Q: Hello Fr. Paul! I do not want to leave to common sense or “intent” something as sacred as Holy Baptism, and so I turn first to you.
This weekend, we attended a baptism of six children, representing three families. It was celebrated outside of Mass but at a Catholic church by a priest in good standing.Straight to the point, he used the correct words and water which he blessed according to the rite, but our concern is that he used a continual flow of water from a pitcher while pronouncing “I Baptize you in the name of the Father, and [of] the Son, and [of] the Holy Spirit.” He paused between each of the Divine Persons but the water kept flowing at a constant rate over the head of each child. The Order appears to stipulate immersion or pouring a first time, a second time, and a third time.
We value your comment(s) and/or advice. I am a candidate for ordination to the diaconate.
A: The baptism is probably valid, but not licit. That’s a canonical question for someone else to determine.
Regardless, after your ordination, please do not imitate what you saw that priest do. Pour water three times, or immerse the candidate three times.
The reason I’m confident of the validity of the baptism is that several popes incredibly have baptized that way. See page 15 of my article “On Paper and on Air”.