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Reddingly wrote:

Dear AskACatholic.com,

I am enrolled in an RCIA program. I have been baptized in another Christian denomination, but
I am worried that I have not been effectively baptized. I told them that if there was any doubt that I would like to be re-baptized, but they refused for some weird ecumenical reason. I have a question then:

  • Will the Church Council that decides which baptisms are valid, be able to tell me infallibly whether my previous baptism was effective and valid, or are their decisions fallible?

Reddingly

  { How do I know whether my Baptism from my previous denomination is valid? }

Paul replied:

Dear Reddingly,

I don't see how they could possibly tell infallibly if your baptism was valid. The gift of infallibility extends only to matters of faith and morals, not judgments. Certain denominations perform baptism certain ways, and generally it is known which of these are invalid. Your parish may inquire into finding out:

  • if the Trinitarian formula was used:
    ("I baptize you in the name of the Father and of he Son and of the Holy Spirit")
  • if the water was poured on the head or there was immersion rather than it being sprinkled, and
  • if there was proper intent in the one administering it

but if you have any reasonable doubt as to whether any of these essential elements making baptism valid was missing you should make it clear to your pastor.

You could be given what is commonly called a "conditional baptism", which would truly baptize you if the baptism at the other denomination was not actually valid.

Peace,

Paul

Mike replied:

Hi Reddingly,

Besides what my colleague Paul has said, I'd be interested in Fr. Jonathan's opinion.

I'm guessing that part of the seminarian training priests receive may include which non-Catholic faiths have a valid baptisms, and which do not, but in our changing culture, one could also ask:

  • If a denomination changes their form for Baptism, how would the Church know?

In any case, where there is any uncertainty, as Paul said, one would be conditionally baptized.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi Mike,

We use a chart for this, and if the Church is not on the chart then we try to figure it out by their web site and calling them. If there is true doubt then a priest would do a conditional Baptism. Attached you will find my chart.

It is generic so go ahead and post without attribution.

If there is a group that is not on my list but baptizes by immersion with the Trinitarian formula, it would qualify as valid.

There are plenty of other charts out there.

One favor — if you ever have a visitor to your site who has evidence that something is incorrect in this chart, please let me know so that we can fix our chart.

 

Validity Of Baptism — Communion In Faith With The Roman Catholic Church

Recognized as Valid

  • African Methodist Episcopal
  • Amish (and Mennonites)
  • Anglican (Episcopalian and Church of England)
  • Assembly of God
  • Baptist (usually)
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Church of the Brethren (formerly called Dunkers)
  • Church of God
  • Church of the Nazarene
  • Congregational
  • Evangelical Churches
  • Evangelical United Brethren
  • Liberal Catholic Church
  • Lutheran
  • Methodist
  • Old Catholic Church
  • Orthodox Church
  • Polish National Catholic Church
  • Presbyterian
  • Reformed Churches
  • Seventh Day Adventist
  • United Church of Christ
  • New Apostolic
  • Free Christian Church

NOT Recognized as Valid

  • Apostolic Church
  • Bohemian Free Thinkers
  • Boston Church of Christ
  • Christadelphians
  • Christian Scientists
  • Church of Divine Science
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
  • Pentecostal Churches
  • People's Church of Chicago
  • Quakers
  • Salvation Army
  • Unitarians
  • Universalists
  • Swedenborgians (Church of New Jerusalem)

Fr. Jonathan
[Related Posting]

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