Baptism Frequently Asked Questions

Baptism - Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
How long after the birth of a child should the Baptism take place?
Answer:
As soon as possible after the birth: Parents are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth. As soon as possible after the birth or even before it, parents are to go to the parish to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared for it properly (Code of Canon Law 867.1). An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without any delay (Code of Canon Law 867.2). May parishes require pre-Baptism sessions for the parents and the sponsors (godparents)

Question:
Must we give our child the name of a saint to be baptized?
Answer:
A saint's name is not a requirement. A baptismal name that is offensive to Christians is not permitted; a saint's name is not necessary. Offensive names include Lucifer, Beelzebub, Hitler, etc. Names from the Old Testament are perfectly acceptable.

Question:
We are in the process of adopting a child or have adopted a child. What steps are needed to have the child baptized?
Answer:
When you contact your local parish to arrange for the child’s Baptism, be sure to inform them that this is an adopted child. Such cases require some minor paperwork.

Question:
Can I change the names one or both godparents after the baptism?
Answer:
No. Examples of changes permitted include:
• Add or change to reflect the "new" legal father or mother.
• Change of last name.
• Correct the errors in original baptismal entry.
Changes do not include a change in the sponsors (godparents). The names of godparents are not erased or changed.

Question:
What are to requirements for being a godparent (sponsor) at Baptism?
Answer:
According to Code of Canon Law 874.1:
• One sponsor must be Catholic.
• The Catholic must be at least 16 years old and baptized and confirmed living a life in conformity with the teachings of the Church. (Those who have been divorced and have remarried without seeking an annulment may not serve as godparents or sponsors for Confirmation.)
•Neither parent may serve as godparent.

Question:
Can a baptized non-Catholic be a godparent?
Answer:
Yes. Such a person is known as a Christian witness. In this situation the godparent must be a Catholic. The Christian witness must be at least 16 years old, a validly baptized Christian, living an upright life.

Question:
Can a non-baptized person (i.e. a Jewish or Muslim person) be a godparent?
Answer:
No. they cannot be a non-Catholic because of the duties of a godparent to assist the child’s parents in passing on the Christian faith. At the celebration of the sacrament parents and godparents are asked to profess publicly their faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If the person wishes to convert to Christianity in the Catholic Church, then their own reception of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist must take place prior to the child's baptism.

Question:
Can we have two godmothers or two godfathers?
Answer:
No. There may be one godfather, one godmother, or one of each (Code of Canon Law 873).

Question:
What are the duties of parents and godparents?
Answer:
In infant baptism the godparent, together with the parents, presents the child for baptism and helps the baptized to lead the Christian life in harmony with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it (Code of Canon Law 872)

Question:
What if the godparent cannot be present for the Baptism?
Answer:
If the godparent cannot be present in person, he or she may appoint another person to serve as a proxy...Ordinarily the appointment of the proxy should be made by the godparent in writing or before two witnesses, in order that there be certainty as to who is the responsible person.