Published in Church & Life (1830) 9.2.2012 – 29.2.2012 No 4

There is no doubt that the Catholic Church (this includes Eastern Catholic Churches) recognises the validity of Baptism celebrated outside Catholic Churches. This tradition can be dated up to 1700 years ago when the question was first raised.

It should also be noted that orthodox churches which are not in unity withRomeare considered to have “true sacraments”, meaning of course the other sacraments besides baptism as well.

The Catholic Church has said that it recognises baptism by immersion and the pouring of water along with the specific mention of the names of the Holy Trinity – namely “The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit”. Those churches that do this are recognized by the Catholic Church as being valid. There are churches inAustraliawhich officially (in the books) require that the above mentioned formula and form be used but individual pastors for some reason do not or refuse to follow the rules of their own church. In this instance one could cast doubt on the validity of that baptism. In general one has to presume that all ministers do the right thing.

In 2004, the Australian Catholic Church signed an agreement that the following Australian Churches have a valid baptism – 1. Anglican Church, 2. Antiochian Orthodox Church, 3. Armenian Apostolic Church, 4. Congregational Federation ofAustralia, 5. Greek Orthodox Church, 6.LutheranChurch, 7. Romanian Orthodox Church and 8. Uniting Church inAustralia. Since then a few more churches have been added to the list – 9. Presbyterian Church, 10.MarThomaChurchand 11. Serbian Orthodox Church.

We recognise the validity of the baptism of all these churches and they recognize ours. It was agreed that certificates should read “ “Name” was baptised with water in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit”.

One must be aware that some churches do not expressly tell their ministers which formula to use. If the agreed formula was not used then there would be doubt about the validity of that baptism. But in general one presumes that the correct words were used.

The Catholic Church does not recognise the baptism performed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). Basically if a church is not on the list, then we do not recognize their baptism. When in doubt, a priest or the bishop must examine each case individually.