My Baptism Valid? 

What Is Valid Baptism? 

Baptism by a non-Catholic 

Why is Baptism So Important? 

Which Rite is Used? 

St. Therese 

Holy Souls

Caritas Newsletter

November 8, 1997
by Fr. Lucian Pulvermacher, OFM Cap.

on Baptism 

Although this newsletter appears before the eyes of both those who love me and hate me, I have in mind chiefly those of the true Catholic faith.  Without any office, under God, in His kingdom I make bold to address you in a weak form but with a strong faith in the words of St. Peter (I Peter 1, 1&2).  
    �Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ: to them that have obtained equal faith with us in the justice of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord.�   
Those in God�s kingdom on earth have one Lord, one Faith and one baptism. 

Baptism � Standing on Four Feet

Pope Pius XII died on October 9, 1958, and since that time the whole world has lived through a dark period of nearly total confusion.   A steady flow of new people come into my life, some permanently and some merely in passing, and frequently they confront me with the question, �Father, what about my baptism?� 

Without trying to be facetious I will say: that question is about as hard to answer as the question (awaiting the answer, yes or no),  �Have you stopped beating up your wife?�  To that, any sensible and good man will say: I will give you my answer after I have explained myself to you. 

If one has received any form of baptism at all, there are always three possibilities; 

  1. It is valid, 
  2. It is invalid, or 
  3. It is doubtful.
If it is valid, no correction is made.  If it is invalid it is rectified by simply giving unconditional baptism.  If it is doubtful then every effort is to be made to see if it can be slipped into a firm judgment that it is a valid baptism or just an invalid baptism.  The whole burden of this treatise is to put everybody�s baptism into one of these three possible classes. 

Baptisms that are always judged to be valid are those that were given by a Catholic Deacon or a Catholic priest.  Obviously, we are not excluding the Pope and his Bishops, who (because of their range of work) hardly ever give baptisms. 

Validity of Baptisms

Next we turn to the baptisms given in case of necessity by the Catholic laity.  A simple question by the priest can usually settle that question.   

For baptism to be valid, the minister of the sacrament must unite three things.  There must be the right intention, the right matter (properly used) and the proper form.  Simply, the minister really wants to baptize in the Catholic way; it is not just a game or a test run.  Then he must use just natural water, and he must administer it so that it runs on the skin of the head of the one baptized.  Just running it over the hair (not hitting the skin) makes the baptism invalid. It must run on the skin.  Laying water on the skin without having it run makes the baptism invalid.  A washing sign must be present.  I mentioned the head.  If the running water is applied to any other part of the body, it makes a doubtful baptism, which must be repeated conditionally. 

I am thinking of a breach birth.  If the body up to the head is born, and one fears that it will be dead before the head is born, one is to baptize it conditionally, on any part of the body.  Then if it is alive, when the head is born, the baptism is again given conditionally on the skin of the head.  We will not put up with a doubtful baptism. 

 The one and only valid form for baptism is:  

    "I baptize thee (or you) in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (or Spirit)."
You may smile at this one.  The Japanese grammar has them say (under the direction of the Church): �In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, I thee wash.�  Obviously, in cases of necessity their laity baptize with those words. 

Baptisms by non-Catholics

The burning problem for this treatment is this:  �What about the baptisms given by ministers of non-Catholic religions?� 

We know that the Greek and Russian Orthodox (non-Catholics) religions guard their sacraments very carefully.  They have their official books for the sacraments.  Hence, their baptisms, given with their rituals, are readily judged to be valid.  They want real baptism, and the Catholic Church holds that heretics (here speaking of the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox) who give any of their sacraments with the correct matter and form, also have the proper intention. 

The burden of this treatise centers around the baptisms give by the ordinary run of Protestants: be they Lutherans, Anglicans, Baptists and the like.  I realize that there may be exceptions to what I know to be true, so keep this in mind.   

The first thing to consider is that the Church of England changed the rite of Holy Orders, so from that time on all Anglican Orders were judged to be invalid.  We know that the form (words) were changed so that the intention of the sacrament was vitiated.  Here is how we deal with that problem.  Even if those early fallen away true (valid) bishops intended to give valid Holy Orders they could not overcome the defect in the rite that they were forced to use.  It is as if one came to a roadblock, saying: Road Closed -- Bridge Out.  You just cannot muddle through. 

