Is a person who was baptized a Roman Catholic and later re-baptized in the Coptic Orthodox Church a member in good standing of both Churches who can receive communion in either one?
A dear friend of mine was baptized and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. As an adult, he was drawn to the Coptic Orthodox Church and decided to become a full member of that Church. He had to be re-baptized to do so because the Coptic Orthodox Church does not accept Roman Catholic baptism. He believes that he is now a full member in good standing in both the Roman Catholic and Coptic Orthodox Churches and can receive communion at either one or go to Mass at either one on any given Sunday.
My friend is hoping that I, too, will get re-baptized in the Coptic
Church. I decided that I can never do so. I thought that baptism was a sacrament that could only occur once, and so I am therefore concerned that getting re-baptized somehow implies a rejection of the Roman Catholic faith. Also, it makes no sense to me to belong to both Churches because (while most of the Christian faith is held in common) the two Churches have a few contradictory beliefs that as best as I can tell are incompatible with each other. Additionally, I am concerned about my friend; hoping that if he is separated from the Roman Catholic Church that this will be remedied and wondering what he would need to do to go about doing this.
Of course you can be members of both Churches! What was it St. Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians? “There are two Lords, two faiths, two baptisms.”
Oh wait …no! That’s not what he said, is it!
A person can only be baptized once. Once means once. I’ll leave aside here the issue of conditional baptism as it doesn’t apply.
If the first baptism is valid, it can never be repeated.
Some of our Eastern friends do not believe that Catholic baptisms are valid, and so, when a Catholic wishes to join their Church, they are rebaptized. They’re, of course, dead wrong about the validity of our baptisms. They are wrong about a lot of things. But even they would agree with us that a person can’t be simultaneously a member of two Churches.
In seeking entrance into a different Church, your friend has committed an act of schism (defined in can. 751) and in submitting to a rebaptism, thereby denying the validity of his original baptism, has committed an act of heresy. Depending on his level of understanding, he may have incurred the automatic excommunication spoken of in can. 1364.
In any case, he is NOT in good standing with the Catholic Church, whose baptism he has rejected by seeking a second baptism elsewhere!
This person should be encouraged to seek out a good confessor, posthaste, to help him sort out his situation and return fully (and exclusively) to the practice of the Catholic Faith.
If he is attracted to the liturgy and spirituality of the Coptic Orthodox Church, he might do well to seek out the nearest Coptic Catholic Church, which is in union with Rome. As a Catholic, he may participate fully in the liturgy of the Coptic Catholic Church without renouncing his Catholic baptism.