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“Ask a Priest: Could I Be Baptized in My Wife’s Denomination?”
Q: As a child I was baptized in the Catholic Church. My wife was not raised as Christian, but later as an adult she was baptized in a Christian denomination. I attend her church as well as a Catholic church. She would like me to be baptized in her church, but if I do that would that mean I am no longer Catholic? Am I sinning in doing so? Are there consequences to getting baptized a second time and in another church? – D.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: You can’t be baptized a second time. Baptism leaves an indelible mark on your soul and thus can’t be repeated.
In any case, your attempt at being “baptized” in a non-Catholic denomination would be akin to a public profession of belief in that group’s beliefs, which in effect could be interpreted as a public repudiation of your Catholic faith. Such an act would be objectively sinful and possibly scandalous.
When Catholic Christians profess to believe in the Catholic Church, we signal that we believe the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of elements of truth and sanctification. We believe that due to the wounds in our communion with other Christians, they have some of these elements of truth and sanctification, but not all of them.
So, a step away from the Catholic Church is a decision to leave behind certain elements of truth and sanctification; it is a wound to the Christian unity to which we are all called.
While the Church doesn’t have strict rules about attendance at non-Catholic services, you might want to be careful that your association with your wife’s denomination isn’t undercutting your faith.
The fact that you ask about being baptized in this other group shows that you could be absorbing a faulty understanding of the sacraments. Your Catholic faith might already be suffering from exposure to the non-Catholic group and its services and teachings.
You might want to step back and reconsider whether it’s hurting your Catholic faith to attend these other services on a regular basis. (These other services, of course, never substitute for the Mass.)
It might also be good to dedicate time to understanding your faith better. Some resources that might help: the Catechism of the Catholic Church; The Case for Catholicism; and The Essential Catholic Survival Guide.
By understanding your faith better, you will be better able to share it with your wife, and perhaps help lead her to conversion. The Church’s treasures, including its sacraments and teachings, can help equip the both of you to reach heaven.
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