In my experience I never came upon a case in any Protestant religion where they had an official ritual for giving baptism.  Hence, in all their baptisms the matter and form came  (and still comes) from each individual minister or small group.  How can I say that?   

Here are some examples:  

  • On Okinawa I had a male (married) cook/house keeper.  He studied the Catholic religion with me, and he petitioned to become a Catholic.  I asked him how his Protestant baptism was given.  He told me that the Protestant catechist poured the water while the Protestant minister said the words.  Clear enough, he had an invalid baptism.  The pouring of the water and the saying of the words must be said by the same person. 
  • I saw on a TV show the baptism of a baby by a Protestant minister.  The minister touched his hand into water, and he just put his dampened hand on the head of the baby as he said the correct form.  There was no attempt on his part to make the water run on the skin (making the rite a WASHING).  If not even one drop of water flows on the head, then it is invalid.  Here we have no assurance that even one drop ran over the skin of the child�s head, so we have a baptism that is doubtful; did it run, or did it not run, hangs in the air!  That baptism must be done over conditionally.  �If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.�
  • On Okinawa, I learned this from a Catholic chaplain.  All the chaplains are united in one base chapel.  Hence, they communicate with one another quite freely.  One day a Protestant chaplain told the Catholic chaplain (obviously a priest) that he had a request from a family in his parish for the baptism of their infant child.  He told the Catholic chaplain that this was a first for him, and he did not know how to baptize.  He asked the priest how he baptizes infants.  The priest pulled out his Catholic Ritual, and he showed him exactly how we baptize.  The Protestant chaplain (a minister) said it sounds good, and he would do it that way too, and, of course, without a book in his possession. 
If I had to deal with that newly baptized child I would still have my doubts: since the rite was new to the minister, and he did so without a ritual.  If I were there to see the matter and form properly observed I would accept the baptism as valid. 

In the seminary we dealt with all the above points of theology.  One point that you must treat with the utmost respect is the doctrine that heretics (all non-Catholics) can administer valid sacraments, provided they have the proper matter, form and intention.   

We cannot see the intention, but the Church has made a presumption of fact in regard to the intention of any minister who knows what he is doing.  If the minister knows the Catholic Church, and he intends by the baptism he gives, to DO what the Church DOES, then he has the proper intention.  Do not say he does what the Church �intends.�  That is not stated correctly. 

When I became an assistant priest in a big parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I became involved in conversions, obviously.  The priest, who had charge of me and several other classmates of mine, went though the accepted procedure in that parish, and likely in every single parish in the United States.  We young priests, green out of the seminary, wanted to study the procedure of the Protestant baptisms of each convert.  This seasoned priest said, �I know all that theology, and I know the practice of the Church where we work, and we just go ahead and baptize conditionally all converts from Protestantism.� 

It is likely that over the years priests had made their investigations over and over again, and they always came up with a doubt of the validity of the matter and/or form in Protestant baptisms. 

Furthermore, such investigations would be time-wise, and money-wise extremely costly.  If I had one convert baptized as a Protestant in South Africa and another one from North Alaska, I could spend most of my time on the road on wild goose chases, something even common sense already would forbid. 

Years ago I saw a picture of a baptism given by a non-Catholic minister where he was pouring the water over the large shock of hair.  No way could the water even hit the skin of the head.  This nonsense is so universal that in my experience in the U.S.A., Japan, and Australia, unless you know for sure otherwise, one is to presume that all Protestant baptisms are doubtful, and therefore, they must be done over conditionally, as I explained above. 

While I was on Okinawa word got there that President Nixon�s daughter converted to the Catholic Church.  That was a time when �ecumenism (as it is called)� was all-aglow, the world over.  Well, Nixon�s daughter had the option to received conditional baptism or not.  (Remember -- this was as the Novus Ordo was just getting started).  She asked for and received conditional baptism. Since the publicity of that baptism was so great, it reached a Protestant minister on Okinawa, and he was offended.  I will bet that he would have a hard time to prove that the priest and Miss Nixon were wrong. 

