Can my non-Catholic friend receive Anointing of the Sick?

Have you ever had a loved one, a friend or family member, who was terminally ill or near death, and you wanted to do everything you could to help? Usually a Catholic in such a situation would receive the Anointing of the Sick, but what can you do for someone who is not Catholic?

“I have a good friend who is terminally ill and he’s not a Catholic, even though he’s been very receptive to having a conversion,” explained Danny in Sonoma, California. “How does the Anointing of the Sick apply in his situation where he’s not a baptized Catholic and what else can we do for him in those regards? … Can we offer up some Masses and when we receive Communion, can we offer that up for him?”

“Yes to the Masses, yes to offering your Communion for him,” responded Msgr. Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your FatherTM on Relevant Radio®. “Is he a baptized person?”

“No, he’s not.”

“All he needs to ask since he’s terminally ill—the Church kind of works quickly with people who are in a terminal situation—if he seeks and desires Baptism, we can baptize him. And what would happen is he would be baptized, confirmed, given first Eucharist, and anointed all in the same celebration if he’s open to Baptism. But he has to be open to confessing faith and receiving Baptism,” said Msgr. Swetland.

“If we don’t get that far where he desires that and expresses that, can he still receive Anointing of the Sick?” asked Danny.

“Baptism is the gateway to all the sacraments, so we can’t anoint someone who hasn’t been baptized. So he needs to want to be baptized, which means he wants to be in union with Christ,” explained Msgr. Swetland. “Right now, I think grace is already working in his heart. I would call him a catechumen because of what you’ve described. But he has to seek Baptism. It sounds like he has a Baptism of Desire already, but let’s go to the next step, so keep up the prayers, keep up the sacrifices, Danny.”

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.