 years) to be the godparents.

My son opposed this choicefor moral issues being himself very Catholic and this issue is beginning to create some family problems. My wife is completely upset also about our daughter- in- law’s choice for the same reason. My wife told me that she will talk to the parish about this issue and I told her that is better not to get involved. She will not attend the baptism ceremony.

Since the baby was born 3 months these individuals have come to visit the baby only once. My son asked his wife to change his mind but she refused. I see a lot of problems coming up. And we are praying….very hard. Yes…I’m from New York…your page was the first one to come up in the screen when I typed the question. So the question is..Will the Catholic Church, if knowing that the godparents are living in sin for years, will ok the baptism? God bless,

Juan

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Juan,

The Church should not knowingly allow the couple to be godparents.

I suggest that you encourage your wife to speak to the priest who will confer baptism, or to the pastor.

Ordinarily god parents are asked to attend a class and to profess their agreement with the teachings of the Church.

In any event the baptism would be valid.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 4, we received these questions:

My fiancé was baptized in St. Theresa in Paterson, New Jersey. The church now can't find any record of her baptism. So out parish now in Florida won't let us get married. What can we do to obtain her baptism if the church refuses to give it us?

Kelvin

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kelvin,

If she still have godparents alive, have them testify to the baptism. If there are other witnesses to the baptism have them offer testimony. Take that to St. Theresa to prove they failed to register the baptism. They should give your fiancé a certificate.

If that doesn't work, call the Bishop's office, and ask for advice. If worst came to worst, conditional baptism could be offered.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 25, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

My husband and I wish to have our 3 year old son baptized in your church. We have been married for 14 years but have yet to be blessed in the catholic church. Both of us have been baptized as infants, have received our first communion during elementary/middle school and both of us have been confirmed. I was browsing through the FAQs questions on the 'baptism' page and came across a question from another person who asked a similar question with regard to her and her husband not married in the catholic church. The response was that the baptism was possible but unlikely since they would have to be married in the catholic church to proceed to have their child baptized. Please confirm that this is correct. I am asking since we have 3 other sons, all baptized in the catholic church and the catholic church they were all baptized at did not question my husband & my marriage. If my husband and I indeed have to be blessed by the catholic church prior to having our son baptized, how do we go about having this done? Does the church have any type of ceremony or blessing for couples who are already married, just not through the eyes of god? I also viewed the 'wedding' inquiry and realized there is a 6 month wait. Would this be the ceremony we would have to complete or as I mentioned before, is there another type of blessing for couples who had a civil marriage ceremony? Thank you fathers in advance.

Lyza

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Lyza,

Your inquiry brings several things to mind to be able to respond to you. I shall try to put things into context.

According to Canon [Church] Law, it is not licit to baptize a child unless there is “founded hope” that the child will be reared in the practice of the Faith. Parents and godparents are reminded in the ceremony of Baptism of this great responsibility of practice of the Faith. It is quite difficult, obviously, when parents are not practicing the Faith themselves.

The Catholic Church believes that the true marriage of baptized persons is a Sacrament. That is: Sacramental Marriage is a sign of God’s presence in the life of the couple – for the world. So much so, that unless it is a Sacrament, authentic marriage simply does not happen. As confirmed Catholics, both of you should know this. If not, it is spelled out right here. So, regarding your older children, the parish(es) where it had been done hoped that this step toward the Marriage Sacrament would take place within an appropriate time. Thus far, that has not happened. It would be dereliction of duty toward the community of disciples (the Church) to not present this to parents now for a fourth child while the parents are not completing their own Sacramental duties.

If there are difficulties with this, your local parish priest would help to overcome them. You have already waited three years to think about initiation into the Church for your youngest child. The preparation time for Sacramental Marriage is not so much longer. But it would show sincerity and determination regarding your own practice of faith, besides being a wonderful example for your older children as they understand why they are enrolled and attend religious education classes in the parish.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi Fathers,

I am a Jewish (non-practicing) woman who is divorced from a Catholic (also non-practicing) man...When we were married agreed to have our children raised in his religion...so my 1st daughter was baptised...Now we are divorced and he wants to baptise our son...I am against it...His reasoning is that he would not be able to get married in a Catholic Church! Well, he's 11, and I figure he has plenty of time....Can I stop him from Baptising him?

Thanks...Sue

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Sue,

There are several things your letter brings to mind. One thing is practice of Faith. It is only licit to baptize a person when there is “founded hope” that the person will be reared in the practice of the Faith. When that hope is unfounded, there is no rationale for baptizing anyone.

Also when a person is already going to school, then he should attend religious faith classes so that he himself prepares for the Sacraments of Initiation in the Church.

It seems you are the main custodial parent. No parish priest would baptize an older child who has not been attending classes and whose parent does not wish it.

Regarding getting married later on in a Catholic church: marriages between a baptized Catholic and an unbaptized person are a regular occurrence in the Church.

The main thing for you as a sincere mother is to form your son and daughter with authentic human values and virtues. Your daughter has been baptized. By now she is her own person! Has she had the opportunity to grow in her Faith? Would she be interested? She can herself seek out a nearby Catholic parish and make inquiries, as also her brother if he wants to.

Blessings and peace for your wonderful journey as mother of two children!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 18, we received this question:

Fathers:

My nephew is Catholic and his wife is Baptist. He would like to have their baby baptized in the Catholic church and his wife is OK with that as long as she doesn’t have to commit to raising the baby Catholic. She has no problem committing to raising the baby Christian or to attending Catholic services with the baby and her husband.

Does one have to commit to raising a baby Catholic to have it baptized in a Catholic church?

Sherry

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Sherry,

The one committing himelf to raise the baby as Catholic is the father.As long has he is willing to follow through, there is no raeason not to baptize the baby in the Catholic Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 15, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I have a son that is 7 years old and has never been baptized. I am Lutheran and my husband is Catholic. I plan on having him baptized in my church. My question is...the godparents I am choosing for him may not be able to be present for the baptism. Do they have to be? Can just my husband and I be with him?

Thank you

Jennifer

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Jennifer,

God parents are important examples of faith for a young person. As long as they accept and understand their roles [usually attending pre-Baptism classes], they may have a proxy ( “stand-in”) or two at the celebration.

Your letter left me questioning a few things. You mention that you have a Lutheran background and that you planned to have the Baptism in “my” church. Would that be your local Lutheran parish?

This brings up further questions. Your husband is Catholic. Were you married in the Catholic Church? If not, he is currently not within the ordinary framework Catholic Church life. If he is not interested in living as a practicing Catholic and you are looking forward to Baptism in the Lutheran communion, I wonder why you have asked a Catholic parish about godparents’ presence.

If, instead, you have been married in the Catholic Church and your husband is practicing his faith, then he took a promise before marriage that he would do his best to rear any children in the Catholic faith. For a school age child (technical church terms: “of the age of reason” of “of catechetical age”), this means participating in religious faith classes in the local Catholic parish. Thus the child himself is learning about Jesus and His Church, so that he knows, understands, and really wants to receive the Sacraments according to his level of maturity with the living example of his family supporting him. Then the local parish priest and his team would be involved in doing this groundwork and then receiving the child into the community of Church.

In your love and care for your son, you set the example of prayer and faith for him. I remember my mom teaching me to pray at a very young age. She took my brother and me to Church Sunday by Sunday all through our childhood and adolescent years.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 1, we received this question:

Hello,

We are organizing a baptism for my son and have asked my brother (catholic) to be the Godfather and my sister-in-law (noncatholic) to be an "honorary" Godparent. However, only recently did I become aware that she has not been christened. Can she still be an "honorary" Godparent?

Cara

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Cara,

Only one godparent is required. "Honorary" can be anyone.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 27, we received this question:

Hello Father,

I am looking to Baptise my 9mo old daughter this July. Our Issue is that her Father and I are not married. We would like to one day but have not done so even though we have been engaged for some time.

I would like her God parents to be 2 women 1 of othem which is married by Civil Court and the other woman is single. Is this allowed? and where would this leave her husband? will he have to stand up in the ceremony also? if so I have no problem with this.

The 2 woman are my sister and my fiancees sister. It is very importmnat for us for them to be our child's God parents.

Thank you for your guidance

Martha

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Martha,

It would be better to straighten out your marriage before baptizing your children. Your local parish priest could help you.

The idea of a parent, sponsor or godparent is so that a baptized person have an example of faith in practice to model in life. Thus a Catholic parent or godparent is to have received Confirmation and, if married, to be married with the Sacrament. Two persons of the same sex are not allowed as godparents.

A Christian witness is one who follows and lives Christ though not in the Catholic community of faith. A non-practicing Catholic does not qualify on both counts.

The husband named would have no part in the ceremony, other than attendee.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Good Evening Father:

I am a cradle-cap Catholic, baptized, communion and confirmed and practicing Catholic individual. I married my husband in Oct. 1972, who was baptized at age 13 as Methodist, we were married in a Catholic Church with all the acceptances, etc. but at that time he nor I wanted to convert. We had both of our children baptized Catholic. My husband has always attended the Catholic Mass with me but not the Communion portion. He has now decided after almost 38 years of marriage, to convert to Catholic, the church is overwhelmed but neither I, his Mom and the church he was baptized in approx. 1965 can locate his Baptism Certificate or a copy because the church burned down, the Pastor has since passed away along with all of the Records. Today I called the Church we were married at in NY to see if they have something that stated he was Methodist when we came for our Marriage classes but they have nothing on his Baptism for info for the Marriage Certificate. Can the Priest in FL accept that {we have Parish signed Marriage License, etc} just not the Baptism Certificate? He is starting RCIA classes this Wednesday evening. I’ve exhausted everything! Thank you in advance.

Regards,

Joyce & Ron

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Joyce & Ron,

Congratulations on RCIA. Speak to your pastor about the possibility of conditional baptism.

I see no problem. You have a Catholic marriage license. If necessary one can be baptized conditionally.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On April 15, we received these questions:

My granddaughter is five years old and has never been baptized. Both my daughter and her husband have bee raised Catholic. Only go to church on the Holidays. I live out of state and I am a Luthern. Is there anyway I can get my Granddaughter baptized when I am down there. My daughters biggest excuse is she just doesn't have anyone to be god parents and her husband will not take part. How can I help get this done? Thank you for your time I feel that she keeps getting older and older and don't know if it will ever be done. My other granddaughter who is now 20 never received . baptism and communion or confirmation , we have talked and she is going to go to classes at night. I don't want the same thing to happen to this Granddaughter, I am very upset over this.

Thank you.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Albina,

It is wonderful that you have such love and care for your grandchildren. However, the first responsibility for their formation in the practice of the Faith lies with their parents. Grandparents support them with example and prayer.

In fact, Church [or Canon] Law states that a child may be licitly baptized when there is a “founded hope” that they will be reared in the practice of the faith. When there is lack of true hope for this to happen, then baptizing an infant puts a person at greater risk of growing up without any knowledge and love of God and the community of believing disciples.

Sometimes in the life of older family relatives, their life and prayers become a wholesome background for the next generations. In Church history we remember the prayers and sacrifices of St. Monica for her son who became St. Augustine. Augustine finally gave in to the Holy Spirit at the age of 33! So give thanks and praise to God for your older granddaughter who is responding at age 20. What glories the Lord works for those who love Him!

However, this is not automatic. It frequently happens that in this earthly life, there may be no response. I give the example of my oldest uncle [a lovely story, not enough space here] who at the end of his life during his first heart attack, simply stated with regard to religion, “I’m nothing!”

Keep your family in prayer. Love them where they are at. Give praise to God for each of them. Allow the Holy Spirit to act without any shackles you have in place. Then if there is response, it will be wholly and fully a response to Jesus, the Father and the Spirit, no strings attached.

Blessings and peace at Easter!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 22, we received this question:

If you want your child baptized catholic, who can be the godparents if you don't know any catholics?

Heidi

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Heidi,

If you are not going to Mass why would you want your baby baptized in the Catholic Church?

However, if you find a parish that will baptize your child, the pastor himself can supply the God parent.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB

Follow-up:

Thanks for getting back. Can the grandparents be godparents? I know it is not traditional, but i believe the new canon allows this.

Heidi

Fr. Malloy responds:

Yes, if they are practicing Catholics.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 1, we received these questions:

Hello,

We've got two Godparents for my 10 year old daughter who are a huge disappointment.Couldn't bother to even attend her 1st communion.

Is there a way to replace them with better, more involved and interested parties?

K

Fr. Harod Danielson responds:

Dear Katia,

Some months go there was a similar question. My response:

"It is not possible to remove a child's Godparent from a historical record [the Baptism register]. If the Godparent is not properly fulfilling his or her role, the best thing to do is to introduce a person into the child's life who will be a proper Christian role model. Then, when the time comes for the child to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, that person may be the Confirmation sponsor."

I think this is a timely response to your current dilemma. Of course, all of this assumes the consistent practice of the Faith in your family as the best example for your daughter.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


My baptism certificate from 1964 has been damaged (drink fell on it.) My main problem is that I was baptized in a hospital (emergency baptism) and the hospital didn’t keep records of baptisms and no church has a record of the baptism. Can I go to a priest and ask him to re-print one just from the one I have?

Fr. Harod Danielson responds:

Dear Marianne,

You can make a copy of your certificate yourself. Preserve the original as best you can.

Usually when a priest does an emergency Baptism in a hospital he will record it in the parish he lives at. If this had not been done, then you should take it to your own parish to have them make a record of it. For this opinion, please contact the diocesan Tribunal where you live and ask what and how this should be done. I do not know if I gave the best technical advice.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


What happens if your Childs Godparents are no longer around. Can you appoint another person as Godparent without going through another baptism? And if so how?

SJ

Fr. John Malloy responds:

SJ,

You can always ask someone, who is worthy, to take the place of deceased godparent(s).

However, Baptism once given can never be repeated--it lasts forever.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

I am Catholic and my wife is Methodist. We are expecting the birth of our baby girl in a couple weeks. We have gone back and forth on which religion we should baptize our daughter through. Of course, my mother who is Catholic feels strongly she be baptized catholic. I understand this our decision and shouldn’t be influenced by another. Here is where we run into some issues.

We have chosen the godparents as her sister (Methodist) and my friend (Catholic). My understanding is, if we baptize our daughter in the Catholic Church, her sister could be a “witness” but would not be recognized as a godparent. I understand we do only need one godparent. I also understand that if we are baptizing a child in the Catholic Church we are going to raise her Catholic. I understand it might be a contradiction to have a Protestant Godparent for a Catholic, but she is a strong and practicing Christian. Would she be in fact, only considered a witness?

I guess in some ways I am answering my own question, but I feel a confirmation of what I believe I understand can help with our decision. I am also in need of some guidance in how to make my mother understand. I have explained to her in so many ways and she is still pretty consistent. Again, I understand this is our decision to make, but sometimes that is easier said than done. I wish she understood as much as she has her reasons to want her to be Catholic, my wife’s mother would have the same wants for her to be Methodist. I thought the most important thing would be baptizing her as a Christian and bringing her up with knowledge of her faith.

Shaun

Fr. Malloy answers:

Shaun,

Rules and regulations you seem to know thoroughly.

However, I don' think a Catholic parish would allow you a Catholic baptism. At least one parent would have to be a practicing Catholic.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 17, we received these questions:

Fathers:

My Husband and myself have been married for 14yrs and are expecting our 5th child in March. My Husband was Baptized Lutheran as was most of his family. He has since converted and we were married in the Catholic Church and all of our children were Baptized Catholic and attend Catholic school. I would like to ask my Brother to be this child's Godfather and have my 12yr old Daughter serve as a witness since she doesn't meet the age requirements to serve as a Godmother. She has been Baptized Catholic and received her first Holy Communion but has not been Confirmed yet. Is there a age requirement for a witness? I haven't been able to find any of that information. We feel she would be a better guide for our child than any adult that does not participate in the Catholic Faith.

Thank You

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Sheila,

Here's a brief outline, which you already seem to know.

Catholic. A non-Catholic godparent is acceptable only if you have a Catholic godparent as well.

Check whether or not the prospective godparent has received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. According to the Code of Canon Law, the godparent must have received these sacraments of initiation, and must also be a practicing Catholic who lives the life of faith.

Check whether or not your prospective godparent is over the age of 16. According to the CCL, only those sixteen years of age or older are eligible as baptismal sponsors. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the pastor.

An honorary witness or two is allowed but you still need a valid godparent. Your brother may be "honorary" as well as your 12 year old. She could well be the Confirmation sponsor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB

Hi Fathers

My son and his wife asked me to be godmother to their daughter---and yes, I meet all the requirements---but I am uncomfortable with my own beliefs. In my day--grandparents NEVER were Godparents------it just was not heard of----and I don't feel right about this----what does the Church say about this?

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Janet,

Requirement for godparent is fairly simple: Church law insists that a godparent be at least 16 years old (for maturity's sake), fully initiated (having received Confirmation and Eucharist), be someone other than the legal parents and one who leads a life in harmony with the Church. There is no prohibition against grandparents filling this role

Tradition has seemed to shy away from grandparents in this role. But is may be because of age difference. At the present time grandparents usually have a rather long time to be a Christian witness and instructor for a grandchild.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 13, we received these questions:

I have a question. I am about to go overseas and will like to baptize my nephews before I leave. My sister is a single parent and we have been having trouble baptizing these two boys. One is four and the other one is almost three. Due to the rules of the church this has not happened. Now they are saying that the boys cannot be baptized due to the fact that my sister has to get a notarized letter from the father, since his name is on the birth certificate. The father is not in the picture and furthermore he has caused great harm to the children and to contact him will cause further harm. How can we get these children baptized, please advise, thank you.

Anna

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Anna,

I do not understand why you need a note from the father. More important is that children will be raised Catholic.

I suggest you seek another opinion from another parish, or the Chancery Office of the diocese.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

My daughter-in-law, Linda, reports being raised as a Catholic. She advised my son Frank, that she wanted my daughter, Kim, to be the Godmother of their new son. Their first child, a daughter, was Christened and my daughter-in-law asked her sister and her husband to be the Godparents.

Now, my daughter-in-law announces that Kim can't be the Godmother because she is not a practicing Catholic. So, she advises Kim that the parish priest told her that ,"As long as there is a practicing Godparent, then Kim can be a Godparent as well. Now, that makes three people as acting Godparents and the male is Protestant.

You must understand that it would seem that Linda was sensitive to and wants to honor Catholicism.

However, Linda was married by a friend of her family, who is an Army Chaplain and the ceremony took place in a ballroom, of a hotel. Linda does not go to Mass and there is no outward evidence in her house that she is even Christian.

I was raised in a Catholic family and attended St. Mark's School for 8 years and another 4 years in Cardinal Cushing Central high school in the Boston area. As you know, I had religious catechism and bible classes daily and the nuns interwove Catholicism into any and all situations. However, I am not a 'practicing Catholic' nor are my two children. I guided them throughout their lives the very same way that I was guided by the loving sisters of Notre Dame. Not an excuse Father and I understand.

I'm seeking advice as to the proper way that I might be instrumental to my son and his wife to find a way for them to learn and understand the solid, unchanging rules of what makes a person "Catholic".

I am in no position to be advising anybody on these matters, nor would I try. So any suggestions that you may have for me will be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

Janice

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Janice,

Most parishes have a program called RCIA (Christian Initiation of Adults).

Its purpose is to instruct persons who are interested in converting to the Catholic faith or to help Catholics who are not practicing and would like to deepen their understanding of the faith. Check with the local parish.

Re God parents There are never three Godparents. After the God father and God mother is selected (or at least one of them) there may be "honorary God parents" who are Christian but not Catholic.

At least one of the God parents must be a practicing Catholic and able to support the god child in the knowledge and practice of the faith. The second God parent may be honorary.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 2, we received this question:

Hello Father my question is, My sister in-Law and her husband baptized my oldest daughter, and now they have a child and they want my wife and I to baptize there son. My mother and grandmother have told me this is not allowed in the catholic church because I can not baptize there child when they already baptized mine. Something line returning me the gift. thank you very much.

Larry

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Larry,

You have not used the exact language in asking your question. However, I think what you mean is that your in-laws are the sponsors [godparents] for your child. Now, they want you to be godparents to their child.

What a wonderful compliment to you! There is nothing in Church law to prevent this. In fact it strengthens the bond of your families with spiritual oneness in the Body of Christ, the Church, beyond the human relationship.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 28, we received these questions:

Hi Father

I was batized Luthern but my father who is a catholic always took me to mass I stopped going to mass when I was a teeneager but now I am endaged to a catholic and we both go to mass for times a week the problem is she is pregenent and we are not married she feels uncomfortable sometimes in church like she dosent belong there. Is she aloud to go? and my next Q is I was told I dont need to be batized catholic because I was already batized lutheren is this true? and can still be batized catholic if I still want too? and what do I need to do to go about this?

thank you Father.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Steven,

Your Lutheran baptism is probably valid and so would be accepted by the Catholic Church. However, you need to make a profession of Faith to be accepted as Catholic. That would usually take place after a series of instructions. The local Catholic church would be able to take care of that.

Your partner may well feel uncomfortable at mass, but that should not stop her from going. You need to straighten out your relationship and enter your parish RCIA course. Check it out with the pastor.

God's blessing on both of you!

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 21, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am a devout Catholic currently going through the annulment process from my first husband (also a Catholic). I am engaged to be married to a Lutheran who has been married two previous times to non-Catholics. Even after reading much on the Catholic Church's position on the need for annulment, he is resistant and does not agree with going through the process as the marriages weren't to Catholics or in any way affiliated with the Catholic Church. To my disappointment, my marriage to him will ever be recognized by the Catholic Church without him going through the process. (Correct?) However, I would still like to raise any children we have as Catholics. So my question is, if we get married in the Lutheran Church and have children, will I be able to have them baptized Catholic provided our marriage would not be recognized by the Catholic Church.

Thanks.

Laura

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Laura,

Non-Catholic marriages are recognized as true marriages by the Church and annulments are necessary before the Church would allow a second marriage .

Are you sure your marriage to a Lutheran would be peaceful--considering two failed marriages, and a union which would put you out of the Catholic Church ?

It would be very difficult to have children baptized as Catholics if the parents are non practicing. Some arrangement might be made if there are relatives who could see to the religious development of the children.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

Im a Catholic living here in the Phillipines. My sister in law just have thier second child. They are not married in Catholic but married only by judge. The problem is catholic wont allow to baptized their second child for the purpose of their not being married in catholic. I just want an explaination for this.

Thanks a lot

Tonet

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Tonet,

Two times in the ceremony of Baptism parents are reminded of their responsibility of training their children in the “practice of the Faith.” It is very difficult to accomplish this when they themselves are not practicing their Faith. Parents are encouraged to do something about their situation and practice of the Faith by postponing the Baptism of a second child until they are actually beginning something positive.

If they do not want to do this, then baptizing a child is really putting that child in a worse condition outside of the Church. In fact, the Canon [Church] law states that it is not licit to baptize unless there is a “founded” hope that the child will be raised in the practice of the Faith.

We can infer that at the Baptism of the first child, there was an effort to impress this responsibility upon the parents. If nothing was done in the meantime, then the parish community tries in another way – postpone Baptism until steps are being taken by the parents to truly fulfill their responsibilities.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 10, we received this question:

Good Morning Father,

I have a few questions regarding baptism.

I am a catholic, baptized and have received first communion as well as my fiance.

I have two children from a previous relationship and two more children with my fiance.

I would like to baptize all four children together, their ages range from 10 years to18 months.

We have since moved and we do not know of anyone else who is catholic to ask as as their godparents.

How do we baptize our children if we do not have any godparents for them?

Thank you for your time,

Camille

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Camille,

There a number of circumstances in your letter of inquiry. The best place to approach them is with your own parish priest where you live. All Catholics should be registered in a parish, either the parish of the area where they live or in a parish of their choosing. So you would need to make an appointment to see your parish priest.

In the meantime here are some considerations for your situation.

In respect to your children, those of “catechetical age” [that is already in school, able to learn things on their own] should be in religious education classes to prepare for the Sacraments. So, they should be in a parochial school or in the religious education program in the parish for children attending other schools. The teachers must know [in collaboration with the parents] that these children are preparing for Baptism and the other Sacraments.

In respect to all your children, parents have very special responsibilities to bring their children up in the “practice of the faith.” This is brought out very specifically and emphatically in the ceremony of Baptism. It is very important that the parents show by their good example what this “practice of the faith” means.

Some of the requisites for “practice of the faith” of parents include arranging for and celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage in their own lives. Perhaps that means looking into previous marriages to see if they were indeed invalid so that one can now enter into a Sacramental Marriage. All of this needs to be worked on with the parish priest.

Also, when one has registered and is participating in a parish community, that is where a practicing Catholic meets others who can then [with the advice of the parish priest] be invited to be godparents for children.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 20, we received this question:

Situation is I have two grandchildren Age 19 and one is 4 my daughter was raised Catholic she was married in a methodist church, she never had the children baptized. i have kept after her through the years. what can the oldest one do she would like to be baptized and receive communion they were attending a church of non denoninational. Is there anything I can do for the four year old?

Can we just have her baptized in a private ceremony by the priest and then put her into classes for communion at what age does that start? I have been so upset over this I don't know what to say or do anymore. Please give me some advice.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Albina,

Since the older granddaughter is of age, she is free to what she wants. Joining the RCIA of the local Catholic parish would be the easier way to go. RCIA has scheduled meetings that study the articles of faith of the Church and prepare one for the sacraments, if they have not been received.

If the mother has no objections, the four year old could be baptize,.The family (you and granddaughter) should give assurances that she would be taught the faith.

Local parishes would have classes for first communion, which begin before age seven.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On December 7, we received these questions:

Can you have Godparents removed as Godparents of a child?

Regards,

Kevin

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Kevin,

It is not possible to remove a child's Godparent. If the Godparent is not properly fulfilling his or her role,the best thing to do is to introduce a person into the child's life who will be a proper Christian role model. Then, when the time comes for the child to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, that person may be the Confirmation sponsor.

Blessings and peace,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear fathers,

I have never been a religious person. I am now in my mid 40's and all of a sudden just over night basically, all i can think of is joining a church. I was raised believing I was Lutheran. I stopped going to church when i was approx. 5-7 yrs old. I recently contacted my church for baptism papers, and low and behold, I was never baptized. but I got dates of my mother and sisters. I am interested and seriously thinking of joining a Catholic church not far from my home. I have not truly decided yet. I began reading the bible about a week ago, and find it interesting. Long story short, I know i would have to go to the RCIA classes. I am wondering with all my sins i have committed in 45 years, how can i be allowed in church? what would my consequences be like? Do I have everything I need to confess? It ranges from stealing when i was younger, to pre marital relations, to adultery, and marrying outside of the churches....not once or twice but 3 times. I had addictions of alcoholism and, smoking but i have overcome both addictions. Before all my research on Catholicism, i never believed it was wrong to test the car before you bought it (so to speak). Would I have to confess all of this before communion if i am even allowed in? I want to change my ways and be more of a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray everyday asking for forgiveness. Please.... can you help answer my questions? God Bless you for helping people.

Thank you!

Fr. John Malloy answers:

You have nothng to fear. God's mercy is greater than any sins we can commit.

Your baptism would forgive your sins even if you did not confess them.

RCIA would be the way to go. There are no questions asked about your previous life and you are free to say what you want (without lying of course!).

It would be good though to go to confession, which the Catholic Church asks of us at least once a year and monthly if possible.

If you choose to go before your baptism, your confession would be easy--just give this e-mail, or its contents, and say: I'm sorry for all of them!

The Peace of Christ be with you!

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Father,

I live in Midland Maryland and our church is under the Archdiocese of Baltimore. To give a little background. Several years ago, my daughter was angered by the one of the Sisters who was the Pastoral Associate at our parish. Maggie was to have been in the group who represented our parish when the Pope was visiting Baltimore. The visit was postponed and it was assumed the group that had originally been chosen would also be going for the rescheduled group. We found out while at Mass that Maggie was not chosen. Another girl had been picked. When asked for an explanation, Sister told us that news had gotten back that Maggie had been drinking and carousing with a group of boys in a truck. Never was I asked or anyone with my family if this was true. When I spoke to Sister I told her she should have checked with me as Maggie was with me and her cousin in a resort in Virginia at the time and the girl that had been chosed was actually the girl in the truck. Anyway, Maggie has not had good feelings about the Church since. She is now a mother and wants her baby baptized. The only Catholic she has as a friend has only had two of the three Sacraments as stated by Canon Law. Has any exceptions ever been granted? I would think that with the Church in the state it is today with needing new members would want to encourage her to have this done. I know if this doesn't happen, Maggie will probably seek another faith. Please let me know.

Thank you,

Paula

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Paula,

This may sound cruel but Maggie is cutting off her nose to spite her face!

It's unfortunate that she was deprived for a false reason. Life throws stones that often we cannot escape. But even in that case we have to attend to the wound and not let it cripple us. Maggie's faith was tried and she was found wanting.

To get the baby baptized in the Catholic Church is time for Maggie to rejoin and try to forget the injustice done.

Let bygones be bygones and seek the greater good. She needs the peace that only the Lord can give to receive new life for herself as well for the baby..

Speak to a friendly priest and he can easily arrange everything.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hi. I am in a rut and a hard spot. I don't know what to do. My ex wants to have our kids baptized. He when small was baptized catholic but never goes to church or practices the faith. Our kids go to a school that is catholic but a lot of the kids in there are not catholic. Up until this past sunday my ex took my daughter to church. First time for her and she is 4. Like i said he never has gone to church till now. My son did not go with him as he does not like church. I myself am not catholic nor do i go to church or practice any religion. Now he will only take my daughter unless he forces my son to go 10 times a year. Maybe he is trying to turn his life around which is good but all my kids think is ya i want to get baptized cause i want water splashed on my head. I ask them if they know what baptism is they say no. My ex says well they will miss out on lots in school. Which I doubt. As for godparents there is no one on my side or friends that are in good standings with the catholic church. I mean they don't practice the faith nor go to church and on his side its only his one grandma. There is others that are baptized but don't practice or go. So i am looking for some helping on deciding what is write for my kids as well as not getting into a big argument with my ex. To be able to explain my reasoning. I believe that my kids need to realize what baptism is what church is and why they practice faith. They don't nothing now and to jump into this for the wrong reasons is not good. Any suggestions?

Candace

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Candace,

You don't say how old your son is. If he is older than seven he should not be forced to be baptized.

If your ex is now going to church, thank God. His example for the kids is worth more than any words.

I would not worry about godparents at this stage. They can be supplied if necessary by the parish.

With the moral values which the church teaches and with the gift of faith (Freely given by God) the children willhave special grace to offset evil companions and impulses.

You will never go wrong by allowing baptism, but it is a sacrament that should not be forced.My prayers for God's blessing on you and your family,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On November 15, we received these questions:

Hello,

I am a Catholic and my wife is Presbyterian. We were married in NYC at City Hall. She is not baptized but I am. She is pregnant and we wish to bring the child up Catholic. We were not married in the Catholic Church after the civil ceremony. Will the Catholic Church allow us to baptize our child in their Church? Thank you Father.

Fr. John Malloy responds:

John,

You should speak to the pastor of the local Catholic Church. Questions will certainly be asked:

Why can you not get your marriage blessed in the Church?

Where will the child find instruction and support in the Catholic faith?

Who will see to the religious education of the child?

My suggestion is to get your marriage blessed. It can be done very privately with only a couple of witnesses'

May your faith be preserved.

 

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 4, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I have a granddaughter who is 19 yrs old who has never been baptized or confirmed . My daughter is catholic. They went to church just never did it. It really bothers. I am Luthern when they were all growing up my children they were all baptized and confirmed. What would my granddaughter have to do to start receiving the sacraments . Thank you for your time. She is a very sweet girl, and

I know she would love to start going to church.

Albina

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Albina,

Local parishes have RCIA (Rite of Christian I initiation of Adults) programs which are intended to answer questions of faith and prepare those searching for a greater knowledge of or commitment to the Church, terminating in Easter week with baptism and confirmation. Catholics and non Catholicsparticipate in the instruction period.

Check with the local Catholic church or a neighboring one if you prefer.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On September 28, we received these questions:

Due to circumsatances my son who is a Catholic cannot be the godfather to my grandson. However the priest at our church said he could be a witness but the priest at the church said this is not possible that only a non-catholic can be a witness. My son is devistated by this news. What is the official rules of the church on this issue. Thank you for your time.

Pat

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Pat,

Sometimes pastors skirt Church Law in order not to hurt someone's feelings nor challenge anyone's faith [or lack of] in practice. In your short paragraph you give both types of response from pastors in your acquaintance.

The idea of a sponsor or godparent is sothat a baptized person have an example of faith in practice to model in life. Thus the specific desire for a Catholic godparent is to have received Confirmation and, if married, to be married with the Sacrament. A Christian witness is one who follows and lives Christ though not in the Catholic community of faith. A non-practicing Catholic does not qualify on both counts.

The first words of your letter "Due to circumstances" indicate that something is preventing your son from exercising responsibility as a godparent. I infer that he is currently in a non-ideal situation. Now he is "devastated." This is a mighty nudge from the Lord through the Church to begin doing something about it. Perhaps this can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time. Unless the infant is in some very serious health situation, the Baptism could be postponed till his situation has been resolved. Or, if it is to take a longer time, he could work at it and then become a new sponsor at Confirmation.

