Q :  Can a non catholic baptize a dying person if the dying person expresses a wish to become catholic?
【 Question from 】 Toronto, Canada

Fr. Francis : 

According to Church law (Canon Law), in danger of death, anyone, including a non-Catholic person, can administer the sacrament of baptism,providing the following conditions are met:

  1. the person is in imminent danger of death,
  2. the person expressed the desire to be baptized, or his/her next of kin can testify that he/she has previously expressed such desire, or the dying person is an infant and its parents expressed such desire
  3. the person administering the baptism uses the prescribed Trinitarian formula: “【N.】, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”
  4. while water is used three times to either poured over, or sprinkle on the person, or the person is immersed in water three times
  5. the person administering the baptism must intend to do what the Church wills at baptism, even though he/she may not understand the faith.

I spoke with a number of retired nurses in Toronto. Apparently, in Canada, and I believe in many Western countries, in the past, all nurses, regardless of religious affiliation, used to be trained how to baptize babies in case of emergency. However, this is no longer practised.