Emergency baptism

Emergency baptism

An emergency baptism is a baptism administered to a person in imminent danger of death by a person not normally authorized to administer the sacrament.

In the Latin Rite Catholic Church, the ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, priest or deacon ( [http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0017/_P2V.HTM canon 861 §1] of the Code of Canon Law), but in normal circumstances, only the Parish Priest of the person to be baptized, or someone authorized by the Parish Priest may do so licitly ( [http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0017/_P1T.HTM canon 530] ). "If the ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or some other person deputed to this office by the local Ordinary, may lawfully confer baptism; indeed, in a case of necessity, any person who has the requisite intention may do so ( [http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0017/_P2V.HTM canon 861 §2] ).

By "a case of necessity" is principally meant imminent danger of death because of either illness or an external threat . "The requisite intention" is, at the minimum level, the intention "to do what the Church does" through the rite of baptism.

In the Eastern Catholic Churches, a deacon is not considered an ordinary minister. Administration of the sacrament is reserved, as in the Latin Rite, to the Parish Priest. But, "in case of necessity, baptism can be administered by a deacon or, in his absence or if he is impeded, by another cleric, a member of an institute of consecrated life, or by any other Christian faithful; even by the mother or father, if another person is not available who knows how to baptize" ( [http://www.intratext.com/IXT/LAT0758/_P1Q.HTM canon 677] of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.)

The discipline of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy and the Assyrian Church of the East is similar to that of the Eastern Catholic Churches. They require the baptizer, even in cases of necessity, to be of their own faith, on the grounds that a person cannot convey what he himself does not possess, in this case membership in the Church. The Latin Rite Catholic Church does not insist on this condition, considering that the effect of the sacrament is not produced by the person who baptizes, but by the Holy Spirit.

For the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Book of Common Prayers states that "Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the day of Pentecost, on All Saints' Day or the Sunday after All Saints day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord...It is recommended that, as far as possible, Baptisms be reserved for these occasions or when a bishop is present. If on any one of the above-named nays the ministry of a bishop or priest cannot be obtained, the bishop may specially authorize a deacon to preside. In that case, the deacon omits the prayer over the candidates, page 308, and the formula and action which follow." For Methodists and many other Protestant denominations, too, the ordinary minister of baptism is a duly ordained or appointed minister of religion.

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