All of this, of course, presumes that he is interested at all. If so, what a grace this circumstance can turn out to be! If not, it remains a source of continual invitation on the Lord's part just like the "Hound of Heaven" of Francis Thompson. Look up that magnificent poem.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Good Morning Fathers and God Bless :)

Quick question for you; I was born and raised catholic, however from the time I was 14 strayed away from the church. I am 24 years old now, and have had a child out of wed-lock. A mistake on my part, but in noway do I regret being blessed with my son. The father of my son and I are not living together, but I want our son to be baptized.

Can he be baptized in the catholic church since I intend to raise him catholic? Is it exceptable for his father to be present at my son's baptism if he himself isn't catholic? And if he can't be present (he's a full time college student) could it just be one parent and the god -parents?- Oh and only one of the god-parents is catholi

Okay I guess one question turned into many, I apologize. I also appriciate you reading this question(s)

Thanks so much

Ashley

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Ashley,

Your baby can be baptized in the Catholic Church, but you are expected to promise to raise him Catholic. (You should make your peace with God.)

One Catholic godparent is enough, but the/she should be ready to help you raise the baby in the Church. The non-Catholic "godparent" is an honorary witness.

Yes, his father can be present.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 25, we received this question:

Fathers,

I want a couple and my sister to baptize my daughter. Is it possible to have three people baptize a child even though one is not married but the other two are? We don't want to offend my husbands sister by just having her as a witness so we want his sister and husband and my sister who is not married to baptise. Is this possible?

Jennifer

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jennifer,

The marriage status makes no difference, provided the godparents are Catholics in good standing with the Church. However there can only be two godparents for a baptism. .

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 1, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I am a baptized Catholic, however, due to moving around as an Army brat as a child I was never confirmed . When I was a teenager I was educated in a Salesian school in England, but the notion of confirmation was never raised because all the other children had gone through the motions and had been confirmed through the course of time. This never really bothered me because I am firm in my beliefs. However, I am now 28 and my friend has asked me to be Godfather to his son. Will my status as being un-confirmed have any bearing on the child's baptism.

Respectfully yours

Gareth

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Gareth,

Here is the Canon Law article that gives requirements for Catholic godparents:

A godparent must be a baptized Catholic who is at least sixteen (unless otherwise specified by the diocese), has received the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation, and is in good standing with the Catholic Church. Only one godparent is required. Canon law allows a baptized (Christian) non-Catholic to be present as a witness as long as one godparent meets the requirements (874).

So, to answer your question: you need to be confirmed. Arrange with your pastor for an adult program in your area that would support this.

If you are in a program the parish priest will probably allow you be godparent.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hi Father,

I have a question regarding baptism. I myself am Catholic. I was baptized Catholic and went to a Catholic grade school and highschool. My husband is Lutheran, however, we did get married in a Catholic church. We had a daughter who we baptized Lutheran. I'm ashamed to say that after our wedding I sort of stopped being a practicing Catholic. I no longer attended Church, however, I never once stopped praying. After thinking of my child's future and remembering back on the structure that I was given at Catholic school, I am seriously thinking of having my daughter convert to Catholicism. Being that she is still young, she'll be 2 in Dec, how would I go about her conversion? I really would like her to attend at least Catholic grade school to make sure she is given the correct morals through life.

Her current Godparents are both Lutheran. So I'm not really sure what to do. I know she can still go to a Catholic school even if she didn't convert but I would want her to feel like she belonged. I wouldn't want her to be pulled out of religion and sent to ccd classes. I honestly didn't have her baptized Catholic originally because I did not belong to a Church and knew that the Godparents that we chose for her were Lutheran and from memory know that in the Catholic church Godparents have to be practicing Catholics. So I'm really at a loss what to do. I would really appreciate your advice.

Thank you Father!

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Alicia,

The call of Jesus, "Come with Me," continues to be present each day of our lives. This means, of course, that we can each begin again every day to walk with Him.

Regarding your daughter, she is certainly validly baptized, with the godparents she has. I hope that she gets to know them as she grows up.

In your letter you did not mention anything about your own practice of faith right now. You yourself should be participating in Sunday Mass each week along with your daughter. By her age right now she should already know what is expected of her in that community of faith. You should take her to visit her own parish church [and others] to explore everything so that it is very familiar to her when you take her there with lots of people.

Be in communication with your parish priest so that he knows and understands your daughter's Baptism situation. There should be no difficulty in having her in regular Sacrament preparation classes. Before Communion, the parish priest may ask for her profession of faith or simply consider the act of Communion as her declaration and put it in the First Communion record and the Profession of Faith in the parish Baptism record.

Regarding a Catholic sponsor for the Sacraments: pick a Confirmation sponsor now. Let the sponsor follow your daughter through her education in school and in the faith. Celebrate it at Confirmation!

The important thing is her practice of faith, which will be your practice of faith. Without this, what's the point?

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 15, we received these questions:

I am under perpetual vows in a secular institute! I would like to know what are considered valid reasons for dispensation of vows (poverty, chastity, obedience).

At this point I don't really want dispensation but would like to know if my feelings change in the future. I am having a very difficult time right now attending to my obligations i.e. prayer life. I was psychiatrically hospitalized several years ago (before perpetual vows). I am having difficulty in almost every area of my life. I have difficulty motivating myself to

take time for prayer. I assume (rightly or wrongly) that I am breaking my vows, but don't know what to do about it. I have a regular confessor who knows of this issue and we do try to work on it but feel hopeless of overcoming this problem.

Please help.

Iola

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Iola,

The validity of reasons for asking for a dispensation from vows should be discussed with your confessor. Trust his advice. He can show you what to do.

With God all things are possible! Trust in Him and do your best to be faithful..

Rightly you say you speak to your confessor. As long as you are honest in speaking of your condition, trust his counsel and carry on with the knowledge that God loves you, even in your weakness.

He doesn't expect us to be perfect--only to try to be perfect.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


I want to ask. I want my friend she orthodox and my brother his catholic to be godparents but they are married or going out to each other. My orthodox friend is married with an orthodox man. Could she and my brother still be godparent of my baby ?

Selena

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Selena,

A godparent must be a baptized Catholic who is at least sixteen (unless otherwise specified by the diocese), has received the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation, and is in good standing with the Catholic Church. Only one godparent is required.

Canon law allows a baptized (Christian) non-Catholic to be present as a witness as long as one godparent meets the requirements (874).

Most parents choose their children's godparents because of a personal relationship. But "godparent" is not merely an honorary title we bestow because someone is a friend. A godparent is supposed to be involved in the faith formation of the baptized, not only as a Christian, but also as a Catholic. Your friend may be a better Christian than any Catholic you know, but she would not be able to offer guidance that is specifically Catholic.

I recommend you choose godparents because of the way they live their Catholic faith and their willingness to share that faith with your child as she or he grows to Christian maturity. Choose godparents who can not only be =good Christian examples, but good Catholic examples as well.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 24, we received these questions:

Is there a way to annul the status of Godparents or replace them with others? A friend of mine has a daughter and the Godparents have become less than desirable and many of the decisions they make and their choice of life style is not what she wants her kids to be exposed to. Furthermore, their actions direct contradict the Church’s doctrines and believes.

Any advice would be great appreciated.

Thanks,

Paulo

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Paulo,

One cannot change history. So the original Baptism document and certificates remain the same.

However, in our country where Confirmation is separated from the Baptism celebration [except for adults], in long-term preparation for Confirmation, name a Confirmation sponsor who will be the living example for the daughter.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Father,

My husband is 88 years young and his sons have been after him to get baptized and he said he would but he wanted it to be private with not many around. I am Catholic and have been all my life. He and I have been married for 22 years and we had our marriage convalated in the Catholic Church 1 and 1/2 years ago. I don't think he will go to church after he is baptized and I can't seem to explan to him or his sons that is something that they sould do. One of his sons has been baptized andsays he needs to be baptized again but as far as I have read once one is baptized they don't have to be again. What can I tell them about being baptized. I think I really need something in writing for them.

Thank You,

Betty

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Betty,

It should be easy to arrange a simple baptism for your husband. It can be quite private with just the godparents present. Speak to your local pastor and I am sure we will allow it.

Try to convince your husband to come to Mass with you at a local parish with which you feel comfortable

The son who is baptized cannot be baptized again. If he can be convinced to go to confession, he will feel the grace of God's presence and realize the fact that he is already baptized.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 6, we received this question:

Dear Father

There seems to be some confusion with my wife and I about our baby daughter's Baptism. We are trying to understand the "rules" of choosing Godparents and the role of witnesses. Granted one person must be a practicing Catholic - that would be a true Godparent. Our issues is that we have 2 outstanding sisters (each of us have only one sibling, female) that we would like to have a Godparents, though we have been told they the Godparents cannot be of the same sex. This decision is difficult, for we love both sisters and think both are very capable of the job. We have no brothers to take the seat of Godfather. The only person we have in our lives for that role is not Christian, though he would surely make sure our child receives everything required for her development as a good Catholic.

The question:

A) Is there a way to have both sisters involved (ie one being Godmother, one being a witness?). You can imagine the difficulty of this decision and the fact that we do not want to offend either sister.

B) Is it possible to have a male witness that is not Christian?

Thank you

Vince

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Vince,

Answering your questions:

A) Is there a way to involve both sisters? Answer: Yes. One Godmother, one witness.

B) Is it possible to have a male witness that is not Christian? Answer: Not advisable, unless you can see the non-Christian as a very moral upright believer in Catholic values..

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 5, we received this question:

Hello,

I just got into a relationship with a guy and we are both 19, I teach Sunday School at my church and my students just completed their first reconciliation, this had me think a lot about the sacraments and I find myself with a few questions. This guy is not Catholic and I know he would not convert, I am not sure if he will be the one I marry but one day I hope to be married in a Catholic church and complete the sacrament of marriage, if he's not Catholic does that mean I can't get married in the Catholic church? I used to think that my religion could never make things complicated but now it is, I want my children to be baptized too but that's a whole other story.

Thanks,

Isabel

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Isabel,

It is always better for Catholics to marry Catholics to preserve the faith and instruct the children properly. However, there are many cases of good marriages which are of mixed faith. But pray for a partner who will share your values, since greater peace and harmony will result.

You can get married in the Catholic Church with a non-Catholic provided he accept your position and allows marriage in the Catholic Church by a priest or deacon. He also must allow the children to be baptized.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On May 1, we received this question:

Hello,

I sure hope you can help me out. I met my husband 8 years ago – he had a son from a previous marriage who was never baptized. Once our marriage was official, I went to the church to have him baptized Catholic, as my husband and I were. They informed me he had to attend religious education for 2 years to receive his sacrament since he had just turned 7 years old. I spent 2 years taking him back and forth to classes, making sure he attended church, attended the baptism classes and was very careful in my selection in his Godparents. To be honest, this was much more important to me than my husband, since he strayed from the church until we married.

All of this work and I finally managed to have my goal accomplished. My stepson was baptized this year at Easter Vigil. However, once we received the baptismal certificate, his biological mother’s name was on the certificate. Everyone was very upset, since my stepson lives with us and only sees her a few times a year. We have custody and the say so in religious decisions. His biological mother is not even Catholic. My parents were even selected as his Godparents. When I spoke to my church about this, they said there was nothing they could do to put my name on his baptismal certificate. That is has to be the biological parents and my being his legal guardian does not count…I would have to formally adopt him which I have not been able to do since his biological mother will not sign over rights even though she has nothing to do with her son.

My son & I were both in tears over this – he refuses to display his certificate that he so proudly worked for. Can anything be done?

Tina

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Tina,

A Baptism certificate is also a legal document and thus can only be changed in case of adoption. But this is something I can propose. Look up a website on which you can make certificates. Build one for your stepson's Baptism. Use the same wording as on a Catholic certificate. Make only a space for his name in big letters with the name of the church and date. This is displayable if he wants to. You could also see if the parish office could put the parish seal on it and perhaps the signature of the pastor.

I suppose that he has received First Communion already. Maybe when he prepares for Confirmation this certificate may be accepted. However for later uses when he has to request a Baptism certificate from the parish office, it will have the original parents' and godparents' names on it. For example, before marriage or seminary.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 18, we received this questions:

Father,

I am a 36 yr old woman baptized in the catholic church and had my first communion. I was baptized as a Mormon at 19yrs old due to me still living under my parents roof. I felt my parents were trying to do the right thing for me and my brothers. My parents were catholic most of my childhood. I was married 10 yrs divorced my x husband due to adultery on his behalf about 5 1/2 yrs ago. I have two children daughter age 12 and son age 9 they were never baptized in any church and was wondering what can be done about my children and myself becoming catholic. Is it too late for my kids to follow the steps to baptism and communion.

Claudia

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Claudia,

The Spirit of the Risen Lord Jesus is certainly with you! Following the urgings of the Spirit is now your call. That is listening for, then hearing in the depth of our hearts Jesus Himself inviting us, "Come, follow Me."

There are two lines of action: one for you, the other for your children. I shall give some indications, but you must first be in contact with your local parish priest and under his guidance take the steps necessary for full "communion" in the Catholic Church.

First, some things for you. You did make your First Communion in the Catholic Church, which means you at that time also did your First Confession, the encounter with Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In fact, at the desire of your parents you did join the Mormon Church. Thus, as you begin again your membership in the Catholic Church, your parish priest will talk to you about renewing your Profession of Faith in the Catholic Church, then going to confession [Reconciliation], and Communion again after so many years. Perhaps, since you have been away a number of years, your parish adult Christian initiation team, at the direction of the pastor, may expect you to join a group journey toward the Sacraments, which would mean Confirmation for you also.

And one more thing about yourself, then to the children: Since you did not mention it, from your letter one will assume that you have not married again. So far everything remains OK for the above. But you are still in the age of life when an openness to getting married to someone suitable for you and your children is not only possible but desirable also. As a precaution and preparation for such a circumstance, you [at the direction and help of your pastor] should present your first marriage to your local Diocesan Tribunal to see if everything had been present at the time of the marriage for it to have been a true, valid marriage. A variety of things might be discerned, any one of which might have prevented a valid marriage. Dialog with the Tribunal after the formal application, done with the parish priest, may involve a sort of emotional roller coaster for a bit as you dig into your memory, but at the end a wonderful sense of being and freedom. Jesus proclaims: "The truth with set you free."

For your children: as you begin your own return journey into the community of disciples of Jesus, the Church, your children themselves can begin. Some parishes have a number of older children for Baptism and thus have a group themselves. Others may simply integrate your children into their own age and grade group. They will prepare for Baptism Confirmation and Eucharist [Holy Communion] at the same time as you, but along with children their own age and development.

There will be great rejoicing in yourselves and by the whole community as they follow you in that journey to the Sacraments.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 6, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I have been asked by my sister to be godmother to her first baby due in June. Her and her husband are Catholic and they see the role of godparent as someone who would guide their child spiritually, be there for them in life and agree to raise the baby Catholic should anything happen to them. I was raised Catholic, baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church. However, I think at 13, I was too young to make the decision to be confirmed and had not yet fully formed my beliefs. I do not consider myself Catholic now as I do not believe in some of the teachings. I fully support their plan for their child and would absolutely raise this child in a Catholic school should something happen to them. My issue is with the things I would have to say in the actual ceremony as godparent. I take this sacrament very seriously and I also take my beliefs very seriously. I can agree to support everything my sister and her husband want for this child but I cannot stand up in church and say that I, personally, believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that he is a prophet who did exist and was an inspiration to many but I do not believe he was the son of God. Can I still participate as godmother or witness? Is there a difference? If I can participate, does that put any absolute requirements on the godfather? The godfather they chose was not raised Catholic but he has two children that were baptized in the church.

I look forward to your response. I don’t want my sister to feel like I am rejecting an honor but I can’t renounce my beliefs for the sake of tradition.

Bianca

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Bianca,

To be a Catholic godparent you have to accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. You have to be a practicing Catholic, confirmed in the Faith.

Your promise to raise her as Catholic is admirable, but it would be difficult for the godchild to fulfill the obligation of a Catholic with a godmother who does not believe in Jesus or a godfather not raised as Catholic.

Your sister needs to speak to her pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 31, we received this question:

hello,

I was raised a catholic. At the age of fourteen, I began to realize the hypocrisy of many religions. Now, after the sex scandals, and subsequent denials, cover ups, and law suits settled with the poorest of parishioner's money, while the chief pontiff resides in the mansion at St. Mary's, it appears to me that most of these so called holy people referred to as clergy, are using their positions to secure thier retirement. No one is ever going to convince me that an unbaptized child is not allowed in heaven. Yes, I've heard this from the pulpit at St. Eugene's here in Santa Rosa. Personally, I don't buy into your dogma.

In view of this, I am willing to accept my wife's desire to have our son baptized. No, we were not married in the catholic church. No, we are not wealthy. We have no connections politically. She has faith, and I honor that. I told her that I would arrange for a baptism. After calling several churches, I've been given several variations on protocol. I'm appauled at the lack of consistency. It appears that $$$$ will get you into heaven.

If it was up to me I'd not have our son have anything to do with the catholic church. I will patiently await a reply.

Tom

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Tom,

Please don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

We believe the Church is a divine institution and membership is not limited to saints.

No one can say who is in heaven or not, except for the saints. No one can say an unabaptized child is not in heaven either. God is the Judge not an individual--not even the Pope!

No $$$$ will get anyone into heaven, unless the money is used properly.

Yes, we have some priests who made very serious mistakes (Jesus had his Judas), and we are all sinners. The Lord understands our weaknesses better than we do. And forgives us if we repent.

Allowing your child to be baptized is a step in the right direction; your wife knows the way, even if you have lost it at the age of fourteen. So many good things have happened because of the Church--our hospitals, our institutions of higher learning, orphanages, etc, etc...don't let focus on evil guide your actions. Let your wife's faith help you see the light.

Meanwhile I suggest you allow your wife to arrange for the baptism. She's in a better position to present her request that you are. She can find a priest with whom she can relate, by asking her friends.

Just a warning: God is not a hypocrite. Neither does he make junk!

We are all worth saving!

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 24-25, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am a baptised and confirmed catholic.me and an ex partner did plan to marry untill i found out that i was pregnant when he left me.what do you feel that my chances are of having my little girl christened catholic even though i am a single mother having had a child out of wed-lock?

Searle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Searle,

You should have no problem having your baby baptized. You should go to confession and be ready to follow the instructions given by the Minster preparing for the baptism.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 20, we received these questions:

Hi,

I am Greek Orthodox and my girlfriend is pregnant with our first child, I was wondering if I can baptize my baby without us being married?

We do plan on being married however financially the baby will have to come first.

My mother will be baptizing my girlfriend prior to us baptizing the baby as she has not been done yet.

Thank you

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Adrian,

As a Greek Orthodox, you would have to consult your parish priest for answers to your questions.

You would probably be required to marry, before the baby could be baptized.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

Me and my wife were married by the justice of the peace --spur of the moment --we love each other more than life --she's of the Catholic faith, I am not, although I am thinking of converting. We also have a daughter. As soon as I get back home from my tour of duty in Iraq, she will be baptized. What are the rules of me being present if not Catholic?

Thank you,

Corey

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Corey,

Your marriage is not accepted as valid by the Catholic Church, since your wife is a baptized Catholic. That can be taken care of by your local parish (or another Catholic Church, if you prefer) when you return from your tour.

Even if you don't convert, your marriage can be validated, provided it is done by a Catholic minister.

No reason why you could not be present for your daughter's baptism.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On March 14, 2009, we received this weather:

Hello Father,

I enjoy your many question and answer topics. Now I too have some questions for you:

Our son and daughter-in-law were married in a Catholic wedding. They had a baby girl and soon had her baptized in the church. A year ago the had a baby boy. They have not had him baptized because they are waiting for an "appropriate time". This causes a great deal of concern with my wife and I. Obviously it is the decision of the parents and there is little we can do beyond reminding them. Our questions are:

What is the state of the baby's soul?

Does the church have a position on the timing of baptism?

Is there a time limit on having an infant baptized?

Thank You for your help.

Blessings to you,

Howard

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Howard,

The situation described in your letter reminds me of the example of St. Monica who prayed and gave good example to Augustine and his brother, and thus also was instrumental of the final conversion of her husband. Many years worth of prayer and good example! This is the chore of parents and grandparents.

One of the directives in Canon [Church] Law is that a child is "licitly" baptized when there is a founded hope (my italics) that the child will be reared in the "practice of the Faith." When there seems not to be founded hope, then it is recommended to postpone the Baptism in order for the parents (and godparents) to provide an environment where the "practice of the Faith" can happen.

It seems from your own expressed bewilderment that your son's family is not greatly involved in the "practice of the Faith" right now. So they are following their own conscience [and the Church's law] in not baptizing their second child just to make you happy. The reason has to be much deeper than that.

Baptism, of course, offers an opportunity for families to really make good new decisions in their lives. Many promise this; but then they simply do nothing about it. It is a humanly sad and frustrating thing for pastors and Baptism preparation teams to see this happen so frequently. Yet they keep trying.

It seems to me that baptizing a child who has no hope of becoming knowledgeable about and actually practicing the Faith is in a much worse position that an unbaptized child.

To reply to your further queries: God loves little babies! God loves little babies who die from a day-old embryo, to the ones who naturally get miscarried, to those who are intentionally destroyed by abortion early or late, to natural stillborns, to those born too early and do not make it, to those who catch a disease and die, to those who die accidentally as infants or toddlers, etc. Each one is wholly in God's loving care infinitely way beyond our human wondering about it.

When a child becomes of "catechetical age," that is "age of reason" or "capable of distinguishing right from wrong," then proper instruction must be imparted. Often this is done along with other children in Sacrament preparation classes.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 25, we received these questions:

Hi,

I married a man who was raised in catholic religion, but was baptized in Russian orthodox church. I, myself went to Presbyterian church, but never baptized. Since I am not a Catholic, we were married by Lutheran minister. We both like to raise our baby in the catholic church, thus what is the steps we need to take in order to baptise her in the church.

Isabel

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Isabel,

You should first decide which religion you would want your child to be raised in.Then approach a minister of that group. If you want the child to be raised Catholic, you should sign up for the RCIA classes, explaining the Catholic truths, in the local parish.

Forms to be filled out and classes to be taken would be part of their program.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 23, we received these questions:

At a recent party for a friend, a met a woman who said that her grandmother gave her an "emergency" baptism in her parents' bathtub as an infant. She had called a priest in Boston, who was guiding her through the baptism. I thought only a priest could perform a baptism, and plus there were no godparents present. She was not sick or ill at the time, so how can the priest in Boston claim it to be legit.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Troy,

It is not clear what the "emergency" means in the case you site. If it was a true emergency, the Boston priest woulld have done welll to walk the grandmother through the proper form of baptism..

Particularly praiseworthy is the faith with which many Christians, in painful circumstances of persecution, or in missionary territories or in special cases of necessity, have afforded and continue to afford the Sacrament of Baptism to new generations of Christians in the absence of ordained ministers.

Apart from cases of necessity, canonical norms permit the non ordained faithful to be designated as extraordinary ministers of Baptism should there be no ordinary minister or in cases where he is impeded. Care should be taken however to avoid too extensive an interpretation of this provision and such a faculty should not be conceded in an habitual form.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I am raised by my grandmother catholic but as an adult I became a Pentecostal Christian, I am married to a catholic man who does not go to church but says he is catholic. His mother is a by the book catholic and had us baptize our daughter last summer I did not agree but was told by my husband that it would be best for our marriage if we followed his mothers rules. I agreed still not ok with it. He was deported last year and I now find out he is living with his mother and lover, still calls me and has not jet told me about the other woman living in his home. I am till married and in loved with him but how can a by the book catholic make me baptize my daughter but also accept him to live in her home with the lover being married to me and not seeing his daughter. We did not take the class because my mother in law is very well known in the church that they arranged it in 3days and all I has told I had to do was show up at the church by 11 am.

Can I get her baptism annulled? She was dedicated to God and presented to my church when she turned one.

Fr. John Malloy:

Carmen,

You have my sympathy and prayers in these difficult times..

It is indeed unfortunate that your husband should cheat on you. However baptism is a sacrament than cannot be reversed.

One can personally deny it and not practice the faith it promotes, but once received, it leaves an invisible mark that is not erasable.

Embracing another faith would remove one from active membership in the Catholic Church.

May the Good Lord support you and your daughter in your hour of need.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 5, we received this question:

Hi,

i'm going to be baptizing my god-daughter in May; however i am not baptized myself!!!! My friend said that there are going to be two sets of god-parents (which i thought you couldn't do to begin with) and that the church said thats fine; however i need to know what course i shoudl take and how long it takes! I'm sorry i'm just very worried that i wont have it done for her baptism. Please help. I heard that i need a Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation.

Shawnna

Fr. Malloy answers:

Shawnna,

Under Church Law (Cannons 872-874), there are specific requirements to qualify as a godparent. Only one godparent is required, but two are allowed if they are of the opposite sex. If there is only one, a Christian witness might be asked. A Christian witness should to be a baptized Christian.

Godparents are confirmed Catholics in union with the Church. Witnesses may be Christians who can lead and instruct their godchild in matters of faith and morals.

You should check with the parish RCIA program for information on the Catholic doctrine. Meantime take the class that the parish usually holds for godparents --usually one or two evenings of instruction.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 17, we received this question:

Father-

My current husband and I were raised catholic and received all our sacraments up until marriage. We were married by a non-denominational minister. We want to now baptize and raise our son in the catholic faith, is our marriage a requirement?

Kathleen

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kathleen,

I suggest you join your local parish and seek to have your marriage blest. It can be a very simple ceremony and even private, if you wish.

To have your children baptized in the Catholic faith you have to promise raise them as Catholics, and you can hardly do that if you yourselves don't practice.

Of course, you can still go to Mass on Sundays, but you could not receive Communion. What would that do to your children on their First Communion day, when you could not receive Communion with them?

Rejoining your Church will bring you and your family many blessings.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 9, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I am a catholic, raised catholic, catholic school, have recieved all of my sacraments, etc. My husband is not catholic, but we were married by my uncle in the catholic church. I am pregnant with our first child and we are beginning to plan out everything that will come about in the upcoming months. I am also in the military and very far from anyone we would want to have as godparents of our child. Also, due to the time in which the baby is to be born, family/godparents would not be able to come here for the baptism of our child. If we are unable to travel to our families and our families are not able to come to us, how do we have a baptism without the key players? I also would really like to have my uncle officiate the baptism because he baptised me (and all of my siblings/cousins) and also married my husband and I (and my parents and married sibling), but his health/vow of poverty will prevent him from traveling to us? What can we do? Thank you.

Katy

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Katy,

There are, strictly speaking, only three key players for your baby's baptism: his /her self, one god parent and the one who baptizes.

Usually there are two godparents--man and woman-- and you may have someone stand in for them, if they are unable to be present at the actual ceremony.

The local chaplain would explain how to do this.

Conditions for godparents: at least 16 yrs old, confirmed, and practicing Catholics. The real godparents should attend a class at their own parish to learn the requirements.

Thanks for your military service. Your disappointment at not having your relatives present is part of price you are paying to keep the rest of us safe at home. I am sure God will bless you and the new baby for the sacrifice.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 8, 2009, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My husband and I were both raised Catholic and raised our sons Catholic. My oldest son married a Catholic woman with 3 children from a previous marriage. She was not married in the church the first time and was divorced. She and my son did not get married in the church either. They now have a 3 yr old daughter and an 8 month old son and would like to get them baptized.

The church seems to be making it difficult. When they went to their local parish they were told they would have to join and be members "in good standing" (which sounds like $$$ to me) for at least 6 months. So we checked with our parish and they want a letter from their parish stating that they are members "in good standing". What does that mean if not money? They are willing to take the class needed and certainly have Catholic Godparents (probably me and my husband). So what is the problem with these parishes?

Judy in Dallas

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Judy,

$$$ has nothing to do with these requests. It's the religious practice of the parents in question.

When one wishes baptism for a child, the Church seeks to ascertain that the child will truly be raised as a practicing Catholic.

Since the parents in question were not married in the Church, they can have their marriage sacramentalzed, if the wife is Catholic. If she is not Catholic she would need an annulment.

If the parents go to church and promise to raise the children as Catholic they could have the children baptized. Speak again to the local priest,

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 3, 2009, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I am having my third child and having a hard time choosing Godparents. I have seen different rules than what I learned at my Baptism class so could you tell who can be a God parent? Can you have one non Catholic that is Baptized? Both have to be baptized? I am really trying to make the best decision but don't know who can be what.

Thank You,

Carrie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Carrie,

Catholic god parents can be a man or a woman or both (but not two men or two women) who have reached 16 years of age and are confirmed, practicing Catholic. The age limit may be changed if the Bishop or Pastor sees fit.

Technically, only Catholics can be godparents or sponsors of Catholics, or Catholics-to-be.. A Christian of another denomination, whether Orthodox or Protestant, however, may be a "Christian witness" to the baptism along with the Catholic godparent. The reason for this restriction is that the godparent not only is taking responsibility for the religious education and spiritual formation of the baptized person, but also is representing the Church, the community of faith, into which the person is being baptized. A Christian who is not Catholic, although perhaps a very holy, Christian, cannot fully attest to the beliefs of the Catholic Church. (Cf. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, No. 57).

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On December 10, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

My husband and I are both baptized Christians but we are not Catholic.

We recently had a child and would like to baptize her Catholic. Is this possible? I have a daughter from a previous marriage who is Catholic and she attends catholic school. We would like to raise our children in the same faith. What are our options?

Thanks

Danielle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Danielle,

Requirements for Catholic Baptism include promise to raise the child as Catholic with promotion of his/her faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

If parents are not Catholic it is next to impossible to fulfill this provision unless one or both parents are converted to the Catholic faith.

You can check with your daughter's pastor to see if there are any other options.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 12, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I am a practicing Roman Catholic I was born into the faith. I have had a child and am unsure of who the father is. I currently live in Colorado - am I required to provide a fathers name for the Baptism? I was told by a local priest here that I am required to provide a name for 'their' records. I have no father listed on the Birth Certificate because I don't know who. Which means I will have to lie. I don't feel comfortable doing this but it seems that I have no choice. They have refused to do the Baptism. Does this mean I must convert to another religion to have my child baptised???Please Help! I don't want to loose my catholic faith.

Sterling

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Sterling,

The main thing is that you are now a practicing Catholic and intend to raise your child in the Catholic faith. Having Godparents who are also firm Catholics and willing to help you in raising your child in the faith is important.

How difficult would be to determine the father? For health and genetic reasons it is important to know who the father is, but it is not an absolute requirement for baptism.

If the local church will not do the baptism, inquire about the possibility in another parish. You might contact the Diocesan office as a last resort, but in no way should you "convert" so as to baptize the baby in another faith.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

Does the Church require a godparent to be both baptized and confirmed? What happens when the godparent is only baptized?

Thanks

RRF

Fr. John Malloy answers:

R.F.

If a godparent is only baptized, he/she does not meet the canonical requirement: must be a Catholic who has received the sacraments of holy Eucharist and confirmation, and "leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken."

Without confirmation, the sonsor becomes a "Christian witness." When the sponsor later receives confirmation the record can be changed to "sponsor."

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


I have a question about the schools and religion….

Me and my husband are Catholic and have done all our sacraments…

Now my son is in 1st grade and has been attending a Christian private school for 2 years already, because of it being a good school, Day care facility and well there is no Catholic private schools nearby….. Everyone tells us that this will affecr him in the long run, but as we see, he loves it there and also is learning about God, and the Bible…. He is also attending Sunday school on Sunday for his first communion and a lot of things he he studying now, he knows already……

Do you think this will affect him or confuse him???

Thank You

Paula

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Paula,

I sympathize with your problem, but certainly the choice between a Christian School and the public school today is a no-brainier. Public education is becoming more and more godless.

I encourage you to follow closely the religious education of your son--without putting doubts in his mind.

The important element in his religious education is the example he sees in his family. If your family lives its faith (and has dinner together--talk and example at that time are important!), your son should be able to persevere in his Catholic faith.

A family that prays together stays together.

There are many books written by Christians who have converted to the Catholic faith. As your son gets older and, if he questions articles of faith, check out books of converts who have gone through this quest and have him read their story.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I am a practicing Roman Catholic I was born into the faith. I have had a child and am unsure of who the father is. I currently live in Colorado - am I required to provide a fathers name for the Baptism? I was told by a local priest here that I am required to provide a name for 'their' records. I have no father listed on the Birth Certificate because I don't know who. Which means I will have to lie. I don't feel comfortable doing this but it seems that I have no choice. They have refused to do the Baptism. Does this mean I must convert to another religion to have my child baptised???Please Help! I don't want to loose my catholic faith.

Sterling

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Sterling,

The main thing is that you are now a practicing Catholic and intend to raise your child in the Catholic faith. Having Godparents who are also firm Catholics and willing to help you in raising your child in the faith is important.

How difficult would be to determine the father? For health and genetic reasons it is important to know who the father is, but it is not an absolute requirement for baptism.

If the local church will not do the baptism, inquire about the possibility in another parish. You might contact the Diocesan office as a last resort, but in no way should you "convert" so as to baptize the baby in another faith.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Here's our situation, please give us guidance…

I am in a long term relationship but we are not married. I am Methodist and was baptized Methodist, actively attending a Methodist church. My boyfriend is catholic and was baptized & raised in the catholic church, attended catholic school, etc., he and his family are active Catholics. We are expecting our first baby in just a few weeks and are trying to sort out the options of baptism but are getting conflicting/confusing information. We want to raise our daughter as a Christian, baptize her and make the promise to God to teach her faith while honoring both of our religious backgrounds but the rules and laws of each of our churches are turning this into a nightmare. Ideally we would have a joint ceremony where leaders from both of our respective churches would come together.

