5.1.2 Instruction and Preparation for Infant Baptism

1. Pastors should urge parents to contact the parish in anticipation of birth or adoption so that there is sufficient time to prepare them properly for the sacrament. [1] (Also see #5.1.6 The Occasion of Celebrating Infant Baptism or Reception.)

2. The pastor is to see that parents and godparents are properly instructed in the meaning and obligations of this sacrament by seeing that some program or process for their spiritual and catechetical preparation is provided. [2]

3. Pastors are to see that catechesis on the sacrament of baptism for parents and godparents:

   a. is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nn. 1210-1284); [3]

   b. explains the celebration of the Rite and the meaning of its elements; [4]

   c. emphasizes the role of parents as the primary and principal educators of their children in the faith; [5]

   d. addresses the permanent nature of the sacrament and its obligations, of parents, and of the candidate when grown; and

   e. addresses the proper and continuing spiritual role of the godparents. [6]

    (Further explanation, recommended instructional content and resources are available from the diocesan Office of Catechesis.)

4. Parents are ordinarily expected to participate fully in the program of preparation.

   a. However, exception can be made when parents have participated in similar preparation for another child or some other circumstance warrants it in the judgment of the pastor.

   b. Special pastoral assistance is recommended for parents who have been away from the practice of the faith or whose marital or other situation is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. (See more at 5.B.5 Right and Delay of Infant Baptism.)

5. Godparents are, at least, to be instructed about their liturgical role and reminded of their ongoing duties to assist the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism. Their participation in the program of preparation is to be encouraged. (See #5.1.3 Qualifications and Duties of Godparents in Infant Baptism.)

[1] cc. 867 §1.

[2] cc. 851, 2º; also see c. 777, 1º; RBC, introduction, n. 5; General Introduction to Christian Initiation, n. 13.  

[3] Available at the Vatican website. A summary is also presented in USCCB, National Directory for Catechesis, (2005) pp. 120-122 under “1. Catechesis for Baptism.”

[4] RBC; General Introduction to Christian Initiation.  

[5] Vatican II, Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum educationis (October 28, 1965) n. 3; cc. 226 §2 and 774 §2. [Hereafter GE.]

[6] c. 872.

Date approved by Bishop

Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor