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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. Does the Catholic Church allow baptism by aspersion?

A. 1.Baptism by aspersion is not a word that is frequently heard in the Catholic Church. The word aspersion comes from the Latin word aspersus, which is a derivative of the verb aspergere, which means "to sprinkle" or "to scatter." The word aspersion first appeared in English in the 16th century. At the time, it referred to the type of sprinklings, usually holy water, that took place in religious ceremonies including the Sacrament of Baptism.

The Code of Canon Law clearly shows that back in 1917, baptism by sprinkling was permitted. The new Code of Canon Law of 1983 states that now "Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion or by pouring." Some Church experts indicate that sprinkling is still a valid way of administering the Sacrament of Baptim, but it is illicit (illegal) and therefore it should not be used. That means that although sprinkling (aspersion) during the Sacrament of Baptism would be valid, it is not the Catholic Church approved way of doing it.

The pouring of water over a person's head provides assurance that the person has been baptised. When water is sprinkled over a person, it can be questionable if the Sacrament was properly administered. The pouring of water during the Sacrament of Baptism can be done from the hand, with an object such as a shell, or a jug.

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