My first question is how can we baptize our daughter without promising "only catholic" or "only Methodist" - we can't be the first Methodist/catholic couple with a child. I don't feel comfortable choosing one religion over the other, we want her exposed to and raised with an understanding of Christian faith without being hung up on catholic, Methodist, Baptist, etc... because I feel the relationship with God should be the most important focus in her life not which church she goes to.

My second question is how do godparents play into this situation?

Thanks,

Stephanie

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Stephanie,

I myself experienced inner suffering at your confusing state of affairs. Let me see if I can give a context within which you can make decisions with your child's father, and you both discern what you want to do for her as she grows into a fully aware human person.

The People of Israel of old, and continuing to this day, are responding to God precisely as a community of persons. The same for the specially chosen disciples of Jesus. In the invitation of Jesus, "Come follow Me," it is a selection by Jesus for that person to become a member of the community of His disciples. [In the Gospel Jesus very clearly stated: "Remember you did not choose Me, I have chosen you."] This community of those specially picked disciples of Jesus is called Church. Besides the love of God for His creation of the universe and everything and everyone in it, by sending the Son to become a human, this Jesus invites those who respond to His call into this community of disciples [Church] .

Now, yes, because of us human beings, we have not been doing very well in fulfilling the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper: "May they all be one." We have multitudes of communities of disciples of Jesus. But we must observe they are just that: "communities." God's immense, infinite love for us, each person, comes to us through the medium of the community of disciples.

Now, if the community of disciples is simply the parents of a child without connection to a wider core community, then that is in effect the choice they are making. In that case it is a contradiction to have clergy of one or other Christian denomination involved because Baptism is exactly that - initiation into the community.

The conclusion would be that you would simply baptize the baby at home, with just the parents, or even family and friends present.

You mentioned godparents. These are witnesses to the community that they believe the parents will rear their children in the knowledge and practice of Faith. If they are OK with what you are doing, then may God's blessings be with them!

With the above context, it is easy to understand the unease both of the Methodist community and the Catholic community regarding what you are proposing. Yes, Christian churches are "hung up" on this. We human beings cannot dictate what our loving Creator does or does not do. What Jesus, God's Son, did do is found His "Church" as a community of His disciples through which God shares His divine life with us.

Distinct from the issue at hand [Baptism of your daughter], is the relationship of her parents to one another. Inherent in asking a Church to be involved in a Baptism is the deep desire that the Baptized person belong to the community of faith. It is also an invitation to parents to evaluate their own fullness in practice of faith. In the Catholic Church this would imply a desire also to celebrate the other Sacraments of Faith, specifically, the Sacrament of Matrimony. In your circumstances an awareness of this hope, and a move toward fulfilling it, should have a significant place in your thoughts. This would lead you to consult with the local Catholic parish priest about further steps.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

I am a practising Catholic. My wife is baptized non-Catholic. We were married in a civil court 10 years ago, and we now have a 1 year old child that we want to baptize in the Catholic Church. My wife agrees that the religious upbringing of the child will be according to my Catholic faith and supervision. My parents, both confirmed practising Catholics, will be the god parents. Is it permissible for my priest to baptize my child under these circumstances? Is our marriage valid under Catholic doctrine and is this relevant to the first question?

Steve

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Steve,

Though not ideal, your situation is not uncommon.

Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation into the community of Church, the called-together disciples of Jesus. During the ceremony, parents and godparents are reminded of their responsibility in bringing up children in the "practice of faith." It would seem difficult, or even contradictory, to make these promises before God when one is not in the full "practice of faith" himself.

This leads to the second situation you have referred to: marriage in civil court.The Church [called-together disciples of Jesus - see above] understands that marriage of baptized persons is a Sacrament. Since disciples are to be "light of the world" [Gospel of Matthew], that is, observed by all and the definition of Sacrament includes the notion of "outward sign," the Church has put into effect some conditions for that sign to be true. In other words it makes some definite rules for its own members so that it can be determined that at least externally the Sacrament happens for a couple. These are really very simple: the spouses [bride and groom], two witnesses, and the official representative of the Church, a priest or deacon. Total 5 persons; everything else is culture and custom.

Civil marriage lacks the Church representative; thus it is not valid. It becomes valid when you invite a priest and two persons to witness your marriage vows. Technically this is termed "convalidation," or in common language "blessed."

Doing this, or promising to accomplish it without delay, the parish priest will see that proper instruction is done prior to Baptism, then baptize with the "founded hope" [Canon Law] that the child will be reared in the "practice of the Faith."

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 6, we received this question:

Dear father,

Goodevening To you, this coming wednesday is the baptism of my son...and still were not married to my boyfriend because im still 17 year's old and his with us together with my baby.. how will i make my promise letter to the church........? thank you.......so much.........

Fr. Harold replies:

Dear Relyn,

Though I am not certain exactly what you are asking about, I shall nevertheless attempt to give a context within which you may act.

First of all, the world and I thank you for respecting the gift of life so much that you carried a child to birth. Also great thanks to your son's father, who has stood by you up to this point.

Two things: you are taking on a great responsibility in requesting Baptism. Remember that you cannot fully respond to this unless you are doing your own best to practice the Faith yourself. Since disciples of Jesus are called to be "light in the world" [from Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5], disciples then are to be observed. The most observable thing is what the Church considers the most important thing it does in the world. That is celebrating Eucharist. So without Sunday Mass making a promise to raise a child in the practice of Faith would seem quite empty.

The other thing is about marriage. Having been pastor of 5 different parishes, I would recommend that you do not rush into marriage. Stay connected to the father for several months yet, even a year or more, to see whether he really wants to be husband and father, and to see whether you really want him to be your husband and on-going father to his son.

With time, and guidance from your parish priest, who knows what magnificent things God will be leading you to?

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On September 30, we received this question:

Dear Father,

We are Catholic temporarily living abroad in Israel. We just gave birth to our third child and looking to have him Baptised here in the country of Israel. We were wanting to have this ceremony performed at the Jordan River but our Deacon from our parich back in the U.S. has informed us that the Baptism must take place in the church. Is that correct? What are the considerations we should think through when deciding whether to perfomr the Baptism here in Israel or wait until we return home and perform the ceremony in our local parish?

Thank you and God Bless,

Brad & Jessica Rice

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Brad & Jessica,

Congratulations on the birth of your third child.

It is recommended that the infant be baptized as soon as possible. Circumstances may dictate otherwise, but the mind of the Church is not to delay baptism.

You might explore the possibility of baptism in the Jordan but that would require the permission of the local Bishop. Speak to the pastor of the local Catholic community. Your deacon may be right; they want a Church as the venue in ordinary circumstances.

Preparation requires that the godparents be Catholics in good standing and ordinarily will attend a class before the ceremony. These classes are held in many parishes.

It is not required that the class be taken where the child is to be baptized..

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On September 15, we received these questions:

My son is 18 years old and wants to be Baptised is this possible?

Mary

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Mary,

Your 18-year old son, being now an adult, should contact the local Catholic parish and inquire about the Christian Initiation program [RCIA]. Should that parish not have a program in place, they will refer him to a convenient place where he can enroll.

Entry into the community of the Church is a wonderful journey leading up to the official entry into the Church with the initiation Sacraments. These just mark the beginning of the life-long journey in the Church till entry into heaven with Jesus introducing us in person to the Father.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


dear father..

I have been divorced before and going through a second divorce now due to differences. My husband now had promised to let me keep my religion and continue to attend church and when we had children he said we could attend church since he is Muslim he would't attend and that I could also Baptist our child.. I never made it a big deal that he was Muslim and I was catholic because his family told me he wasn't't a strong Muslim and his mother is catholic. we got married at the justice of the peace. after we got married everything changed. He didn't't want me going to church or taking our newborn child to church and told me I wasn't't allowed to baptize her. I decided that God is more important to me than my own happiness so we have decided to divorce. My daughter is about to be a year old and still hasn't't been baptized because he refused to agree on it but now that were getting divorced I would like to baptize my daughter and was wondering if I would be allowed to since I've been divorced once and about to be divorced a second time. In my heart they were both fraudulent marriages based on lies but legally its hard to prove that. I believe in marriage just as much as any other catholic but I did what was right by divorcing these two men. I wanted to know what I would need to do to baptize my daughter. can I baptize her without her father? with only be attending as a parent? does each person I chose to be her god parents have to be catholic? if their not can they still baptize? would they need to take classes? how does the process work? also I am catholic and have been since I was born. I have made my communion and been baptized also. I just want my daughter to have the same opportunities in the catholic religion that I have had.

thank you father

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Renee,

In many instances of our modern existence, things get very complex and complicated. Sorting it all out makes life interesting indeed.

There are a couple of things for yourself as you wish to be a practicing Catholic so as to be a wonderful model and teacher for your daughter. I'm sure you understand that a parent cannot truly promise to rear a child in the "practice of faith" without doing it yourself.

So first thing, notwithstanding your divorce situation, go the Mass on Sundays; take your daughter; do go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation [confession] to be in good standing; go to Communion at Mass. The Lord's help will be with you in your every day circumstances. If you are sure that divorce is the best solution in your current situation, then do all the legal things necessary. Unless you obtain full custody, do not proceed to your daughter's Baptism right away.

Do you keep contact with your daughter's grandparents, especially her grandmother? This relationship is important for them and for your daughter. I remember that as my brother and I grew older and could write letters on our own, we wrote letters to our grandparents in another State. My grandmother wrote letters and sent packages to us. We had not seen them since we were very young since my mom divorced my dad. But the relationship remained important.

Regarding your marriages, was the first one in the Church? If not, things are more simple. If it was, contact your parish priest right away so that he may help you make your proper application to the Tribunal to see if it had been a true marriage to start with. If the first marriage was not in the Church, as I said it is simpler, but you still have tings to do. Obtain copies of both marriage certificates and the final divorce decrees and also a copy of your own Baptism certificate. With these in hand make an appointment with your parish priest so that you can fill out the proper forms to send to the Tribunal. There probably is a small office fee for this. Then you will receive a "Freedom to Marry decree." You may not at the moment be in the position of seeking a new spouse, but should it happen, you know you are free to pursue the relationship.

Back to your daughter's Faith, if through the good relationship with her grandmother [a Catholic], her dad becomes amenable to have her baptized before she reaches school age, then go ahead. You do not want to do anything to cause turmoil before that. When she is of "catechetical" age [i.e. going to school], be sure she is in religious instruction classes in your parish.

Later, as she articulates her desires to her father, she can on her own seek the Sacraments, even if she has to wait till she turns 18.

Blessings and peace!


On September 13, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

My husband is Catholic and I am not. We have a 4 month old baby boy whom we both would like to be baptized Catholic and grow up with the Catholic faith and traditions. Both of his potential God-Parents are Catholic also. Will this be allowed? Thank you.

Cecily

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Cecily,

In the ceremony of Baptism there are two places where parents are reminded to bring up their child in the "practice of the Faith." There is a reminder of this also in the very last blessing over the parents. It is marvelous that you have these intentions. My mother married my father who was not a Catholic. So the major responsibility was upon her. In your case the major responsibility is your husband's.

Your letter did not say that you have been married in the Catholic Church. Though the celebration of the Baptism may not depend on this, nevertheless it would seem that the promises of training "in the practice of the Faith" would not be possible unless the Catholic party were in sync with the Church. It is hard, I would think, to promise something you are not doing yourself. So if that has not been done yet, make sure you talk to the parish priest about it as you prepare for the Baptism of your son.

And finally a personal experience: At the very first wedding I officiated

[September 1968], the groom was a friend who had been a student before I did my theological studies. When I came back from Italy a priest, he asked me to do his wedding. His bride was not a Catholic. Well, later I baptized the first daughter. Then he asked me to be godfather to his second child. After being in the army for a while after graduation from college, he was sent to Korea for a year. During that time his wife, mother of two little girls learning to speak and discovering the world, reasoned that these children were baptized Catholic. What should she tell them about the Faith? So she went to classes at the parish. As they grew, when the older one was ready for First Communion, she went to the parish priest and announced that she wanted to join the Catholic Church. So it was several years as the Faith grew in her children, it also grew in her.

So, Cecily, it is wonderful that you want to rear your child in the Catholic Faith. It is not necessary for you to join the Church, however, do be attentive to the Lord's call in your life. Saint John Bosco, our Founder, said, "Do your daily duties well." In that way you will be ready to answer His call at all times. Perhaps he may be calling you into the same Faith as your child.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On September 11, we received this question:

Dear Father,

When my mother attended a Catholic school back in the 50's she was taught that if a child wasn't baptised & he/she died, they wouldn't go to heaven becasue they hadn't received the sacrament. My mother brought me up believing this & I would like to know if this is a current belief of the Catholic Church?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Charelle

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Charelle,

The current belief of the Catholic Church has not changed since the time your mother attended school.

Baptism by fire (martyrdom - dying for Christ) or baptism of desire opens the way to heaven for those not baptized by water.

God would never condemned a person to hell unless that individual chose evil over good. One goes to hell by his/her volition, not God's.

True, baptism is required, but that might be a simple baptism of desire in the example your mother cites.

Who knows when the soul is finally separated from the body and what might (could) happen in the process? The non-baptized might be able to make a choice at that moment.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

Please advise me what my options are; My unmarried granddaughter will soon have her baby boy, she is not a practicing catholic, all though she was baptized as an infant. The father of this child is an unpractising moslem, I wish to secretly baptize my great grandson, will the catholic church recognize this baptism. I understand a rosary and holywater is needed, and by anoiting and saying I baptize thee in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit this will be adequate.

Andre

Fr. Malloy responds:

Andre,

The rosary and holy water are not needed for baptism.

The basic requirement is water and the words: I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

However an infant should not be baptized without approval of a parent.

An exception would be danger of death, in which case anyone who desires to do what the Catholic Church approves can baptize.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On September 10, we received this question:

Hello. I have two questions about the rules regarding Godparents in the RC Church.

1. I would really like to include all of mine and my husbands siblings when choosing Godparents for my children. The only way to do so would be to have two Godmothers and one Godfather for my second son. Is this allowed?

2. My brother-in-law is Jewish and we are very close with him. He is married to and has 4 children who are practicing Roman Catholics. Is it possible to have him be the Godfather to my child if the Godmother(s) is a practicing Roman Catholic?

I appreciate your help. Thank you.

Krista

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Krista,

Technically according to Church law only one sponsor [godparent] is necessary for Baptism of a person. If there are two godparents, then one is male, the other female. Thus far the law. Informally among the family there may be many godparents. The Philippine people are famous for that. In the family, they do call them godfathers and godmothers. There may be parishes where they are even written on the certificate or in the Baptism register, going beyond the law. Many places will adhere very closely to the Canon Law also in the documents.

Again, according to law, when there is one Catholic godparent, another baptized Christian may be a "Christian witness." One who is not baptized is certainly invited to the ceremony, but has no formal role in it. In the family, use the practices mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On September 8, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I have recently had a beautiful baby girl that I would love to baptize. The only 2 concerns I have is that her father and I are just engaged at the moment and plan on getting married next year and the other concern is that he has been married before and I am not sure that we can still get her baptized because of that. I really hope it is still possible. Please help me!

Thank you!

-Corinne

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Corinne,

What wonderful hopes you have for your baby daughter! You need to have a sincere heart to heart conversation with your own parish priest as you plan to seek Baptism into the Church for her.

Some of the things that should be talked about are these. The ceremony of Baptism recalls in two different places the responsibility of the parents to bring their child up in the "practice of the Faith." In fact there is a statement in the law of the Church that it is not licit to baptize unless there is a founded hope that the child will be raised in the practice of Faith. Baptism, of course, is the First Sacrament of Initiation into the community of the called/chosen disciples of Jesus [the Church]. Too often parents make those promises to God, but then the community never sees them again. This is a tragedy! The child never gets to experience the love of God through the Church community.

Now if you and the father of the child are really planning to get married, you also must together see the parish priest to start the process. The first thing will be to determine whether his first marriage was a true marriage or not. If it actually was a true marriage, then you would not be able to have a Sacramental marriage. If you still decide to enter a civil marriage, outside the law of the Church, you can still participate, as far as you are able, in the life of the Church. Your daughter would still have a context in which to live the Faith she was baptized in.

Should none of these be a reality in your life, the prior thought is why have her baptized in the first place. Your own parish priest is the one who can help you in all of this.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On September 3, we received this question:

Hello Fathers,

I have been asked to be a godparent. The parents of the child are confirmed Catholics, married in a Catholic church. The father's uncle is a Catholic priest, and celebrated their marriage. He will be coming (from another state) to their home to conduct the baptism. The issue is, the parents are attending a non-Catholic church. They have found a universal unitarian church which suits them. Yet, they want to conduct the baptism under the Catholic tradition. Need I question their motives, or whether the priest is aware of their practice? If I am otherwise qualified to stand as a godparent for this child, may I? Thank you for your insight.

Hien

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Hien,

What a thoughtful request you have presented! It shows you have an authentic sense of what being a godparent means.

For Baptism [or a Mass] to be celebrated in a home, permission should be sought from the local pastor within whose jurisdiction the place is. At that time the pastor may inquire who the parents are and what connection they have to the parish. Church law states that infants are licitly baptized when there is a founded hope that they will be raised in the practice of the Faith. The Catholic ceremony of Baptism explicitly states the parents' responsibilities in this regard in two places besides during the final blessing over the parents.

Church law also acknowledges that some individuals may formally join a different Christian community. In that case they come under the discipline and practice of that other group.

Church law also accepts a baptized person as "Christian witness" where only a Catholic would be technically a godparent. I would think that this works the other way also, so that a Catholic could be a Christian witness (i.e. giving an example of Christian faith and practice) for a child.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 28, we received these questions:

Dearest Fathers,

my wife and I were married in your beatiful church by Fr. Jack. We have an 18 year old son, and after many years and after almost giving up hope, we have been blessed with a precious little girl. Our closest dear friend would like to be the Godmother and we feel the same way. She was baptized in a Lutheran church, and is open to converting to Catholicism. Now several questions: is her Lutheran Baptism recognized by our Church? What then would need to occur for her to convert? Does she just need to receive First Communion and be confirmed? She is single and never been married, can my son, i.e. the little girl's brother be the Godfather? I have read conflicting opinions on a sibling bing a Godparent, what does Canon Law state? Finally, we have since moved to California Central Valley, is the "Italian Descent" Rule for celebrating Sacraments at Sts. Peter and Paul still valid? We would love to celebrate our little girl's Baptism in your Church, as I proudly remind people, the Official Church of the Italian Community in the States. Thank you in advance for your answers, your wisdom, and your blessings.

Joe

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Joe,

Here is a context and again several queries in response to your letter.

The ordinary desire of the Church is that Sacraments be celebrated in the parish where one usually celebrates them. The Eucharistic Liturgy [Mass] is the single most important thing that the Church does in the world. Participation at Mass makes us all one in becoming Light for the World {gospel of Matthew, chapter 5}. This is the most observable thing about "practice of the Faith" which we promise at the ceremony of Baptism of infants.

It is hard to pick out which question to respond to first; I shall try to cover all of them, but certainly not in any good sequence. "Yes" Sts. Peter & Paul remains the Italian parish for all of Italian heritage in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. People from outside the Archdiocese belong to the parish and diocese where they live. Thus a letter of authorization from your current parish would be an expectation for your daughter to be baptized here. I would think that your parish priest might utter an exclamation of happiness at her birth and looking forward to celebrate her Baptism. Of course, he will understand if there is a family heritage reason for doing it elsewhere.

The preparation instruction may take place in the place where you live. Send a notice of participation at the program so that we can schedule the Sacrament. Also a registration form needs to be completed. One is attached. Please send it.

Your daughter's older brother is a natural for being a godparent. To be a godparent in Church law, one should be confirmed and practicing the Faith; and if married, in a Sacramental marriage. Godparents are to be examples of living Christian Faith. Sometimes, becoming a godparent nudges a person to make practical decisions in this regard.

Technically, a baptized person of a different Christian community may be a Christian witness at a Baptism. If that person later formally enters the Catholic Church, then he/she becomes a formal godparent. Practically speaking, the familial reference is still "godmother". I have personal experience in this. The groom of my very first wedding asked me to be godfather to his second child. The godmother [her mother's sister] was a baptized non-Catholic. She has never joined the Catholic Church. She is my "commadre" [a beautiful Spanish word with no one word equivalent in English], that is, godmother to my godchild.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 22, we received this questions:

Dear Fathers,

My name is amber and I am 21 years old.. I was brought up as a Catholic but unfortunitely I was never baptized. I have a 2 month old son and would love to have him Baptized in a Catholic Church. Gabriel(my 2 month old), his father is Catholic but we are un-wed parents. Is it going to be possible for me to baptize him in the church with me not being Catholic and also un-wed? Is there a way I can be baptized as well? Please help me? Thank you so much.

Amber

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Amber,

Since you were brought up Catholic it should be easy for you and the baby to be baptized, but the condition would be to regularize your marital situation.

You and your husband would also have to promise to raise the child as a Catholic

A question to clear up would be: Have either of you been previously married?

If the answer is "no," then why don't you approach the local Catholic Church and start the process?

If the answer is "yes" then ask the local priest how you might go about clearing the way for marriage in the Church.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On August 18, we received this question:

Dear Fathers

I am in desperate need of help, I am having my 7 month daughter baptized on Sunday 8/24/08 but our godfather is having a hard time getting a letter from his church since he hasn't been there in a long time, what to do? Any solution you can give me. I am not able to reschedule.

Thanks in advance

God Bless

Melissa

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Melissa,

First, a quick technical response to the immediate [6 days!] need. Only one godparent [male or female] is required for a Baptism. Speak to your parish priest about asking a "proxy" to stand in for a designated second godparent.

Secondly, perhaps there is need for a further deepening of what Baptism means for the person baptized and for the parents [and godparents]. For the person baptized, Baptism in the first Sacrament of initiation into the "community of the called-together disciples of Jesus", that is, the Church. Membership in the community of Church implies practical, common presence for the single most important thing that this "Church" does in the whole world, which is the celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass. Without this participation within the community, the ceremony of Baptism loses the fullness of its meaning. Yes, a person becomes even more loved by God [human descriptive words] beyond entry into created human life, already a love-given gift from God. But unless it carries with it the intent of growing in the life of the Church community through family participation, a Baptism in the kitchen sink would cover it.

At first sight that seems pretty stark, yet there it is when it is thoroughly "licit" only when there is a "founded hope" that the child will be raised in the "practice of the Faith." [from Canon Law]

To give a further context to this, I insert here a good explanation of the role of godparent by Paul Turner.

Godparents

Everyone baptized into the church receives a godparent. Godparents assist the baptized "to lead a Christian life in harmony with Baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it." That means we ask very little or very much, depending on how you look at it.

To be a godparent you must be 16, baptized, confirmed in the Catholic church, taking communion with us, leading a life in harmony with faith, and not a parent of the one to be baptized. Godparents may be chosen by the one to be baptized, by the parents or guardians, or even by the pastor or parish minister. A baptized non-Catholic may serve as a witness to the Baptism if a Catholic godparent also takes part. Only one godparent is needed, although two may serve. The baptismal godparent becomes the preferred sponsor for Confirmation.

Very often people will ask a family member to be a godparent. This has the advantage of binding families together. However, a godparent from the parish community may make a better choice. A parishioner can set a good example for the child from week to week and can represent the role of the entire parish community bringing Christ to each new member.

Some families have further expectations of godparents of young children. They may expect a gift at the child's birthday or further assistance throughout life. Some godparents devote a lot of time with their godchildren others do not. The church does not specify these extended responsibilities; families may discuss them with their godparents.

Godparents for adults play an important role during Lent. They support the catechumen at the rite of election and the scrutinizes in addition to the rite of initiation. They usually are the sponsors who have accompanied the catechumens throughout their preparation. If the adult joining the church has already been baptized, his/her sponsor remains a "sponsor" since a godparent already exists.

During infant Baptism, we ask godparents if they will help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. We invite them to renew their baptismal vows together with the parents, and they may assist in lighting the child's candle. However, parents hold the child for the Baptism.

by Paul Turner

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 15, we received this question:

My son is six years old, he was baptized at 5 months old. His Godfather is my sister-in-law's husband. They are not divorced but have a very troubling relationship (They have not lived together for the past two years.) He has shown to be a horrible Godfather. My son has seen him in the past 3 years, maybe twice. He does not even call on birthdays or holidays. I wanted to know if I can re-baptize my son with a new Godfather, someone who shows interest in my son, and who is a good Christian example in my son's life. Is this possible? What necessary steps would I have to take?

God Bless,

Christina

Fr. Malloy answers:

Christina,

One can not be re-baptized.

But at Confirmation time a sponsor is chosen and that person can take the place of the Godfather who failed to do his duty after baptism.

If you have a role model in mind, you might alert him to request you would be prepared to make when your baby comes of age for that Sacrament and ask if he would take the place of his baptismal Godfather in the intervening years.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 31, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am Catholic, my ex-husband is not. We have since reconciled and are expecting our first child in November. We would like to have her baptized. We have not remarried yet but we plan to. Can we have our daughter baptized even though we are divorced? Do we have to remarry first before we can have her baptized? Is having her baptized even possible at all given our marital history?

Thank you,

Courtney

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Courtney,

Your marital history, as expressed in your note, does not prohibit having your baby baptized.

Your husband would have to agree to your raising the child in the Catholic faith.

You would have to have your marriage rectified in the Church.

I suggest you speak to a local priest who can explain the basic requirements needed.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 28, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My beautiful little girl is now 3-1/2 yrs old and she is still not baptized. I have had so much trouble finding two people to become the God Parents. It seems impossible to be able to get two people together at the same time to perform the ceremony. I have two grown sons, ages 21 and 19 yrs old, both baptized Catholic. May I have them be the God Parents for their little sister? Or does it have to be a man and a woman? If anything were to happen to my husband and I, my sons are the people who we have chosen to entrust to take care of her. Therefore, we feel they would be appropriate in taking the responsibility to be the "Official" God Parents, wouldn't you think? They are very responsible and independent young men who would do a great job of setting an example for her. Also, is there classes we have to go through for baptizing her? I would like to get this done as soon as possible, it's already been too long!

Thank you!

Danenne

Fr. Malloy answers:

Danenne,

I advise you check your local Catholic Church for baptism information. A telephone call would answer most of your questions.

Only one godparent is necessary, although both a godfather and a godmother are preferred. (canon law see #874).

One who does not attend Mass should not be chosen, unless there is firm hope of renewed faith. and practice.

Most parishes require parents and God-parents to attend a session explaining the sacrament and its obligations.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB.


On July 12, we received this question:

Hello Father

I have a complicated situation. My husband is serving in the USAF, and we are currently stationed in Oklahoma, and our family is in Illinois. I became blessed with a new life inside of me just 3 months ago, and I am due in mid-January of 2009. My husband and I are both practicing in the Catholic faith, and can't wait to have our little one baptized. Family is very important to us, and we would love our family to be there for this most joyous occasion, but I am so worried about traveling so far with out our little one not being baptized yet. Any advice? Is it possible to have the baby baptized here in Oklahoma, and then again in Illinois? Please let me know if you have any advice on the situation. Thanks and God Bless!

Heather

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Heather,

Praise God for a new life!

It is not possible to be baptized more than once. As long as the interval between the birth of the baby and your family appointment in Illinois is not prolonged, and provided that the baby is in good health, you can safely travel to Illinois for the Sacrament. Your doctor's opinion as to the baby's condition should remove any anxiety.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 10, we received these questions:

my sister was married in a catholic church.

Then her twin became ill and when she and her twin sought support from the church they did not receive it. Her husband separated from her and then her twin died of suicide.

He later sought an annulment and she denied it because she felt is was untrue.

She again felt betrayed by the church.

She stopped attending the church.

Later she remarried out of the church to a good christian man.

Although they do not go to church yet he is very open to attending her catholic church or another christian church.

They have a son and she would like to baptize him but doesn't want to baptize him in a church due to the pain of the past. She'd is open to having a catholic priest baptize him outside the church in a park and then she feels she may be able to return the faith slowly.

Is it possible to have a priest do that?

jackie

 

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Jacqueline,

The Church is made up of human beings. Although we are all called to goodness as light in the world [Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5], nevertheless in our weaknesses sometimes we are not much light. I am sorry to know of some lack in regard to your family, especially when followed by such a tragedy.

It takes two different people to make a true marriage. Even if one thinks it is true and authentic, but the other held back in some essential element, then the whole thing becomes untrue. A Tribunal may come to that conclusion, notwithstanding the counter witness of a spouse. Not knowing the situation, I withhold any opinion.

Now, if in fact a Tribunal did make such a judgment, even the wronged person becomes free to marry in the Church. It only makes sense to baptize a child, when there is a "founded hope" [Canon Law] that there will be "practice of the Faith" following.

Consulting with the local parish priest will be a way of beginning again.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Father,

My ex-husband is now re-married and has planned to baptize our son. We are Catholic, but he does not attend Mass. His new wife and him have decided that the new wife will be the godmother. First, they are not married through the church and secondly I find it strange for a stepmother to be a godmother. Is this acceptable?

Fr. Harold answers:

Dear Griselle,

It is good pastoral practice to get both parents involved when it comes to Sacraments for children. And the second thing is that it is only licit to baptize when there is a "founded hope" [phrase in Canon Law] that a child will be brought up in the practice of the Faith. If the child has no chance of growing up in the practice of the Faith, what is the point? In that case [for what it's worth in the mind of the parent], baptize in the kitchen sink, if there is no community of Faith to support the one baptized, but not in church.. So, if you have not yet been consulted, step up and speak to the parish priest.

I do not know if technically it is possible for a stepmother to be also godparent. But if they are not married in Church, it becomes very difficult to give good example in the practice of the Faith. Very often in the effort of pastoral ministers to be "good shepherds" calling people to goodness, they rely on the promises of parents and godparents. So, it is really the good people around the family, perhaps a mother, who is called to keep the custodial parents honest - even beforehand.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 3, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My husband and I have been married for three years and have two great children together. We've been together on and off for 11 years now. During one of those off times he had a relationship and child. Shortly before getting married I found out that there was another child which he denied being his. He was living with her during the time she got pregnant but still he says that the second child is not his. I've believed him and so we got married. He has always been a part of both children's life and allows the second child to call him dad (which I don't mind) because he doesn't know his real dad. Well a couple of days ago my husband told me that he will be baptizing this second child, I told him that would be fine (thinking he meant he would be a godfather) but he tells me that he will baptize him as his dad. Now if he is really not his father would this be allowed by the catholic church?

If this is his child then of course I would not object to him baptizing him. I don't agree with him doing this if he really isn't the father.

I'm I being selfish? Would the church allow it if he really isn't the father?

I appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thank You!

Lali

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Lali,

The most important thing for the Baptism of a child is the real opportunity to grow in the practice of the Faith throughout infancy, childhood, adolescence, into young adulthood. How a child's family origins are reflected in documentary records is certainly to be considered, but if the child has no chance of growing up in the practice of the Faith, why baptize in the first place. This applies to all families everywhere, you included.

The very nature of things requires a parent to share in the responsibility of one's children. In the situation presented, Christian stewardship out of love of neighbor, would desire that a person respect and love the mother of one's child and continue to help whether a new child is actually one's own or not.

The practice of the Church is to accept the statement of the parents regarding their names in the baptismal record. The Church does not send out private investigators or ask for DNA evidence. If there is fraud anywhere, it is the personal responsibility of the individual not of the parish community or its leaders.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 27, we received these questions:

I am a practicing Protestant and my husband is a non-practicing Catholic. We were married in my church. We are in the process of trying to start a family and are discussing how to have our children baptized. He suggested that we have the children baptized Catholic just to keep his mother from “getting angry” (she was very upset that we did not marry in the Catholic church). But, how can he promise to raise our children in the Catholic faith when he refuses to go to Mass? He has even said he does not believe in the teachings of Catholicism. I, on the other hand, plan to take our children to church with me every Sunday and reinforce what they learn in Sunday school. If it were possible, I would agree to have a dual ceremony with both a priest and a pastor, but I understand this is not possible. I would like to have our children baptized in my church since I am active in my faith and he is not. What rules apply here? In addition, can my Mother in Law go behind our backs and have the children baptized Catholic later even if they have already been baptized Protestant?

Kim

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Kim,

It could be possible for a Catholic priest and your pastor to witness your wedding, but the Catholic partner would have to promise to baptize and raise the children Catholic.

The protestant baptism is considered valid in the Catholic Church provided the proper form is used: water and belief in the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" fulfills the requirement. A second baptism is impossible.

Your Mother in law would have no right to go behind your backs and secretly have the children baptized. No Catholic priest should allow this.

Your mother in law should pray for her son to return to Church and accept the teachings of his faith. It would make him a better husband and a better father.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On June 10, we received this question:

Fathers:

I want my best friend to be godmother to my newborn son. She received communion, and was confirmed. She was not married in the Catholic Church. Can I still have her as my son's godmother. I live in Connecticut.

Thanks,

Lucyann

Fr. Harold replies:

Dear Lucyann,

What a wonderful gift of life the Lord has entrusted to you! And what an extraordinary call to you to be instrumental regarding your own good friend: inviting her into unity with the community of the disciples of Jesus [that is, the Church] in spiritual motherhood as a godparent!

