Friday, December 12, 2008

Anyone can baptize in a dire emergency

It is important that people realize that anyone, even if you are not baptized yourself, can give a Catholic baptism to an adult or a child if your intention is sincere and if a priest cannot be obtained, in the event of a dire emergency.

An example would be at an accident scene where the injured, whether baby, child or adult, has not been baptized and is in danger of dying right away. This is documented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1256, 1240) and in my day was taught to all Catholic youngsters. Here is the procedure.

You need some sort water, even the tiniest amount. The usual place to look is if there is a puddle or source of water nearby. If water is absolutely not available you can use a fluid such as soda or any liquid available (such as windshield wiper fluid), whatever is at hand. If there is absolutely no fluid you can spit in your hand and use that.

Pour or if small amount wipe the fluid on the child or adult's forehead while saying:

"(Speak their name here), I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Thus, if the infant or adult dies, you have baptized them fully within the grace of baptism of the Catholic faith. This isn't a "retrograde" or "enforced conversion," the person does not "become a Catholic against their will." It demonstrates that Catholics affirm that they are all, both priests and laity, within the "priesthood of Christ" and they can, in dire emergency, confer the grace of Baptism on those who are at risk of dying without that grace.

Obviously if the child or adult survives, you must speak to a priest to obtain advice about how to proceed.

I hope you have found this useful, but obviously hope that you never have to use this function of our shared "common priesthood."

In the past I've had a small vial of water in my traveling first aid kit in case I have ever had to do this. I've only been first on the scene of an accident once, and the men were not in danger of death, so I've not had to do this myself, but have been prepared since earliest childhood to do so, if need be.