Living through a global pandemic certainly makes life different. But some parts of life do carry on despite the coronavirus. People are still getting married, babies are still being born. It just looks a lot different than usual and brings a whole different set of worries. One of those worries is when and how to baptize a baby who is born during our current crisis.
A listener called in to The Patrick Madrid Show recently because his son and daughter-in-law are expecting a baby, and his son wants to baptize the baby at the hospital because he is concerned about COVID-19. He asked Patrick whether or not that would be the right thing to do.
Patrick responded by saying, “This is one of those tricky gray areas. Because, certainly, if there were any imminent danger to the child, then absolutely the parents should baptize the baby then and there. If they brought the baby home, scheduled the baptism for two weeks later, and the baby starts getting sick, baptize the baby then and there.”
“The Church foresees scenarios in which the parents really should step in and do that right away,” Patrick explained. “But this doesn’t seem like that kind of scenario. Because there is no imminent threat to the child.”
Patrick advised the couple to exercise prudence and caution when they baptize their baby in a church, but since reasonable measures can be taken to protect the baby and the family, this would not constitute an emergency scenario.
“Bring the baby to the church for baptism, and a private baptism at that, it doesn’t have to be with many other people there. Mom, dad, godparents, and any other family members can go to the church, the priest can baptize the baby. Problem solved. That would be my preferred way of going about it if I were the dad.”
“So as the grandfather, I would recommend to your son that there’s nothing really in this scenario that would make it necessary for you to baptize the baby. Now, you could. But this isn’t one of those scenarios.”
Patrick also pointed out that while having a child baptized in the hospital is important when the child’s life is in danger, there are important reasons you should have your child baptized in a church by a priest.
“It’s better for the child to have the full baptismal ceremony with the blessings and everything that goes with that,” Patrick said. “The exorcism of the water and all the things that go into that. That would be my preference and I would encourage them to do that.”
“Now, if he’s absolutely dead-set against it, if he did baptize his child he needs to make sure that his parish knows this. Because he’s going to need to have a baptismal certificate, and it’s going to have to be really, really clear that the baptism was valid. These are some of the problems that can arise if you do a baptism on your own. Which is one reason the Church strongly discourages that outside of emergency scenarios.”
Listen to the full conversation below: