FAQ #4

Question:

I was scheduled to preside at one of our parish’s regularly scheduled baptisms.  Shortly before the baptisms I realized that one of the children to be baptized was a 10-year old boy.  Quite a few family members were present.  The pastor of the parish was not on the parish campus.  How should I proceed?

Answer:

You should not baptize the child.  You begin by having a pastoral discussion with the parents of the child to be baptized, informing them that the child will need to be baptized by a priest unless there is danger of death.  You will need to explain to the parents that deacons have faculties to baptize only children under the age of 7.  Children who reach the age of 7 are presumed to have reached the age of reason and, therefore, the child should, most likely, also receive the other sacraments of initiation (Eucharist and Confirmation) at the same time the child is baptized.  A priest, therefore, would be required to baptize the child in this case.  You should inform the family that you will promptly speak with the pastor and inform him of their need for a priest to do this baptism.  You should defer to the pastor any specific questions by the family about the timing of a rescheduled baptism or needed catechetical instruction for the other sacraments of initiation.

Notes:

The question about how this occurred is an issue that the pastor will need to address with those who process applications for baptisms.  Correction among staff may be necessary to avoid a similar occurrence.    The parish should have in place a catechetical program or procedure for unbaptized children who reach the age of reason.