The Sacrament of Baptism

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Copyright © St Mary's R.C. 2006

What is the role of the Godparent?
In the baptism of infants the godparents’ role is secondary. But, if necessary, they should be ready to help in the spiritual education of their godchild. The godparent should be: a) sufficiently mature (min age 16) and b) a member of the Catholic Church, fully initiated in the Church (by Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist). A baptised member of a non-Catholic Church may act as a witness (but not godparent or sponsor) alongside the godparent.

How soon should children be baptised after birth?
A lot sooner than has become customary! If the child is in danger of death, he or she should be baptised immediately. Otherwise, the baptism should - as far as possible - be celebrated within the first two months.

Must a child be given a Saint’s name?
The Church requires that priests and parents “take care that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian sentiment” (Canon 855). In effect it is difficult to imagine how any priest could fulfil the requirements of that law. Many children are give more than one forename; it’s reasonable therefore to expect parents to ensure that at least one is Christian.

Do all parents have a right to have their child baptised?
No. Canon Law (Canon 868) states that “For a child to be baptised lawfully it is required there is a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion.” In practice this means that - in St Mary’s parish - as well as having the parents’ verbal assurance of their intention to bring the child up in the faith, the parish priest would also need to see parents attending Sunday Mass here for at least 3 months before agreeing to baptise the child.