1 of 32 Baptisms

I was reading of Pope Francis’ baptism liturgy yesterday. Of the 64 parents, all were married, but only 62 under Church auspices. Cue the wringing of hands.

I can see this is a problem for some, as I review a few comboxes. The problem is not that a baby is dedicated to the Christian life. The rubbing of palms seems to be about the very public nature of a Pope Francis baptism. How can “unmarried” parents have a child baptized surrounded by the paintings of Michelangelo? It seems an even it better placed in a small Roman parish, preferably an ugly non-traditional structure, and at a time of night when the custodian might have been late in unlocking the doors.

I’m glad to see Pope Francis breaking up some of the aristocratic tendencies of Catholicism. In my own parish, when we were in exile from our fire, there were actually two baptisms celebrated at Sunday Mass in which the parents were not married in the Church, and one in which they were not married at all. People complained. But the pastor held firm. We were not going to baptize in a basement, and it didn’t seem quite correct to delay a few months. Nor were the parents inclined to celebrate baptism at our sister parish in town.

Infant baptism is more about the future, anyway. Baptized people have a choice to make to cooperate with grace. That’s what elevates a baptism. Not the past choices of the parents. Not the minister of baptism and the location.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to 1 of 32 Baptisms

  1. John Donaghy says:

    The pope’s baptism of a couple not married in the church is a strong message that I hope gets heard.
    Here in the parish where I help, the priest changed the policy on baptism of children under 7. Not only didi parents not have to be active in base communities, it didn’t matter if they were married in the church. One major reaction that I heard, at the first meeting when it was announced, was horror that the parish would baptized children of couples living “in fornication.” There was a small but vocal resistance to the policy in several places. I remember talking with someone about this for about 30 minutes: I tried to get him to see that it was about the child; he was adamant in his concern that these people weren’t living up to the Church standards that he had devoted years to.
    But the result was more than I expected. Since the policy came into effect there are been probably close to 1000 baptisms of children under 7. In addition, some village leaders are noting that these parents are coming to the Sunday celebrations and even some are even coming to base community meetings. Some parents have even asked for more faith formation (in addition to the five sessions and retreats that are part of the pre-baptism catechesis.)

    • Jim McCrea says:

      The man concerned that people not living up to the Church standards that he had devoted years to should re-read the story of the Prodigal Son to get a better perspective.

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