José Bolcof, a Russian man baptized in the Orthodox church, arrived in Spanish California and wished to adopt the Catholic faith. Mariano Payeras O.F.M., father-president of the Franciscan missionaries in Alta California, debated Bolcof's conversion with his colleagues. They were willing to baptize him, but as he had already undergone some kind of baptism, reluctant to risk doing so a second time. After the priests' discussion an unknown resolution was reached. No record of a baptism is in evidence but Bolcof was able to receive other sacraments later.

In the Jus Novissimum era of Catholic canon law, what rites or acts were technically required for a Russian Orthodox person to become a Catholic?

  • 2
    A conditional baptism presumably.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 6:13
  • 1
    Even a conditional baptism must be recorded to the baptismal registry.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 12:10
  • 1
    Russian Orthodox seems to have a valid form of Baptism, it does not matter who does the valid form of Baptism. The issue may not be one of Baptism but of confirmation to the faith. Which makes me curious if confirmation outside the Catholic Rite is valid Sacrament, I'm guessing it would be, but agreeing to the teaching of the Catholic Church may not be the same as that of the RO.
    – Marc
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 12:24
  • @Marc could you please supply any detail or link on what makes a baptism "valid"?
    – user33987
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 1:19
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    @AaronBrick a valid baptism is when a person is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit while pouring water over the head. Under normal circumstances this is done by an ordained Priest, a baptism done by anyone, even if that person is a non-Christian, is valid and would be seen as valid by the Church. Sometimes the Baptismal form is not correct, like being baptized in the name of Jesus only and a conditional baptism might be preformed. Catholics and Russian Orthodox both understand that Baptism affects that which it signifies. Both have faith in Gods word.
    – Marc
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


Since the Orthodox Church has the same seven valid sacraments as the Catholic Church, the only requirement for a baptized Russian Orthodox to enter into full communion with Rome would be to make an abjuration or a profession of faith.

Reception of Converts and Profession of Faith

According to the form approved by the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, July 20, 1859.

In the case of a convert, careful inquiry should first of all be made concerning the validity of their former Baptism. If it be found that there is no Baptism or that the Baptism received was invaid, they must now be baptized unconditionally. If, however, after diligent inquiry reasonable doubt remains concerning the validity of their former Baptism, they are now to be baptized conditionally. If, thirdly, the former Baptism be judged to have been valid, only Abjuration or Profession of Faith should be required. In accordance, therefore, with their condition there are three methods of receiving converts:

I. If never baptized or if the previous Baptism was invalid -- The convert is unconditionally baptized, and neither Abjuration nor absolution follows, since the Sacrament of Regeneration washes away all.

II. If the previous Baptism was doubtful -- The convert is conditionally baptized, the following procedure being observed: 1. Abjuration or Profession of Faith and conditional absolution from censures. 2. Conditional Baptism. 3. Sacramental Confession with conditional absolution.

III. If the previous Baptism was valid -- 1. Abjuration or Profession of Faith. 2. Absolution from censures. 3. Supplying of Ceremonies of Baptism (see form for adults [or of children, according to more recent decrees]) if desired.

The priest vested in surplice and violet sits in front before the middle of the altar or, if the Blessed Sacrament is present, on the Epistle side. The convert kneels before him and with his right hand on the book of the Gospels (or the missal) reads the following: (If the convert cannot read the Priest reads it to him slowly and distinctly, so he may understand and repeat the words.)

                            **PROFESSION OF FAITH**

I, N.N., ______ years of age, born outside the Catholic Church, have held and believed errors contrary to her teaching. Now, enlightened by divine grace, I kneel before you, Reverend Father _____________, having before my eyes and touching with my hand the holy Gospels. And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles' Creed, that is: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

I admit and embrace most firmly the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions ...

For the remainder of the Profession of Faith on can read it here: Reception of Converts and Profession of Faith.

For those who wish to read it from the Roman Ritual (page 10) of the 1952 edition, but noting that the Reception of Converts is dated July 20, 1859. This should suffice for placing the Profession of Faith within the Jur Novissimum.

The canonical period known as the Ius Novissimum ran from the Council of Trent (1545-1563) to the promulgation of the Pio-Benedictine Code (1917).


The original Rituale Romanum was promulgated by Pope Paul V on June 17, 1614 and has undergone several later editions, but has essentially remained the same.

Numerous new editions of the Ritual of 1614 were published, introducing changes of various sorts, generally enriching the part dedicated to blessings, and organizing the material better and with different titles. These were issued by Popes Benedict XIV in 1742, Bl. Pius IX in 1862), Leo XIII in 1884, Pius XI in 1925, and Pius XII in 1952.

Despite the various editions, the text which has come down to us remains essentially the same, and the use of it remains authorized and protected by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007, as we celebrate the 400th anniversary of its promulgation. - The Fourth Centenary of the Rituale Romanum of Pope Paul V : June 17, 1614

  • 2
    According the tradition of the Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic priests in California tried to forcibly convert the Alaskan native, Peter the Aleut, and accept Roman Catholic baptism, even though they were aware he was a Russian Orthodox Christian and had received baptism under the Orthodox Church. This occurred in 1815. This could be quite anomalous (the Roman Catholic Church rejects the accounts of Peter's subsequent martyrdom under torture). Nor are norms stable on the other side: some Orthodox priests insist on baptizing Catholics, even though the practice is not canonical.
    – guest37
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 16:29
  • Nice answer. One followup question: if not in this ceremony, when would the convert get a sponsor?
    – user33987
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 22:04

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