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What actually is the law relating to baptism?   Set out below are extracts from Canon Law.

Church of England canons relating to initiation

B 21 Of Holy Baptism

It is desirable that every minister having a cure of souls shall normally
administer the sacrament of Holy Baptism on Sundays at public worship
when the most number of people come together, that the congregation
there present may witness the receiving of them that be newly baptized
into Christís Church, and be put in remembrance of their own profession
made to God in their baptism.  

B 22 Of the baptism of infants

1. Due notice, normally of at least a week, shall be given before a child
is brought to the church to be baptized.

2. If the minister shall refuse or unduly delay to baptize any such infant,
the parents or guardians may apply to the bishop of the diocese, who
shall, after consultation with the minister, give such directions as he
thinks fit.

3. The minister shall instruct the parents or guardians of an infant to be
admitted to Holy Baptism that the same responsibilities rest on them as
are in the service of Holy Baptism required of the godparents.

4. No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or
instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptize any
infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptized,
provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to
godparents in these Canons are observed.

5. A minister who intends to baptize any infant whose parents are
residing outside the boundaries of his cure, unless the names of such
persons or of one of them be on the church electoral roll of the same, shall
not proceed to the baptism without having sought the good will of the
minister of the parish in which such parents reside.

6. No minister being informed of the weakness or danger of death of any
infant within his cure and therefore desired to go to baptize the same shall
either refuse or delay to do so.

7. A minister so baptizing a child in a hospital or nursing home, the
parents of the child not being resident in his cure, nor their names on the
church electoral roll of the same, shall send their names and address to
the minister of the parish in which they reside.

8. If any infant which is privately baptized do afterwards live, it shall be
brought to the church and there, by the minister, received into the
congregation of Christís flock according to the form and manner
prescribed in and by the office for Private Baptism authorized by Canon
B 1.

9. The minister of every parish shall warn the people that without grave
cause and necessity they should not have their children baptized privately
in their houses.  

B 23 Of godparents and sponsors

1. For every child to be baptized there shall be not fewer than three
godparents, of whom at least two shall be of the same sex as the child and
of whom at least one shall be of the opposite sex; save that, when three
cannot conveniently be had, one godfather and godmother shall suffice.
Parents may be godparents for their own children provided that the child
have at least one other godparent.

2. The godparents shall be persons who will faithfully fulfil their
responsibilities both by their care for the children committed to their
charge and by the example of their own godly living.

3. When one who is of riper years is to be baptized he shall choose three,
or at least two, to be his sponsors, who shall be ready to present him at
the font and afterwards put him in mind of his Christian profession and
duties.

4. No person shall be admitted to be a sponsor or godparent who has not
been baptized and confirmed. Nevertheless the minister shall have
power to dispense with the requirement of confirmation in any case in
which in his judgement need so requires.  

B 24 Of the baptism of such as are of riper years

1. When any such person as is of riper years and able to answer for
himself is to be baptized, the minister shall instruct such person, or cause
him to be instructed, in the principles of the Christian religion, and exhort
him so to prepare himself with prayers and fasting that he may receive
this holy sacrament with repentance and faith.

2. At least a week before any such baptism is to take place, the minister
shall give notice thereof to the bishop of the diocese or whomsoever he
shall appoint for the purpose.

3. Every person thus baptized shall be confirmed by the bishop so soon
after his baptism as conveniently may be; that so he may be admitted to
the Holy Communion.  

B 25 Of the sign of the Cross in baptism

   The Church of England has ever held and taught, and holds and teaches
still, that the sign of the Cross used in baptism is no part of the substance
of the sacrament: but, for the remembrance of the Cross, which is very
precious to those that rightly believe in Jesus Christ, has retained the sign
of it in baptism, following therein the primitive and apostolic Churches.  

B 26 Of teaching the young

1. Every minister shall take care that the children and young people
within his cure are instructed in the doctrine, sacraments, and discipline
of Christ, as the Lord has commanded and as they are set forth in the
Holy Scriptures, in The Book of Common Prayer, and especially in the
Church Catechism; and to this end he, or some godly and competent
persons appointed by him, shall on Sundays or if need be at other
convenient times diligently instruct and teach them in the same.

2. All parents and guardians shall take care that their children receive
such instruction.  

B 27 Of confirmation

1. The bishop of every diocese shall himself minister (or cause to be
ministered by some other bishop lawfully deputed in his stead) the rite of
confirmation throughout his diocese as often and in as many places as
shall be convenient, laying his hands upon children and other persons
who have been baptized and instructed in the Christian faith.

2. Every minister who has a cure of souls shall diligently seek out
children and other persons whom he shall think meet to be confirmed and
shall use his best endeavour to instruct them in the Christian faith and life
as set forth in the Holy Scriptures, The Book of Common Prayer, and the
Church Catechism.

3. The minister shall present none to the bishop but such as are come to
years of discretion and can say the Creed, the Lordís Prayer, and the Ten
Commandments, and can also render an account of their faith according
to the said Catechism.

4. The minister shall satisfy himself that those whom he is to present
have been validly baptized, ascertaining the date and place of such
baptism, and, before or at the time assigned for the confirmation, shall
give to the bishop their names, together with their age and the date of
their baptism.

5. If the minister is doubtful about the baptism of a candidate for
confirmation he shall conditionally baptize him in accordance with the
form of service authorized by Canon B 1 before presenting him to the
bishop to be confirmed.

6. If it is desired for sufficient reason that a Christian name be changed,
the bishop may, under the laws of this realm, confirm a person by a new
Christian name, which shall be thereafter deemed the lawful Christian
name of such person.  

B 28 Of reception into the Church of England

1. Any person desiring to be received into the Church of England, who
has not been baptized or the validity of whose baptism can be held in
question, shall be instructed and baptized or conditionally baptized, and
such baptism, or conditional baptism, shall constitute the said personís
reception into the Church of England.

2. If any such person has been baptized but not episcopally confirmed
and desires to be formally admitted into the Church of England he shall,
after appropriate instruction, be received by the rite of confirmation, or,
if he be not yet ready to be presented for confirmation, he shall be
received by the parish priest with appropriate prayers.

3. If any such person has been episcopally confirmed with unction or
with the laying on of hands he shall be instructed, and, with the
permission of the bishop, received into the Church of England according
to the Form of Reception approved by the General Synod, or with other
appropriate prayers, and if any such person be a priest he shall be
received into the said Church only by the bishop of the diocese or by the
commissary of such bishop.

 

 

Article explaining the application of Canon Law
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