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Anonymous Yesenia wrote:

Hi, guys —

My sister-in-law wants my husband and I to baptize their child but we are not married through the Catholic Church.

  • Is it possible for just my husband to baptize the child?


  { Though we weren't married in the Church, can my husband or I baptize my sister-in-law's baby? }

Mike replied:

Dear Yesenia,

Though anyone can baptize in case of emergency:

  • In the Catholic Church the normative way to be baptized is by a Catholic priest or deacon.
  • In a Protestant Congregation, the normative way is by a Protestant Minister who uses a valid Trinitarian Baptism.

That said, there is something missing in your question.

  • Why would your sister-in-law ask that you and your husband baptize her child?
  • Can I assume that your sister-in-law conceived and gave birth to her child in the normal biological way . . . with a husband?
  • If so, where is the husband and why don't they both go to there local Christian community to have their child baptized?

The parents are the primary teachers of their own children, and they are responsible for their secular and religious education.

The responsibility is theirs, not yours.

Assuming your sister-in-law is not a Catholic, you also couldn't be a sponsor for their child's Baptism, because you would be promising to sponsor their child along non-Catholic principles and teachings, not Catholic ones.

Feel free to reply to my questions and, if you are not Catholic, ponder and pray, with your husband, about becoming a Catholic and having your marriage blessed by the Church.

Sorry it took me so long to reply to your e-mail.

I hope this helps,


Yesenia replied:

Hi, Mike -

I am a Catholic and so is my husband. We have both received our Confirmations. We just never married through the Church but married civilly.

My sister-in-law's baby is healthy and I know she mentioned that she wanted to ask us but we are not married through the Church.

  • That being said, is it possible for just one of us to baptize her child or, since we are married, does it have to be both of us?

We do plan on getting married through the Church, in July, but she wants us to baptize her child in June, before we get married.


Mike replied:

Dear Yesenia,

It was good to hear that you and your husband planned to have your marriage blessed by the Church. Good for you and your husband!!

It wasn't clear, in either reply, whether your sister-in-law was Catholic and married in the Church. If you could clarify this issue, it would help us provide a better reply.

Again, as for you baptizing your sister-in-law's child, lay Christians are only allowed to baptize in case of emergency. The normal way for your sister-in-law to have her baby child baptized is to go to a:

  • Catholic priest or
  • Protestant Minister who practices a valid Trinitarian Baptism.

P.S. Remember to "Reply All" so the whole AskACatholic team will get your replies and possibly reply in kind.


Yesenia replied:


Yes, my sister in law and her husband are both Catholic.


Mike replied:


So, I'll stand by what I previously said:

Lay Christians are only allowed to baptize in case of emergency.
The normal way for your sister-in-law to have her child baptized is to go to a Catholic priest or deacon.

If you are a faithful, practicing member of the Church, you would be a very good choice to be a (Baptismal sponsor|Godparent) for their child's Baptism.

I hope this answers your questions.


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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