A Question for Roman Catholics

A woman I know, a member of the Southern Baptist Church, died recently. A member of her family refers to himself as a “Catholic minister.” She was kept unaware that he had become a Catholic because it would have been upsetting to her and she was elderly.

He was not with her when she died, but was at least ten or fifteen minutes away. At her funeral he told a member of the family that acting in his official capacity, he had baptized her as a Roman Catholic after her death.

Is this in keeping with traditional Roman Catholic practice? I have known that there are non-priests that perform baptisms of infants. But is this unrequested and undesired (by the rest of the Protestant family)“act” even a normal Catholic practice?

(I have nothing against Roman Catholic teachings myself and attended the Cathedral when I was in college. But to me this was almost an abuse of a corpse. The woman was a devout Protestant.)

I’m a Protestant, but a postmortem baptism is null and void basically anywhere except among Mormons, and I think it then has to be their postmortem baptism to count. That’s one of the Mormons’ selling points - that you can baptize your ancestors and help them join after death.

I’ve been to many different churches, and no church will baptize an adult without their consent, even the churches that do infant baptism. Once a person reaches a certain age without baptism, they are deemed to be responsible enough to choose and then cannot be baptized against their will, and a baptism done against their will is probably void in the eyes of most churches. There might be an exception for someone on death’s door who indicated a clear desire for baptism before falling into a coma, but the understanding is generally that baptism is not necessary in that case, since one of the theives excecuted with Jesus died without baptism, but Jesus still said that he was going to paradise.

She’s dead.

It might make the Catholic guy feel better.

There’s no reason why Protestant family members need to believe the validity of it.

Catholics believe that any baptism performed using the trinitarian formula is valid. So unless her denomination believed something really wacky like Jesus is god’s second cousin or something, whatever baptism she had had as part of her faith would ‘count’ inasmuch as these things count for anything. Also, I have not heard of a catholic minister. There are priests, monks, nuns and laity; I’m not sure where he got minister from but that’s protestant malarky.

He sounds kinda nutty.

ETA: by that I mean that none of that sounds very Catholic. Does he maybe mean catholic? But then why would be do a post-mortem baptism, which is plain weird?

No member of the Roman, Eastern Rite or Orthodox clergy I’ve ever met has identified himself as a “Catholic minister.”

If he can’t get the terminology right, I have doubts about his grasp of the doctrine.

It sounds disrespectful to me.

Regarding postmortem baptism being considered null and void, don’t people baptize stillborn infants?

Well, they may not have got the terminology exactly right, but my father was a Catholic and a “Lay Minister” at our church, meaning he could bring the Eucharist to shut ins and carry out other duties that were once generally in the realm of the priests.

Since the Roman Catholic Church makes it pretty much impossible to get out, I think I should be allowed to speak:

  1. Post mortem baptism is even more bullshit than infant baptism and any sane - as far as possible - religion should reject that kind of crap.

  2. Any priest going around pulling these kinds of tricks should be stoned.

This is correct. When a baptized Christian of any denomination converts to Catholicism, s/he does not have to be re-baptized. The Church considers the original baptism valid.

Even though someone may be a Catholic lay minister, “Catholic minister” is NOT terminology that you generally hear among Catholics.

True, but this is being passed on to us second hand from Southern Baptists. They know he’s Catholic and he could have said he was a lay minister. And they might have made that into “Catholic minister.”

Minister (Catholic Church)

Catholic here.

Catholics do not baptise the dead.

Catholics do not baptise people who have already been baptised in (most) other Christian denominations.

Catholics do not baptise adults who have not manifested a desire for baptism.

There are many forms of Catholic ministry, but “Catholic minister” is not a term in common use to describe any of them.

But lay ministry is not usually a term that people throw around. It’s not like when there’s a theological emergency you get catholics rushing up, “It’s ok, I’m a lay minister, does anyone here wish to receive the eucharist!?” I can’t conceive of a situation where someone would describe themselves as a catholic minister, lay or otherwise. I think this person has formulated his own, garbled version of catholicism.

I agree with all the folks previous regarding the use of the term “Catholic minister.”

Also… the proper approach would be Confession, Anointment, and Communion/Vaticum. In other words - get your sins off your chest, get some medicine, and make your peace with God.

Funny how it all makes sense (not being snarky). It’s all (IMHO) an attempt to help people “shuffle off this mortal coil” feeling that they’re getting scooped up by God. Maybe they are. I’ll try to send an update when I get there - but you’re gonna’ have to wait 50 years or so. :slight_smile:

Well, there are lots of errors here:

  • no “official capacity” is needed to do Baptism, anyone can do that. And it’s just as valid as if done by a priest, bishop, cardinal, or Pope.
  • as a “devout protestant”, she was no doubt already baptized previously. And any Christian Baptism counts. So the second one he did is pointless.
  • you don’t baptize someone after death.
    In fact, none of the sacraments are done after death. (Sometimes people stretch it a bit on Extreme Unction aka Anointing of the Sick – saying they’re just a priest, not a doctor – they aren’t qualified to determine death. But if the person is already dead, that sacrament functions as just prayers for the departed.)
  • you don’t baptize someone without their consent. On infants, the parents or godparents give consent on behalf of the child – they even answer the prayers for the child. But she was over the age of reason, so she would have had to consent. Which she couldn’t do, being dead.

And obviously, he isn’t an ordained priest, just a lay minister. They are mostly retired guys who do minor tasks for the priest, like visit the sick in hospitals and maybe deliver communion to them. They are to priests like pizza delivery guys are to chefs.

But it didn’t hurt anything, certainly didn’t bother her, he thought he was doing something good to her, and may make him feel better. So don’t fret about it.

Chiming in to agree - no, it’s not normal, or recognised, and he sounds weird. This would be entirely meaningless to anyone, except to her as a devout Protestant, who would have been very upset by it. What he did was deeply strange and disrespectful.

At every Catholic church I’ve ever attended, a lay minister would be referred to by the title of deacon, not minister.

Would it be possible for the guy to come not from the Roman Catholic Church (the big one headed by Benedict XVI.), but from one of the Old Catholic Churches? There’s quite a number of them, having split off from the Roman Catholic Church at various stages of its history because they disagreed with whatever development was taking place within the Roman Catholic Church at the time (such as the infallibility doctrine in the late 19th century, or the Vatican Council reforms in the 1960s) and thought that these developments were not properly Catholic. I don’t have detailed knowledge about Old Catholic liturgy or theology, but it could be that what the claims of that guy (including the use of the word Catholic for themselves) stem from whatever Old Catholic denomination he is from.

Is it possible he’s claiming to have done the whole last rites thing in absentia? Some people seem to think that means baptizing the person. And I do know you are allowed to pray for someone to get through purgatory faster.

That’s not entirely true. Canon law provides, in Canon 861, that normally the person performing the baptism (interestingly, the law uses the term “minister” here) has to be a bishop, presbyter (i.e., priest) or deacon (i.e., lay minister in Protestant parlance). Only where such a regular minister is not available, other people may perform the baptism, in cases of urgency even non-Catholics. But that’s meant to be the exception.