Does a Convert Become a Latin or an Eastern Catholic?

Q: I have a question about the church membership of an adult convert to Catholicism.

My grandparents were Greek Melchite Catholics. Their son, my father, drifted away from Catholicism, married a protestant woman, and began attending protestant services.

I was raised and baptized in a protestant church.  When I went to college, I felt called to become Catholic.  The pastor investigated my protestant baptism, and concluded that because it did not use the Trinitarian formula it was invalid.  So I was baptized at the Easter Vigil.

A month later, I was talking to both my pastor and a Greek Melchite Catholic priest visiting from my grandparents’ hometown. I mentioned my grandparents and said that they are, in fact, Greek Melchite Catholics, though I myself was raised protestant. Hearing this, the visiting priest suggested that I am actually a member of the Melchite Greek Catholic Church, because church membership is inherited through the male line.

My pastor says that’s not possible and explains that I was just baptized at the Easter Vigil. The visiting priest replies that the child of an Eastern Catholic is always an Eastern Catholic, and if I really want to be a Latin Catholic, I have to write a letter to Rome.

But the pastor argued that my father’s failure to raise me as any kind of Catholic or have me validly baptized broke the chain of membership and left me free to join a new church. Both priests say that I can attend Mass wherever I want, but my actual church membership will be significant for marrying or having children.  Each priest, though, believes his position is the correct one.  Which is right? –Abe Continue reading

Posted in Baptism, Sacraments | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Does a Convert Become a Latin or an Eastern Catholic?

What Makes a Baptism Catholic?

Q1: What makes a Catholic baptism Catholic?

I’m a lay Roman Catholic who just started working as a hospital chaplain, which means I may be called upon to administer emergency baptisms in some cases.  If I baptize, for example, an infant whose parents are Catholic, is that infant considered Catholic?  I assume, I guess, that the Catholic faith is what makes someone Catholic (whether you’re a consenting adult or you’re a child under the age of reason, in which case the Catholic faith of your parents would make you Catholic).  Is that assumption correct? –Nathan

Q2: I am a parish secretary and am responsible for recording sacraments in our books…. I have been coming across students who have just made their First Communion and Confirmation but were baptized in a Protestant church.

I have no information on why these children weren’t baptized Catholic, when or if their parent(s) were received into the Catholic Church and if so, how old the child was at the time.  I suspect in some of these cases there was at least one Catholic parent but he/she for some reason allowed for their child to be baptized in a Protestant church.

I asked our pastor about whether I need to create a record in our baptismal register for these children baptized outside the Catholic Church who are now making their other sacraments. Our pastor didn’t understand what I was talking about and said I only need to record in the First Communion and Confirmation log books. To my knowledge, these children never made a profession of faith/were officially received into the Catholic Church.

I am confused about this. Is there more information that these parents should be providing to our parish about the circumstances of their child’s baptism? Are these children supposed to actually be going through RCIA? I think our pastor might be incorrect in how he views these cases. –Mary Continue reading

Posted in Baptism, Parish Life, Sacraments | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on What Makes a Baptism Catholic?

Can the Pastor Set a Minimum Age for Baptism?

Q:  Canonically speaking, may the pastor/parish set a minimum age of 4 months old for the baptism of an infant?  If not, what steps should be taken by parents who want their child baptized before that age?  We have a grandchild due at the end of February and we and his parents would like him to be baptized ASAP, perhaps Easter Sunday.  Thank you. –Michelle Continue reading

Posted in Baptism, Parish Life, Sacraments | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Can the Pastor Set a Minimum Age for Baptism?

When Does a Catholic Book Need an Imprimatur?

Q: I have questions regarding books that are supposed to have Church approval on them.  If a book deals with religion/morals and is being sold in a church, does it only need the Imprimatur, or does it need the Imprimatur AND the Nihil Obstat together?

Would it be sinful (under canon law) to read a book that deals with religion/morals that doesn’t have authorization, but is displayed at churches or is a prayer book?  I’ve seen a couple of examples of Catholic books being displayed in churches that don’t have the authorization on them.

I have been confused about this and not read some books I have because of my confusion. –Neil Continue reading

Posted in Other Canonical Questions | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on When Does a Catholic Book Need an Imprimatur?

(Repost:) Confession and General Absolution

Unfortunately, reposting this piece is almost becoming a Christmas tradition, since reports continue to surface of abuses of the Sacrament of Penance during this busy season.  For that reason it may be worth reading it once again.   A very happy and holy Christmas to all!

Q: Last year, I visited my relatives at Christmas time, and we all went to their parish to a communal penance service before Christmas. There were probably almost a hundred people there, and only one priest. He didn’t hear each person’s confession, as we expected. Instead, he stood near the altar, said some prayers, and blessed all of us. Then he told us we were absolved of our sins, and that was it. Was that priest wrong to do what he did? Did God really forgive us our sins?  –Robert Continue reading

Posted in Confession, Parish Life, Rights of the Faithful, Sacraments | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on (Repost:) Confession and General Absolution