The Importance of Baptism

Q. When I recite the Nicene Creed at my church it contains the following, “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” I note the word baptism is capitalized. My question is, does this mean a Catholic baptism or any Christian baptism?

James Myers

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin: 

When we read theological texts that mention Baptism (this includes the Creed we recite on Sunday) the word is ordinarily capitalized because the sacramental rite is one of only seven recognized by the Catholic Church; it therefore deserves special recognition.

However, the word is not capitalized in scriptural texts, and this is probably because the rites mentioned in the early Gospel and other New Testament accounts had not yet assumed the unique character they were later to assume.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes an interesting point when it observes, “The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, the deacon. In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize, by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation” (No. 1256).

What this demonstrates is the singular place every valid Baptism holds in our sacramental theology. Whether this must necessarily be reflected in our grammar may be debated; what may not be questioned is Baptism’s place in our sacramental life.