From a reader…
May a lay natural father baptize his own child? As an expectant father, I have heard conflicting views on this practice. Obviously, the priest is the proper and ordinary authority for this, I was simply curious. (P.S. I appreciate any anonymity you can provide).
I’d happily provide anonymity for you, but I don’t know who you are.
That said, your question is a little puzzling.
If you are not trapped in a hunting lodge surrounded by wolves 30 miles from the road during the winter when your wife gives birth, I’d wait for the baptism to be in church by the priest. If you are trapped, however, by all means, administer baptism right away.
Lay people can baptize. In fact, non-Catholic and non-believers can baptize, provided they use water and intend to do what the Church intends by using the proper Trinitarian form.
Sometimes lay people must baptize, as in the your case of being trapped in the hunting lodge.
May lay people baptize? That’s more complicated. Sometimes, in the absence of ordinary ministers of the sacrament, the Church will provide that some appointed person, such as the village catechist, should do the baptisms. Otherwise, while still understanding that “can” and “must” and “emergencies”, etc., in general lay people may not baptize. That is what bishops, priests, and deacons – the ordained – do.
This is particularly important in when the traditional Roman rite of baptism is used, because of the additional elements in the rite. Those additional elements of the exorcisms and so forth are considered important enough that, after emergency baptisms, they were ritually “supplied” after the fact.
And let’s not forget the importance of witnesses: baptisms need to be done properly and documented in the parish register.
And let’s not forget the important of godparents, who aren’t in the hunting lodge with you… unless your child is to be raised by the circling wolves.
I am glad you are concerned for your child’s baptism. I warmly recommend having the priest do it, without much delay.