Q: I am a parish Liturgy Coordinator. My question is this:
Does the water in baptism need to be poured three different times for baptism to be valid? Or, if you say I baptize….in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit continually pouring or while person is immersed, does that make the baptism not valid?
We have a case where the pastor said he pronounced the correct words but did not immerse three different times.
A: Your question is canonical, not liturgical. The rubrics clearly say that the minister immerses or pours water three distinct times while pronouncing the words, but from what I can tell, the Code of Canon Law does not mention the number of times when it considers the validity of the sacrament. But I defer to a canonist and suggest you ask one in your diocese.
I have an article due out soon with Liturgy magazine, in which I point out that both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis appear on video baptizing with a single pour instead of three. (I have heard anecdotally that Pope St. John Paul II did the same.) That isn’t what it says in the liturgical books. But they have done it. I find it hard to believe that those baptisms are invalid. So, the pastor probably does not have to worry about validity, but he should start immersing three times because that’s what the Rite of Baptism says we’re supposed to do. And if he has a chance to tell the pope, he would do us all a favor.