The role of godparent carries with it certain expectations, among them the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony to be in union with the Church with all the Sacraments. In preparing for your child’s Baptism, she might be preparing for the Church’s blessing upon her marriage so that she could fulfill this special role as a superb example of practicing the Faith. Consult with your own parish priest about this, as you invite your friend to work toward unity with all the Sacraments of the Church.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


OMay 25, we received this question:

Is there a way to remove someone from being a godmother to my 2 yr old son. She is a very bad influence in all our lives. She practically toldus she hated us and wanted nothing to do with my son. I need help? Please.

Xochitl

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Xochitl,

How the Lord by His Spirit stirs us up to good ourselves! Sometimes that occurs as a reaction to things that happen to us because of the environment or the people around us.

So it is a wonderful thing that you are concerned about the growing faith of your child. He is in the age of discovery! He looks into everything, he is eager to know and understand life. Be sure that among the things he discovers is Jesus. He must learn to pray and to be a friend of Jesus and His mother Mary from the earliest of ages.

It is unfortunate that the chosen godmother is not an example for this. What does one do? First off, history is what it is; so a record cannot be changed. Does he have a godfather also? Try to bring this person into your son’s life to be an on-going example for him. When he is older he can choose a woman sponsor at Confirmation who will become a true Sacramental sponsor [equivalent to godparenthood] in the Church. You could even choose this person now so that she become an authentic model of the disciple of Jesus as he is growing up.

All of this presumes that you and your son’s father are yourselves practicing the Faith. By now [at two years old] a toddler should already be used to being at church for Eucharist on Sundays. Parents will already have had many teachable moments when he stretches out his hand at Communion time and does not get anything. He will already be looking forward to the time when he can receive what his parents get every week. These are true precious teaching times to prepare a young heart to receive the love of Jesus, first in his heart so often, and then for real at First Communion. These are wonderful things as you help you son grow in love for God the Father, His Son, and His mother Mary, all through the gift of the Holy Spirit in your son’s and your own heart.

Of course, this all presumes your own "practice of Faith" which you promised at the Baptism of your child. Without that, what is the point of Baptism itself; and why should one be concerned about a godparent?

Blessings and peace for this marvelous journey of parenthood,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 21, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I was raised catholic and my fiance is greek orthodox, his family would like me to convert-would I need to be baptized in a greek orthodox church to be married? Are beach-destination weddings at all possible for either of our faiths? Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Brenda

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Brenda,

You cannot be baptized a second time even in the Greek Orthodox Church. You would have to make a profession faith in that church to be accepted as a member.

Is it worth risking your eternal salvation by renouncing your faith for a love which will last just a few years? A bad risk!

Beach-destination weddings are generally not permitted for Catholics, and I believe it would be the same for the Greek Orthodox.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Hello, my son and his wife are expecting June 15th. They belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church ( his wife converted before marriage). My daughter in law has only one sister, and she would like to have her be the god mother. They are very close. Her sister is not Orthodox she is a member of the Lutheran Church and was baptize there. What are the rules concerning this?

Thank you for you time.

Judy

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Judy,

In Catholic Church Law, there must be at least one Catholic sponsor [godparent]. There may be two Catholic godparents [godmother, godfather]. If there is just one Catholic sponsor, another baptized person may be [technically] a Christian witness. I do not know what the practice of the Orthodox Church is. You must ask the pastor.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 10, we received this question:

My husband and I were married in February 2007 in a non-denominational ceremony by a retired Catholic priest. We were not married in the Catholic church. I am Catholic & my husband is Methodist. We are expecting our first child this June and would like to have him/her baptized in the Catholic church. We would like to know what we need to do to make this happen.

Thank you,

Tanya

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Tanya,

When parents ask that a child be baptized in the Church, they promise to raise the child in the "practice of the Faith." It seems rather contradictory to make such a promise when the parents [or the Catholic parent at least] are not practicing the Faith themselves. Thus they would be assuredly encouraged to do something about their own practice of faith. Upon their promise, most pastors begin with baptizing the child.

What happens afterward is up to the parents. They could begin right away [before the Baptism] in preparing for marriage in the Church, celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony. If they choose not to do this, notwithstanding that the child is baptized a Catholic, then they are putting the child in a contradictory situation. So sad!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 4, we received this question:

Hello fathers!

My husband and I are expecting our third child, and I have been agonizing over the issue of baptism. My husband and I were married in the Catholic church. I am Catholic; he is not, however, he attends with us every Sunday. My family is very limited, and of the family members that are living and practising Catholics, there is only my aunt, whom I have not seen in twenty years, and who politely declined to be this child's Godmother. Within our circle of friends, we have several dear friends that are wonderful people, however, none of them are practising Catholics, although I have numerous friends that are severely lapsed and currently harbour serious hostility toward the Church.

We're disappointed in the way things turned out with our choice for our first child. We had a Godmother, and a witness, and the Godmother has since completely stopped practising her faith, and takes no interest in our son at all. Our second child has a Godmother and a witness also.

This particular Godmother practises the Catholic faith albeit on a C and E basis, however, she shows a genuine interest in both children. I have completely run out of candidates for this third child. I know of one couple, the wife (whom I am close to) is a practising and devout Lutheran, and the husband (whom I don't know) is Catholic, but not fully practising as far as I know. Would it be permissible to ask this couple? Every other person that we might consider asking is simply too far from the Catholic faith to even be a candidate. Is is possible to have this child baptised without Godparents? As sad as it makes me to think that this child would not have Godparents, I would prefer not to have Godparents at all, than to have Godparents in name only.

Thank you in advance,

Natasha

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Natasha,

You have been participating at Sunday Mass quite regularly. Hopefully you have been greeting the priest with your husband and two children each week. Thus he will have realized that you are now pregnant again and is congratulating you and blessing you and the baby within. You have also been noticing people coming to Mass as you are, maybe not more than a smile up to now, on the way to the parking lot to make room for those coming for the next Mass. But if you ask the parish priest to introduce you to someone whom he thinks will be a good godparent, he will recommend one for you and introduce you. You can get to know that family during the rest of your pregnancy and they can rejoice with you at the birth of the new little one. This is one of the options in the Canon [Church] Law: that the pastor ask someone to act as godparents.

Besides this, your Lutheran friend could stand technically as a Christian witness, but in common language still a godmother.

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 28, we received these questions:

Hello Fathers!

My wife and I are expecting our first baby in July! We would like to get our baby baptized in St. Peter and Paul’s church since it has a special meaning to my family’s history. My great grandfather was a stone mason and physically constructed the altar in the church when the church was first built!

We would like to get a better understanding of what we would need to do to get our baby baptized. My wife is Catholic and I am Lutheran. Is this a problem? The God Parent’s are Catholic.

What classes do I need to take in preparation of the ceremony since I am Lutheran?

What fees am I looking at? Is it possible to get the baptism done in front of the altar that my Grandfather constructed?

I appreciate your help in advance.

Todd.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Todd,

The immediate answers to your letter are: There is a Baptism preparation class for parents and godparents on the first Thursday of each month at 7:00PM in our parish center at 620 Filbert St. That is this Thursday May 1, or June 5, etc. Do come. Register at the door.

Also, if possible either parent should come into the parish office to register the child. There is a form to fill out - even before birth.

There are no fees for the administration of the Sacraments. A donation from the family is gratefully accepted, but never asked for.

Baptisms are usually celebrated right at the main sanctuary of our church in front of the altar.

Now a few things putting a context around this wonderful event. First, God gives life; God loves little babies! And their parents! And the wider family!

The ceremony of Baptism reminds the parents [and godparents with them] of the responsibility of bringing children up in the "practice of the faith." If there is no practice of the faith as the foundation, there is no reason to baptize; a child is placed into a very difficult situation. In fact Church law says that without the "founded hope" that a child will be raised in the practice of the faith, it becomes "illicit" to baptize, though a Baptism would indeed be valid.

So this means that Catholic parents must themselves be practicing the faith in order to make this promise truthful. [How can one promise to teach practice of the faith if one is doing it themselves?]

Thus, a question: You did not mention in your letter whether you had been married in the Catholic Church. This would be important for real practice of the faith, besides participation at Sunday Mass, Reconciliation periodically, Holy Communion regularly. All these are outward signs of practice of the faith.

The occasion of the birth of a child [what a miracle!] is an opportunity to make life-giving decisions for the child. The Holy Spirit is nudging you. What a gift of the goodness of God!

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Fathers:

My husbands niece asked me and my husband to be godparents of her daughter. We didn't get married in a catholic church but we are both catholic is there any way we can still be godparents?

Thanks

Erica and Gabe

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Erica and Gabe,

The simplest answer to your short question is begin steps to get your marriage "blessed" in Church. When you show the parish priest of the parish where your great niece is to be baptized, demonstrate the intent you have of getting married by the Sacrament of Matrimony. In view of that, you might qualify to be godparents.

A further comment: perhaps one or other of you had been married before. Even there the Church with the local Diocesan Tribunal can help you on your way through that.

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 25, we received these questions:

Is it possible for the mother or father of the baby to be proxies for the child if the Godmother and Godfather cannot show up.

Thank you.

Linda

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Linda,

A proxy is someone who stands in for another person in some kind of official ceremony. For the Baptism as described, are only the mother, father, priest or deacon and the baby present? Usually there are some guests (relatives and friends) at a Baptism. Certainly one of them could act as a stand-in. The important thing is that the godfather

(and/or godmother) have accepted that responsibility and then can be named on the Baptism certificate and in the Baptism register.

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 19, we received this question:

My husband had his daughter with a long time girlfriend out-of-wedlock when they were in college. They were never married. My husband was raised Lutheran, but his daughter's mother was Catholic. Their daughter was then baptised Catholic.

My step-daughter is now going to have her first communion, and we have been invited to attend as his daughter really wanted us there. His daughter asked that he stand up with her when her mother does. Her mother has since told my husband he is not allowed to go up to communion with her, even he if does not take communion. He would really liked to be able to go up with her as her father who is supporting her in her faith.

Is it right that my husband isn't "allowed" to support her in this way in the Catholic church's eyes?

Thanks-

AB

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear AB,

It is wonderful that a father knows and loves his daughter and supports her in her activities and especially religious ones.

First Communions are celebrated in such a variety of ways, depending upon time, place, circumstance, etc. Thus I am not too certain what "stand up" with a first communicant signifies. Does this mean walking up with her when she receives Communion? For the particular parish's practices in this regard her parish priest should be contacted. If it is important for the young person that her father be there, and the priest tells him what he should do, then it is to be cleared by her mother. If need be a dialogue may ensue, perhaps with the parish priest also

First Communion Day is important for each child and family. And the follow through on Sundays becomes the guiding post for life's journey.

Blessings and peace in this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 10, we received this question:

Fathers:

I found this site while trying to research information on godparents. My daughter and her husband met with our priest about having their daughter baptized. She had selected her brother, a Catholic who had received all the sacraments and was married in the Catholic church and her husband’s sister, who was baptized Catholic about 8 years ago, but who is now faithfully attending a non-Catholic church. The priest said that her sister-in-law could not even be a “witness” because she was baptized Catholic and is now a non-practicing Catholic. From the answers that I have read on your site, it seems this is incorrect and that she could be a witness. How can each priest have his own rules? Another question, he told them that the non-Catholic could only be a “witness” if he/she were baptized.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Joyce,

If you have questions about the practices in some parishes of your diocese, you are invited to contact the local Diocesan Tribunal . On a website response, I cannot second guess your local pastor. The Code of Canon Law is pretty clear that to be a Christian witness" to a Baptism in place of a godparent, that person has to have been baptized. Non-baptized persons are welcomed to family and community celebrations but cannot exercise official Sacramental responsibilities.

Blessings and peace in the Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 8, we received this question:

If I need a conditional baptism, does that require RCIA? Or can I receive the baptism and then go through RCIA?

Dan

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Daniel,

I assume that you have already been in contact with your parish priest about your assumed or doubtful Baptism. Your parish priest will help you through a preparation process for this and the other Initiation Sacraments. Often parishes unite catechumens [i.e. not baptized persons] together with candidates for the other Sacraments and those seeking full communion in the Catholic Church. Everything, however, has the eternal welfare of persons as its goal. (See the last clause of Canon 1752, the very last canon in the Code of Canon Law.)

Blessings and peace at this Easter Season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 2, 2008 we received this question:

Father,

I am having a problem choosing between two of my closet friends whom I consider like the brothers I never had.

I want them both to be the Godfathers of my Daughter. My question is, could I make them both the Godfathers? And of course, one of them is enaged to the prospective godmother.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank You

Juan S

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Juan,

Oh, to have such good friends! Technically there is only one godfather and one godmother, or simply one godparent, if there is only one.

Let me make a couple of observations, then talk to your own parish priest about this. Are both of these good friends practicing Catholics? In our country very often best friends may be of different faith communities. If one is not a Catholic, he may be a "Christian witness." You say one of your friends is engaged to the godmother. You could make the other one the official godfather, then the husband of the godmother would be able to see your daughter as she grows up. She will become familiar with them both and on separate occasions the technical godfather. In family parlance they are all godparents, notwithstanding what is formally in the Baptism register or on the Baptism certificate.

For variations on the above do consult with your own parish priest.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 25, we received this question:

Fathers:

I have browsed through previously asked questions in hopes to find the answers I was in search of but have found that my situation is somewhat unique.

My ex-husband and I were married in the Greek Orthodox Church, (I myself was baptized and raised Methodist) we had a child together, and then within two years the marriage ended in divorce. We were granted sole legal and physical joint custody and both have equal parts in the raising of our son.

Soon following our divorce I had learned that my ex had our son baptized with out my knowing. I was not aware of and had no input what so ever on the event, choice of Godparents etc nor was I even invited to the event. Only to find out after the fact.

As it turns out the Godfather that my ex-husband had chosen has not fulfilled a single obligation set forth by the church as the roles of a Godparent, in fact, his actions toward my son would be so far from the guidelines, I can honestly say I believe to be sinful.

I have since re-married, my husband (who is Catholic) and I have just had a baby and I would like to have both my sons baptized together and was under the impression that it would not be an issue, but after reading a lot of the postings, I am afraid that I could be wrong.

My question is can I have both my sons Baptized in the Catholic Church and if not, how can a Baptism be a legal binding document when one parent had no idea that it had even taken place. And how can a person chosen without my consent, who has not been a suitable Godparent by any means, remain so.

I appreciate your time in answering these questions and look forward to getting your input.

Thank You

Joanne

Fr. Harold Danielson replies:

Dear Joanne,

Even without the knowledge of a parent, Christian Baptism is in itself valid. So that child in the event of a First Communion celebration in the Catholic Church, could make a Profession of Faith and be received into full communion with the Church.

This brings up your family's own situation regarding the Catholic Church. Was your marriage celebrated in the Church? There are procedures that could lead to your entry into the Sacrament of Matrimony. This could be somewhat complicated, but if you are looking ahead to baptize your child, you should yourselves be in good standing [as it were] and practicing the Faith so that the promises you make as parents you will be living yourselves.

For all of this, of course, your best recourse is to your local parish priest. He will help you through this life's maze.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 20, we received this question:

I have been Catholic all my life. I attended Catholic School, Recieved Baptism, Communion, and have beenConfirmed. Once I reached adulthood I have not been a practicing catholic. I have always had my faith with me, but I had fallen away from the church. I was married in a civil ceremony by a non-denomination minister. My husband is Christian but not Catholic.

We have been blessed with a beautiful daughter and I would like to have her Baptised in the Catholic faith. I fully intend to raise her in the faith. Does my marriage outside the church... or my status as non-practicing Catholic aftect her being baptised?

Lisa

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Lisa,

It seems the Lord is inviting you back to your roots. I hope you take advantage of the invitation.

You are a Catholic, and have not renounced your faith, only its practice. But practice is an important part of membership.

Certainly the baby should be baptized as Catholic.

But you need to do something first: return to practice. If you want your child to share your faith, you must see that she learns it. And where will she find example, if not from you?

Your marriage can be easily righted with the Church. Your union can be blessed by a priest with some simple preparation, without need of fanfare. But your husband must agree, of course, which does not mean that he must join the Church.

Speak to the local pastor or a priest you might know, and he can help you.

This Lenten season is a good time to pursue this grace of God.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 19, we received this question:

Fathers:

I have browsed through previously asked questions in hopes to find the answers I was in search of but have found that my situation is somewhat unique.

My ex-husband and I were married in the Greek Orthodox Church, (I myself was baptized and raised Methodist) we had a child together, and then within two years the marriage ended in divorce. We were granted sole legal and physical joint custody and both have equal parts in the raising of our son.

Soon following our divorce I had learned that my ex had our son baptized with out my knowing. I was not aware of and had no input what so ever on the event, choice of Godparents etc nor was I even invited to the event. Only to find out after the fact.

As it turns out the Godfather that my ex-husband had chosen has not fulfilled a single obligation set forth by the church as the roles of a Godparent, in fact, his actions toward my son would be so far from the guidelines, I can honestly say I believe to be sinful.

I have since re-married, my husband (who is Catholic) and I have just had a baby and I would like to have both my sons baptized together and was under the impression that it would not be an issue, but after reading a lot of the postings, I am afraid that I could be wrong.

My question is can I have both my sons Baptized in the Catholic Church and if not, how can a Baptism be a legal binding document when one parent had no idea that it had even taken place. And how can a person chosen without my consent, who has not been a suitable Godparent by any means, remain so.

I appreciate your time in answering these questions and look forward to getting your input.

Thank You

Joanne

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Joanne,

You ask: "My question is can I have both my sons Baptized in the Catholic Church?"

Answer: Yes, if they have not been baptized previously.

But you claim one had been baptized. That Baptism, if valid, cannot be redone

It would be considered valid, if water was used with the correct form: "I baptize you in the name of...etc" and the intention of the minister was to baptize.

Permission of one parent is sufficient. Whether or not the Godparent does his/her duty, does not change the validity of the sacrament.

You say that your husband is Catholic. Your status and the baptism of the baby should be discussed with the parish priest.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On February 12, we received this question:

hello,

my husband is greek orthodox, I am italian catholic.

In order to not cause conflict I agreed to baptise my daughter orthodox but we had agreed to do catholic communion.

well once i had agreed and already chose orthodox godmother and sent out invitations, i found out that communion is part of the greek orthodox baptism along with confirmation which really really upset me, I felt betrayed and lied to.

Also i was suppose to go two more time to church for my daughter to receive communion in order for the baptism to be finalized but I refuse to.

So my daughters baptism is not considered complete.

After discussing with my husband we agreed for the sake of our marriage taht we should rebaptize our child catholic and not be influenced by his family members and do what's right for our family.

His family pressured me without explaining to me the full details and i have been crying ever since.

It's extremely important to me for my daughter to be part of the catholic traditions (communion/comfirmation)

and I was not told that for greek orthodox it was all part of baptism.

Can I re-baptise my daughter catholic.?

I also plan to have another child and want to baptise child number 2 catholic and don't want to create jealousy.

A M

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear A M,

There are several bits of information missing to be able to give a piece of counsel for your situation. Let me explore some of these things for you. Then you may be able to clear things somewhat so that you may speak with serenity to your local parish priest about it.

First off, were you married in the Catholic Church? If so, one of the things you would have had to do is obtain permission of the Bishop for the wedding to take place and in doing so to promise about the upbringing of children with the groom present and assenting to the promise made by his bride. From your description, I assume that this preventive measure did not happen. Thus, the first question.

While in the situation you describe, you stated something to the effect that you have already been to the Orthodox Church and had a Baptism. I did not understand that part. As far as I know, the Eastern Orthodox practice is similar to the Eastern Catholic practice, namely, that the Baptism and Confirmation (Chrismation, in their terminology) happen in one single ceremony and that sometimes Communion is administered to the infant also. Perhaps I am missing something. I know that baptized babies also receive Communion as their parents bring them while receiving themselves.

So I am confused about the actual Baptism. If it did happen, then, since there is only one Christian Baptism, your child cannot be baptized again. When she is older, she may be brought into the Catholic Church community with a Profession of Faith and then receive Communion. However, to even think of that possibility (or probability), you should check on your own status as a practicing (?) Catholic.

All of this is best accomplished in collaboration with your own local parish priest.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 4, we received these questions:

Good Day!

I recently had twins. A boy and girl. I have several issues with whom we want the "godparents" to be. I am getting conflicting answers from different priests in our area. I looked on line and found the cannon law as to who a sponsor can be for baptism. I wanted to have two different godmothers and godfathers for my children. I want them to have their own special bond with their godparents. The problem their lies that one of the godmothers we want is Jewish (my husband's aunt). She is my husband's godmother but my parish priest told me that she can not be the godmother. Cant she be a witness and still be on the alter during the baptism??? The second problem is that one of the godfathers is married but not married in the catholic church, as well he is only baptized catholic and never received any of his other sacraments. Can he be godfather and if not can he then be a witness and still be on the alter?

thanks in advance for your help.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

RND,

You only need one godparent, or one for each twin if you wish. Two others may stand by the font with the baptismal party as "witnesses. They are not godparents..

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


Dear Father -

I have a situation in which I need help and I believe that only a priest in the Catholic Church can answer my question. I was baptized in Macedonia (my mother's birthplace) in the Christian Orthodox faith. I have a 4 year old daughter who has never been baptized - not because I have not seen that it is important, but because of my personal confusion. Her father and I are no longer together, but he is Catholic. He was baptized, had his first holy communion and confirmation in the faith. He is still a part of her life. I am now engaged to be married to a wonderful man who is also a Catholic (baptized, 1st holy communion, confirmation and attends mass as much as possible). I myself have not known what to do as far as her baptism is concerned, but have been praying each evening with my daughter about it. We ask the Lord together to help guide us in the right direction. The answer I have received is that it is imperative that she is baptized and I want her to be baptized in the Catholic Church. My question is this; can she be baptized in the church if I myself am not a Catholic? Are there any rules against that? If so, what do I need to do? I pray that you will have some guidance for me and that I receive an answer soon, I fear that I have waited too long to do this. But one thing I know about our Lord is that he is forgiving and now that I am on the right path and initiating the process, he will never let me down. Thank you for your time and your ear Father, I thiank God that you are out there to lend you guidance and knowledge.

God Bless.

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Elizabeth,

In answer to your letter I shall make some general comments and try to put a context to your query. Of course, your own parish priest will be able to help you best.

The Holy Spirit is certainly nudging you to some action in the upbringing of your daughter. The first important thing is that you, her mother, be yourself an authentic disciple of Jesus. Then you will be able with fullness of heart to tell your daughter about Jesus, teach her to pray, to love and care for others, etc.

One of the directions in Church Law is that there be a “founded hope” that a child will be raised in the practice of the Faith after Baptism. You can go over this with your parish priest.

To put some further light [I hope] on this, let me reflect upon a couple of other things. It will be important that you yourself and your future husband be fully in the framework of the Sacraments of the Church, even if you remain Orthodox. Of course, formally entering the Catholic Church remains an option, but it is not necessary for the Baptism of a child. The Rite of the father determines the Rite of a baptized child.

Of importance for a Sacramental Christian marriage in the current situation is the status of your relationship with the father of your daughter. You only state you are “no longer together.” The Church [that is, the disciples of Jesus called together into community] represented by the parish priest will ask some questions.

Were you married when you gave birth to your daughter? Or unmarried? If unmarried, there are no further complications.

If you were married, was it in the Church or was it a civil marriage? If it was a civil marriage, the case is simple because the husband, being Catholic, did not follow the rules of the Catholic Church in getting married.

If the marriage was celebrated in the Catholic Church, or with the permission of the Bishop, anywhere else, then it becomes more complex. The reason is that to be married in the Sacrament both spouses must be “free to marry.” Any previous marriage would have to be examined to see if there was something essential lacking at the time of the wedding which would make the marriage invalid. There is a precise procedure at the local Diocesan Tribunal to do that. Your parish priest can help you in this process.

May Jesus and His Spirit, who assure us of the Father’s ever enduring love and care for us, be with you in your daily life’s journey toward eternal life.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 23, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am writing to you today, because we are getting ready to baptize our daughter who is two years old. We tried it once before, but the godparent did not work out he started to go through (RCIA) to be confirmed but ended up quitting the classes. We have again chosen two other godparents one being a practicing Catholic with all sacraments, and the other who is not baptized. I know you must have atleast one Catholic godparent that is practicing, but what about the second godparent is it allowed even if he isn't baptized? Can he be a godparent or I think the term they use is guardian? I know he will not go through (RCIA) at this point, but I was hoping if this was something he was able to do it would encourage him to get baptized.

Thank you

Rob

Fr. Malloy answers:

Rob,

One godparent is sufficient. If you would like another, who is without the full requirements, he/she may stand as a Witness along with the godparent.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 15, we received this question:

GOOD MORNiNG fathers!!!

Well my best friend is expecting her first baby and we are talking about baptizing the baby. She would like for me and our other best friend, who is a female, to be god parents. Now, my question is can there be two god-mothers than one god-father and one god-father? If not, why not?

Elyse

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Elyse,

Your question is answered by the law: Canon Law.

In the official guidelines for the Rite of Christian Initiation the following apply to godparents:

10. A godparent has to be approved by the judgment of the parish priest (pastor) being qualified to carry out the proper liturgical functions.

10.1 Each candidate may have either a godmother or a godfather, or both..

10.2 Those designated must have the capability and intention of carrying out the responsibilities of a godparent and be mature enough to do so.

They also should have received the three sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and eucharist.

Other considerations and possible exceptions should be discussed with the pastor.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On January 12, we received this question:

Hi there,

I just had a question. If you get married in a chapel rather than in the church, what are the rules regarding baptism? Can you still baptize a child if you're not married in a church? Is it ok as long as you are married by a priest in a chapel? I am just curious as I am trying to plan my wedding. I was planning to get married in a small, quaint chapel in the country of Mass, but I am afraid that because I'm Catholic, if I don't get married in the catholic church, I won't be able to have future children baptized.

Thank you for your help.

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear tcane,

Your letter brings up several issues. Even though we "multi-ask" all the time, nevertheless we can only think about each thing one at a time and build a context around them.

First, you are preparing to get married! What a marvelous call by God to a man and a woman to become spouses with the potential to become parents! The Catholic Church [= community of called together disciples of Jesus] believes that baptized persons are only truly married when they are married in the Sacrament of Marriage. This should be uppermost in your mind. Any other thing, civil or religious, leaves a baptized Catholic simply un-married! It would have to be "blessed" in the Church to become the Sacrament. So you should contact your local parish priest to help you prepare and to do all the things required so that the Church [definition above] can ascertain that a Sacrament has happened.

Sometimes there are circumstances that, when explained to the Bishop, he may give permission to be married in a place other than a parish church; or even that a non-Catholic officiant may preside. Ordinarily marriages take place in the parish of either the bride or the groom.

Regarding the Baptism of children, the specific requirement in Canon [Church] Law is that godparents be practicing Catholics and, if married, are in the Sacrament of Marriage. The responsibilities of parents are explained two times in the Baptism ceremony: that they bring children up in the "practice of the faith." This is pretty difficult to promise when the parents themselves are not practicing the faith. "Practice of the faith" means first to be married in the Sacrament and then to participate at Eucharist on Sundays, and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently, especially when one is conscious of serious sin. There are, of course, further indicators that one is "practicing the faith."

These things are what parents should consider when asking Baptism for their children.

Blessings and peace in this new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 9, we received this question:

hello fathers,

i have recently been asked to be godmother to my younger cousin and his wifes child which i feel very honoured to do ,the problem is that they are both catholic and i am not ....this is not through choice ,religion was just never put to me as i was growing up so i suppose i dont follow a religion as such ,i just try to be a good person myself and my partner are not married and live together with our two children ,does this affect my ability to be reconised as godmother in the catholic church...anything you can tell me would be much appreciated thank you for your time.

Fr. John Itzaina answers:

Kirsty,

I don't think you would be an appropriate choice for a godmother for your cousin's child. The requirements are that a godparent take their job seriously of helping the parents "bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith." (Baptismal Rite) By your own admission you don't follow any religion. Doesn't seem like you would be the best godmother for their child. Baptism is an requirement for the celebration of all the other sacraments like marriage, and eucharist and reconcilation. How would you be able to give the example needed in the life of this child?

I wonder why they asked you. They obviously see something in you that from your description of your beliefs you don't see yourself. They want to share their joy with you at the baptism of their child. What a great opportunity to see beyond your rather generic ethical life and enter into the world of a loving and caring God.

Fr. John Itzaina, SDB


On January 7, we received these questions:

Hello

I want to have my daughter's baptism in June on or around her third birthday.

I have no clue where to start she is half mexician and i am americian.

I was baptized when I was 10 years old Christian. my husband is Catholic but has not to go to mass due to work.

I guess my question is how do I plan a Catholic baptism? My first daughter was baptized in Mexico her grandmother planned the whole thing.

Another question is I live in a small town with many friends to ask to be godparents how should I look for the right people for that honor? I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you

Danielle

Fr. Harold Danielson:

Dear Amy Danielle,

With everything that has happened, the Holy Spirit is still nudging you to celebrate the Sacraments of the Church.. It is up to us to say OK to the Spirit and follow up on the lead of Jesus, our Lord.

There are several things implied in having a Baptism. None of them have to do with what kind of party or family gathering that may happen afterward.

The first implication of Baptism is that the child is brought into the community of faith of disciples of Jesus, that is, the Church. Thus in the ceremony parents and godparents are reminded as are all of us, that they must bring up the child in the "practice of the faith". This is very difficult to do if we are not practicing the faith ourselves.

One of the main elements of "practice of the faith" which permits us to celebrate the other Sacraments with open hearts is living in the grace of a Sacramental Marriage.

The Church believes that the only way a Catholic is married to another baptized person is through the Sacrament of Marriage. This means that an official representative of the Church [priest or deacon] receives the wedding vows in the name of the Church. If no priest is present, then the persons are simply not validly married.

So as the Holy Spirit is clearly urging you to celebrate the Baptism of your child, that same Spirit is also urging you and your husband into the "practice of the faith" by preparing for marriage in the Church, and by participating at Eucharist [Mass] on Sundays.

All of this means you should meet with your local parish priest without delay.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

P.S. Here is a simple article explaining about godparents:

Godparents

Everyone baptized into the church receives a godparent. Godparents assist the baptized "to lead a Christian life in harmony with Baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it." That means we ask very little or very much, depending on how you look at it.

To be a godparent you must be 16, baptized, confirmed in the Catholic church, taking communion with us, leading a life in harmony with faith, and not a parent of the one to be baptized. Godparents may be chosen by the one to be baptized, by the parents or guardians, or even by the pastor or parish minister. A baptized non-Catholic may serve as a witness to the Baptism if a Catholic godparent also takes part. Only one godparent is needed, although two may serve. The baptismal godparent becomes the preferred sponsor for Confirmation.

Very often people will ask a family member to be a godparent. This has the advantage of binding families together. However, a godparent from the parish community may make a better choice. A parishioner can set a good example for the child from week to week and can represent the role of the entire parish community bringing Christ to each new member.

Some families have further expectations of godparents of young children. They may expect a gift at the child's birthday or further assistance throughout life. Some godparents devote a lot of time with their godchildren others do not. The church does not specify these extended responsibilities; families may discuss them with their godparents.

Godparents for adults play an important role during Lent. They support the catechumen at the rite of election and the scrutinizes in addition to the rite of initiation. They usually are the sponsors who have accompanied the catechumens throughout their preparation. If the adult joining the church has already been baptized, his/her sponsor remains a "sponsor" since a godparent already exists.

During infant Baptism, we ask godparents if they will help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. We invite them to renew their baptismal vows together with the parents, and they may assist in lighting the child's candle. However, parents hold the child for the Baptism.

by Paul Turner


Hello Fathers,

My name is Zach and Im an Episcopalian. I'm 15 years old and Ive been attending my church for a year. Until recently I didnt know whether I had been baptized or not. Turns out I wasnt. I dont know if you know alot about Episcopalian Baptism, but it was worth a try. I am the only member of my family attending and have decided I wanted to become baptized. I spoke with a friend about it and he told me a Godparent must be chosen and present. It could be a member of the church or a parent, they just have to be faithful to God. I really dont know anyone at my church well enough to ask them to be my Godparent. And Im a little apprehensive upon asking my dad, because he doesnt like to go to church, because he thinks alot of the people are hypocrites.

So my questions are: Hello Fathers,

My name is Zach and Im an Episcopalian. I'm 15 years old and Ive been attending my church for a year. Until recently I didnt know whether I had been baptized or not. Turns out I wasnt. I dont know if you know alot about Episcopalian Baptism, but it was worth a try. I am the only member of my family attending and have decided I wanted to become baptized. I spoke with a friend about it and he told me a Godparent must be chosen and present. It could be a member of the church or a parent, they just have to be faithful to God. I really dont know anyone at my church well enough to ask them to be my Godparent. And Im a little apprehensive upon asking my dad, because he doesnt like to go to church, because he thinks alot of the people are hypocrites.

So my questions are:

Does a Godparent have to be present?

Do the parents have to be present?

And if the parents are present can they be the Godparents?

Much appreciative,

Zach

Fr. John Itzaina answers:

Zach,

How did you never get baptized? For Catholics, it sounds strange. I can only tell you what's required in the Catholic Church. Probably the Episcopalian Church is similar. Another name for Episcopalians is "English Catholics," so I would suspect they are similar. You might ask your local Episcopal priest what's the procedure.

In the Catholic baptismal ceremony at least one of the godparents has to be a practicing Catholic. "Practicing" to me means fairly regular attendance at Sunday Eucharist and a lifestyle that is obviously Catholic. In the Catholic baptismal ceremony of adults, the godparents are reminded that their "job" is to continue to help him (her) to serve Christ by your words and example." Implied, to me anyway, is living the expected Christian-Catholic life.

