Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Who Can Baptize?

Who Can Baptize?
The Church teaches very unequivocally that for the valid conferring of the sacraments, the minister must have the intention of doing at least what the Church does. This is laid down with great emphasis by the Council of Trent (sess. VII). The opinion once defended by such theologians as Catharinus and Salmeron that there need only be the intention to perform deliberately the external rite proper to each sacrament, and that, as long as this was true, the interior dissent of the minister from the mind of the Church would not invalidate the sacrament, no longer finds adherents. The common doctrine now is that a real internal intention to act as a minister of Christ, or to do what Christ instituted the sacraments to effect, in other words, to truly baptize, absolve, etc., is required. This intention need not necessarily be of the sort called actual. That would often be practically impossible. It is enough that it be virtual. Neither habitual nor interpretative intention in the minister will suffice for the validity of the sacrament. The truth is that here and now, when the sacrament is being conferred, neither of these intentions exists, and they can therefore exercise no determining influence upon what is done. To administer the sacraments with a conditional intention, which makes their effect contingent upon a future event, is to confer them invalidly. This holds good for all the sacraments except matrimony, which, being a contract, is susceptible of such a limitation.
Source: Catholic Encyclopedia
For the aforementioned reason, non-Catholic baptisms may not be valid.  The individual should receive a conditional Baptism.  For more information, see our post on the Sacrament of Baptism.

1 comment(s):

del_button February 5, 2011 at 10:05 PM
David Meyer said...

Hey Matthew,
I live in the Twin Cities too (out in Rockford), I stumbled across your blog while searching for a good picture of St. Augustine. You seem to be very solid, great to see that. I just converted to Catholicism (with my wife and our 4 children) from Presbyterianism in December, and we attend down at Holy Family in St. Louis Park. We really love Father Dufner there. I hope some day there can be a Latin mass there, I would love to go to one. We travel very far to go to Holy Family because it is the most conservative parish we have seen.

Anyway, perhaps you go to the argument of the month club (this next teusday) and we could meet?

The main reason I comment here now is to point something out about the baptism issue you raise. If it is true that the intention must be there for the sacrament to be valid, I can't see how almost ANY Protestant baptism could ever be valid. (other than some Lutherans and Anglicans) My baptism was done on a boat launch in a lake by a Pentacostal minister. The triune formula was used which makes it valid. (so I thought) How could anyone ever be sure (even a Catholic) that they were validly baptized if intent is required? There are faithless priests who no doubt think nothing at all is occuring other than a wet forehead. Nevertheless I would gladly submit to the church and be conditionaly baptized if I were told to by my Priest/Bishop.

-David Meyer

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