III. Time and Place for the Baptism of Children
8. As for the time of baptism, the first consideration is the welfare of the
child, that it may not be deprived of the benefit of the sacrament; then the
health of the mother must be considered, so that, if at all possible, she too
may be present. Then, as long as they do not interfere with the greater good of
the child, there are pastoral considerations, such as allowing sufficient time
to prepare the parents and to plan the actual celebration in order to bring out
its true character effectively. Accordingly:
- If the child is in danger of death, it is to be baptized without
delay, in the manner laid down in no. 21.
- In other cases, as soon as possible - if need be, even before the child is
born, the parents should be in touch with the parish priest (pastor) concerning
the baptism, so that proper preparation may be made for the celebration.
- An infant should be baptized within the first weeks after birth. The
conference of bishops may, for sufficiently serious pastoral reasons, determine
a longer interval of time between birth and baptism.
- When the parents are not yet prepared to profess the faith or to undertake
the duty of bringing up their children as Christians, it is for the parish
priest (pastor), keeping in mind whatever regulations may have been laid down by
the conference of bishops, to determine the time for the baptism of infants.
9. To bring out the paschal character of baptism, it is recommended that the
sacrament be celebrated during the Easter Vigil or on Sunday, when the Church
commemorates the Lord's resurrection. On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated even
during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the relationship
between baptism and eucharist may be clearly seen; but this should not be done
too often. Regulations for the celebration of baptism during the Easter Vigil or
at Mass on Sunday will be set out later.
10. So that baptism may clearly appear as the sacrament of the Church's faith
and of incorporation into the people of God, it should normally be celebrated in
the parish church, which must have a baptismal font.
11. After consulting the local parish priest (pastor), the bishop may permit
or direct that a baptismal font be placed in another church or public oratory
within the parish boundaries. In these places, too, the right to celebrate
baptism belongs ordinarily to the parish priest (pastor).
12. Except in case of danger of death, baptism should not be celebrated in
13. Unless the bishop decides otherwise (see no. 11), baptism should not be
celebrated in hospitals, except in cases of emergency or for some other
compelling pastoral reason. But care should always be taken that the parish
priest is notified and that the parents are suitably prepared beforehand.
14. While the liturgy of the word is being celebrated, it is desirable that
children should be taken to some other place. But provision must be made for the
mothers or godmothers to attend the liturgy of the word; the children should
therefore be entrusted to the care of other women.