Personally I wouldn't have my father or mother, who didn't think it that important for me to be baptized, to be godparents. Maybe they were of the opinion that you should make up your mind when you were ready to make up your mind. Could it have just slipped their minds? Hmm, I wonder? I wouldn't pick someone who doesn't go to church for whatever reason. But your baptism, freely chosen and thought about and prayed about, is a wonderful occasion to get your Dad and Mother back into church.

Maybe you didn't want to hear all this, and just wanted some simple answers. Welcome to the real world: there are no simple answers!

Fr. John Itzaina, SDB


On December 29, we received this question:

Hello Fathers,

I am not Catholic, but my husband is, though not practicing. He would like for the two Guatemalan children we are adopting to be baptized Catholic. My husband has an uncle who is Priest in Mexico. Would this baptism be recognized by the Catholic Church? Or do we need to have another Priest present?

Thank you,

Amanda

Fr. Harold responds:

Dear Amanda,

Whenever a person is baptized in the Catholic Church, that is unique and recognized in the whole world.

The ordinary circumstances for infants to be baptized is after the parents and godparents have had some instruction on their obligations toward the baptized persons usually in the context of their own parish community. If children are of "catechetical age," a church term essentially meaning "already in school," then a more extensive preparation is required to get to an age-appropriate understanding of the Sacrament. Usually this means being in a First Communion program, then celebrating Baptism before the First Communion.

Another thing to be aware of: parents and godparents are reminded in the Baptism ceremony of the importance of bringing the children up in the "practice of the faith." It is very difficult to make this promise if one is not practicing the faith himself. So a priest, even the uncle of an adoptive father, would try to assure himself that the children have the possibility of growing up as practicing Catholics. Otherwise the Church would invite parents to wait until they are ready to actually do this. This is implied in the canon law article which says that it is not licit to baptize a child unless there is a "founded" hope that the child will grow up in the practice of faith.

 

Blessings and peace at Christmas time and for the new year!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 15, we received this question:

Dear Father,

Our daughter, Caoimhe, was born September 13, 2007. Her birth has elicited in me an urgency to return to my Catholic faith, and I need help and guidance in order to do so. I am hoping that you can help me.

It is important to me that Caoimhe be baptized and raised Catholic, and my husband agrees. I believe that my husband and I have some "spiritual housekeeping" to do, and I do not know how, or whether, this affects Caoimhe being baptized.

Background

I am a baptized Catholic from birth, and celebrated First Communion and Reconciliation, but was never confirmed, and I have lapsed in my practice for some years. I would like to be confirmed and understand that I must do so through RCIA.

My husband was baptized and raised Presbyterian. We were married two and a half years ago by a Lutheran minister. My husband agrees with me that our children should be baptized and raised Catholic. My husband has expressed interest in exploring Catholicism with an eye toward conversion, but is not ready to convert immediately. We have been attending mass together with our daughter these past few weeks since our daughter's birth.

My husband was married once before, 15 years ago. This marriage was in a non-denominational Christian church. The marriage ended acrimoniously in divorce eight years ago due to infidelity by his then wife, who had also changed her mind about wanting to have children (before they married they both wanted children; after they married, she decided she did not want to have children). My husband does not know where this woman is.

Questions

Must my marriage be convalidated (can it be?), in order for Caoimhe to be baptized?

What must we do to have our marriage convalidated?

Must I be confirmed before my marriage can be convalidated or before Caoimhe can be baptized?

Can I partake of the Eucharist given my current marriage status?

How can I and my husband "get right" with the Church, and how does this affect Caoimhe being baptized?

Thank you very much for any guidance you can give me.

Best regards,

Mary

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Mary,

Although "multi-tasking" has only entered our ordinary spoken vocabulary a short time ago, what with iPods, MP3's, cell phones, text messaging, picture taking, etc., nevertheless our human brains have been doing it for age upon age. We have taken doing many things at once to new heights. However, one thing remains true: in written or spoken conversation, we can only say or write about one thing at a time.

You have presented you family in many of its characteristics quite well. You have even made a list of questions. I shall try to reply to you in an orderly fashion and even add a few questions of my own.

First of all, about the baptism of your infant daughter: The Code of Canon [Church] Law expects that godparents to be confirmed Catholics who practice their Faith. The Law also states that to licitly baptize an infant, there must be a "founded hope" that the child will be formed to the practice of the Faith.

So your own marital status as parents is not the criteria for baptizing. Your intent to practice the Faith is. Of course, without parents' own practice of Faith, it seems contradictory to make promises in the Baptism ceremony that they will train their child in the Faith that they do not practice.

You are already responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit in your lives to begin doing something about this. You yourself know that practice of Faith means receiving the Sacraments, and you want to prepare for that. In our RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] at Sts. Peter and Paul, we regularly have some candidates who have been baptized but are now preparing for Confirmation.

But Confirmation probably will not be available to you without being able first to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage - which brings up another series of questions.

Your current marriage situation is outside of the Sacramental framework of the Catholic Church. Even if , in the end, nothing can be done about one's personal status, nevertheless people are always encouraged to participate at Sunday Eucharist [Mass] to be practicing as far as possible for the benefit of baptized children. This is where you are at this moment.

Thus we come to the point what to do next. You have already done some research. Your use of the word "convalidated" demonstrates that. You, therefore, know that some things need to be accomplished.

First of all, we must remind ourselves that the Catholic Church, i.e., the gathered together community of disciples of Jesus [equals all of us], has a very deep respect, honor and love for marriage wherever it happens according to law and custom, unless it is proved otherwise. But the Church makes rules for its own members. For a couple with no connections to the Catholic Church who get married at city hall, in a Reno wedding chapel, in a church community, a temple or at the beach, the Catholic Church upholds the marriage as true and valid marriage. If a Catholic, however, tries to do the same thing, that marriage is invalid. For a valid Catholic marriage, a Sacramental one, there must be the couple, two witnesses and the official representative of the Church, the priest or deacon. So everything else is simply no marriage.

Now with this understanding, before your own marriage can be "convalidated", an inquiry into your husband's first marriage would have to be presented to your local Diocesan Tribunal. If perchance his former wife was a Catholic, the marriage could be declared invalid simply because of not following the Catholic rules. If she was not a Catholic, then the marriage would be true and valid unless proved otherwise. That is the task for the Tribunal. You gave a hint about that in your letter. For example, if there was a witness [a sister or cousin or best friend] who had heard her declare that she never wanted children at a time before the wedding, that might be proof enough.

When all that is done (and it is never certain beforehand what the outcome might be), a freedom to marry declaration would be issued. Then you can get your marriage blessed in the Sacrament; you can be confirmed; and your husband [when and if he wishes] could journey in the RCIA and enter the Church.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 27, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

My grandson is half Jewish (was having Jewish circumcision ceremony conducted by Mohel and a Rabbi on 8th day of his birthday – Brisk)

Is it appropriate for him to be baptized at the church? How do you feel about this? Would that have enough of spiritual values?

Thank you in advance,

P.S. Your advice for his grandparent of both sides (should they participate or not necessarily)

Looking forward to hear from you soon

Fr. Harold Danielson:

Dear Marina,

The best thing that both sets of grandparents can do for their grandchildren is to pray for them. Pray for them entrusting them into the hands of their loving Father and Creator.

Baptism implies that one not only enters the community of Church [the gathered together disciples of Jesus] but also grows in that community throughout life. In fact every person is baptized with that hope, for without that founded hope, a Baptism is illicit.

So you pray, and your grandson's parents will do what they are inspired by the Holy Spirit to do.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Dear Fathers,

I am a baptized non-Catholic with many questions about becoming a godparent. My boyfriend, whom I plan on spending the rest of my life with, was asked to be the godfather of his best friend's baby boy. My boyfriend is non-Catholic and has never been baptized, however, has just begun taking the classes necessary to become Catholic in order for this to take place. I worry that he does not yet understand it's importance, nor the significance of what he is doing. I also worry that he is only doing this to become the child's godfather and nothing more. Could you please give me some guidance so that I may communicate better with him.

Thank you!

Troubled Christian

Fr. Malloy answers:

Dear Troubled,

Put the problem in the Lord's hands.

I pray the RCIA classes he's taking will touch his soul and strengthen his will.

You can even join him in the classes.

Apart from that it would be easy enough to engage him in some questions concerning what has transpired in the recent classes. His answers will show you how sincere he is and that the classes are in accord with the Catholic Catechism.

Honesty in that matter will promote honesty in your marriage.

Don't settle for anything less than the truth . That's good marriage insurance.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On October 3, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My husband and I are both practicing Catholics in the military (Navy) we have recently moved to Hawaii. We were married at Sts Peter and Paul in March of 2002. We have one child that was baptized at the Naval Academy chapel last year. I am pregnant again, due in February. Is it possible to have our second child baptized there at Sts Peter and Paul? It will be easier to get us/ godparents/ grandparents together in San Francisco than in Hawaii (my family is in SF, my husband's family is on the East Coast). And, since none of us live there, would it be possible to attend the preparation classes at our own parishes?

Thank you so much for your help. Our current geographic situation makes things a little complicated.

Thank you!!

Very Respectfully,

LCDR Julie

Fr. Itzaina responds:

Julie,

Congratulations on your second pregnancy! What we require that parents (or at least one parent, but both are preferred) and God parents attend a baptismal preparation class, wherever. Submit a baptismal prep certificate to Ss. Peter and Paul. Try to do that prior to setting a date for the baptism. Ss. Peter and Paul would be happy to do the baptism in the same place as your marriage. Most baptisms are on Sunday in the afternoon. It's almost impossible to to have one on Saturday. Sometimes there is a cancellation of a wedding and it then becomes possible, but don't bet on it! I would believe you would like to have it on a weekend, don't you?

Fr. John Itzaina, SDB, Pastor


On September 22, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

I was baptized in Cuba. Me grandmother had all of my records. She has passed and I have been trying to locate them. Nobody knows where to look and I do not know the name of the church where this took place, being I was so small. I am planning a wedding and I have nothing to show to have my dream wedding. What can I do? Do I have to register and get re-baptized? My fiancé’ on the other hand has his.

-worried

Fr. Itzaina responds:

Dear Worried,

Many people can't find their baptismal records. Try a couple of other ways. Have you received first holy communion? If you did, where did you make your first holy communion? How about confirmation? See if you can find these documents. When you have one of these documents, it (they) will give you when and where you were baptized. Take that first; if that doesn't work, we'll try something else.

Fr. John Itzaina


On September 6, 2007, we received this question:

Both my children were brought up as Catholics attending Catholic school through high school. I teach in a Catholic school. Recently my daughter and son-in-law (who is also a baptized Catholic) had a baby, but neither of them are practicing Catholics and don't want their son baptized. They were married in a non-denominational church. Could I baptize my grandson and commit to raising him in the Catholic church as much as I can? (I see him a few times a month). This is an innocent child and I feel heart-broken that they don't want him baptized.

Thanks, Mary

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Mary,

Today the Church remembers Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa early in her mission picked up dying, destitute people from the streets of Calcutta in order to give them some personal love and dignity for those precious moments before they died. She did not baptize any of them.

The Church desires that the parents themselves be the ones to request Baptism for their child, whish includes the great desire that as they promise to rear their child in the "practice of Faith" that they do it themselves. Grandparents have the role of St. Monica in her prayers for her son Augustine, who finally accepted Baptism and the other Sacraments at the age of 33. You be a good example, first; then having the child accompany you to Sunday Mass and get acquainted with the church building and also the community in it will have the lasting impression on him.

Of course, all these things are best discussed with your own parish priest, not just an almost anonymous letter.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 31, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

My fiance and I are confirmed Roman Catholics. We had a daughter this past January and are looking to have her baptized in our church, hopefully this fall. We plan to be married July of next year. Will the church allow us to have her baptized or will they disagree?

Thank you for your help.

Rich

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Rich,

First of all, give praise and thanks to God who has entrusted a new human being to you and your fiancée to love and nurture and teach her by example what it means to be human first of all and within that frame to be a child of God. Spoken prayer to God from both of you should be among the first experiences as she grows.

Now, the circumstances in which you find yourself is not uncommon in human history nor in the history of the disciples of Jesus. The important thing is the Sacrament of Reconciliation into the Church community and then striving to be good disciples, realizing our human weaknesses and responding to God's grace in life.

Next, there are a variety of expectations of the community of disciples of Jesus [the Church] in so many places in the world.

In our country too, couples in your situation may find a variety of responses when they approach a parish for a child's Baptism.

Let me set up a couple of scenarios:

A man and woman are friends. They attend Mass together regularly at their local parish church. They say hello to the various priests who celebrate Mass each week. The priests get to know them and greet them warmly on Sundays. Then it happens [not the ideal, but very human] that the woman becomes pregnant. They still attend Mass together and are in contact with their pastor. They plan to get married, but that cannot happen for a while. At this point several things may occur. Maybe the couple move in together. Maybe they get married civilly before the court. Maybe they choose to stay apart, seeing one another regularly for the benefit of the child, and preparing to enter the Sacrament of Matrimony in close contact with the community of Church. Or maybe other possibilities.

At this point enters the discerning element of the pastor of the parish. Perhaps he thinks that this couple are truly prepared to live their life as real disciples of Jesus in the community of Church with all its Sacraments. Then perhaps he might prepare them for Baptism of their baby right away. Sometimes, whether or not the pastor thinks that the couple really want to be practicing Catholics, on the human level he may ask the couple to wait for a while before baptizing, possibly till the child is a year old or more. That way [the pastor may theorize] the parents may understand more about themselves, they may not marry at all, they may separate, they may make arrangements for child custody and support or finally they might enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony.

All of the above are when the pastor already knows the couple who are part of the parish community. It does become very different when a couple comes to the parish office for the first time and nobody knows them. It will take some time to understand whether the parents are sincere when they promise to rear their child in "the practice of the faith" as is asked of them two times in the Baptism ceremony. When there is nothing to go on, the pastor may be thinking of the requirement for "licit" Baptism that there is a "founded basis" that the child will be reared in the practice of the Catholic Faith.

The above is a theoretical presentation. In practice, you should reflect upon your own practice of faith, then speak with your parish priest and follow his guidance.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 13, we received this question:

Fathers:

I was recently on your site, and an interesting thing has recently popped up in my life. My sister (who is my daughters godmother) and my brother in law have recently changed their religion from Roman Catholic to Born again Christian. Now, my niece is being "baptised" into this faith. My questions are this: I am the godmother to their youngest son, who is now being brought up into this religion. Would it be out of the question to approach them and ask them not to have him baptised yet until he has practiced his original religion? I would feel slighted because it doesn't seem as if they made the effort (or the sacrifice) to try and raise them Catholic because they do not agree with some of the churches teachings. Also, because they are my daughters godparents, now that they are not Catholic, can I choose new godparents? How would I get this new choice recognized by the church?

Thank-you-

Confused

Fr. John Itzaina answers:

Life gets complicated when people or relatives leave the Catholic Church and commit themselves and their children to another Christian religion.

Maybe we should start with the sacrament of Baptism. The Catechism of the Church states "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church, and made sharers in her mission." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1213)

The parents are the first and foremost educators to the faith for their children. Even in the Baptismal rite, they are singled out: "You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor." Then to the godparents: "Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents."

All the pressure is on the parents; little or none of the responsibility is on the godparents. In fact, what the godparents do is stand in for the Christian community who support and affirm its members in their Christian duties as parents and believers. So, if a godparent is unable to "help" the parents, the Christian community should step in to become "helpers" of the parents in raising their children to be good Christians.

As for your own godparent responsibilities, remember, it is the primary responsibility of the parents to raise their children. Support them and your godchild as best you can, pray for them and give good example...let God take care of the rest.

Fr. John Itzaina, SDB


On August 4, we received this question:

Fathers:

I am a practicing, confirmed Roman Catholic. I have been asked by my German friend to be the Godfather to his son you will be baptized as an Evangelic Lutheran. Is there any impediment from the Roman Catholic church.

Best regards

Marcel

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Marcel,

A Lutheran would not be allowed to be Godfather of a Catholic and I believe that the Lutherans would follow the same reasoning: A Catholic would not be allowed be Godfather of a Lutheran.

Since the role of the Godfather is to support the baptized in the faith, a Catholic can not be expected to support the faith of a Lutheran.

Honorary Godparents can always be allowed, given the good intentions and uprightness of those concerned.

Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB


On July 9, we received this question:

Fathers:

IF I AM A MARRIED CATHOLIC. I WANT TO BAPTIZE A CHILD, CAN I DO IT WITH ANOTHER PERSON AS THE GODFATHER OR, DO I HAVE TO BAPTIZE WITH MY HUSBAND SINCE I AM MARRIED?

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Sylvia,

The ordinary desire of the Church is that godparents be persons other than parents.

Below is a short article on Godparents. It is excellent.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

Godparents

Everyone baptized into the church receives a godparent. Godparents assist the baptized "to lead a Christian life in harmony with Baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it." That means we ask very little or very much, depending on how you look at it.

To be a godparent you must be 16, baptized, confirmed in the Catholic church, taking communion with us, leading a life in harmony with faith, and not a parent of the one to be baptized. Godparents may be chosen by the one to be baptized, by the parents or guardians, or even by the pastor or parish minister. A baptized non-Catholic may serve as a witness to the Baptism if a Catholic godparent also takes part. Only one godparent is needed, although two may serve. The baptismal godparent becomes the preferred sponsor for Confirmation.

Very often people will ask a family member to be a godparent. This has the advantage of binding families together. However, a godparent from the parish community may make a better choice. A parishioner can set a good example for the child from week to week and can represent the role of the entire parish community bringing Christ to each new member.

Some families have further expectations of godparents of young children. They may expect a gift at the child's birthday or further assistance throughout life. Some godparents devote a lot of time with their godchildren others do not. The church does not specify these extended responsibilities; families may discuss them with their godparents.

Godparents for adults play an important role during Lent. They support the catechumen at the rite of election and the scrutinizes in addition to the rite of initiation. They usually are the sponsors who have accompanied the catechumens throughout their preparation. If the adult joining the church has already been baptized, his/her sponsor remains a "sponsor" since a godparent already exists.

During infant Baptism, we ask godparents if they will help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. We invite them to renew their baptismal vows together with the parents, and they may assist in lighting the child's candle. However, parents hold the child for the Baptism.

by Paul Turner


On July 3, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My daughter's Godparents are no longer speaking to my husband and me after a seemingly minor disagreement. They were extremely good friends of ours and we are shocked that they would sever our friendship. After several attempts at reconciliation we have given up hope that the friendship can be repaired, and we were actually told by the husband not to contact them again. Needless to say we are very upset - for us and for our daughter. This is not what we had in mind when we selected Godparents for her. Is there anyway to rename Godparents for her? From what I understand you can't change the legal record, but what steps should we take to ensure she will have suitable Godparents to be there for her as she continues her religious studies and receives her sacraments? Thank you for your help.

Sincerely, Dana

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Dana,

It is most unfortunate that little things get in the way of loving relationships, particularly in families and with good friends. Yet that sort of thing happens frequently. Later on when your daughter is preparing for First Communion, she herself might write a letter to these good friends of yours inviting them to the Mass and celebration.

Oftentimes godparents may be unavailable because they live in another State or country. In such cases as yours or the latter, it is commendable to get a good Confirmation sponsor, despite the recommendation that the Baptismal sponsor should do it. The best examples for your daughter are you and her father. If the Sacraments especially Reconciliation (confession) and Eucharist are integral to your daily life, then they will be important for her too.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hi, Fathers. It's me again. I don't want to bother you again, but I need some more advice.

With your response, it raised some more questions.

Can I still get married in a Catholic church if I do not agree to baptism of my infants until they can decide on their own that they desire to be baptized? Isn't there a decree that my future husband and I need to sign before we get married in the Church, that says that we promise to baptize our kids when they are infants? All I can promise is that I will continue to be same or even better catholic and to take my children to church with me every Sunday and to teach them to pray to God every day.

Again, I'm really greatful for that you are there to help. I'll continue to pray for you.

Thank you.

Linda

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Linda,

You wouldn't tell a youngster that he/she didn't have to eat any vegetable until their decision was made as to what was wanted.

You wouldn't tell youngsters that school was not necessary until they choose to go to class.

Why would you deprive the grace of God to children until they thought it might be good?

Faith is a gift of God and it comes with baptism as a virtue, that is a power though which we can make good choices. Don't cheat a baby out of that gift.

True, the development of faith is also a process of mind and heart, but it is a gift of God and should not be needlessly delayed.

Your husband (non Catholic) does not have to sign the statement.

I do not think you should be married in the Catholic Church, if you are not willing to sign the promise.

It would not opt for a happy union, if he were so opposed to this that the future Catholicity of your children (and yourself) were in jeopardy.

Prayerfully yours,

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On June 30, we received these questions:

Father,

My wife and I were married in a hotel by a christian minister in a Christian/Jewish ceremony. I am a confirmed Catholic. My wife is Jewish. My understanding is that the way the ceremony was performed, it would be considered a civil ceremony? My wife is now pregnant and we want to have the baby baptized and raised Catholic. My wife also wants to convert, but we would like to have the baby baptized before she goes through the complete process. Is this possible and what steps would I have to go through?

Thank you for your help,

David

Fr. John Malloy answers:

David,

Before you have the baby baptized it would be good for you to convalidate the civil marriage

It is not difficult to do this.Talk to the local pastor, or a priest of your choosing.

You, with your wife, should join the RCIA in your local parish.

Your wife would be received into the Catholic Church at Easter time.The presumption is that the parish have such a program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).

If the local parish does not have the RCIA, ask the priest to direct you to an acceptable le program in your diocese.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello,

My husband and I are expecting our first child any time now. She was due on the 24th of June but has yet to make her appearance! We would like to make arrangements to have her baptized in the Catholic Church.

I was not baptized Catholic, however, I have been attending Catholic Church since I was a small child with my mother and grand mother who are Catholic. I was baptized in a United Church. My husband has not been baptized at this point.

Can we please know what is needed in order to have our unborn child baptized in the Catholic church. It is important to both her Father and I that she has a strong Catholic faith as I did growing up.

Please advise,

Thank you

Amanda

 

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 30, we received this question:

Hello,

My husband and I are expecting our first child any time now. She was due on the 24th of June but has yet to make her appearance! We would like to make arrangements to have her baptized in the Catholic Church.

I was not baptized Catholic, however, I have been attending Catholic Church since I was a small child with my mother and grand mother who are Catholic. I was baptized in a United Church. My husband has not been baptized at this point.

Can we please know what is needed in order to have our unborn child baptized in the Catholic church. It is important to both her Father and I that she has a strong Catholic faith as I did growing up.

Please advise,

Thank you

Amanda

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Amanda,

A new life, gift of God! I hope that you have had, or will have, the experience of the labor of love of childbirth. This is an experience of the human condition which ensures the bond of mother and child. At the same time we remember the promise of God to love us far [infinitely] beyond that.

You express a wonderful desire to rear you child in the Catholic Faith. Baptism, of course, is initiation into the community of disciples of Jesus. The Church Law allows baptism of children when at least one parent is Catholic. So it seems that you yourself need to make some steps to be formally initiated into the Catholic Church.

Perhaps some of the details were missing from your written request for information. But at this point it would be wonderful to approach your own parish priest, usually the Catholic Church closest to where you live, or some other parish where you should register, to enter the Christian Initiation of Adults program. Then when it comes time for your formal entry into the Church community, you could also celebrate the Baptism of your child.

Note: your husband [should he wish] could join you in your journey of Faith, but surely only if he himself wants to.

What total changes of life babies cause in so many ways! Give praise to God!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 22, we received these questions:

Dear Fathers,

I have what seems to be a simple question, but so far no one (including my priest) has been able to answer it for me.

My husband (who has always been Catholic) and I (who has not) were asked to be godparents for both our nephew and our best friends' son. We happily agreed. At that time, my husband was listed as the sponsor and I was listed as a witness since I was not Catholic. Since then (both baptisms were 3 years ago), I have gone through RCIA and become Catholic. Does that change my status to a sponsor, or will I always be considered a "witness" since that is what I was originally listed as? Does it matter for my godson's records if I have since converted to Catholicism?

Thank You & God Bless!!

Jen H.

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Jen H,

Congratulations on completion of the RCIA.

You are now a Catholic and can be a sponsor for baptism and/or confirmation.

Since it is recommended that sponsors for baptism also be sponsors for confirmation whenever possible, you have a good chance to change your status from witness to sponsor when the child is confirmed.

Meantime it is your actions and support that count in the spiritual life of your charge. That's much more important than a name.

No, it won't affect your godson's record. We do hope that it affects your godson's conduct as a Catholic through your good example and support.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

By tradition, many have assumed that since a male person was listed in court records as being the uncle and godfather of a certain infant, that therefore the mother's maiden name must have been the same as the godfather's surname.

It is my hypothesis that there are other possibilities. Could it have been that the uncle and godfather was a brother-in-law of the infants father, or a brother-in-law of the mother's sister? In support, the spouse of a sister to the father would be an uncle of the infant, or the husband of the mother's sister would be an uncle.

Is there any requirement as to the blood relationship of the godfather to the family? Or, could it have been that an uncle by marriage was the godfather.

The time period in question is the early 1700s.

--Joe

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Joseph,

Church law only requires a godparent to be a practicing Catholic, not a relative of the person to be baptized. Thus all of your theoretical assumptions are correct.

From your last statement I am assuming that you are doing some family tree genealogical studies. Certainly in all ages of the Church close relatives became godparents of infants at Baptism. This means that following up on your various theoretical situations you may find, back in those times, another family member whose family tree may tie in with yours.

Blessings & peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 18, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

Most recently my young cousin became pregnant and asked me to baptize the child. I was honored and thankful. I have always been a part of my little cousin’s life and have always been someone to encourage her to do well, whether it be at school or to worship the Lord. My question is, I am not Catholic, therefore, I don’t know of the rules that I am suppose to follow, for I do want to respect the Catholic Church. Nobody is being clear on the subject, just telling me that I have to make the sacraments. I am an avid believer in Christ and go to church all the time. I do want to be a part of the child’s life in more ways than just being a cousin, I want to teach the child what I have learned about our Lord. Please, if you will, may I ask you for advice on this subject. I don’t know where else to turn. The baby will not be here until beginning of December so I know there is time. However, I don’t feel I have time because of the rules/laws of the Catholic Church.

Most Sincerely,

Erica

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Erica,

One who baptizes a child (or adult) in the Catholic Church must be an ordained minister (priest, bishop or deacon).

The one who stands up for the baptized is called Sponsor (God-parent).

I presume your cousin wants you to be a God-parent.

To be a God-parent for a Catholic baptism one must be a Catholic in good standing with the Church, confirmed, and at least 16 years of age.

Since you are not a Catholic, but are a Christian believing in Christ and His law, you may be a honorary God-parent.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On June 16, we received these questions:

I am a baptized and confirmed Catholic in my late twenties. My boyfriend is a Buddhist. We love each other and want to get married. My boyfriend and I have agreed that he would not convert. Our only problem is that he wants to delay baptism of our children until they are old enough to make their own decisions. Both our families are strong in our beliefs and we both know that our families will object to our marriage if we don't do what they want, that is each family wants their own religion to be the only religion.

I go to church every Sunday, I do the rosary almost every day, I donate to the church as much as I can, I've done charity work with my catholic group and continue to plan to do more with charities. I try really hard to be a good catholic, but now I am torn. I have a hearing disability and it's not easy for me to find someone who loves me for me. My boyfriend really takes care of me, he really boosts up my confidence and helps me with all my problems. He's sensitive to all my vulnerabilities and only wants to make me happy. He really loves me for me and I know that he will be a good husband and father. He just feels that everyone should have the chance to grow as a person and be able to choose what they believe in. He is willing to let me take my children to church and even agreed to go to church with me on major masses like Easter and Christmas and he even said that they can go to catholic school and he will marry in a church and do the marriage classes too. I really love him, and I don't want to lose someone who is so good to me and makes me feel whole. I do not want to have to go searching for someone else. I just feel that life is short and I want to start spending my life with someone and start having a family. I've been struggling about this for a year now, and I don't know what do. I want to continue to be a good catholic, so if I don't baptize my children when they are born, then what does that make me, sinful and no longer a catholic? I vow that I will never stop believing in God and that I promise to raise my kids to believe in God like I do. Please help me as soon as you can. Idon't know how much longer I can take this stress.

Thank you so much for helping me. I pray that God bless you for helping people with the right advice.

Fr. Harold Danielson Answers:

Dear Linda,

What a wonderful relationship you describe! And your own participation in faith is remarkable!

Perhaps when it gets to the point in your marriage preparation and he witnesses the promise you make, as the Catholic spouse in a marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person, he may become willing to acknowledge the long history of the Catholic Church in beginning the journey of Faith and Sacraments with infant Baptism.

Both you and he are of age, so you know people who have given up the practice of faith. That is a choice also. Often that happens because of a lack of good example around them. Sometime is happens because of lack of authentic instruction in faith. Sometimes it is simply that not doing it is easier than doing it. And this hits the important point that living the faith requires internal decision and external action. I commend you on your own efforts. This is an example for your spouse and also for any children.

My impression is that your children will be most fortunate to have you as their mother. The same for your husband as he continues to love and care for you through a lifetime.

As for baptizing any infant children, let time take care of it. For yourself: Sunday Mass, the center of our Christian life, the high point of our response to the Father's love; everything of our Christian life leads to and flows from Eucharist. Remember the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently. Regular prayer will keep you attuned to the voice of the Spirit in the depth of your own self. Jesus is the Friend, who asks, "Come, with Me."

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 12, we received this question:

My daughter, non catholic and not baptized, and her boyfriend, non practicing catholic, are due to have their first baby. He would like to get the baby baptized. The baby's last name will be the mothers and she is not baptized, can the baby still be baptized? Also can the baby still be baptized in the catholic church if the father does not go to church?

Sincerely,

Theresa

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Theresa,

Ordinarily, the Catholic Church's position in reference to your problem would be negative.

Unless there is hope of the baby being raised in the faith, baptism should be deferred.

I would suggest the father contact the local Catholic priest for further details regarding this request.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On June 8, we received these questions:

Fathers:

My sister has asked me to be the Godmother of her daughter. I was baptized and confirmed a Catholic but I am currently attending a Protestant church with my husband and have not been attending the Catholic Church that I was raised in. Mostly due to the fact that I moved away from this church and have yet to find a Catholic church that I want to join. My sister mentioned to me that her church is requesting all God Parents to have a “Sponsor Form” submitted prior to the actual baptism. I am the God Parent of my sister’s son as well and was never asked to provide such a form. If this is a required form how would I go about getting it? The Baptism is less than 4 weeks away and I don’t see me joining another Catholic Church by then. Can I request this form from the church I was originally confirmed in even though I am not currently practicing there?

Your thoughts and comments are much appreciated!

Thanks and Regards,

Christine – Bayonne, NJ

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Christine,

Canon [Church] Law directs that godparents be "confirmed Catholics and living in harmony with their Faith." The Law does say that a person not of the Catholic faith may be acknowledged as a "Christian witness."

So to your situation: You do not mention whether you are married in the Catholic Church. This falls in the category of "living in harmony with their Faith." If you are married in the Church and have a firm intention of joining and participating in a Catholic parish community, then choose quickly, get to the parish office and register in the parish and explain to the parish priest your situation and your resolution, then he may be led to give you the OK to be a godparent.

If you were not married in the Catholic Church, it takes longer to accomplish the total re-integration into a Catholic parish community. So regarding your niece's Baptism, you might be a "Christian witness" for now, which would automatically become "godparent" when you get married with the Sacrament of Matrimony and are a member of a Catholic parish community.

In the previous paragraph I stated "it takes longer", that is because you would have to begin preparation for you marriage in the Church. Most dioceses throughout the country require six months at least for this.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Hello.

I found your site and it is very informative. I have a question that I couldn't seem to find an answer for browsing through your Q and A. I was baptised as a catholic and my husband also, he went through all the sacraments however I was confirmed Lutheran years ago. We were married at court 20 years ago. We have a 17 yr. old a 13 yr. old and a 9 yr. old of whom were never baptised. My younger two children are showing much interest in being baptised, but I understood this to be a problem as I was not confirmed catholic. Is it too late for them? Do you think my local church would accept them being so much older than the norm? thank you in advance for any help.

Pam

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Pam,

I would think that any parish priest would be joyfully excited to meet you and your children, to help you to get your marriage blessed in the Church, and to get your children into a religious instruction program to prepare for the Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

Of course it is a journey that you make together with the parish priest and the community of the parish, through its religion instructors and classes, and for yourself in a Christian Initiation group for the Sacraments.

Children are often an instrument of God's grace in a family. Yours are responding to a nudging of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 5, we received this question:

My wife is one of two children in her family. Both were raised Catholic. Her brother has since stopped practicing the faith for a long time. Although this is the case, my wife would very much like to have him as the godfather of our third child, because despite his lapsed religious practices, he is the only family she has. Can he be a part of the baptism, if not as a godparent, but as a witness? My sister was able have my brother be a godparent, even though his circumstances were the same as my wife’s brother. I don’t know if the application of Church guidelines varies from priest to priest or if my brother had to do something (classes, face-to-face interview) beforehand to somehow meet the requirements of a godparent. It has been over 2 years since the baptism, and I know he is not practicing the faith now.

Dan

FR. John Malloy answers:

Dan,

Your wife's brother may be a "witness" at the baptism and as such does not have to attend any classes.

However, you should have a godparent, even if not a relative, who should attend the class.

