Q: I was wondering if you could comment on a question that came up in our parish. Last Easter, we brought a candidate into full communion with the church. He was validly baptized in the Methodist church (as an adult, only one year prior to coming to us for RCIA). Recently, he has made a claim that he does not believe his baptism was valid and is asking to be re-baptized. He said that he believes that water was only poured once on his head instead of three times and that the water only touched his hair and not his skin. I’m thinking since he was Confirmed based on what we believed to be a valid baptism that we can’t go back and re-baptize. Would you agree? If so, could you coach me on a response that I could share with him?
A: His Methodist baptism is presumed to be valid. Invalidity pertains to the words spoken, the matter (water) used, and the intention of the person administering the baptism. The number of pours does not pertain to validity. Pouring upon hair alone is less than ideal but valid, as water upon the head is called for in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1278 and 1284. The Catholic Church has a deep regard for the baptisms of the Methodist Church, so we would regard this as valid.