Expert Answer Forum
baptism and excommunication QUESTION from Molly November 27, 2000 My Mother was raised in Catholic and attended Catholic school as a girl. Shortly after graduating from high school, she married and had three children. Both of my older brothers were baptised but I was not. I've asked my mother on several occassions why I was never baptised as a child and I have received a variety of responses. One time she told me that while pregnant with me, she went to confession and was asked to leave. Whether this means she was asked to leave the booth or the Church, I've no idea.
My questions are these: Under what circumstances whould the church not allow a child to be baptised? What behavior would lead to excommunication?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on March 2, 2001 Dear Miss Molly:
Canon Law 868 gives the requirments for infant baptism:
Canon 868.1: For an infant to be baptized licitly: a) the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must be present;
b) there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.
Canon 868.2: An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.
This means that a baptism could be denied if the priest as compelling and serious reasons to suspect that the child will not be raised in the Catholic faith.
Automatic excommunication (that means the Church does not have to act or proclaim it, it happens automatically) is incurred when a person commits such things as heresy, schism, apostasy, violence against the Pope, or abortion.
There are other situations in which a person can be declared excommunicated. But excommunications are not done unless one committing a unrepentent sin that is a major and significant scandal.
Most people place themselves outside of the Church by their refusal to accept the Teachings of the Church that are dogma (heresy), or when they refuse to acknowledge the authority of the Pope (schism), or when they lose faith altogether (apostasy).
Although you were not baptized as an infant, you can be baptized now. I would suggest that you contact your local parish and tell the priest the situation that that you now want to be baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church.
We are praying for you.
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