Friday, September 07, 2012

Baptizing children born out of wedlock: Just do it.

I like this story...
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires has criticized Catholic pastors who refuse to baptize children born to single mothers.

The cardinal expressed his sympathy for a young woman who, after becoming pregnant, resists temptations to abortion and gives birth to the child. Then, he said, she finds herself “on a pilgrimage, going from parish to parish, trying to find someone who would baptize her child.”

The priests who reject this woman, Cardinal Bergoglio, are “hijacking” the sacrament, using rigid rules to preserve their own status, and are likely to “drive God’s people away from salvation.” He likened them to the Pharisees, and reminded them that Jesus regularly condemned the Pharisees, while spending his time with those they regarded as sinners.

“I say this with sadness, and if it sounds like a complaint or an offensive comment please forgive me,” the cardinal said. But he insisted that priests should serve the spiritual needs of the people and not “the interests of religious power.”  - CWN
Could not agree more.

BTW - my parents were not married in the Church, my dad was a non-practicing Lutheran, my mother a divorced, remarried Catholic.  Even though they never went to Church, they had me baptized, sent me to Catholic school, and was able to receive the sacraments of Penance, Eucharist and Confirmation.  I mention this because some priests are reluctant to baptize children unless their parents at least attend Mass.

That said, I wonder if Cardinal Bergoglio would advocate the same for children adopted by or born to gay people?  The Cardinal is definitely opposed to gay marriage and adoption:
"Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God." - Source

I'm not sure how the Church handles these situations now.

 Something Argentine by Astor Piazzolla.  Enjoy.


  1. First of all, I like your choice of music, Astor Piazzola's Oblivion (one of my favorite). I have few unmarried couples who want to have their baby baptize. This is a moment to talk and evangelize them. Most of them have no marriage impediment and their reasons are; they want to save money for a grand wedding or he/she want to finish their college education. I gave them my pastoral counsel and ask for their future commitment to get marry in the church and baptize the child. I warn them not to approach me to baptize their next baby if they have not follow up their commitment.

    1. That is good advice Father.

      I'm glad you like the music - this is one of my favorites.

  2. Anonymous10:30 AM

    I agree with the basic premise of the Cardinal, but the teaching of the Church in the Baptismal ritual is that while giving the benefit of the doubt to baptizing the child, there must be some assurance that the child will actually be raised Catholic; if there is not such an assurance from the parents, or at least the grandparents or the godparents- you are pastorally called to delay the Baptism- not refuse but delay it- and no specific time is given of course- it is up to the pastoral discretion of the pastor of the parish. Terry I am happy things turned out well for you in this regard considering your parents situation, but in some ways I can tell you as a priest for over 12 years that you were the exception to the rule, and the other factor is once a person is baptised Catholic then canon law is binding on them in terms of marriage, etc. later in life, so all this must be factored into when deciding whether to allow a baptism- the benefit of the doubt goes in most cases to doing it, but sometimes you must delay it or deny it for the time being until the family steps up to the plate more in terms of living the Faith since in the Sacraments grace builds on nature and is not magic.

  3. My parents were married outside the Church therefore my mom could not find a priest to baptize me. She left the faith in an indignant huff rather than see and accept that it was her impetuousness to avoid pre-cana that put her in the predicament to begin with. Its always easier to blame the Church.

    My ex-husband was Catholic, myself an athiest at the time so our marriage was never valid either. I forget the technical church-y term my canon lawyer used.

    But yeah.. I had to go directly to the local bishop and get special permission to have my son baptized too. It was no big whoop.

    People are too sensitive now a days

  4. If we truly believe that Baptism washes us clean from sin and makes us children of God, there is no justification to refuse Baptism to any child, no matter who its parents are.

  5. It's more than that, Thom. It's a public and formal vow that you will raise that child Catholic. If the parents have disregard for Church teaching how is the priest to know those same parents would raise the child Catholic? On their word, when their actions clearly showed otherwise?

  6. My nephew has a child out of wedlock with no intentions of getting married, but he won't have his baby formally baptized, either, because it entails him to return to active practice of the faith. My sister (his mother) performed a "kitchen sink" baptism for the poor baby (who just started kindergarten). *sigh*

    1. I baptized my cat when I was little, but he never went to church or made his communion and stuff. So it's no guarantee they will live the faith.


  7. 1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. the Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.

    1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

  8. Kat and the priest with the really long and weird name are correct.

    The Code of Canon Law gives the Church a way to insure that the Sacraments are celebrated in such a way as to prevent them being treated lightly or in a manner unbecoming to their nature.

    The Code initially lays out the responsibility of parents to see that their children are baptized soon after birth (Canon 867, paragraph 1). This same canon assumes that the parents have already spoken to their pastor and received proper preparation for the Sacrament.

    At the same time, the Code recognizes that for the baptism to take place “...there must be a realistic hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this” (Canon 868, paragraph 1, degree 2).

    @doughboy - While I'm sure your sister had the very best of intentions (and I really do feel her pain as well as yours), if the child was not in danger of death what she did was very wrong.

    Baptism cannot be licitly celebrated outside a Church without the bishop's permission.

    The baptism must also be registered in the parish church otherwise First Communion,Confirmation, and possibly a future Catholic marriage can not take place.

    These situations are the times that test our faith and trust in God.

    Our pastor delays baptism for anyone who does not have at least one parent who is a practicing Catholic.

    1. Now I'm worried about my cat - I probably shouldn't have baptized him myself - since, as you noted, I didn't have the bishop's permission. Crap!

  9. Not to worry, Terry. All my kittehs were baptized, too. Somewhere in Canon law is a "kitteh exemption." Trust me on this...

    Besides - your kitteh is okay. You're the one who screwed up. heh

    1. That's for sure. Now each night I bless my only living cat with holy water hoping to heal her, but that's not working either. (She's very old and may not last much longer.)

  10. My mother was raised Catholic, but fell away from the practice of her faith after her first (attempted) marriage dissolved. She later civilly married an agnostic and I was born. She did not seek to regularize her situation at that time--but she did start attending Mass weekly and sought to have me baptized. I don't think anyone had a problem with it.

    My father was later baptized, my mother's first marriage declared null, and they are now married in the Church. About two years after that all occurred, my half-brother (also civilly married to a Catholic) was baptized and married in the Church. I am fairly convinced that my brother would not have taken that step without our dad's example, and my dad would not have done what he did if he had not seen my mother and me living as Catholics, and we would not have lived as Catholics if a priest had refused to baptize me as an infant. So, the priest who agreed to baptize me despite my parents' irregular situation was the catalyst for two additional baptisms (not counting my brother's three children who are all being raised Catholic too). Thank God he was willing to take a chance on us!

    1. Jane - I think so too. God bless the priest who trusted enough to go ahead with your baptism. There is a line from Ephesians I think where Paul gives praise saying,

      "...To Him whose power at work in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine..."

      Praise God.

  11. The point folks are missing is, it is not the situation of the parents state of grace, but only that they agree to raise the kids Catholic that is the issue.

    My aunt was not Catholic, but she raised my cousins in a more Catholic way than most Catholics do. She did it because that is what she agreed to do when she married my uncle and she took that very seriously.

  12. Maybe its time to take the role of godparents a little more seriously.


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