If I baptize my child, do I need to raise him in the Catholic Faith?

Baptism welcomes babies and adults into the Christian Faith and is a beautiful initiation into the Church. Many Catholic families recognize the importance of their child’s baptism and the promise to bring their children up in the Church. But sometimes, parents present their children for baptism and then don’t step foot into a Catholic Church until the next family baptism, wedding, or funeral, and they may not even intend to raise their child in the Faith.

Jean from New York called The Patrick Madrid Show to ask about the spiritual obligation that goes along with Sacrament on Baptism: “There’s a couple I know that are young and not practicing Catholics but want the child baptized. But I was wondering about the spiritual obligation once you get the child baptized … what exactly are these spiritual obligations? Is it to rear the child in the Catholic Faith definitely or is it acceptable to say, okay I got the child baptized and now … they can choose their own religion?”

“In the ceremony of the Sacrament of Baptism, when it’s celebrated in its fullest form, the parents and the godparents promise publically to do so. This is separate from, say, somebody who is dying on the sidewalk after a car accident and somebody hastily baptizes that person or a baby being baptized who’s in distress in a hospital—that would be a different situation. But here, when we’re talking about the way the sacrament is normally celebrated, there is this solemn promise that’s made to raise the child strong in the Faith. In fact, the parents and godparents actually recite the Creed or a version of the Creed in which they reject Satan and all his works and empty promises and they affirm this faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church. So that presupposes that they really do believe it and intend to act upon that,” responded Patrick Madrid, host of The Patrick Madrid Show on Relevant Radio®.

“The parents have the obligation to raise their children in the Faith, and you could say that it’s kind of obvious that they would do that. If they want to have the child baptized then it would suggest that they are serious about the Faith. Now, I recognize that not everybody is and for them it’s just a cultural thing—we just do it because we’ve always done it and that’s what we do in our family, and maybe they don’t go to church, which is sad,” said Madrid.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly addresses this question in paragraph 1255: “For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.”

Madrid concluded, “The Church is really serious about this, Jean, and when parents and godparents undertake to have a baby baptized, or anyone baptized for that matter, they are instructed that this is a serious obligation on their part and they make that promise publically.”

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.