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BAPTISM IN CHURCH OF ENGLAND CHURCHES

In the past AIF has advised that the easiest way for a baptism to be registered in both Catholic and Anglican churches, if this is what the parents want, is for the baptism to take place in an Anglican church, with the Catholic priest as the minister of baptism. The latter can register it as the celebrant, and the Anglican minister (who can take a large part in assisting with the baptism) can register it as having taken place in his church.

Many baptisms celebrated by Catholic priests have taken place in Anglican churches. Recently, however, we have heard of several cases in which an Anglican incumbent has been unwilling for this to happen in his/her church. One has said that he is not permitted to allow it unless he is within a Local Ecumenical Project. In fact, this is not the case.

Anglican canon law on this point is permissive, but not prescriptive: i.e. an Anglican incumbent can allow it, but he does not have to do so.

The relevant canon is B43 clause 9. This allows the incumbent of a parish, with the approval of the PCC and the bishop of the diocese, to invite members of another church to which the canon applies (that includes the Roman Catholic Church) to take part in joint worship with the Church of England, or to use a church in the parish for worship in accordance with the forms of service and practice of that other church on such occasions as may be specified in the approval given by the bishop.

This canon can apply to baptism, and in fact there are innumerable cases now in which a Roman Catholic priest has presided at a baptism in the Church of England with the assistance of the Anglican priest

(See Ecumenical Relations: Ecumenical Canons B43 and B44: Code of Practice, General Synod of the Church of England, 1989)

March 1996

Published by the Association of Interchurch Families, UK