GICI 13-14: Priests, Deacons, and Baptism

img_6803The General Introduction distinguishes between parish priests who have the responsibility of pastor, and priests and deacons who do not.

13. It is the duty of parish priests (pastors) to assist the bishop in the instruction and baptism of the adults entrusted to their care, unless the bishop makes other provisions. Parish priests (pastors), with the assistance of catechists or other qualified laypersons, have the duty of preparing the parents and godparents of children through appropriate pastoral guidance and of baptizing the children. 

14. Other priests and deacons, since they are co-workers in the ministry of bishops and parish priests (pastors), also prepare candidates for baptism and, by the invitation or consent of the bishop or parish priest (pastor), celebrate the sacrament.

It’s all very hierarchical, but it does give an orderly landscape for responsibility. Bishops share with pastors. Pastors share with lay catechists. Note the reference in GICI 13 is for the baptism of children. Take that as you will.

In order for an ordinary minister to celebrate baptism (or any sacrament, really) that “invitation or consent” from the ordinary pastor is needed.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to GICI 13-14: Priests, Deacons, and Baptism

  1. Deacon Eric says:

    The ancient practice was always that the deacon would prepare the people and the priest or bishop would celebrate the sacrament or ritual.

    This was especially the case in the initiation of catechumens, where the deacon/deaconess would prepare the catechumens and the priest or bishop would initiate them. We also see this practice of the deacon preparing the people and handing off to the priest in the Eastern Church’s litanies, where the deacon proposes intentions to the people and the priest then leads the assembly in prayer for that intention. In the Roman rite, where the Prayer of the Faithful is led by a deacon, this symmetry is retained, as it is also exemplified in the intercessions of the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday.

    In my parish, the pastor typically celebrates all the baptisms. As the deacon, I lead all the baptismal preparation sessions. To me, that seems quite right, in accord with our tradition and a meaningful distinction between clerical roles.

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