Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity

"Forced Baptism" And Roman Catholic Hospitals

Luther W. Martin, St. James, Missouri

In the past few weeks, a report has been circulated to the effect that a Catholic hospital in the State of Indiana, was the scene of the "forced baptism" of a little four-year-old girl whose parents are not Catholics. This report has been more recently denied by the hospital authorities, and the non-Catholic minister who wrote the initial report of the alleged instance, has "retracted" the report, according to the St. Louis Review, a Roman Catholic publication.

However, inasmuch as this writer knows nothing of the actual happenings in Indiana, we consider it to be of value for us to present some excerpts from authentic Roman Catholic publications, explaining the Catholic practice of administering 'baptism' to patients in hospitals, etc.

"In the case of children who are in some danger but who may live until the use of reason, Baptism should be withheld unless at least one of the parents consents, and there is reason to believe that the child will be brought up as a Catholic. In the case of children who are in immediate danger of death, or actually dying, however, Baptism should be administered at once, secretly if necessary." (The Catholic Nurse, by Brian D. Johnson, page 155, Second. Edition, Published 1952.)

Please note that the above quotation indicates that baptism may be withheld if there is reason to believe that the child will be brought up as a Catholic. Also, please note that if the child is in danger of death, or actually dying, baptism should be administered at once, secretly if necessary! This instruction is contained in a book of instructions for the nurse who is a Roman Catholic, and is contained in a chapter entitled: "When Should One Baptize?"

Here Is Another Quotation From An Authentic Catholic Publication:

"In the case of the new-born child, baptism is to be administered as soon as there is danger of death. This favor is to be accorded even to children of non-Catholic parents unless there is certainty that the parents will be displeased by such action, and hatred or persecution of the Church will be the result, even though the baptism be secret." (Moral Problems In Hospital Practice, by Finney & O'Brien, Copyrighted 1956, page 282.)

This second quotation admits that baptism "is to be accorded even to children of non-Catholic parents" unless it is certain that the parents would be displeased by the action or secondly, that hatred and persecution of the Catholic Church would result "Even though the baptism be secret."

Concerning Adults Who Are Unconscious. The Same Book Instructs:

"If a person is unconscious and would have no means of learning that he was baptized, so that there is no danger of resultant hatred or persecution of the Church, such an adult ought to be baptized. This is true even if the patient has been heard to express apparently contradictory intentions." (Moral Problems, etc., page 280.)

In the above quotation, the Catholic idea seems to be ... "If he has no means of learning" about what we've done, then go to it, even though the Catholic hospital personnel have heard the patient express opposite intentions! It is no wonder that Martin Luther rebelled at the almost apparent Catholic practice of "salvation by works alone" ... because certainly the unconscious adult who had previously expressed contradictory intentions would not have met the terms of belief and repentance, prior to immersion. Of course, Martin Luther went to the opposite extreme and asserted that salvation is by "faith only" ... and by so doing, he and his followers were and are equally in error as is Rome.

As A Final Quotation On This Subject, We Copy From Page 279, Of "Moral Problems In Hospital Practice:"

"If the person is more than seven years old, and has normal powers, baptism should not be conferred upon him unless he agrees to it, for the reception of baptism means the acceptance of certain beliefs and responsibilities. If the person is not yet seven years old, or does not have normal mental powers, he may be baptized in an emergency for the good of his soul. His later rejection of the beliefs or responsibilities, should he survive, will not remove the effects of the baptism."

The above paragraph scarcely needs any explanation from this writer. Possibly one suggestion might be in order . . . and that is put in the form of a question: "When a patient has been given a sedative (sleeping medicine), can it be said that the patient no longer has `normal powers' and is therefore a suitable subject for Catholic hospital baptism by force?"