II. Ministries and Roles in the Celebration of Baptism
4. The people of God, that is, the Church, made present by the local
community, has an important part to play in the baptism of both children and
Before and after the celebration of the sacrament, the child has a right to
the love and help of the community. During the rite, in addition to the ways of
congregational participation mentioned in the General Introduction to Christian
Initiation no. 7, the community exercises its duty when it expresses its assent
together with the celebrant after the profession of faith by the parents and
godparents. In this way it is clear that the faith in which the children are
baptized is not the private possession of the individual family, but the common
treasure of the whole Church of Christ.
5. Because of the natural relationships, parents have a ministry and a
responsibility in the baptism of infants more important than those of the
- Before the celebration of the sacrament, it is of great
importance that parents, moved by their own faith or with the help of friends or
other members of the community, should prepare to take part in the rite with
understanding. They should be provided with suitable means such as books,
letters addressed to them, and catechisms designed for families. The parish
priest (pastor) should make it his duty to visit them or see that they are
visited; he should try to gather a group of families together and prepare them
for the coming celebration by pastoral counsel and common prayer.
- It is very important that the parents be present at the celebration in which
their child is reborn in water and the Holy Spirit.
- In the celebration of baptism, the father and mother have special parts to
play. They listen to the words addressed to them by the celebrant, they join in
prayer along with the congregation, and they exercise a genuine ministry when:
a. they publicly ask that the child be baptized; b. they sign their child with
the sign of the cross after the celebrant; c. they renounce Satan and recite the
profession of faith; d. they (and especially the mother) carry the child to the
font; e. they hold the lighted candle; f. they are blessed with the prayers
formulated specifically for mothers and fathers.
- A parent unable to make the profession of faith (for example, not being a
Catholic) may keep silent. Such a parent, when making the request for the
child's baptism is asked only to make arrangements or at least to give
permission for the child's instruction in the faith of its baptism.
- After baptism it is the responsibility of the parents, in their gratitude to
God and in fidelity to the duty they have undertaken, to assist the child to
know God, whose adopted child it has become, to prepare the child to receive
confirmation and participate in the holy eucharist. In this duty they are again
to be helped by the parish priest (pastor) by suitable means.
6. Each child may have a godfather (patrinus) and a godmother (matrina), the
word "godparents" is used in the rite to describe both.
7. In addition to what is said about the ordinary minister of baptism in the
General Introduction to Christian Initiation nos. 11-15, the following should be
- 1. It is the duty of the priest to prepare families for the baptism
of their children and to help them in the task of Christian formation that they
have undertaken. It is the duty of the bishop to coordinate such pastoral
efforts in the diocese, with the help also of deacons and lay people.
- 2. It is also the duty of the priest to arrange that baptism is always
celebrated with proper dignity and, as far as possible, adapted to the
circumstances and wishes
of the families concerned. All who perform the rite of baptism should do so
with exactness and reverence; they must also try to be understanding and
friendly to all.