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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. My unmarried daughter gave birth to a child. We are planning for the child to be baptised. What we need to know, does the name of the father have to appear on the Baptismal Certificate? One priest said "yes" while another said "no." Please enlighten me on this matter. Thanks!

A. 1. The Catholic Church Canon Law # 877 states:

"877 1. The pastor of the place where the baptism is celebrated must carefully and without any delay record in the baptismal register the names of the baptized, with mention made of the minister, parents, sponsors, witnesses, if any, the place and date of the conferral of the baptism, and the date and place of birth."

"877 2. If it concerns a child born to an unmarried mother, the name of the mother must be inserted, if her maternity is established publicly or if she seeks it willingly in writing or before two witnesses. Moreover, the name of the father must be inscribed if a public document or his own declaration before the pastor and two witnesses proves his paternity; in other cases, the name of the baptized is inscribed with no mention of the name of the father or the parents."

"877 3. If it concerns an adopted child, the names of those adopting are to be inscribed and, at least if it is done in the civil records of the region, also the names of the natural parents according to the norm of 1 and 2, with due regard for the prescripts of the conference of bishops."

As per 877.2 above, the name of the father is mentioned when:

a. a public document proves his paternity, or

Note: A copy of the public proof is retained in the "Sacramental Records" file in the parish.

b. the father makes a declaration before the pastor and two witnesses as proof of his paternity.

Otherwise, the name of the father is not mentioned.

So it is possible that both priests answered correctly depending on what information they had available to them. Insufficient information can lead to wrong answers.

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