ASK FATHER: Can a Permanent Deacon perform a Baptism according to the Old Rite?

From a permanent deacon…


Can a Permanent Deacon perform a Baptism according to the Old Rite? I would be using the booklet entitled “Baptism” published by Angelus Press.

My old pastor, the late Msgr. Richard Schuler, used to tell a story about the furor and cross looks he kicked up when he asked – as a transitional deacon – to baptize a relative at his home parish.  The old pastor didn’t like the idea at all, but grudgingly conceded.

However… a deacon is a deacon is a deacon.  It matters not if one is a permanent or transitional deacon in this matter.

Back in the day, the deacon was the extraordinary minister of solemn baptism.   He had to have permission from the local ordinary or the local pastor to do it.

Therefore, the pastor of the parish can let you, as a deacon, baptize in the newer form or in the older form.

That said: You MUST have the pastor or some other priest (or a bishop) ahead of time, exorcise and bless the salt with the older, traditional rite, and then exorcise the bless water to be used in the baptism in the older, traditional rite.

Also, I would make sure to know the rite inside and out, forward and backward, and be able to read it properly, understanding also that water must flow on the head.

Finally, when I consider both the newer and the traditional rite of baptism, with the exorcisms and so forth, I would choose the older, traditional form every time… if baptism could be repeated… which, of course, it can’t be.  And I would have it done by a priest or a bishop.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jbazchicago says:

    A point of order. There is no such thing as a permanent deacon or a transitional deacon. There are only deacons, period.

    If such were true, then could not some priests say they are hopefully ordained to the transitional priesthood? (Yeah, that would be fun!)


  2. inviaadpatriam says:

    Are there any stipulations for a deacon to baptize when the priest is also present? I saw this recently. The deacon was a relative of the baptizand, and so the decision was made to let him perform the baptism itself (i.e., the pouring of water in the name of the Trinity) while the priest stepped to the side. The deacon also did the anointing both before the baptism and again with chrism afterwards.

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If the pastor is present while the deacon is baptizing, you obviously don’t have to worry about whether the deacon got permission! :)

  4. Philmont237 says:

    My dad, a permanent deacon, baptized my first son and will be baptizing my new son in the old Rite. My current pastor is hostile to the EF (he freaked out when I asked him to bless some olive oil using the Rituale Romanum), so I think that this is a great reason for a deacon to do it instead of the pastor.
    I would post pictures from the last baptism (it was done in a military chapel in Germany) but the blog doesn´t allow for it, unfortunately.

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  6. mharden says:

    1. A permanent deacon is not authorized to bless Holy Water under the Traditional Rite?
    2. Must the Traditional Rite Baptism be done in Latin, or can it be done in English?

    I did hear directly, just yesterday, from our Archdiocese that if a parishioner requests Baptism under the Traditional Form, the pastor must accede to the request.

    Deacon Mark Harden

  7. jbazchicago says:

    It would seem that whatever is permissible for a deacon to do today, in the current rites, he can do in the pre-reformed rites. We aren’t jumping in to a time machine every time the Old Rites are used. But Fr.Z makes a point about that which has been suppressed or modified.

    I’ve been to many many old Rite Masses where deacons are distributing Holy Communion. And btw, they are deacons, not priests vested as such.

  8. APX says:

    My understanding is that only priests can make holy water, etc according to the Roman Ritual is because it contains an exorcism of both the water and the salt, which deacons don’t have the ability to do.

  9. jflare29 says:

    As a matter of rather dumbfounded curiousity: How else CAN a person attempt a baptism?
    Surely nobody has insisted on baptizing someone by dribbling water on the chest or legs.
    I imagine the infant will cry with having water poured on the head, but then almost anything is likely to disturb an infant. I don’t imagine the priest will be terribly bothered, nor should anyone else.

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