Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was born in a predominantly Catholic country in Latin America and baptized a Roman Catholic, but I have no physical confirmation of my baptism outside of my recollection of my Catholic upbringing (since I was too young to remember the baptism itself). Having not attended Catholic church since leaving home about twenty years ago, will I need to be baptized again or go through the OCIA (Order of Christian Initiation for Adults)?

I attended Anglican church services in the UK and various other church services in other countries, but I have never taken communion at another church. I'm looking to attend a Catholic Church in the states now, but I feel I should ensure that I have all the necessary documentation first.

share|improve this question
1  
According to catholic.com/tracts/who-can-receive-communion there's not a requirement for a certificate of baptism, and I've never heard of such a thing, but I've never heard of half the things there are to know about Catholicism. I'm interested to hear the official answer. +1. –  David Stratton Oct 18 '12 at 2:29
    
@DavidStratton Once I find a church in which I feel comfortable, I presume I can speak to a priest and resolve it. I wanted to ask because the procedure for obtaining documentation from my home country is somewhat difficult. I doubt that said documentation still exists, for that matter. –  Ricardo Altamirano Oct 18 '12 at 2:34
    
This sounds like a question that can easily answered by asking a father at a church - or just a little bit of research. –  user1054 Oct 18 '12 at 2:42
    
@DanAndrews I looked online briefly but could not find anything definitive. Through lack of an opportunity I have yet to find a church in which to ask. I travel a great deal and have only lived in the states a few months. I will delete the question if deemed necessary, however. –  Ricardo Altamirano Oct 18 '12 at 2:44
1  
Feel free to give them a call (it's my old church): sioacleveland.org –  user1054 Oct 18 '12 at 3:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Explain your situation to your priest, they may be able to get your baptismal record from your original home parish or just excercise his prudential judgement and allow you to receive communion.

This is pastoral advice, which isn't the norm for this site, but it may be good to confess attending worship services with other Christians, you'll usually see that mentioned in guides to examinations of conscience (don't want to offend my Protestant friends here, but it is an occasion of sin for Catholics to participate in your services).

Beyond that, there is no such thing as re-baptism (even for those validly ordained in other Christian sects )

1246 "Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be baptized." CCC 1246

So, that bit of doctrine probably justifies this question. If you know you were Baptized the Church's ministers will probably give you the benefit of the doubt.

share|improve this answer
2  
I don't see this as particularly a "pastoral" question; in your answer you note how standard doctrines and practices likely apply to a simple factual case. The only hesitation I would have is "too localized", but since it's a major point of doctrine and practice for one of the largest churches in the world, I think that's a non-issue too. –  Caleb Oct 18 '12 at 7:31
1  
Telling him he ought to go to confession is the pastoral part of my answer. –  Peter Turner Oct 18 '12 at 11:27
    
@PeterTurner Thank you for the advice. I assumed I would need to attend confession for attending other services, and I appreciate the mention of it as well. I highly doubt someone in the states could obtain my original baptismal record, even if it still exists, because I was born during a conflict in which churches, among others, were targeted. I will ask, however. Thank you again. –  Ricardo Altamirano Oct 18 '12 at 16:01
    
@Caleb In hindsight, I do understand how my question could be too localized since I doubt many others have encountered my exact situation. –  Ricardo Altamirano Oct 18 '12 at 16:06
    
Although you can't be re-baptized if you've already been baptized, there is a standard procedure in cases where there is doubt as to whether you've already been (validly) baptized. The procedure is to conditionally baptize you. The sacrament would be conferred as usual, but with the words "If you are not baptized, then I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." That way, whether you were previously baptized or not, you're validly baptized afterward. –  Andreas Blass Oct 12 at 19:04

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.