If the godparent cannot attend the class, then he/she should present a letter from their pastor testifying to their catholicity.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB.


On June 1, we received this question:

Fathers,

My question has to do with my childs Godfather. My older confirmed sister is to be the Godmother and her boyfriend of almost 8 years and soon to be husband is our choice for Godfather. Now from what I have read in order to qualify you need to be a confirmed practicing catholic, but he has only been baptised. What are our next steps to get him comfirmed? do I have it right about what you need to be eligible to be a Godfather?

Thank you very much

Karen

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Karen,

You have the facts pretty well in hand. Godparents are to be confirmed practicing Catholics. Of course, all faith-filled people should desire all of the Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Often Confirmation was skipped for circumstances, sometimes just letting it go. However, Sacraments for new ones in a family are an invitation for older members to catch up.

This is done by joining an RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] program.

Babies are always an invitation to family and friends to ever deeper practice of Faith. Praise to the Lord!

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

P.S. Perhaps in consultation with your pastor, your brother-in-law might stand in for himself as a Christian witness at the ceremony of the Baptism, then become the canonical godparent when he has completed the Sacraments himself.


For all other questions and answers, use the links at the top of this page.

  On May 30, we received these questions:

Hello i saw your site .............on the google.......i have a question.......if you can answer me i will be very happy. my son is not married ....recently i had a grandson......my grandson was baptised.....is it ok to baptise my grand son? even thoug his parent are not married?

Thank you in advance

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Artin,

Where was your grandson baptized? The baptism is probably valid and would be recorded as such if a priest or a deacon was involved.

The parents should have been instructed, previous to the baptism, to their obligation to raise the child as Catholic and to their obligation to convalidate their marriage in the Catholic Church, if that is possible.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello.

My husband and I are both catholic. We married 7 years ago at St. Catherine of Alexandria on Catalina Island. We now have a 2.5 yr old daughter who was born in the Bay Area but has not been baptized. We are currently not registered to a specific church or parish. Is it possible to have our daughter receive the sacrament of baptism at St. Peter and Paul's before we move to San Diego in July/Aug?

J.C.

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear J.C.,

The ordinary desire of the Church [= disciples of Jesus gathered as a community of God's People] is to celebrate the Sacraments in the parish community where the family ordinarily participates in the Sacraments. That is to say, in the parish where you live [and should registered in].

Your daughter is already 2 ½ years old. Now there seems to be a rush to get her baptized in a few weeks. Your parish priest would be able to advise you about this situation. If he would instead wish Sts. Peter & Paul to take responsibility with a letter of authorization [i.e. transfer of jurisdiction] then our Baptism preparation class is held on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM. So the next ones are June 6 and August 1. There will not be class on July 4, Independence Day. If the godparents are not here, they can take a class in their own parish and present us with a certificate of completion.

Perhaps, instead, you would prefer to wait a couple more months, get settled in the San Diego area, choose a parish to participate at, and then prepare for the Baptism of your daughter in the parish community where you and she will grow together in following Jesus.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On May 23, 2007 we received this question:

Hello Father

We are having our 5th child and have exhausted all of our brothers and sister and husbands, so now we are going to ask our niece who is 18, Catholic and confirmed to be the Godmother. She also has a sister who is in love with all of our children but is only 13, I'm wondering if she would be able to stand up with us as a sponsor or christian witness? I understand she cannot be a Godparent at this time due to not being confirmed yet and also the age. Also from what I have read so far on your website we do not have to pick a Godfather we are just able to have one Godparent. Is that correct? Thank you for your time.

Amy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Amy,

Yes, you are able to have one Sponsor (Godparent) (and a Christian witness)..

You also could have Godparents that are Sponsors for more than one child in the family, if you wished.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 22, 2007 we received these questions:

Hello, I have a quesiton about Godparents. My brother is a newly ordained sub-deacon. Can he be my child's Godfather? I thought you couldn't ask a priest, but, I wasn't sure about the minor orders.

Thanks,

Zuska

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Zuska,

There is no canonical prohibition against an ordained minister being a Sponsor (godparent).

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

My oldest is 3 years old, she will be four this summer. She was baptized when she was three months old, I was wondering if you are allowed to rename god parents; looking back I do not feel my husband and I made the right choice. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Jennifer

Fr. Malloy responds:

Jennifer:

When confirmation time comes a new sponsor (godparent) can be chosen and entered in the record. There is no way you can officially change the name of the original godparent.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 15, 2007 we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am Catholic but my husband is Lutheran. We are expecting out 1st child and would like her to be baptised in the Catholic church. We were married in an outdoor ceremony by his pastor. One, Would this stop us from being able to have our child baptised in the Catholic church and Two if she could be baptised in the Catholic church could we try to incorporate both religions by maybe having the pastor present.

Thank You

Jenn

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Jennifer,

To answer your question-- One: Yes, it would stop you from having the baby baptized in the Catholic Church.

Two: Baptisms can never be incorporated. It would have to be either Catholic or Lutheran.

For an infant baptism to take place in the Catholic Church, at least one of parents should be a practicing Catholic, God parents should be confirmed practicing Catholics, at least 16 years of age, To be married in the Catholic a Catholic must promise to raise the children as Catholics.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB

Jennifer then followed up:

Dear Father

If we decided to just have a Catholic baptism and not incorporate the Lutheran pastor is there anything we could do so that we could have the baby baptised Catholic even though we didn't have a Catholic marriage?

Thank You

Jennifer

Fr. Malloy responded:

Jennifer,

The answer to this question would depend on circumstances and the will of your local pastor, under whose jurisdiction you, as a Catholic, would be.

Our concern would be the Catholic upbringing of the baby,

If it is possible at all that your marriage could be convalidated (a simple process, if neither or your were previously married) there would be no problem.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 7, 2007 we received these questions:

Fathers:

We have chosen a Godmother for our 2nd child (due May 24), but have not yet selected a Godfather. Because many of our friends are either not practicing Catholics or are not Catholic, our selection is slim. Chosen as Godmother is my sister (who lives far from us), who after a long stint away from the Catholic Church, has come back to the Church to help raise her two girls.

Anyway, we do have someone in mind for the Godfather (our brother in law who was baptized as a Roman Catholic, but not confirmed and also lives locally) however, I'm not sure that he knows the true role of being a Godparent. Is it a bad assumption on my part to think that a lot of people who are not of ANY faith may believe that the role of that the role of the Godparent is to raise the children should something unthinkable happen to the parents? I guess, what I'm struggling with is how to educate our child's future godfather on his role without appearing condescending or "holier-than-thou?" Please help!

Olivia

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Olivia,

You need only one godparent for the baptism, though the common practice is to have two. In any event a godparent must be a confirmed practicing Catholic, at least 16 years of age. If you find it difficult to select a second godparent, you may have an "honorary" stand-in for the service.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 5, 2007 we received this question:

My husband is Greek Orthodox and I am jewish. We wish to baptize our baby girl Greek Orthodox.

Can we have one Greek Godparent and one Roman Catholic Godparent?

We only have one Greek Orthodox cibling to be named Godparent the other is of the Chritian Faith. Can we only have one Godparent?

Thank you Kindly, Mrs. Sheehan

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Dear Melissa,

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, only one godparent is necessary and that one should be a practicing Catholic, confirmed and at least 16 years of age. You would have to check with the Orthodox Church and follow their requirements, if the child is to be baptized Orthodox.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 1, we received this question:

My name is Dacquarie Ventimiglia I'm am 18 years old and I want to start my life and my 1 year old son Isaiah's life right. I want to show him to have faith in god and be proud of it. I am looking to baptize myself and him. I am unsure of the steps we need to take to do that. Is there some advise you can give me to help me. I am confused on how to go about everything. If you can help in anyways I will greatly appreciate it. Thank You

Dacquarie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Dacquarie,

If I knew the city in which you lived, I could be more specific, but let me give you some suggestions to further your God-inspired desire for baptism.

There are different programs to assist people who are seeking God and want to know more about ways to do just that.

The best way for adults seeking knowledge of the Catholic faith is the RCIA program. The letters stand for Rite of Christian Initiation. Most Catholic parishes have such a program.

If you can find a Catholic Church near where you live, you might inquire about their program and they might offer some help as to how else you might pursue your wish. Such programs are inquiry classes where people seek discernment as to what God is calling them to. There is room for honest inquiry and no pressure. And no charge.

If you do not find satisfaction from the local Church feel free to write us again and we can offer further assistance.

Give a hug to Isaiah for me!

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On April 28, we received this question:

My dilemma:

I am about to have my third child and my husband and I can’t find suitable godparents. We exhausted our Catholic couple-friends with our other two children. All of the Catholics on my side of the family are much older and not practicing. My husband’s side of the family is Greek Orthodox. (We were married at St. P & P’s in 2001)

We know a couple that were both raised Catholic but the husband is very angry with the church for parts of his childhood (long story). The wife is suitable for a godparent as she is Catholic and a close friend. I would like to have her be the godmother but not have the husband be the godfather. The only suitable male relative or friend we could have as godfather was baptized Greek Orthodox. Can he be a witness or honorary godfather? This is weighing on me heavily as I don’t want to put off the baptism for too long. The baby is due in about 6 weeks and we want the baptism to be in November or thereabouts.

Please help!

Sincerely,

Dawn

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Dawn,

Thank you for your letter. It shows that you want to do the best for your children in having good role models in their godparents. I think you have solved your dilemma already. I shall just explain a couple of things and you will see.

First of all, godparents are not necessarily married to one another. Sometimes husband and wife couples are magnificent. Sometimes [hypothetically] a mother asks that her brother be godfather and the father asks his sister. So if you choose one godmother you know well and are friends with; then the "godfather" who, as Greek Orthodox, is technically a "Christian witness." Then you have confronted the situation and completed it.

You have probably already participated at a Baptism class. However, to show good example to your new godparents, it would be really gracious for you and your husband to accompany them to the Baptism class. Also it would be best for you to come before the child is born. One less worry for that evening.

Blessings at Easter season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On April 24, we received this question:

Hello Fathers!

My husband and I were married in the Greek Orthodox Church. I am baptized Greek Orthodox and he is baptized Lutheran and did not convert for our marriage. It is time for our son to be baptized. Could my husband's brother, who is Catholic, baptize our son in a Lutheran church? Can he even be baptized in the Lutheran faith since we are married Greek Orthodox? I am not getting clear answers from either end.

Thanks!

Connie

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Connie,

Is your husband's brother a Catholic priest, or a deacon? If so, he could baptize the child as a Catholic, in the Lutheran Church, with his bishop's permission. But why would you want him baptized into a religion neither of you parents embrace?

If the intention is to baptize the baby as a Lutheran, then the Catholic would not be allowed to do so.

When you married in the Greek Orthodox Church did you promise to raise your children in that faith? (Catholic mixed marriage do just that.)

If your Church did not require that promise, then you can have the child baptized as Lutheran, as long as that Church agrees.

Baptism requires a follow up (often with the help of godparents) to support the child in a religious faith and practice.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On April 17, we received these questions:

Fathers:

Can a child be baptized without the consent of either parent? Or can a catholic and non-catholic be godparents with having any spiritual or moral values and not married by church. Mother had baptized baby without consent of the father and did it anyway without his presence. The father is very involved the baby life since birth and is very upset at what occurred. She was baptized in October 2006 and didn’t find out to present day. I know that both parents have to choose a good standing practicing Catholics as well as all sacraments have been done. What can we do to revoke or change?

Marisol

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Marisol,

Before being able to answer the variety of questions raised in your letter, one must figure out the context of family and circumstances.

It is not stated if the parents of the child were married, nor if they were married in the Catholic Church. Nor is it stated if they are divorced and who has custody.

If they were married in the Catholic Church, then the Catholic spouse had to sign a document promising to baptize and rear children in the Catholic Faith. The non-Catholic spouse witnessed the promise and the priest signed a document that the non-Catholic spouse understood the promise made. So if afterward he objects, then he was not being wholly truthful in going ahead to get married.

If the mother has full custody, then the father just has to live with it and not hinder the child in its growth in faith. If there is joint custody, then the mother should have notified the father that it was being done, but then technically could go ahead with it, as she did. (Note: I, as a parish priest, probably would have advised her to postpone it. But now it is done.)

Godparents are to be practicing Catholics in good standing, at least 16 years old, have been confirmed, and, if married, are married in the Catholic Church. Being a godparent is a wonderful role for which the godparent should show good example in living the Faith as the child grows up.

Once a person is baptized, that fact cannot be erased. It may be possible to join some other church community, but the Baptism remains.

Blessings and peace upon you in your circumstances!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


What does a Godfather at a Baptism ceremony have to do? I realize he must answer the priests questions on baptism, but does he have to recite any prayers aloud?

Stan

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Stan,

At the Baptism ceremony itself there are only a couple of places that godparents are asked to speak. At the beginning they say "Yes" when asked if they are willing to help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. Then at the renunciation of evil and the profession of Faith, they say "I do" with everyone at the questions.

Besides that a parent or godparent may hold the baby when the water is poured. A godparent also may hold the lighted Baptism candle.

A fuller description of the role of Godparents is copied below from Paul Turner.

Blessings upon you and your godchild!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

Godparents

Everyone baptized into the church receives a godparent. Godparents assist the baptized "to lead a Christian life in harmony with Baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it." That means we ask very little or very much, depending on how you look at it.

To be a godparent you must be 16, baptized, confirmed in the Catholic church, taking communion with us, leading a life in harmony with faith, and not a parent of the one to be baptized. Godparents may be chosen by the one to be baptized, by the parents or guardians, or even by the pastor or parish minister. A baptized non-Catholic may serve as a witness to the Baptism if a Catholic godparent also takes part. Only one godparent is needed, although two may serve. The baptismal godparent becomes the preferred sponsor for Confirmation.

Very often people will ask a family member to be a godparent. This has the advantage of binding families together. However, a godparent from the parish community may make a better choice. A parishioner can set a good example for the child from week to week and can represent the role of the entire parish community bringing Christ to each new member.

Some families have further expectations of godparents of young children. They may expect a gift at the child's birthday or further assistance throughout life. Some godparents devote a lot of time with their godchildren others do not. The church does not specify these extended responsibilities; families may discuss them with their godparents.

Godparents for adults play an important role during Lent. They support the catechumen at the rite of election and the scrutinizes in addition to the rite of initiation. They usually are the sponsors who have accompanied the catechumens throughout their preparation. If the adult joining the church has already been baptized, his/her sponsor remains a "sponsor" since a godparent already exists.

During infant Baptism, we ask godparents if they will help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. We invite them to renew their baptismal vows together with the parents, and they may assist in lighting the child's candle. However, parents hold the child for the Baptism.

by Paul Turner


On April 15, we received this question:

Hello Father,

I am greek orthodox and my wife is roman catholic. We got married in a civil wedding in italy.

We wish to baptise our 3 year old son as greek orthodox. Is there any special procedures we need to do prior to the baptise?

Can the godparents be greek orthodox and the other a roman catholic?

Thank you,

Sophocles

Fr. Malloy responds:

Sophocles,

You would have to speak to your priest, but I do not believe that the Orthodox would accept your marriage, nor would they baptize your child.

In any event it is not acceptable to have godparents of different faiths.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On April 13, we received these questions:

My husband and I were not married in the church, we are from different Christian backgrounds and were married by a lay person. I have decide to go back to the Catholic church, is my marriage valid? If not what should I do?

My husband and I have decided to baptize our son in the Catholic church. I have two dilemma's 1) can two men be the god parents as both my brother and my best friend would be excellent candidates and I do not have any real female candidates with the exception of my 9 year old niece. Would she be allowed if not?

Thank you

Kristen

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kristen,

If you were baptized as a Catholic and you never renounced your faith, and you want to be in communing with the Catholic Church, you will have to have your marriage convalidated. Approach your local pastor and explain your wish. He can easily give you the requirements and help you arrange this simple ceremony which will make your marriage valid in the eyes of the Church.

After your marriage is convalidated, you may baptize your son. Only one godparent is required, though a man and a woman may be godparents.

God parents must be practicing Catholics, at lease 16 years of age, and confirmed in the Catholic faith

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


My son is Catholic and his wife is Episcopalian and She wants to get there son Baptized in the Episcopalian Church. My question is does my Son have to conform to Episcopalian, and also is there a way that we can have a Baptism with both, a Priest and a Minister. Please respond as quick as you can.

JN

Fr. Malloy responds:

JN,

No way can you have a priest and a minister confer baptism together, though one could be at the scene as the other baptizes.

Your son does not have to conform to the Episcopalian, but if he was married in the Catholic church, the non-Catholic partner made a promise to allow the children to be raised Catholic, so a Catholic baptism would be in order.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

If a child is baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church can they do their communion and confirmation in the Catholic Church? And, if so, would they then belong to both churches?

Also can someone baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church be godparent to a child baptised in the Catholic church?

Thank you and God Bless,

Rachael

Fr. Malloy answers:

Rachael,

To receive communion and confirmation in the Catholic Church, a child baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church must make a profession of faith in the Catholic Church before receiving the sacraments.

One who is a baptized Greek Orthodox cannot be the godparent of a Catholic. To be a godparent one must be a confirmed Catholic.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 30, we received this question:

Hi Fathers,

I've read the Baptism questions, and hadn't found this specifically answered. Is it a sin for a Catholic to be the sponsor at a Protestant baptism? The parents know if it were up to me, I would raise their daughter Catholic. The baby's father is agnostic and the mother was raised Catholic, has attended numerous Protestant churches, and finally joined a UCC church. I haven't been able to get her to come back to the Catholic church yet.

Thanks for having this great Q&A website,

Alicia

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Alicia,

At a Catholic Baptism a baptized non-Catholic may be a "Christian witness" at the Baptism but not technically a god parent according to the Code of Canon Law.

In this spirit I see no problem that you be a "Christian witness" for a Baptism in a non-Catholic church. Though technically not the official godmother, in practice and pastorally the child may call you "godmother" in the family.

In that special position within that family, your efforts in inviting them to practice of the Catholic Faith would be to give the best example of Christian living as possible. There is an old adage in Latin "Verba movent, exempla trahunt." It means: Words move, examples attract. That's your task as a disciple.

Blessings and Peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 26, we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My sister is single and newly pregnant, with no plans to marry. (The father is of a Christian denomination, but not Catholic.) She is a practicing Catholic who has completed the Sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, Reconciliation, and Confirmation, and she attends Mass every weekend. Will she be able to have her baby baptized in our Catholic church? (The godparents would also be practicing Catholics with all applicable sacraments completed.)

Thank you,

Elizabeth

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Elizabeth,

By all means encourage her to have the baby baptized. She has made her peace with God, if she is, as you say, a practicing Catholic.

God bless her, the baby, and the godparents.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Hello Father,

My wife and I, both practicing Catholics, want to baptize our baby girl. But our parish priest told our godmother-to-be, who is catholic and has received her sacraments, that she could not be our godmother because her wedding was not recognized by the Catholic Church. She and her husband, a protestant, were married in an outdoor ceremony. He told her that until she and her husband had their marriage blessed by the Catholic Church, he will not allow her to be our godmother. Is this fair or accurate?

Tim

Fr. Malloy responded:

Tim,

Yes it is fair and accurate.

Godparents must be Catholics in good standing.

Fr. John Malloy

Tim asked a follow-up:

Thank you Father Malloy for your timely response. I do have a follow up question or two if I may:

Does that mean that a catholic married to a non-catholic is not in good standing in the church's eyes? Without getting into a philosophical debate, it would seem that we are not able to have our chosen godmother-to-be represent our daughter not because of her faith but because of her husband's.

I do not accept the premise that Catholicism is a shopping list that you can pick and choose which rules to follow, but nor can I accept that a person should be considered not in good standing because they hold different beliefs than their spouse.

If she cannot be our godmother, we cannot in good conscience look for a replacement. Are we able to have just one godparent?

Again, thank you for your time Father,

Tim

Fr. Malloy responded:

Tim,

A Catholic can be married to a non-Catholic and be in good standing as long as the marriage was valid in the eyes of the Church and includes the couple, two witnesses and was ministered by a priest or deacon of the Church.

If their marriage can be convalidated, the Catholic party could be a godmother.

In any case you may always choose to have just one godparent, male or female as you wish.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 24 we received this question:

My husband and I are currently beginning the process to baptize our 5 week old daughter. We baptized our 2 year old son in 2005 and both godparents were Catholic. However, the person we'd like to be godmother to our daughter is Hindu. She wasn't baptized in her religion. I do not know if there is a ceremony or something equivalent with her religion. Is there no way that she could be an honorary godmother or Christian witness to our daughter?

Thank you

Stephanie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Stephanie,

She can't be a Christian witness, since she is not a Christian. She can certainly attend the baptism, and support moral values in the upbringing of your daughter.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 22, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I understand that god-parents must be practicing Catholics of good standing; however, what are the requirements of the parents? Can two parents, one not raised in the Catholic church, the other, raised Catholic, but never confirmed, have their child baptized in the Catholic church so long as they are willing to raise their child Catholic?

Thank you.

Nic

Fr. Salvatore Giacomini responds:

Dear Sandy,

The answer to your question is yes. To raise the child properly in the Catholic faith, however, would mean that the Catholic parent should embrace the sacrament of Confirmation.

Fr. Salvatore Giacomini


On March 16 we received these questions:

Dear Father,

My husband and his mother are baptized Catholics and I am a baptized Buddhist. We would like for our children to be baptized Catholics, they have never been to church, but are very curious about God. Their grandmother is the only Catholic still attending church and we were wondering if she can have them baptized. We have moved to Florida, but want to have the ceremony in your church. The Godmother we chose (my husband's daughter) was baptized, but she does not attend church and the Godfather we chose (my brother) is also a baptized Buddhist. Can the children be baptized? What should I and all the involved do, to start the process? How quickly can we get them baptized, as their Grandmother is already 80 years old and she would like them to be baptized?

Thank You

Irene

Fr. Danielson responds:

Dear Irene,

In attempting to reply to your query, I must try to give a context surrounding the Sacrament of Baptism into the Catholic Church.

Baptism, as the first initiation Sacrament, implies the firm intention of practicing the Faith in daily life. There is also a canon in the Code of Church Law that states that it is not licit to baptize an infant unless there is a "founded" hope that the child will grow in the practice of the Catholic Faith.

There is also a directive that children "of catechetical age" should be in a group with other children on the journey toward the Sacraments. "Catechetical age" means children who are already in school. Sometimes the time-frame is two to three years of religious instruction, depending on the grade level.

A godparent [or in general, a sponsor] must be a baptized and confirmed practicing Catholic, and if married, married in the Catholic Church. A baptized non-Catholic can be a "Christian witness", and it is contradictory to the essence of Baptism to have a godparent who is not baptized at all. These may, of course, be present for the ceremony in a supportive way.

Let us remember that as God's creatures He loves each one of us regardless of Baptism. There is an expectation on the part of the community of Church that one who is baptized, actually follows through in the practice of faith.

I hope this give a picture of the situation and becomes a starting point for baptized Catholics in your immediate family to make faith changes in their lives to be an example to the young persons.

Blessings and Peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, S.D.B.


Dear Father,

My girlfriend was baptised in the Baptist church and wonders if she has to be "re-baptised" in the Catholic church to convert/to become a Catholic.

Thank you for your help.

Michael

p.s.: I am Roman Catholic. we are thinking about marriage

Fr. Malloy answers:

Michael,

Baptism in the Baptist Church is probably valid and as such, a re-baptism is impossible. Get her certificate from the Baptist Church and present it to a priest for clarification.

For a validly baptized non-Catholic to be received into the Catholic Church, a profession of faith must be made. That usually takes place after a period of instruction and the non-Catholic has freely decided to make such a declaration.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 9, we received these questions:

Dear fathers,

I have a situation, I have been attending RCIA and was scheduled to be Baptised along with my three children at the Easter VIGIL.

Now the priest who I have been working with has left the church. I am now being told that my baptism is put on hold because I am not married. THe priest I was working with before had asked me what I was planning to do about getting married? I told him that my fiance is a confirmed catholic and we wanted to get married in the church and that is why he was going to Baptise me .My concern is now that my children are not going to be baptised.I have went through several of the rites and now I am being told that I will not be baptised .This has really put me in a sad place.

My other question is ,is how can I be married in the catholic church if I cannot get baptised or confirmed?What can I do?And why must my children suffer because of my mistakes ,when I am going on this journey to be with god and I attend church with my children on Sundays and Wed.

January

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear January,

The first thing I must say in reply to your dilemma, especially in the middle of Lent, is that, as disciples who love Jesus irrespective of our status in the Sacraments or preparing for them, Jesus is inviting us to accompany him on the way of the cross.

Do you remember the incident when James and John asked to be on his right and his left in the kingdom? Jesus asked them: "Can you drink the cup I will drink, can you be baptized as I am to be baptized?" [He was speaking about a Baptism of suffering.] The Apostles answer Jesus: "Yes, we can!" We are invited by Jesus to do the same thing.

Right now, even though there seems to be some confusion and misunderstanding, that is your journey with the cross with Jesus.

The thing to do is maintain a dialog with your parish priest, inviting him perhaps to contact your former priest, all the while maintaining your own faith, hope and love that Jesus, along with His Father and the Holy Spirit, will lead you along the path to the Church community in the way He wishes, which for you may seem tortuous but for Him will be glorious.

Regarding marriage, oftentimes [though somewhat late now as we are concluding Lent] celebrating Marriage right away [a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic, like my grandparents and my parents] removes an obstacle to the non-Catholic entering the Church through the Sacraments. Living as brother and sister, without exercising the privileges of marital relations until the Sacrament of Marriage, remains an option also.

Blessings and Peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 6, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am a 75 years old grandmother and i have a question for you and hope that you can help me.

My granddaughter just gave birth to her second child and i so much want to have the children baptized, but at the moment the parents will not baptize them in the church, they say there is too much bad things going on with all the headlines, i am sure you know what i am talking about.

i am a lutheran but my daughter and my late husband were catholics and i attended many masses with them, so i have some idea whats its about now.

i watched a catholic program with a monk who said that anybody can baptize a baby, but i forgot what he said that you have to do.

both the parents know how important is is for me to have the babys being baptized and they are willing to do that for me, and since i am a cancer patient and one never know how long god will give me, i really would welcome any kind of information that you can give me , so we would have a ceremony at home and i would be so much more at ease.

i thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart, and please forgive me for making the letter so long.

Sincerely,

Effriede

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Effriede,

I sympathize with you and I will pray with you and for you.

It is unfortunate that your Catholic daughter uses the sins of some unfortunate and evil priests as an excuse to withhold the grace of baptism from your granddaughter. Tell your daughter that even Jesus had his Judas, betrayer, but that did not stop him from founding His Church. Or as we say, why cut off your nose to spite your face?

As for baptism: it is true that anyone who believes in the Sacrament of Baptism and intends to do what the church does, can baptize using water and reciting "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Our Church teaches that this can be done in emergency, even by a non-Catholic.

Ordinarily it should only be done in church by one in Orders: deacon, priest, bishop.

One is not allowed to baptize against the wishes of the parents.

I pray your daughter meet a friendly priest who will be happy to baptize your granddaughter.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On March 4, we received these questions:

Fathers:

I understand the rule about needing to be a practicing catholic as a godparent. I am however having a difficult time understanding why if you chose someone to be a Christian witness they cannot be catholic. There are conflicting situations in our area that some priests have allowed divorced persons be godparents, people who are not practicing catholics be godparents. It seems as there is no concrete answer to why it is ok for certain people to be godparents. My husband and I have chosen my brother who obtained a letter from his parish . And my sister in law is a roman catholic. She doesn’t attend mass yet I believe she is a good Christian person by her actions alone. I feel that my husband and I will be bringing our children up Roman catholic and taking them to church. I understand that the role of the Godparents are to be practicing catholics. However, I my sister in law may go back to church and I would like it to be in her own time. I cannot understand why some priests allow it in certain situations and others don’t. I have attended that same parish since I was 2, I have done everything first communion, confirmation, marriage, first son’s baptism by a different priest and His godfather is a lecturer at the parish, attends mass on a regular basis, his wife however is a catholic and she doesn’t attend and she was allowed to be a godmother. It seems that there are double standards to this. It saddens me that going into having my second child baptized and I have such a negative feeling. I really believe in my heart that she would be a wonderful godmother. I would appreciate if you could help me understand why this is so.

God Bless you,

Michelle

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Michelle,

To help you better understand the position of the Church, Let me quote from an article by Fr. William Saunders from the Arlington Catholic Herald.

To be a sponsor, a person must be chosen by the person to be baptized, or by the parents or guardians of a child, or, in their absence, by the pastor or minister of the sacrament. The sponsor must not only have the intention of being a sponsor but also meet proper qualifications. The sponsor must have completed his sixteenth year unless the Bishop has established another age for sponsorship, or the pastor or minister judges that a just cause warrants an exception to the rule. He must be a Catholic who has received the sacraments of holy Eucharist and confirmation, and "leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken." Moreover, the sponsor cannot be impeded by some canonical penalty.

Strictly speaking, a person only needs one sponsor for baptism — male or female, but may have two sponsors, one male and one female. Here the Code of Canon Law wants to eliminate the practice of having numerous sponsors.

Who qualifies as a Catholic godparent?. A Catholic who does not practice the faith by regularly attending Mass or who is in an invalid marriage disqualifies himself from being a godparent. Moreover, if a person is Catholic but antagonistic to the faith, i.e. has the attitude "I am a Catholic but...," and would not be a good example and witness to the faith also disqualifies himself. If a person is not striving to fulfill his own obligations of baptism and confirmation, he will not fulfill the responsibilities of helping another to do so.

Parents need to find good practicing Catholics for godparents. Sadly, this task can be very difficult in today's world. The best place is to look for relatives, who have a blood relationship with the godchild and have kept the faith over the years. Good friends are also appropriate, but sometimes friendships wane, leaving the godchild without an active godparent. Godparents should be faithful individuals who are ready to accept the responsibility of being a part of a godchild's life for the rest of his life.

What if someone would like to have a faithful Protestant friend as a sponsor? Technically, only Catholics can be godparents or sponsors. A Christian of another denomination, whether Orthodox or Protestant, however, may be a "Christian witness" to the baptism along with the Catholic godparent. The reason for this distinction and restriction is that the godparent not only is taking responsibility for the religious education and spiritual formation of the baptized person, but also is representing the Church, the community of faith, into which the person is being baptized. A Christian who is not Catholic, although perhaps a very holy, Christian, cannot fully attest to the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Likewise, a Catholic can only be a Christian witness for someone who is baptized into another Christian denomination. (Cf. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, No. 57).

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On February 23, we received this question:

Father,

I am a baptized and confirmed Lutheran. I am married to a Catholic (12 years) and was married in a Catholic Church with a mass. I have two children who are being raised in the Catholic faith and have being going to the Catholic Church for the past 14 years. I would like to switch to the Catholic faith. Can I simply register with my parish and bypass the RICA?

Thanks,

Clint

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Clint,

From what is observable in your life, you are certainly one of those disciples who must be light for the world. (Matthew Chap. 5) But of course one must fulfill what Jesus says in that passage that people must see your "good works" and thus give glory and praise to God. I think in that context the "good works" are simple goodness, integrity, kindness, gentleness, in one word: virtue.

For formal entry into the Catholic Church by Profession of Faith, the Bishop of the diocese is the one who by law is the center of unity and faith and pastoral concern for his "local Church" (i.e. the diocese). So pastors for good reasons presented to the Bishop might suggest to bypass the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) for an individual person.

However, I would propose to you that you would miss out on a lot. Walking the journey with those searching for a church community urged on by the Holy Spirit is a very special thing for those in the group. There may be a mixed group, for example some who have never been baptized; those baptized in the Catholic Church but never had further contact and wish to make up their Sacraments; those baptized into a different Church community. Also there are a variety of reasons for some to participate. Seeking to make an end run around this group would make one's own journey somewhat myopic, not realizing the importance of the community on a journey together to the Father pulled by the Spirit and walking with Jesus.

All of this, of course, should be discussed with your own pastor. With his direction you might make your first steps toward entering the Catholic Church. I am reminded of a parish I was at a few years ago. After Mass on a Sunday, I was greeting people as an elderly couple approached me. The husband said to me, "I've been coming to this church for 22 years. Might as well join!" That year we had a special class time for three [!] candidates over 80 years old. What a magnificent journey we did that year! I wish that for you, too.

Blessings and Peace,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 25, we received these questions:

Father,

I'm Greek Orthodox and my husband is Roman Catholic. We were married in the Greek Orthodox Church. We intend to baptize our daughter, but are still trying to determine under which church to do so. Isn't there a way that our child can be baptized under both churches? I read somewhere on your web site,where a writer stated that he baptized his child -- as a Greek Orthodox Catholic. What does that mean?

I want our child to learn and appreciate both religions --- how can I achieve this goal?

I look forward to your response.

Thanks,

Elaine

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Elaine,

Baptism in the Greek Orthodox Church is recognized as a valid baptism by the Catholic Church.

It is not possible to be baptized more than once.

One cannot be baptized under both churches.

Some of the Orthodox Churches (Greek Orthodox Catholic) are in union with the Roman Catholic Church, i.e. they recognize the authority of the Pope.

Your children can appreciate both religions, as we do, but can be members of only one.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers,

I am currently a catechumen and will be received into the Roman Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. I used to be a Lutheran, and am a godmother to two children in the Lutheran denomination. Does the Catholic Church recognize my status as godmother to these children, and is my ongoing commitment to them as godmother sanctioned? Thank you for this wonderful service that you provide.

