Catechism #1256

A friend has had some questions about the Catholic faith, and one of them centered on Baptism.  How is it, she very reasonably asked, that we started with John baptizing Jesus and Jesus commissioning his disciples to baptize in the name of the Trinity and now have priests sprinkling infants with water, while no one else may baptize?

You playing at home probably know, as I did, that baptism is not the purview of priests alone, but also bishops – and under fairly ordinary circumstances, deacons can baptize.  You probably also knew that any believer could baptize under extraordinary circumstances – say, a death bed conversion.

But here’s your extra credit question:  Did you know that non-believers can baptize people into the Catholic Church?  It’s true, as long as they follow the form and formula, and carry the same intent as the Church does whenever she baptizes.

Maybe I’m alone in this – that, to me, is astounding.  It actually puts me in awe.  The Church is so caught up in the salvation of souls – desperate even, in a certain way – that we allow anyone to baptize (under particular, reasonable circumstances).  Richard Dawkins could baptize.

That’s called grace.

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