I am wondering if a baptism performed outside of the actual church building--for example, in a private home by an ordained Roman Catholic priest--is recognized by the Church?This is an interesting question, because the Catholic Church does, in fact, place a great deal of emphasis on the church as the location in which we receive the sacraments. For instance, in most cases, priests are not allowed to assist at the marriage of two Catholics unless that wedding takes place in a Catholic church. The location itself is a sign of the faith of the couple and a signal that they are entering the sacrament with the right intent.
But what about baptism? Does the location make a difference? Yes and no.
All that is required for a baptism to be valid (and hence recognized by the Church) is the pouring of water over the head of the person to be baptized (or the immersion of the person in water); and the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The baptism does not need to be performed by a priest; any baptized Christian (even a non-Catholic) can perform a valid baptism. In fact, when the life of the person being baptized is in danger, even a non-baptized person who does not himself believe in Christ can perform a valid baptism, so long as he does so with the proper intent!
Yet the church is still an important symbol, and a baptism should not be performed outside the church simply for the sake of convenience. Our baptism is our entrance into the Church, the Body of Christ, and performing it in the place where the Church gathers to worship emphasizes that communal aspect.
Performing a baptism outside of a church without good reason does not invalidate the sacrament, but it does deemphasize the fact that this sacrament is not just about the person being baptized but about building up the Body of Christ.
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