In peace,

Meghan

Fr. Malloy responds:

Meghan,

God bless you and your faithfulness to His call.

As a Catholic your position as Godmother to two Lutheran children, would remain unchanged

You are encouraged to carry on as an example to them of faith in Christ and His teachings.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On February 23, we received this question:

My husband and I are raising my 6 year old granddaughter. We are practicing Catholic and want her to be

Baptized. Her mother wants her to be Baptized but have not done it. We've heard of Baptism by Intention. What does that mean? Can we considered my granddaughter Baptized because we want it for her? What can we do to have her baptized?

Barbara

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Barbara,

The notion of Baptism "by desire" came about in the early centuries of the Church when "catecumens" [those interested in joining the Church but not yet baptized] died without the actual Sacrament. If they had died violent death for Jesus, then they were baptized "by blood."

Since you are actually the "home" for your granddaughter, with her mother's permission you could enroll her in the catechism classes at your parish. The Church directive is that children "of catechetical age" should be in catechism classes for some time before Baptism. That means in many parishes at least two school years minimum for preparation. Essentially that means being instructed with the class for First Communion. For some children that meant almost 4 ½ years [if they started their classes in pre-K, then kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade and 3rd grade till First Communion].

So register in the parish and enroll your granddaughter and work with the Religious Education coordinator and teachers, so that she will get a truly well-rounded and complete formation for her age.

Blessings and Peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 20, we received this question:

Father,

I am a baptized Catholic and have rec’d the sacraments up through confirmation and am a practicing catholic. My wife and I married in the Episcopal church when we were much younger. I was in the Army, thousands of miles from home and were unable to participate in the pre-cana classes. We originally planned to get married in a Catholic church but were unable due to the pre-cana requirement. I was young at the time and fairly ignorant as to the rules of the church on this subject. My hometown parish had just gone through a change in Priests which also contributed to my inability to get enough information. I did not request permission from the Bishop to have the marriage in the Episcopal church and there was not a Catholic priest present. My wife is a baptized Episcopal who has attended Catholic mass with me, but has not taken communion, for quite a few years now.

We are now blessed with expecting our first child, which is due in a couple of months. It is very important to me that my child is baptized in the Catholic faith. What steps do I need to take in order to do so? My wife and I have just joined a local parish and she will start RICA this week.

Thank you,

Scott

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Scott,

I think you have a marvelous chance right in front of you to regularize your Marriage in the Church. When speaking to your parish priest, talk about what you have written, and coordinate your Sacramental Marriage with your wife's journey in the RCIA. The beginning of your wife's journey to the Sacraments will not end but continue with you together on your journey of life with the Sacraments as God's extraordinary love for you both, that is the presence of Jesus walking with you. What joy! - and the suffering of the cross too, when you answer His call to be His friend.

Blessings and peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On February 17, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My daughter is getting ready to receive First Communion, she has already done First Reconciliation. When I signed her up for the religious education class I informed the parish office that she was baptized in an Episcopal Church and they told me that was OK. Is there anything that I’m not aware of that would be a problem in this situation? My husband and I are both baptized and confirmed Catholics and are having our marriage convalidated next month.

Thank you,

Denise

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Denise,

The baptism of your daughter is accepted as valid.

However, I would suggest you speak to your pastor and ask if your daughter should make a profession of faith. An annotation should be placed in the First Communion Book.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On February 8, we received this two question:

I am currently in rcia, I was baptised as an infant in the presbyterian church. Unfortunately the church can't find record of my baptism. I don't know what to do next. What are my options? Thank you for the help. God bless you.

Ivyanna

p.s. My rcia instructor is quite strict and needs documentation asap.

Fr. Malloy responds:

"You can't give what you don't have."

But you can always be baptized conditionally in case of doubt as to the validity of the actual baptism.

The next best thing would be to gather the evidence (if possible): testimony of the parents, God-parents and anyone that was at the actual baptism. They could present a sworn declaration as to the Baptism: elements used, words spoken, people present.

Your pastor should be able to clear this up for you.

Rev. John J. Malloy, S.D.B.


On February 5, we received this question:

My fiance (A Roman Catholic) died when my daughter was only months old (she was a 2 pound premature baby and spent that time in hospital) I planned on attending RCIA once she was better and we would marry in the Catholic Church, unfortunately that is no longer possible.

I promised him that I would follow through with RCIA and raise our daughter in the Catholic faith. But since his death I have sufferred from great depression and illness and have not able to return to work. My daughter is now 9 years old, she attends Mass regularly with family (I go on days when I feel well) and wants to be Baptized. She will be attending prepartion classes in the Fall, I am hoping to be mentally and physically well enough to attend RCIA in the fall, should I not be, will there be a problem for her to be Baptized? I am still single and don't see a marriage in the near future.

Thank you.

Gae

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Gae,

What a tragedy you have lived through! But what love you have and still do for your daughter. God , our Father's, merciful and loving care has been with you every step of the way, and continues to be there.

The practice of the Church is essentially that there be some "founded hope" that a child will have the chance to grow in the practice of Faith. It seems that you yourself wanting to enter into the process of Christian Initiation and wonderful godparents that you will choose for your daughter, that there is good hope that with her own wish to be baptized that wish will be fostered and she will be nurtured along the way. So speak to your parish priest about it. There is nothing like a good one -on- one face to face conversation to begin a solution to your situation.

Of course if your daughter goes to Mass regularly with family members, she should already know the parish priests, because she will have greeted them after Mass each week. That always is a marvelous entry into the heart of the parish priest.

May the Lord bless you as you accompany your daughter on this journey and that your strength emotionally and physically will be able to keep up.

Peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 19, we received this question:

Hello:

My cousin is a single mother and she has a two year old son that she wants to have baptized. She is a catholic, but has not attended church for some time. I think I would be the godmother and I am a very active catholic at SVDP. What does my cousin need to do? is she allowed to baptize the baby, and if so what steps does she need to take in order to do it, ie: classes, etc?

Thanks! Michele

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Michele,

For a child to be licitly [rightly, within the law and practice of the Church] baptized there needs to be a "founded" [Code of Canon Law] basis that the child will be reared in the practice of the Catholic Faith. In the ceremony for Baptism, parents and godparents are reminded very clearly two times directly and once indirectly that they are in effect promising to rear their child in the "practice of the faith" [words in the prayers].

So to be consistent with these promises that a parent makes on the occasion of the Baptism of a child, one must make significant decisions in ones own life and also follow through with them.

Thus your cousin is invited [by Jesus] to make a new beginning. What joy! Jesus proposes. So Reconciliation [confession] to start with and then Mass on Sunday.

This reminds me of one time, after meeting with a parent before Baptism, I concluded with a cheery; "Say hello to me at Mass on Sunday!" The mother stopped and said to me "You expect me to come to Mass on Sunday?" There was no time for an answer as she walked out of the office. I never saw her again. That is tragic. And it is a worse tragedy to baptize a baby and for that child to have no chance to grow up in the faith.

Among other things this is what godparents are for. Look up Godparents on your search engine on the computer, in particular a short but very well done page by Paul Turner. You should find it very easily. So you have a great missionary call to be an instrument for your cousin and her son for Jesus.

Blessings!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 12, we received these two questions:

Father,

My wife and I are expecting the birth of our first child in June of 2007. I was brought up Catholic and have received all my sacraments to date. My wife, unfortunately, cannot prove wether or not she was ever baptised as she was adopted at age 7. Her father did not receive any records attesting to her baptism at the time she was adopted and although her parents are practicing Catholics, they for whatever reason, never had her receive her sacraments. The first part of my question is wether or not we are allowed to baptise our baby in the Catholic Church, based on the fact that I have all my sacraments even though she does not. We also were married in a civil ceremony because of the fact that I was previously married in the Church but was divorced and never had an annulment.

The second part of my question is about choosing godparents. What would a person need to do to be a godparent if they are not Roman Catholic? Is there any way a non-Catholic can be allowed to be a godparent or is there some steps they need to take to be allowed to do so?

Thanks

Pat

Fr. Malloy responds:

Dear Pat,

You would have to look into the possibility of an annulment from your first marriage, and so regularize your status before the Church.

It is not necessary that you wife to be a Catholic in order to have a religious ceremony. I see no reason why she herself cannot be baptized.

Godparents must be practicing Catholics. Non-Catholics but good Christians, may be honorary Godparents.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Fathers:

I’m confused. My boyfriend and I want to baptize our 9 month old son in the Catholic faith. Every church I’ve talked to has given me different requirements! Neither my boyfriend nor I belong to a parish. We were both baptized Catholic, I have proof but unfortunately his records were destroyed in the civil war in El Salvador and have no way of finding copies.

Terri

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Terri,

Your boyfriend can have relatives, or friends, who know of his baptism to attest to the fact before witness and a notary. Or in the worst case scenario, he could be baptized conditionally.

Most parishes will not baptize a child unless the parents are practicing Catholics, are married in the Church, and promise to raise the child in the Catholic faith.

Every Catholic belongs to parish, even if not enrolled in it. The parish is the church closest to your place of residence.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


On January 11, we received this question:

Fathers:

I am Catholic and my husband is not. He has been attending Mass with me for about 2 years now. He has never been Baptised. He wants to be. My question is does he have to go through RCIA in order to be baptised? Does he have to go through confirmation at the same time. Our parish is very small and he was the only one needing to take RCIA this year, therefore they did not have it. Can he be baptised this year and then go to RCIA next year for confirmation?

Angela

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Angela,

Your question about the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) in a small parish is very interesting. The Christian Initiation of adults is usually, as you imply, a group process precisely because it is a community of disciples of Jesus [the Church] into which the persons are to be integrated.

It becomes quite a proposition when there is but one candidate to begin with. And yet what a path to embark upon with a Christian Initiation team!

The Initiation Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist which all take place primarily at the Easter Vigil. Over the centuries, because of limited time and circumstance of bishops, these Sacraments became separated. After the preparation done by Pope Pius XII and then the Second Vatican Council, they were united again for the initiation of adults.

You need to be in really open communication with your pastor on this. Maybe several parishes in you general area are coming together to have several people in the process.

Blessings in 2007!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On January 8, we received this question:

Fathers,

My aunt and uncle had a baby in August 2006. They've asked me to be a Godmother. I cannot find proof of my baptism and I am starting to doubt that it happened. What steps can I take to ensure that I may take on the role of Godmother? I have contacted all the churches where I grew up and they've searched for my information and can't find it. The baptism is supposed to be the weekend before Easter. Can I receive a "conditional" baptism with confirmation/Eucharist following quickly after that? We also just moved to a new state and have just started attending church. Please help. I am in need of guidance.

Blessings,

Kay

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Kay,

Your letter attests to your knowledge of the qualifications necessary to become a Godmother. Obviously, you do not have the qualifications. Even if you prove your baptism, you still need Confirmation, and should have a letter from your pastor attesting to your practice of the faith.

My suggestion would be for you to take the RCIA course in your parish. Come Holy Saturday, you could receive all three sacraments.

If the baptism of the baby could be changed to the week after Easter, a more acceptable time, your "Catholicity" problem would be solved.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On December 31, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am a catholic and I was married to a non catholic. He agreed to get baptized and get married in church due to the pressure form my parents. But after marriage we had a lot of problems due to religion differences and finally we got a civil divorce from he court. I got married again to a catholic but in court as the church will definitely not agree. My husband and myself go to church but we do not receive communion. I am pregnant now and I'm worried about my child's future. I want my child to be brought up in the catholic religion as both my parents and my in-laws are Catholics. What I would like to know is can we baptize the child or if we can't is it possible for the grandparents to baptize the child?

Thank you for all your help.

Audrey

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Audrey,

First off, remember that it is God our Father who has created the immortal soul and made you and your husband parents. God loves that child so much.

Now a question: you declare that you and your husband "go to church". Have you a regular parish? Are you registered? And do you do your part in regular support of the parish community? Have you greeted the priest after Mass on Sunday? Are you far enough into your pregnancy for him to notice and ask how far along you are - and then bless you both?

That is the way to be part of a parish community. So that when I tell you that the first step for you to do regarding Baptism of your baby is go talk to your parish priest. If he knows you already, then it is easy.

Perhaps he will ask you to present your first marriage to the diocesan Tribunal to see if it indeed was valid, or perhaps not because of some discernible reason present at the time of the marriage. While that process in going on, and the birth of you child comes, it is very pastorally possible to baptize the baby as the parents are church comers, and the rest of the family are and will live the example of faith as godparents and extended family.

Your parish priest may think it best to baptize the baby first and then enter into a dialog about getting your first marriage before the Tribunal. In any case for a final evaluation of where you are at, that may have to be done.

In the meantime, participate at Mass on a regular basis, participate at the Advent and Lent parish Penance celebrations. Attend conferences [and all sorts of things] in your parish or zone or diocesan level. You will then be open for every inspiration of the Holy Spirit in helping you to raise your child in the "practice of Faith" [from the ceremony of Baptism].

Blessings in 2007!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 27, we received this question:

Fathers:

My daughter was baptized catholic in 2005, my wife and I chose the godparents, as time went on, we have chosen a not so good person to be the godfather, can we have him removed from that title, if so how do we go about it.

Thanks,

John

Fr. Danielson responds:

Dear John,

Unfortunately in today's society, many godparents simply disappear from the scene and from the family. In your situation described in your short letter, it is just as well. We cannot change the Baptism facts and documentation. This means that if the godmother is upright and does keep some contact with you and her goddaughter, then give praise, thanks and glory to God. Encourage that relationship.

One of the recommendations for the Sacrament of Confirmation (the conclusion of the Initiation Sacraments) is that Baptismal sponsors (godparents) are especially recommended, but candidates may choose another one if desired. On that occasion the godmother may continue to be the sponsor, or you might choose a male sponsor to accompany your daughter into adulthood as a true Christian example in life.

Blessings at this Christmas season!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 17, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I have not been baptized, and am in RCIA class in my parish. I have been told that it is a requirement of this process that my wife and I both of whom were previously married and divorced, must seek annulments through the Tribunal. My wife is not Catholic, so that is one of the confusing issues here, and another is that neither of us was previously married in a church.

My uncle consulted a priest he knows, a Jesuilt in Chicago named McGarrity, and that gentleman seemed puzzled at the way this was being handled, as well. He asserted that as these first marriages were only civil in nature, and neither of us, nor our prior spouses were Catholics at the time of marriage, the Church would not view those marriages as valid. In fact, I believe that he contended we did not have the capacity to enter into a valid marriage at that time.

I have also been reading Know, Love, and Live the Catholic Faith, by Reverend John Pollard, whose brief biography on the volume suggest he should know very well the actual requirements, and I find no stipulation in that book regarding annulment as a precursor to either Baptism or Confirmation.

My concerns are simply these: first, that the two annulments are going to take some considerable time to be processed, delaying my Baptism, second, that my wife's first husband was abusive, and for her to even consider that history, much less risk contact, is extremely distressing. Finally, while I have no reason to fear contact with my first wife, neither do I have any such desire. The divorce was final 19 years ago, and the web search I did suggests that she has a "life partner" who is another woman. I would think that might be another indication of an inability for her to have entered into a valid marriage.

I would like to know: first, is it essential for us to obtain annulments as part of my own RCIA process? (My wife is not Catholic, and has no interest in converting.) I do not know as yet whether she is open to reconsecrating our marriage in the Catholic Church -- her distress from the annulment counseling process so far has been so great I have been moving very slowly. As far as I can tell, the local parish seems to assume that we will of course reconsecrate our vows, and therefore we must obtain the annulments. But I want very much to know what is required, as opposed to what is simply the local practice.

Bless you for your service,

Bill

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Bill,

The information that came from your uncle is incorrect. Marriage between non-Catholics even if only civil, and whether or not witnessed by a minister, is valid and acknowledged by the Church as binding. For any one who previously married out of the Church, and now desires to be married in the Church, an annulment is necessary. That you did not have the capacity to enter into a valid marriage at that time would have to be proven.

From what you state, the annulment can be obtained. It will take time. Even if one partner is uncooperative, the Tribunal can guide you around that. You can have a very private sacramental ceremony after the annulments.

Your desire for Baptism is a grace that God has given you.It may be difficult to prepare for it by fulfilling those necessary requirements: annulments of previous marriages, but it is a treasure that will be with you for all eternity. Hard, yes, but well worth it. I pray that you have the strength and determination to complete your program.

Fr. John Malloy


On December 9, we received this question:

I have a question regarding baptism. My husband was raised a practicing greek orthodox. I am jewish. We were not married in a church or a temple but yet instead got married on the beach in a different state then the one we live in today. If we wanted to baptise our child could we under these circumstances and if not what would we need to do so we could.

Thanks

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Kdgreene,

The simple, somewhat tongue in cheek, answer to your question is this: Since neither of you actually belongs to a community of faith and if it seems unlikely that you will, and you still want to baptize your baby, simply do it yourself. You got married at the beach; the ocean would be good. Or just yourselves in a basin at your home, or in some water pool in your back yard, etc.

Of course, I am not counseling you to do this, except that a canon from the Code of Church Law states that one may not licitly [lawfully] baptize unless there is a "founded" hope that the child will be raised in the practice of the faith. The whole thing of Baptism is practice of the faith. Without that, why baptize? God loves little babies, and all of us, as we grow up. Baptism implies a whole way of responding to that love.

So, since your husband is Greek Orthodox, you should start there. See what the expectations of that community of faith is, then make your decisions.

The Catholic Church would not become involved unless one of you at least, or both of you at best, would participate in an adult Christian initiation program and enter the Catholic Church. This will certainly involve a change in life, just as a child changes the life of the parents in so many different ways - permanently.

Many blessings upon your family as you think about these things and upon your decisions arising from them.

Sincerely,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On December 5 we received these two question:

When a question is asked it seems that you refer everyone back to their specific religion. I was raised Catholic and my wife was raised Greek Orthodox. We were married in the Greek church with a Roman Catholic priest present. We have a marriage certificate from both churches because I agreed to raise my children in the Catholic faith.(ROMAN CATHOLIC OR GREEK ORTHODOX CATHOLIC) My children are baptized Catholic...GREEK ORTHODOX CATHOLIC... this is the full correct name. I hope this can help someone with similar circumstances. NOW for my question.

If a child is going to be baptized in the Roman Catholic Church can the Godparent be Greek Orthodox Catholic?

thankyou!

Fr. John Malloy responds:

The answer is no.

Married in the Roman Catholic Faith, even though in a Greek Orthodox ceremony, the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of the union. However, even in this case the Catholic partner should have signed a statement that the children would be raised in the Roman Catholic Faith. Godparents must be of that same faith.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father, my 19 year old daughter is baptized Greek Orthodox. When she was baptized she was also confirmed. My sister had asked her to be the godparent for her new child and was told by a Sister of the Catholic church that my daughter could not. Can you clarify?

thanks,

Pat

Fr. Malloy responds:

Pat,

Your daughter could be godparent if the new child is also to be baptized Greek Orthodox, but not if she is to be baptized in the Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On November 30 we received this question:

Fathers:

My daughter is currently attending classes in preparation for Baptisim in April. Her father who is deceased was a Catholic however, I am not. I don't have any Catholic family members, he however does but they live overseas. I am not sure if I will be able to get a Catholic sponsor for her but I understand that a member from her parish would be able to be her sponsor. Also, will I be able to take part in her Baptism? I was batized in the Pentecostal church but I have been attending the Catholic Church and am considering attending RCIA classes. Because I have missed the start of classes I will not be able to start until 2007. Will any of these factors affect by daughter's Baptism in April, as she is anxiously awaiting this blessed event.

Thank you,

WM

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear W M,

This year I am directly involved with our RCIA here at Sts. Peter & Paul. So I am very touched that your daughter and then yourself are thinking of entering the community of the Catholic Church. What blessings are being responded to!

Certainly your presence at your daughter's Baptism and other Sacraments at Easter Vigil is not only not prohibited but encouraged. You should be most welcome. Of course it will take a bit away from your own entrance experience later on. But it will be most important for your daughter.

Have you spoken to your parish RCIA coordinators about your own desires or have you just assumed everything? The parish community should easily get your daughter hooked up with an outstanding sponsor.

Blessings for your journeys [mother and daughter]!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 28 we received this question:

Hi Fathers,

My wife and I recently had a baby boy. We were wed in a Greek Orthodox church. My wife has been brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and I was brought up under the Greek Orthodox faith. We want our baby to be baptized under the Greek Orthodox faith. My question is; we want her brother to be the Godfather, who is of Roman Catholic background. Can he be the Godfather? and if not what does he have to do in order to be able to stand in as the Godfather? Also, do we need to have both a Godfather and Godmother or does one or the other suffice with the church.

On another topic, if we decided to Baptize our baby under the Roman Catholic faith, what would we have to do to allow for this? is it possible?

Thank you for your help

hk

Fr. John Malloy responds:

HK,

Your wife's brother would need permission of the Orthodox Church to be godfather. I do not believe they will allow it. The duty of godparents is to help the parents raise the children in their faith. In this case we would have a divergence of faiths. As far as the Catholic Church is concerned only one godparent is necessary. I believe it would be the same for the Orthodox.

To answer your question concerning a Catholic baptism: you would first have to have your marriage accepted by the Catholic Church. Your wife would have to agree to raise the child in the Catholic faith and practice.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On November 27 we received this question:

Fathers:

My wife is getting christened, she is Eastern Orthodox, can she choose her friend to be her Godmother, her friend is roman catholic and has been baptized.

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Friends,

As far as our Catholic Faith is concerned, I would think it OK for a Catholic person to stand up or be a sponsor or godparent of someone in an Eastern Orthodox Church. However, it is best to see what the Orthodox clergy has to say.

Blessings,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 21 we received this question:

Hi Father,

I need your help. This is the situation. When I was pregnant I asked my sister and her husband to be the godparents to my son. Now that he is 2 months, I am looking to baptize him soon, however, I was told that the godparents have to be practicing catholics. My sister got a divorce 20 years ago and remarried but through the law. I have seen a desire from them to get closer to God. Can they still be godparents to my son, even if they are not married through the church, but still attend church regularly? I asked a priest and he said they can baptize my son but they cannot sign as godparents but as witnesses. Is this true?

LRamires

Fr. John Malloy responds:

LRamires,

Yes, your priest presented the position of the Catholic Church.

Perhaps your sister could get her marriage convalidated and so be eligible to become a Godparent.

You would have to go through diocesan channels, but your priest could give you advice as to the steps to take.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB.


On November 20, we received this question:

Father,

My boyfriends nephew recently wed at the young age of 19. His now wife was pregnant as she walked down the isle. His wife is Baptist and his nephew does not go to church. Some of his nephews family members are practicing Baptists, so he just says he is Baptist.

They asked my boyfriend to be the Godfather to their new born son. My boyfriend has not been to church since he was a child and believes that he doesn't need to go to a church to believe in God. Does my boyfriend meet the requirements to become a godparent? If so, shouldn't the church ask for some sort of certificate showing that he once was a church member? If not would this be considered a legit ceremony?

The baptism is taking place this Sunday and my boyfriend has not had to do anything prior. The minister whom married the couple refused to perform the baptism because the baby's parents don't bring the baby to church.

Why can a minister marry a couple who married because a baby was on the way but refuse to perform a baptism? I am confused.

Shannon

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Shannon,

I am not sure if we are speaking of a baptism in the Catholic Church or the Baptist Church.

Your boyfriend is right in that he does not have to go to church to believe in God. Most people believe in God. But if he is a Catholic, he is bound to the rules and regulations of the Catholic Church. One of the rules is that Godparents should be practicing Catholics. Your boyfriend does not qualify. If your boyfriend has accepted the Baptist faith, he evidently does not meet their standards either.

A minister may well marry a pregnant bride. Not to baptize the baby has nothing to do with the marriage. The minister may have thought he was blessing a Christian union, but as the baby came into the world and he saw the family to be non-practicing, he did not want to baptize a child that would not be raised Christian.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On November 17, we received this question:

Father,

Can a member of the Greek Orthodox Church be a valid sponsor for a boy receiving the Sacrament of Confirmaton in the Roman Catholic Church?

Joanne

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Joanne,

Technically according to Canon Law, a sponsor must be Catholic, over 16 years old, who has received Eucharist, and is "living in harmony with the Faith and role to be undertaken." The next canon declares that a baptized non-Catholic may be a Christian witness together with a Catholic sponsor.

One canon also states that "it is desirable that the one who undertook the role of sponsor at Baptism be sponsor for Confirmation." Notice it says "desirable", not that it is necessary. But the thought is to show the unity of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist - the initiation Sacraments.

Blessings upon you and your Orthodox friend who is encouraging you and your family in your practice of Faith!

Peace!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On November 15, we received this question:

I found this site randomly as i wanted to find out more about catholic baptisms. I am married and my husband is roman catholic and I am a Christian. I believe that no matter what religion you are - there is only one GOD. Three and half years ago our daughter was born. We never baptised her but now my husband wants to. I have no objections and of course i want Gods blessing for my daughter. But i hear so many different things from my husband that now i am totally confused.

When our daughter was born, my husband and i talked about having her baptised or presented to God as it is done in the Christian religion. At that time we didn't go thru with it but we did agree that his best friend and my sister would be the god-parents. Now all of the sudden my sister cannot be the god-mother since she is not catholic and also since she will be unable to be present in the ceromy. With regards to the god-father, he is catholic but the only problem i have with him is that he doesn't practice his own religion. Well now that my husband has told me that my sister is unable to be the god-mother; now he has gone on his own to ask another friend of his to be the god-mother. I should also mention that both of the people choosen by my husband to be the godparents don't even live near us. We live in Miami, Florida and they live in Argentina. Also what bothers me is that i don't know the godparents personally. I have only spoken to them on phone and i feel weird. I want my daughter to have GODs blessing. The other "issue" he has brought up to me is that now the parents have to married by the church and it has to be by the Catholic church. Now am so confused that i don't know what to do. I'm upset that my sister will not be the godmother when I am 100% sure that my sister will take care and will teach my daughter much more than the godmother my husband choose. I'm confused - I don't know what to do - I don't know how to feel - I don't know what to say anymore.

valezcka

Fr. Malloy responds:

Valezcka,

You are correct,: there is only One God. That you want your daughter to be baptized is certainly pleasing to the God who made us. It is not too late to do this.The problems you raise are not quickly answered, but I will try to address them.

As for the marriage question: Provided you were both unmarried before your present union, it would be easy to arrange for a very private marriage in the Catholic Church. All that is required is yourselves, two witnesses and the priest. Your husband would then be free to receive Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

For baptism: the Catholic parent must promise to raise the child as Catholic. A God-parent is one who is a practicing Catholic, confirmed, and at least sixteen years of age. A man or a woman, or one of each, may be selected. Your sister can be honorary God-mother.Gave her the job of "carrying the ball" in your child's Christian growth. I am attaching the Family Life Office number of the Archdiocese of Miami.

I suggest you call the office and ask to speak to a "counselor" and explain the situation. Ask for a kindly priest that will be willing to assist you unravel this moral problem.

If I can help you further, I would be delighted to do so.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB

PS: Family Life - Archdiocese of Miami, Director
Fr. Eduardo Jimenez. PHONE: 305 762-1157


On October 29, we received this question:

Dear Father:

I am a Roman Catholic, but have been asked to be a godparent in a Lutheran Christening. Can I do that or is that against the Roman Catholic religion?

Thank You,

Nancy

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Dear Nancy,

Godparents, by definition, are expected to assist the parents raise up their child in the faith in which he/she is being baptized.

As a Catholic you would not be in a position to help raise the child as a Lutheran.

Certainly your friends mean well in offering you this honor. As long as their expectations are simply honorary, you would not do wrong in accepting, with the understanding that you are not fulfilling the duties of God parents as the Catholic Church understands the position.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On October 23, we received these questions:

Hello Father,

I will be getting my son Christopher baptized next month and I have a question about the requirements for godparents. I would love to name my nephew Andrew as godfather...he is a very sweet and devout young Catholic and blesses the baby every chance he gets. I know he would be a wonderful role model for my son. Unfortunately, he is only 9 years old.

I'm wondering whether it would be possible to somehow signify that Andrew would become Christopher's godfather when he comes of age. Could a "proxy" stand in for him until he's 16? Or is a proxy only chosen when a godparent cannot be physically present at the ceremony?

As an alternative, I seem to remember reading that a person can choose a godparent at confirmation. Could I leave the position of godfather unfilled and encourage Christopher to select his cousin when he gets confirmed?

Any advice would be most welcome. Thank you!

Karen

Fr. Malloy responds:

Karen,

It appears that Andrew would make a great sponsor, but unfortunately the conditions require a person be at least sixteen years of age, and a confirmed Catholic in good standing. You can still have someone else be Christopher's God-mother at the baptism. (Only one sponsor is required, though a man and woman are allowed.)

Your idea to have him be Christopher's sponsor at confirmation would be an excellent resolution, I believe.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Fathers,

Can Grandparents baptize a baby when the parents have fallen away from the church but let the grandparents take him to church with them?

God Bless,

Brian

Fr. Malloy answers:

Brian,

If the parents of the baby give permission to the grandparents, and if the grandparents will see to the Catholic upbringing of the baby, it could be possible to have the infant baptized. The final resolution of this situation would be the degree of willingness of the parents to allow their child to be brought up as Catholic and their willingnesss to offer some cooperation in the process.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On October 18 we received this question:

I recently had my first child. I am a baptized Roman Catholic, my boyfriend and I aren't married, and he has no religion. Can I still have my child baptized in a Roman Catholic church?

BJ & Nicky

Fr. Malloy responds:

Dear Bj & Nicky,

Congratulations on the new arrival! That you want the baby to be baptized is commendable, but there are certain conditions required. At least one of the parents should be a practicing Catholic and agree to raise the child in the Catholic faith. The selected God parents must also be practicing Catholics; themselves confirmed, and at least 16 years of age.

My suggestion would be to get your marriage blessed in the Church, which could be done by approaching the Catholic church in your neighborhood. When that is taken care of your baby could be baptized.

Fr. John J, Malloy, SDB


On October 7 we received this question:

Father,

I randomly found this site and I was hoping for some assistance.

I’m a sponsor for someone who has been in the process of RCIA for over a year as a catechumenate. He has never been married before but his wife was married in the Catholic Church years ago. She and her ex-husband are willing to go through the annulment process but he didn’t realize her previous marriage would prevent him from being baptized. He’s very worried about not being able to be baptized this Easter. They are preparing to get the annulment and have their marriage celebrated and recognized by the Church but will he be able to get baptized before the annulment? In Canon Law it states (1150) “In a doubtful matter the privilege of faith possesses the favor of the law”…would this be a doubtful matter?

Thanks for your help!

Daniel

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Daniel,

A few lines of e-mail response cannot begin to approach the situation you describe. The surest guide would be talking to the parish priest and the diocesan tribunal.

A quick summary would include to be as quick as possible in contacting the tribunal in order to get everything started. The process only begins when the completed application has been received in the tribunal office.

Faith in Jesus is the first thing. Baptism makes it official and for which the other Sacraments of God's grace in our lives become accessible. May the Lord truly be with you and your candidate and your journey together in Faith.

Blessings!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On October 4 we received this question:

Hi,

I was wondering if a child is baptized in the orthodox church will the baptism be recognized by the catholic church?

I want to enroll my child in a catholic school, but only roman-catholic baptism is accepted by the school. If I go to the catholic church will they give me a proxy or something that will recognize the baptism?

Thank you

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Orthodox baptism is recognized by the Catholic Church as a valid baptism.

Many Catholic School accept only Catholic students, often because of the limitations of space. However, exceptions are made. Since the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches have the same basic theology (recognition of the primacy of Peter being the chief difference), I could see no objection to accepting your child; given the space available.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On September 29, we received this question:

Father,

I was raised catholic, and at age 16, I choose not to be confirmed. In college, I went through the RCIA program and chose again, not to be confirmed. My husband and I were not married in the Catholic Church. We are not currently practicing Christians. I understand we have our own spiritual issues to contend with; however, we would like our child to be baptized and raised in the Catholic Church for a sense of spiritual community. We understand this would mean attending mass with our child and all future children, becoming involved in the church and our child's catechism, and overall being involved in our child's catholic education. My entire family are practicing catholics and will be involved in this child's upbringing. With all this in consideration, can a priest still not approve a baptism in the Catholic Church?

Sandy

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Sandy,

It is not advisable to baptize children of parents who are married out of the Church and are non-practicing. That your entire family consists of practicing Catholics and will be involved in the child's upbringing in no way replaces the influence of parents.

However, presuming you will do what you declare: We understand this would mean attending mass with our child and all future children, becoming involved in the church and our child's catechism, and overall being involved in our child's catholic education, what holds you back from going all the way, to full union with the Church? Then there would be no objection to having your children baptized.

Fr. John Malloy, S.D.B.


On September 20, we received these two questions:

Dear Father,

I have been asked to be a proxy for a baptism. It is to my knowledge that a proxy stands in for the Godparents as they are unavailable for the baptism, but I would like to know exactly what my role entails. I will be attending meetings before the baptism, but I would like to be more prepared before I go, any information you can give me would be much appreciated

God Bless -Mark

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Mark,

Going to the meetings before the baptism will give you all the information you need.

As you know the Proxy takes the place of the Godparent who cannot be present, but, like an actor who stands in for a star performer at an opera (and should know what's going on), so you are a stand in (and should know what's going on).

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Help! I have asked my brother and his wife to be the godparents of my children. My sister in law is Greek Orthodox and would serve as a witness. My brother is Catholic, which I know is a requirement for a godparent, but the issue is that he was married in the Greek Orthodox church. My question is whether or not the Catholic Church recognizes a Greek Orthodox marriage. If the answer is “no,” what does my brother have to do – get married by a priest?

