Q. 1. How come the Catholic Church does not allow the Sacrament of Baptism to take place in the home? I ask my parish priest to administer the Sacrament and was told that it is not permitted under Church law.
A. 1. In the Catholic Church, the spiritual life of the individual grows within the local faith community, also known as parishes or churches. The church building is more than a building. It is the home of a group of believers who come together to share their faith in the worship of God, in the celebration of the Eucharist and the other Sacraments.
The proper place for the Sacrament of Baptism to take place is in the parish Church building among the local group of believers (spiritual family) who welcome the newly baptised in the parish life.
The 1973 introduction to the Rite of Baptism for Children affirms:
"10. So that baptism may clearly appear as the sacrament of the Church's faith and of incorporation into the people of God, it should normally be celebrated in the parish church, which must have a baptismal font."
The 1983 Code of Canon Law states:
"Can. 857 §1. Apart from a case of necessity, the proper place of baptism is a church or oratory. §2. As a rule an adult is to be baptized in his or her parish church and an infant in the parish church of the parents unless a just cause suggests otherwise."
Q. 2. What would happen if a child was baptised in the home?
A. 2. Providing that the person performing the Sacrament of Baptism
a. has the intention of baptising her child,
b. uses the correct formula, the exact words that are required to make the baptism valid, and
c. sprinkles water on the forehead of the infant,
the Sacrament of Baptism would be valid, but illicit. Illicit means "not allowed or approved by the Catholic Church." It is done contrary to the teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church.
Q. 3. In the past, I have heard, read, and seen on television cases where baptism was done outside of the Church building. How do you explain that?
A. 3. Not every religion believes is the same. There are non-Catholic religions where their believers will permit baptism to take place in the home, in the office, in a garden of flowers, by the lake, in famous places, even in nudist colonies. This variety of location shows how the matter can get carried away when you have easygoing rules regarding the administration of a sacrament. The Catholic Church stands by its Tradition and the teachings found in the Code of the Canon Laws.
Q. 4. In a situation where a priest refuses to baptise a child, what are the consequences, if any, of having the child baptised in the home by a protestant minister?
A. 4. There are pros and cons with have a child baptised in the home by a protestant minister. First of all, if the baptism is performed in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church, it will be valid.
Secondly, the child's baptism will be recorded in the protestant church's baptismal registry. There will be no record of it in the Catholic Church.
Thirdly, there can be no Catholic baptismal ceremony in the Catholic Church as is often done in a "conditional baptism." In this case, the baptism, although not Catholic, is recognized as valid by the Catholic Church.
Finally, during the Sacrament of Baptism, the parent(s) (and sponsor(s) if applicable) cannot promise to raise the Church in the Catholic faith since the child is not being baptised in the Catholic faith.
Q. 5. So what is best, baptising the child yourself or having the child baptised by a Protestant minister?
A. 5. Baptising the child yourself is illicit, but valid. Having the child baptised by a Protestant minister is your choice, but it is not a Catholic baptism,
If a child is baptised by yourself, at a later date, a "Conditional Baptism" can take place through a Catholic baptismal ceremony to ensure the child was properly baptised. And the child's name shall be recorded in the Baptismal Registry, based on the date he/she was baptised at home.
If a child is baptised by a Protestant minister, the name of the child is recorded in the Protestant Church.
At a Catholic baptismal ceremony, the parents can promise before God to raise the child in the Catholic faith.
That is the difference between the two ways.