EWTN Catholic Q&A
Question from Joseph on 08-28-2013:

Is the Catholic Church aware that children denied baptism in the Catholic Church are being baptized in Protestant churches? I attend a Lutheran church and have seen this happen a number of times. We see people bringing their child for baptism and never see them again. Of course, the baptism is valid. By why refuse the child a baptism in a Catholic church?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 08-28-2013:


One of the conditions for infant baptism in the Catholic Church is:

There [should] be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this (canon 868 1 2, Code of Canon Law).

If a minister of baptism for the Catholic Church (usually a priest or deacon) does not have a well-founded hope that the child will be raised Catholic, then he is obliged to defer the baptism. The fact that the parents then run off to a Protestant church to have the child baptized and then disappear from that church rather confirms the fact that the Catholic minister was right that the parents did not intend to raise the child Catholic (or even Christian).

Unfortunately, too many Christians today treat baptism like a cultural baby-welcoming ceremony. They consider it to be a social event and they have no intention or desire to take on the responsibilities incumbent upon them as parents of a new Christian. In such cases, the Catholic Church must stand firm on upholding baptism as a sacrament that requires certain dispositions and intentions from those who request it -- either on their own or on behalf of a minor child.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers