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.