Danielle

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Danielle,

Presuming that the Greek Orthodox Church was not "in union with Rome," your brother should seek a convalidation of his marriage to make him eligible to be Godfather of your children. Your parish priest can help you. Such a ceremony can be very private: the couple with two witnesses and the priest. There are forms to be filled out and permission from the bishop required, but these are not difficult to obtain.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On September 2, we received this question:

Hello again fathers and God bless,

I will be quick with the questions this time. :)

My boyfriend is Baptist (no longer practicing yet still has the Baptist beliefs) and wants to attend Non-Denominational church. I am a Catholic who is ok with attending his Non-Denominational church but I still love my Catholicism and my traditions. I also am ok with attending the Baptist church with his family. He has agreed to put the children in Catholic schools. We want to get married and I want to teach my children that different denominations of Christianity can survive and we all believe basically the same things yet love the lord in our own ways and that we MUST respect one another.

1) If we get married in the Catholic church do we have to promise (BOTH of us) to raise our children in the Catholic church?

2) If we aren't married in the Catholic church can we still baptize the children in the Catholic church?

3) Where is Infant baptism supported in the bible?

4) If we baptize our babies in the Catholic church to we have to promise to raise them fully in the catholic church?

I am trying to compromise however I am not going to completely leave my traditions behind. Please help!

Always,

Katie

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Katie,

Let me answer your questions first:

1) If we get married in the Catholic church do we have to promise (BOTH of us) to raise our children in the Catholic church?

You would have to sign a statement that you will raise your children in the Catholic Faith. He does not have to sign, but he is expected to agree with your decision.

2) If we aren't married in the Catholic church can we still baptize the children in the Catholic church?

It is possible, but unlikely, that you could, since a requirement of raising your children in the Catholic Church is your fidelity to the Church. Marrying outside the Church prohibits you from receiving the Eucharist.

3) Where is Infant baptism supported in the bible?

Fundamentalists often criticize the Catholic Church’s practice of baptizing infants. According to them, baptism is for adults and older children, because it is to be administered only after one has undergone a "born again" experience—that is, after one has "accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior." At the instant of acceptance, when he is "born again," the adult becomes a Christian, and his salvation is assured forever. Baptism follows, though it has no actual salvific value. In fact, one who dies before being baptized, but after "being saved," goes to heaven anyway.

As Fundamentalists see it, baptism is not a sacrament (in the true sense of the word), but an ordinance. It does not in any way convey the grace it symbolizes; rather, it is merely a public manifestation of the person’s conversion. Since only an adult or older child can be converted, baptism is inappropriate for infants or for children who have not yet reached the age of reason (generally considered to be age seven). Most Fundamentalists say that during the years before they reach the age of reason infants and young children are automatically saved. Only once a person reaches the age of reason does he need to "accept Jesus" in order to reach heaven.

Since the New Testament era, the Catholic Church has always understood baptism differently, teaching that it is a sacrament which accomplishes several things, the first of which is the remission of sin, both original sin and actual sin—only original sin in the case of infants and young children, since they are incapable of actual sin; and both original and actual sin in the case of older persons.

Peter explained what happens at baptism when he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). But he did not restrict this teaching to adults. He added, "For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him" (2:39). We also read: "Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16). These commands are universal, not restricted to adults. Further, these commands make clear the necessary connection between baptism and salvation, a connection explicitly stated in 1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (Copied from Catholic Answers.)

4) If we baptize our babies in the Catholic church to we have to promise to raise them fully in the catholic church?

Yes, you do.

If you are serious about this, Katie, you need to do a bit of studying. I could offer you some reading material which would help you understand better what it means to be a Catholic. We believe that there is one true Church of Christ--all the other Christian practices are offshoots and aberrations of the one true faith. I have a couple of excellent books that were written by fundamentalist who converted to the catholic Church by reasoning through the Word of God.

Fr. John J. Malloy


On August 31, we received these questions:

I had my daughter baptized at 6 months of age. My husband (who is not her biological father) is in the final stages of adopting her. Her biological father took off and has no part of her life. The church will not change her baptismal records to reflect her new name, or my husband as her father. Can we re-baptize her under her new name with her father, godmother, godfather, and I present as witnesses?

Meghan

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Meghan,

Baptism can be adminintered only once. It will not be possible to change the baptismal record, but it is possible for an annotation to be made in the book in order to reflect the new legal name.

Rev. John Malloy, SDB


Dear Father,

My husband and I are both Catholic and are in the process of adopting our two children ages 3 and 4.

I would like very much to have them both baptized at your church in San Francisco as my mother was baptized there as a baby and her parents were married there, however I do not live in San Francisco. Will any of this be a problem for me and can you tell me what steps need to be taken?

Thank you.

Kathleen

Fr. Malloy answers:

Kathleen,

Yes, your children can be baptized at SS Peter and Paul.

Notify your pastor of your desire to have the children baptized here.

Parents and God Parents should take the Baptism Class either here in San Francisco, or at your church. Our classes are held the first Wednesday of the month beginning at 7:00 PM.

Baptisms are Sunday afternoon at 2:30 or by special appointment. Call ahead to register for the class and fill out the form for the baptism.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On August 16, we received these three questions:

Dear Father,

As a Catholic I am aware that I can participate only as a "witness" in an Episcopalian Baptism. But just what does that mean? Do I have any role in the ceremony? Am I any different than say a guest attending the Baptism who also is witnessing the rite by his/her mere presence? Thank you.

Vincent

Fr. Harold Danielson replies:

Dear Vincent,

For a Catholic Baptism the person to be baptized must have at least one sponsor (godparent) who is 16 years old , has received Confirmation, and lives in harmony with his faith. If another sponsor is a baptized Christian, he may be a Christian witness, but is technically in the law, not a sponsor.

For a Catholic who is participating in a non-Catholic Baptism, there is no provision for or against in the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church. So that person would follow the practice the community where the Baptism is taking place. A Catholic sponsor [or godparent? Or Christian witness?] would be an example of Faith as a follower of Jesus Christ, living consistent in that Faith.

Being a sponsor would not mean much if either the parents or the godparents were not truly living their discipleship of Jesus. That is the real challenge and the real question to ask even before someone [usually an infant] is baptized.

Blessings!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


Father,

I am in the process of joining the church through RCIA, even though my husband is not; however, he has been baptized and raised as a protestant. He supports me in this decision, and knew that I had an interest in joining before we were married. Recently, the question came up of baptizing our future children to be members of the Catholic Church. He supports this decision, as well, but since I am converting and no one I know, in my family, or any friends, are catholic, the question is raised of a godparent. I do not know anyone in the church well enough yet to ask such a monumental undertaking. What to do? Is it possible to not have a godparent?

Thanks,

Stephanie

Father John Malloy answers:

Dear Stephanie,

If you join the RCIA, as a preparation for becoming Catholic, you will need a sponsor. He or she may be a member of the RCIA team, if you so choose. That is the one who should accompany you in your preparation..

A God parent can always be found to help you in your quest. Your pastor will help you.

Perhaps your own sponsor might also be a good God Parent for your first child, if by that time you have not met any other Catholic whom you would rather have.

Congratulations on your good choice. The Lord will surely show you the way.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


Father,

A friend of mine who is Catholic (and practices on occasion) married a Jewish man 15 years ago. At that time, she was 20 years old and agreed to raise her kids Jewish. Now, she is the main religous provider and they are being raised using both religions however, they still only go through the Jewish Baby Naming ritual and she has stated that she considers this a "baptism"for her kids. As a Christian, I have bit my tongue and not said a word as she feels that strongly about this and knows that she will bring up the kids more Catholic than Jewish. How as a friend can I tell her that she is wrong? and what is the responsiblity of the mother to her children? I remember reading in the Bible, that the mother is responsible for the souls of the children not the Father....is this true?

Thank you for your time,

Kelly

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Kelly,

You have presented a couple of interesting facts and thoughts. Let us look for a suitable response. I know I shall not be able to go from point to point but here and there until it is complete.

First of all, I do not know that mothers have any more responsibility in living their Faith for their children than fathers do. If you can find a quote to that effect in the Bible, please find it and let me know. I do know, though I would not be able to cite an exact place to find it, that the father in a family has the most important role in practice of the faith of their children. Studies have shown that in families where both parents were "practicing Catholics" that there is a higher percentage of their children also practicing their faith. If there is only the father who practices there is a higher percentage than if only the mother does. Of course, where both parents do not live their faith, a very, very small percent of their children practice.

The Code (Law) of the Church says it is "illicit" to baptize unless there is a "founded" hope that the child will be reared in the practice of faith.

In the situation you have presented, there are a couple of doubts about the practice of faith of the mother concerned. In your words she "practices on occasion." I assume that means Mass on occasion, the Mass which the Church believes is the very center of our Christian life. When this is missing what hope can there be for a child to grow in the living practice of Faith? Also you did not mention if she was married with the blessing of the Catholic Church. I myself attended the wedding of a friend's daughter who married a Jewish man. There was the Bishop's dispensation and blessing of the pastor, although the ceremony itself was Jewish. Without that dispensation a Catholic person would be outside the law of the Catholic Church.

I have found it best simply to love mother and children where and how they are. Be an example of the Good News of Jesus by your own sincere practice of Faith. Be a person both the mother and her children turn to for reflection and counsel. Allow the Holy Spirit to inspire them. The Spirit has an infinitely greater imagination than we do. They are all God's children, including the father.

Blessings!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB

P.S. Do not bite your tongue, it hurts and does damage to your body. Instead do what St. Francis of Assisi advises: Preach always. If necessary, use words.

That is very pithy sound advice, that really calls to life the proverb: Actions speak louder than words.


On August 15, we received this question:

Father,

We have a follow up to an earlier question. The person we are now considering as a Godfather to our daughter has received his Baptism, Communion and Confirmation, yet was not married in a Catholic church as he married a Jewish woman. Can this man still be considered a candidate to be a Godfather for our daughter?

Thanks again.

Dan

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Dan,

He cannot be a Godfather if he is married out of the Church.

Marrying a Jewish woman does not invalidate his marriage, but marrying without the Catholic Church's blessing does.

He cannot receive the Eucharist unless his marriage is validated.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On August 9, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I recently had my second son and wish to seek baptism at our Catholic church. However, I do no have appropriate sponsorship. What does the church do for people like myself?

I asked my brother (once Catholic but no longer practicing, now Baptist) and his wife (Baptist) to be Godparents but I understand the Catholic church will not allow for this.

If I find a female sponsor that is currently a practicing Catholic, can I have my brother and sister-n-law both be "honorary Godparents" and my female cousin be listed (with the church) as the sole Godparent?

Can all three of their names appear on the certificate? And finally, can all three participate in the ceremony?

Thank you,

Angel

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Angel,

There are several questions in your letter. I shall try to approach them all.

Of course, all your family and friends may participate at the Baptism ceremony. I am certainly personally very happy that especially since the Second Vatican Council [1962-65], the Church is seeking all the kinds of things Catholics and other Christians have in common, rather than emphasizing the different things and discouraging contact because of them. That happened to my mother when her pastor advised her that she could not attend the Baptism of her niece [my cousin], daughter of her little brother [my uncle] that was being done in a Lutheran church. That was before the Council.

Regarding choosing godparents. I will make some general statements here. The details you should work out with your own parish priest.

You are correct in thinking that a "sponsor" [general term for godparent in Church law] must be a practicing Catholic. The law requires at least one sponsor; if there are two, one is a man, the other a woman [godfather, godmother]. A baptized Christian may act as "Christian witness", thus technically not sponsor for the faith of the baptized infant.

In common family discourse there is hardly such a distinction and we simply say godparents. The actual registration in the Church Baptismal record will have it written according to Church law and practice. How you write it yourself in you own records may incorporate your family circumstances.

For an insightful page on Baptism sponsors, you may look up on your search function in your computer : Paul Turner, Godparents. It is a marvelous page.

Blessing upon you and your growing family!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 8, we received this question:

Can a catholic person be a godmother to a non-catholic baby?

(no name given)

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Catholic practice allows for a baptized non-Catholic to be a Christian witness for a Catholic Baptism, along with a Catholic godparent. I am sure that the reverse is also acceptable, since the godparents role is essentially to be a person of Faith, living that Faith in God [Father, Son, Spirit] in the midst of the Christian community.

For a reflection on the role of godparents, type in "Paul Turner, Godparents" at the search function on your internet. That is a very concise, encouraging page for this wonderful responsibility. [Of course, other sites may also be helpful.]

Blessings!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On August 3, we received this question:

Dear Father,

We have just celebrated the birth of our 2nd daughter and have somewhat of a dilemma. First we are both practicing Catholics and have received all of the required sacraments. We sincerely want to ask a married couple to be our daughters godparents. He is Catholic, she is Jewish. They were married by both a priest and a rabbi. We cannot think of better people and role models than these two individuals but understand in reading on the internet that the baptismal requirements are that each godparent be baptized. Is there anyway around this, or can the woman we want to ask to be godmother act in a different role but still participate as would a godmother would.

Thanks for your help.

Dan & Kyra

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Dear Dan & Kyra,

One godparent is sufficient for a baptism. Both of your friends can be with the baby at the ceremony, but only the Catholic party would be registered in the church record book as the official godparent.

Since, before they got married, they must have consented to raise any children they might have as Catholics, supporting the Catholic faith of your child should be no problem. The couple can be a role model.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On July 29, we received this question:

Dear Father,

My husband and I had a beautiful baby girl in April. We have decided to baptize her, however, I have a concern. My husband is a confirmed catholic, however, I am not. I have been baptized and made my first communion, but was never confirmed. At this time I do not plan to be confirmed. It is very important to my husband that she is baptized and I support his decision and effort in raising her catholic. Will my non-conformation status cause a problem when we go to baptize her?

Sincerely,

Jennifer

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Jennifer,

I shall give you a short answer first, then go on to give a context.

The fact that you yourself have not yet been confirmed does not enter into the picture for you to prepare for Baptism for your child.

However, the Code of Canon Law [Church Law], does give requirements for godparents.

Godparents [or "sponsors"] are to be practicing Catholics who are at least 16 years old and have already had the Sacrament of Confirmation. There must be at least one godparent, either man or woman. If there are two, then a man and a woman. If one is a baptized non-Catholic, that person is technically a Christian witness.

Church practice is that parishes everywhere have some sort of Baptism preparation program for parents and godparents of children to be baptized.

In the preparation classes it is emphasized [as it is stressed in the Baptism ceremony in two places] that as parents promise to train their children in the practice of the Faith, to be authentic, they should be practicing the Faith themselves.

This brings to mind what you stated in your enquiry. You are not now preparing for Confirmation. But to show your daughter that you yourself are practicing the Faith, you should think about this, and then follow through.

In this regard I shall ask a further question, not stated in your letter. Have you and your husband celebrated the Sacrament of Marriage? If perhaps that has not been done, that would be an excellent place to start.

Also, the Church [People of God, Disciples of Jesus together] realizes that the celebration of Eucharist [Mass] is the very center of Christian life. Everything we do and are as Christian Disciples leads to Eucharist and flows from it. So, should it be that currently it is something less than this, what better occasion than a new beautiful little life to love, to hold sacred, to form into a loving, gentle, kind human being, to form in the practice of the Faith,… for parents to make a new beginning also.

Blessings!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On July 27, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I would like to ask my good friend to be my daughter's godfather. Could you please let me know how should I do, what's kind of letter I should write to him.

thanks for the help.

Rowena

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Dear Rowena,

Presuming your good friend is also a good and confirmed Catholic, a requirement for being a godfather, it might be easier to make the request in person or by phone. You might say something such as: "I would to love to have you be my daughter's godfather, because I feel that should anything happen to me, you would be there for her if you could."

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On June 24, we received this question:

Father:

My grandaughters were Baptised in the Episcopal Church....they are 3 and 2.

Would they have to be Baptised again in the Catholic Church if they were to become Catholics?

I have been told the Catholic Church recognizes different faiths' Baptisms. Is that correct?

Thank you,

Nancy

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Dear Nancy,

Yes, their baptism would be recognized by the Catholic Church, provided the proper ritual was followed.

If they choose to become Catholics later on, they would not be re-baptized, but would be required to make a Profession of Faith in the Catholic Church, before receiving the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Where there is any doubt as to the validity of the orginal baptism, a conditional Cathollc Baptism might be offered.

Fr. John Malloy, S.D.B.


On June 16, we received this question:

Hi Father,

My sister’s child was born on Tuesday June 13th. She asked me today to be the child’s godmother and I am overjoyed. However, I am moving to Asia for one year on August 25th and my sister told me she is not planning to have the baptism before I leave. Can she use a proxy to be at the ceremony in my place? Should I ask her to have the baptism earlier so I can be there?

Thank you.

Helen

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Helen,

It is preferable that baptism take place soon after the baby is born and not be delayed unless there are good reasons, such as relatives coming from afar, sickness, etc.

God parents should be practicing Catholics, in good standing with the Church, at least sixteen years of age and confirmed.

When the chosen sponsor is unable to be present at the baptism, a proxy may be used.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On June 11, we received this question:

I am in the process of moving to the East Coast and have been asked to be a godfather to my nephew. Unfortunately the date of the baptism is a conflict with the moving date – moving out of our home in California-the exact same weekend. The baptism is in New Hampshire - across the United States.

Is it acceptable to have my father (the grandfather) standing in for me? My sister in law was inflexible of the date of baptism as to accommodate her sister – the Godmother.

Thank you,

David

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear David,

Church Law allows for a "proxy", or stand-in, in place of a godparent at a Baptism.

The specific requirement is that the godparent personally know that he has been chosen as godparent. Then notification to the priest or deacon celebrating the Sacrament is expected so that the correct name be entered into the Baptism record.

Blessings to you undertaking this "awesome" Christian task.

Sincerely,

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On June 2, we received this question:

Dear Father

How would you deal with this pastoral situation? In our diocese the policy is that only two godparents are permitted to be named on the baptismal certificate. I have a situation where a family is requesting to have three names. All of them are good practicing Catholics. What would you suggest?

Roy

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Roy,

We allow only two names in the baptism registry.

We have no problem with allowing other names on the certificate given to the family, but these would be listed as honorary godparents.

Sometimes there are many named (especially in Spanish speaking families) and these may be listed on the reverse side of the certificate.

Fr. John Malloy, SDB


On May 27, we received this question:

Dear Father,

I am a confirmed Catholic married to a non-denominational Christian woman and we had our first child recently. I would like to have our baby baptized in the Catholic Church but there are a few hurdles.

We live in Las Vegas but would like to do it in San Francisco so that friends and family can attend.

The Godmother and Godfather are not Catholic – however the Godfather attended 6 years of Catholic school in Southern California (Chaminade College Prep - http://www.chaminade.org) and he personally led 3 separate Catholic retreats while in school.

With these hurdles, what options do we have for having our child baptized in a Catholic Church in San Francisco?

Thank you in advance for your assistance!

Marco

Fr. John Malloy responds:

Dear Marco,

We could baptize your baby here, but ask that you speak to your pastor (priest in charge of your local parish) and let him know your plan and reason thereof.

As to the Godparents: Your two can be honorary Godparents, but you must have a Catholic, at least 16 years of age, confirmed and practicing his/her religion to be recorded as Godparent.

Our usual time for baptism here is 2:30 on any Sunday--or by special agreement for another time.

Fr. John Malloy


On April 13, we received two questions:

Is it true that in order to become a baptism godparent, the couple has to be married through the Catholic Church? I have two kids which we're hoping to have baptized soon. The godparents we chose for our kids are not married through the Catholic Church or any other church. They have lived together for many years, are legally married, just not through the church.

Delia

Fr. Harold Danielson answers:

Dear Delia,

Your query shows an interest on your part and at the same time a request for further information about the basic expectations of the People of God (the Church), as disciples of Jesus Christ.

As I reflect with you, I may jump from one thing to another. I trust you will be able to follow.

In the rite of Baptism parents and godparents are reminded at different places of their duty to form their children in the practice of the faith. In fact, this is a "constant care" for them. This certainly implies that the parents and godparents are themselves doing what they promise to do for their children.

Canon (Church) Law, besides being very technical at times, is in fact a very pastoral and loving instrument for the Church. Canon 874 describes the qualities of the sponsor or godparent at Baptism for an adult or for an infant. Some of these are: the sponsor must be at least 16 years old, have been confirmed and received Communion, and be leading "a life in harmony with the faith."

A lot then hinges on that "life in harmony with the faith." This is summarized in our common expression of "practicing Catholic." A variety of elements converge together to make up what "practicing Catholic" signifies.

One of them is a love and appreciation of the Eucharist and its celebration in one's life. The Eucharistic celebration (Mass) is the very center of our life as Catholic Christians. Sunday participation at this high point of God's (Christ's) action toward us human beings and the high point of our worship of God is of paramount importance for a disciple who is to be "light for the world." (Matthew, chapter 5)

Another element is being in harmony with all the Sacraments of the Church. One of these is surely celebrating the Sacramental Covenant of Marriage. Showing children and godchildren the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation by going to confession especially in Advent and Lent is certainly wonderful example for them.

The Church through its parish priests in parishes is always ready to help people to become "in harmony with the faith". Sometimes the opportunity to participate in the lives of young children as godparents acts as a springboard to begin the process.

Blessings at Easter!

Fr. Harold Danielson, SDB


On March 29, 2006, we received this question:

Dear Father:

My husband and I are in the process of adopting a baby girl from China. We have talked extensively about who we would like to be godparents to our daughter when she arrives.

I am a practicing Catholic (attend Mass each Sunday) and it is important to me that the person asked to Sponsor my child is as well. My husband is not as devout as I am and does not always attend with me and my son...

When my son was baptized in 2002, we chose my sister (a practicing Catholic) and my husband's brother (a non-practicing Catholic.) My husband has already approached his best friend (male, Christian non-practicing,) about being Godfather to our daughter. I would prefer my brother be asked as he is 24, and a practicing Catholic with a devout faith. I thought we had a simple solution: My brother would be the Godfather ("Sponsor") and the friend could be the "Christian Witness", however everything I am reading says that those that stand up for the child must be of the opposite sex. If only one is a Catholic, and recognized as the child's Sponsor in the eyes of the Church, why is there this restriction? I know my husband doesn't understand the Canon, but he is adamant about his friend being involved. What are our options?

Warm regards,

Gayle

Fr. John Malloy answers:

Dear Gayle,

The canon is clear and you seem to understand it well:.

Only one sponsor is necessary. If there are two they must be male and female. The sponsor must ordinarily be at least 16 years of age, baptized, received communion and confirmed, and practices his/her faith. (Canon 874)

Your husband's friend can stand beside the sponsor, your brother, as a "special" witness (together with all the others in the congregation).

Fr. John Malloy, S.D.B.


On March 19, we received this question:

Is there any rule that at a baptism, Godparents must be a male and a female? On Tuesday night my daughter had an emergency C-section. Due to complications she will net be able to have any more children. There is no male sibling on either side, but there is a sister on both sides. If mydaughter has to pick one there will be a broken heart with one of them. This has caused tension between my daughter and her husband over this. Please let me know if it is possible to have two Godmothers instead of one of each gender.

Fr. Malloy responds:

Concerning Sponsors (Godparents) for Baptism:

Church law states that "Insofar as possible one to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who is to assist an adult in Christian initiation or, together with the parents present an infant at baptism and who will help the baptized to lead a Christian life..."(Canon 872)

Canon 873 States: "Only one male or one female sponsor or one of each sex is to be employed."

So you cannot have two sponsors of the same sex.

The confusion about "two of the same sex" or more than one "Godmother" and "Godfather" is due in part to a tradition among some ethnics of having a host of "honorary" Godparents. "Honorary" you can always have.

Fr. John J. Malloy
Pastor


On February 15, we received this question:

Dear Fathers,

I am of both Jewish and Protestant background, never baptized, and married to a Catholic. We did not marry in the church. However, I was also married (outside the church, to non-Christians) twice before this marriage and have two civil divorces. This current marriage is, thankfully, a happy one and we have been blessed with a daughter who is now almost 4. After thinking it over and trying to learn as much as possible about Catholicism, I have come to feel (with my husband) that I would like her to be baptized and raised a Catholic. I would also like to join the church if it is possible, though I realize this is a longer process for me as an adult. I also believe my marriage history could be a problem. Would I have to get annulments for both my previous marriages (assuming annulments might even be possible)?

Thank you very much,

Danielle

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Danielle,

I am happy to try to give a response to your query in a few lines, but for a fuller dialog and understanding for what you might do, you should contact a local parish priest where you live. He will help you to be in contact with the local diocesan tribunal which would have to direct you through the technicalities of your situation.

I am touched that you have been learning about the Catholic Faith by your own interest, inspired by the Holy Spirit in the depth of your heart. There are so many wonderful means to deepen our knowledge and practice of Faith available in today’s world. There are books galore. The encyclopedic Catechism of the Catholic Church, of course, is a great resource. But an encyclopedia type book is not actually a readable introduction. Many Catholic publishers have these types of things on hand.

The internet is such a great instrument today. One can find lists of Catholic publishers and any number of websites. There are so many that one has to use a certain discretion in accessing them. Consulting with a parish priest will be helpful.

Now, continuing upon the journey of your quest for information: Even while you and your husband may not, at the moment, be in complete good standing in the Catholic Church, you may still participate as much as possible to show you are sincere in requesting the Sacraments for your young daughter. Technically your daughter is not yet “of catechetical age.” So upon authentic affirmation of faith with foreseeable formation and practice of faith, there would be “founded hope” [technical phrase in Church Law] for her to be baptized even now. Even with that she should be instructed as much as she can understand right now. For example, at four years old a child already knows about Christmas. And she should know Jesus loves her and should be able to say “I love Jesus.” She should also be acquainted with the most common prayers, even though she may not have all the words exact just yet. Any four year old has an extensive vocabulary that is growing every day. Faith words must be among them: Jesus, Mary, God, Our Father, Hail Mary, etc., etc.

This said, going back to the “technically” above, my opinion [recall that I do not know you and your husband] is that besides her parents’ instruction from now on (assuming your previous teaching and on-going) I would suggest that you enroll her in a pre-kindergarten religious education class, and continue on year by year. In the 3rd grade she could be baptized and receive First Communion. And then, of course, she should continue year by year beyond.

Now that being stated, you have a journey yourself to take along with your husband. You mentioned your own previous marriages. How about your husband? Yes, that at first would be an “impediment” to the current marriage. What to do? Well, the answer to that is harking back to St. Peter and St. Paul in their cultural situation surrounded by pagan Gentiles. They describe certain situations in which when a person came to believe in Jesus, and if the person they were married to objected and would not live together any more, then they were allowed to dissolve that marriage and be free to marry a Christian. Now that is quite a simplification for what today would be termed a “Privilege of the Faith” situation. You have not been baptized, and you would like to be baptized into the Catholic Church. In that act you could then be free to be married in the Sacramental covenant in the Church. It is true that it is a longer course through the Church Tribunal [as you have yourself foreseen in your query] to accomplish this.

I wish you many blessings for this journey upon which your family is embarking. If I can be of help through the e-mail, I shall do what I can. But you should absolutely find a local parish priest with whom you have great confidence to make this journey with you.

Sincerely,

Fr. Harold Danielson, S.D.B.


On February 14, we got this question:

Hello Father,

I have a simple question. When choosing a Godparent for your child does the person HAVE to be catholic? or could it be the person you know would carry out your wishes should something happen to you?

Have a wonderful day.

Thank you,

Sonja

Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

Dear Sonja,

Often, when answering a question, I myself write a context to the response. However, I have already prepared a flyer [actually copied from the internet] for godparents. I’ll reprint it here. Note the answer to your question is in the first paragraph. The rest sets up the wide picture. After Paul Turner’s paragraphs, I shall add another note or two.

GODPARENTS

by Paul Turner

Everyone baptized into the church receives a godparent. Godparents assist the baptized "to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it." That means we ask very little - or very much, depending on how you look at it.

To be a godparent you must be 16, baptized, confirmed in the Catholic Church, taking communion with us, leading a life in harmony with faith, and not a parent of the one to be baptized. Godparents may be chosen by the one to be baptized, by the parents or guardians, or even by the pastor or parish minister. A baptized non-Catholic may serve as a witness to the baptism if a Catholic godparent also takes part. Only one godparent is needed, although two may serve. The baptismal godparent becomes the preferred sponsor for confirmation.

Very often people will ask a family member to be a godparent. This has the advantage of binding families together. However, a godparent from the parish community may make a better choice. A parishioner can set a good example for the child from week to week and can represent the role of the entire parish community - bringing Christ to each new member.

Some families have further expectations of godparents of young children. They may expect a gift at the child's birthday or further assistance throughout life. Some godparents devote a lot of time to their godchildren; others do not. The church does not specify these extended responsibilities; families may discuss them with their godparents.

Godparents for adults play an important role during Lent. They support the catechumen at the rite of election and the scrutinies in addition to the rites of initiation. They usually are the sponsors who have accompanied the catechumens throughout their preparation. If the adult joining the church has already been baptized, their sponsor remains a "sponsor" since a godparent already exists.

During infant baptism, we ask godparents if they will help the parents in their duty as Christian parents. We invite them to renew their baptismal vows together with the parents, and they may assist in lighting the child's candle. However, parents hold the child for the baptism.

I thought Paul Turner’s explanation was excellent. To find it again at receiving your query, I simply typed in “Godparents by Paul Turner” in the blank for searching the web on my computer. I’m in Yahoo. I am sure there is a space at other search engines. It called up this particular article of course, then other articles by Paul Turner. I looked over a couple – very good.

I also typed in “Baptism godparents” and got many excellent sites. What possibilities for continuing to learn so much about our Catholic Faith and its practices! Of course, the internet browser picks up everything, so one must pick and choose the best sites, overlooking those from questionable sources. How do you know “questionable sources”? Listen to your deep inner sense. There are so many choices, that skipping one or another will not make any difference.

I wish many blessings upon you and your growing family. May you always have an open heart to the call of Jesus in your every day life.

Fr. Harold Danielson, S.D.B.


A previous questioner asked:

Dear Fathers,

My brother is christening his son on January 9th, and has asked me to become the God Father. Of course I am very excited to play this role in their sons’ life, and have started looking into the requirements for becoming a good God Father. According to my brother’s church, a letter is required that states (1) I am a member of a parish and (2 ) that I am in good standing with this parish.

Here is my question for you and your church: What would be required of me in order to obtain this letter from your parish before the christening? As I mentioned earlier, I am very excited to become a God Father and understand that religion plays a big role in this relationship – if you could provide me with some guidance with this matter, I would sincerely appreciate it.

I should point out that I was Baptized after being born in New York. After attending mass on occasion for several years, however, I was not actively involved in any particular parish.

Thank you very much for your help with this matter,

Christopher

Fr. Malloy responds:

Dear Christopher,

You asked what it takes to become a God Father at the Sacrament of Baptism.

Canon Law refers to Sponsors rather than God Parents, which is the common term in the USA.

Only one male or one female or one of each sex is to employed.

But to be admitted to this role a person must be chosen by the one to be baptized, or the parents, or, in their absence, the minister, and is to have the qualifications and intention of performing this role. The sponsor must have completed the 16th year, be a confirmed Catholic, have received the Most Holy Eucharist, must lead a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken, and is not the father or mother of the baptized. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic community may be admitted as a witness to baptism together with the Catholic person. (Canons: 873-874)

Our parish requires that the parents and sponsors attend the class held here each first Wednesday of the month from 7:00 to 9:00PM. When sponsors are out of state, or cannot attend the class, a letter from their parish is required. As you noted in your question, the letter must state: 1) the person is a member of the parish; and, 2) the person is in good standing.

SS Peter & Paul would ask that the sponsor be registered and to promise to support the spiritual activities of the Church.

Fr. John Malloy, S.D.B.


A previous questioner asked:

My husband and I are planning our daughter's baptism. I am Catholic, he is Episcopalian, yet we were married in the Catholic Church. We are torn on how she should be baptized - my husband is more active in his faith, and would therefore most likely provide more spiritual education to our daughter. Can you explain to me what the effects of a Episcopalian baptism would have on her for her future Catholic/Episcopalian upbringing?

Thank you!

 Fr. Harold Danielson responds:

This query has some underlying areas that invite reflection. The first thing that touched something within me is the statement that "my husband is more active in his faith." This is a marvelous awareness, which in itself is a call and example to you to deepen your own faith and practice. When spouses are united in the covenant and Sacrament of marriage, they are together in transmitting and fostering faith in their children. The ceremonies of Baptism, particularly in two instructions and the final blessings over the father and mother, emphasize the importance and responsibility of rearing their children in the "practice of the faith." The general ideal of Christian life as a disciple of Jesus in the Episcopal or Catholic tradition is quite similar, although some doctrinal and moral positions are different.

It will be good to remind you of the "Declaration and Promise" that a Catholic person makes when applying for permission from the Bishop to marry a non-Catholic. It states: "I reaffirm my faith in Jesus Christ and with God's help intend to continue living that faith in the Catholic Church. I promise to do all in my power to share the faith with our children by having them baptized and reared as Catholics." Along with that there is an affirmation by the parish priest that the Catholic person has accepted this responsibility and that the non-Catholic acknowledges this duty of the Catholic spouse.

The exalted place of parents in the formation and education of their children is of utmost and primary importance, not only in the human level for society but also in the spiritual realm of faith to giving a foundation for growing into a person of integrity, truth and love.


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