Why Baptism is So Important

In conclusion, just why is it that  a valid baptism is so terribly important?  Here is the reason.  A valid baptism is the one and only door to all the other sacraments.  If one with an invalid baptism goes to confession, gets Communion and so forth, all those sacraments are invalid.  Even Holy Orders and matrimony will be invalid.  I know a case on the Island of Amami Oshima where I labored in real mud from 1948 to 1952. There a boy in a Catholic family received the sacraments from me many times.  He later went to the seminary, and he could not produce a baptismal certificate, because of the war and persecution, so he had to be baptized conditionally before ordination.  The entire family had always been Catholic, and they presumed that he was baptized, but not one single member of the family remembered that he had been baptized.   

Which Rite of Baptism?

During the past 21 years I have had to puzzle over many of the baptisms that were conferred during the change-over from the true Church to the satanic Novus Ordo Church.  Some priests used the new Rite of baptism of the Novus Ordo as soon as it came out, and other priest held back - continued to use the true Rite even years later.  I would work on the language used.   If the Rite used by a SLOW TO MOVE priest was in Latin I judged he used the true Rite, and if he used English I judged that he used the Novus Ordo (to me) doubtful rite, and I did it over conditionally.  I cannot stress this too much.  If there is even a small but real doubt as to the validity of a baptism it is to be done over conditionally.  Thus we are safe, and we obey the law that: �no valid sacrament may be repeated without sacrilege.�  

Ther are 2 documents which you should refer to with regard to baptism.  I carry these with me wherever I go.  They are: 

  1. The New Vatican II Rite of Baptism - "Is is Valid?",  and 
  2. How a Lay Person is to Administer Baptism

New "Doctor of the Church"

Just recently the Novus Ordo Pope (John Paul II) declared St. Therese of the Child Jesus (also known as the �Little Flower�) to be a Doctor of the Church.  She now poses with the crucifix in her left hand and a scholarly tome in her right hand with her roses around both of them.   On the tome is written: Doctor Ecclesiae - October - AD 1997. 

Behind that picture (Is it still holy, after that defilement?), I printed the following instruction.  THERE ARE NO WOMEN DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH.  We have been informed that John Paul II just now declared St. Therese of the Child Jesus a DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH.  For those who do not know it, St. Therese of Avila and St. Catherine of Sienna were also declared DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH since the death of Pope Pius XII. 

The true Catholic Church over the centuries absolutely refused to declare any woman to be a Doctor of the Church.  The reason for that is found in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (14, 34 & 35).  We read:  

    �Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak but to be subject, as also the law saith.  But if they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home.  For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the Church.� 
God created Adam, and He made the body of Eve from the body of Adam.  Adam alone represents the whole human race.  All the rest of us are his offspring, including Eve.  Hence, God placed Eve and all women below men, and that being the case women are not in a position to teach men (and women) in an official forum.  The history of the Church teaches us that the Church, by God�s direction cannot and will not declare any woman to be a Doctor of the Church. 

Therese of the Child Jesus is a great Saint in heaven, and we have that truth from a true Pope.  It seems that John Paul II has some hidden agenda.  Could it be that he wants to get some mileage out of her holiness and popularity?  By making her great he probably thinks that he makes himself great in the eyes of world, and I believe the diabolical trick will give him good mileage with the yet sincere and pious Novus Ordo Catholics (Protestants, nevertheless). 

I will admit that God gives spiritual lights to women for the good of the Church.  However, God will not destroy the proper order of His creation because of the gifts He gave them.  One of the sins against the Holy Ghost (an unforgivable sin, as is taught in the Catechism) is to envy the spiritual gifts of another.  One tells God that He is not free to do with His gifts as He wishes: terrible blasphemy!  Women who are envious of men commit the same kind of sin against the Holy Ghost.  God ordained a special happiness for you women just as you are, in His creation.  Thank God for your place in creation and get on with the work of your eternal salvation.   

November � The Month of the Poor Souls 

By means of prayer, fasting and alms deeds please assist the poor souls in purgatory.  What do we do for them? We help them by shortening their excruciating punishments.  Once they are finished with their purgation they go to heaven where they stand before the throne of God to praise and thank Him forever. Likewise, they, from that position in heaven, petition God to help us here on earth, and if we go to purgatory to shorten our sufferings there.  Gain all the indulgences you can for them also.  God will reward you for all your acts of mercy towards His suffering �brethren.� 

Return to True Catholic     truecarpentry library1