Q: I have recently discovered that my Presbyterian baptism was invalid (improper matter—no flowing water). No investigation was done at the time of my conversion [to Catholicism], only a request for a baptismal certificate and so it was accepted by the Church at the time.
The method used was as follows: the Presbyterian minister dipped his fingertips into a bowl of water (so they were moistened but not dripping), then patted me on the top of the head 3 times. Any water present on his fingers would only have touched my hair. I remember it clearly, as I was 12 years old. I was also able to contact him to verify. Several priests I have spoken with indicated that this would not suffice for proper matter.
Since I was not validly baptized, am I correct that all my other sacraments were invalid as well (therefore, my confirmation & marriage would need to be repeated to be valid & I should also not attempt to receive absolution or Holy Communion until I am validly baptized)? My husband is a cradle Catholic, if that affects your response. –Irma Continue reading
Q: My wife and some of her Catholic girlfriends have befriended a travelling priest who stopped in our diocese for a while. He’s from [another diocese hundreds of miles away]. This priest promotes life-issues and traditional family values, etc. and he says this is his mission. He isn’t connected to any pro-life or other organization, though, he’s doing this on his own.
What got my attention is that he is soliciting money for his own support. He doesn’t seem to have much, he desperately needs new shoes, for example. Some people have contributed without hesitation. But I say that we donate to our parish every week, partly to support the priests who minister there. Why should a priest from another diocese come here and ask us to support him too? Does the law say anything about this? –Paul Continue reading
Q1: Is it written anywhere, or in any authoritative text from the Holy See (or Bishops Conference), that being in an irregular marriage bars one from being a godparent? The canon seems vague. One could argue that living in a state of unrepentant sin is contrary to leading a life of faith… –Nathan
Q2: I work in a parish and have the joy of helping families prepare for baptisms. I’m struggling with how to interpret the canons regarding sponsors for infant baptism. It can be hard to explain why someone’s sister, brother, etc., cannot be a godparent. This is complicated by the fact that different parishes seem to interpret the law differently.
The requirements are clear until the last part [of canon 874.1 n. 3] about living in keeping with the faith. I wish this were spelled out more clearly, because of course we are all sinners. Is a Catholic allowed to be a godparent if he/she was married in another Christian church? –Cecilia Continue reading
(The post below was written many years ago, but it addresses an issue which unfortunately is still with us, particularly before Christmas. That’s why it seems feasible to post it again. Have a happy and holy Christmas!)
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
Q: Although my husband and I are Roman Catholics, we have attended a Byzantine parish for many years. We adopted four children as infants from Eastern Europe. The orphanage director gave us their baptismal certificates written in Russian, and told us that an Orthodox priest came to the orphanage occasionally to baptize.
Since we were not present at these ceremonies, we could not be certain that they had really taken place, and so explained this to our pastor. His reasoning was that since they may have been baptized Orthodox, they belonged to the Eastern Church, or that at least the Eastern Church would have jurisdiction over them because of where they were born, and that it would be okay for him to conditionally administer the sacraments that they had already likely received. He also said their case is different because of their birthplace and having been adopted, rather than born to us. (I was surprised, however, that when he did administer baptism and confirmation, he did not use the language for conditional baptism and chrismation, but just the regular formulas.)
Does any of this change anything or was the pastor’s thinking misguided? –Katherine Continue reading