A friend of mine asked me a question regarding baptism and I was unable to give a solid good answer, so I was hoping I could get some help here. Here is the question.
My friend and her boyfriend are both Catholic. Neither are confirmed. They are having a child very soon, and would like to have the child baptized in the Catholic Church, but are not married, and are not in the near future planning on getting married. They agree, marriage is a very serious commitment. They had not planned on having a child together. Her Boyfriend was married once before in justice of the peace, and divorced.
What I told her is both of you have to be committed to coming into full communion with the church, by completing your sacraments for confirmation and first communion. The First marriage of your boyfriend, I believe needs to be annulled. You both have to be married in the church, and than with committing your live to a christian live can you have your son baptized in the church.
Is this correct what I said, I would like to some clarification on this if possible.
I would nuance it by saying that there needs to be clear evidence that the mother and father of the child intend to bring him up in a Christian home, bring him to Mass every Sunday (unless he is sick or indisposed, which happens quite often with infants and small children) and ensure that he receives his Sacraments, together with a Catholic education at least in the home, and hopefully supplemented by Catholic school and other support from the community.
There are priests who will baptize the children of unmarried couples, as long as there seems to be a sincere effort to raise the child in the Catholic faith. This would mean that the couple ought to be working out the issues that are preventing them from being in full communion with the Church. They cannot be intending to remain unmarried forever, for example. But if they are working on overcoming the issues that are preventing them from getting married, then the priest would consider baptizing their child.
The steps that you have outlined in your message are the steps that they need to be intending to take, and they really do need to follow through, for the sake of their son.
Edited to add: What they really need to do is get an appointment with their parish priest to discuss all of these things, and make a plan of action.
Yes, what you outlined is what needs to happen. Speaking with their priest will help them understand why and allow them to set up a plan for all these actions.
It sounds like the mom (who has never been married), just need to go to confession to begin her Catholic life again and potentially have the baby baptized. The father has more work to do since he needs to have his first married investigated. All this goes without saying that they will have to live apart and refrain from sex until they are properly married.
It would be a great blessing to them, I am sure, if you and their other friends supported them through this by helping them each find a place to live and help with the baby until they are married and living together again.
Can. 868 §1 For an infant to be baptised lawfully it is required:
1° that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent;
2° that there be a well-founded 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.
§2 An infant of catholic parents, indeed even of non-catholic parents, may in danger of death be baptised even if the parents are opposed to it.
Not exactly. Pretty much none of what you stated needs to absolutely happen. In order for a child to be baptized there simply needs to be a well founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith. Are the parents making any attempt to practice their faith? If so, baptism could take place.
The first marriage of the boyfriend is presumed invalid if he was baptized Catholic and married in front of a JP without permission. There is a little bit of paperwork since it is a publicly attempted marriage but its simply a rubber stamp matter. It takes merely a matter of weeks to iron out that issue. But it need not take place for baptism to be allowed.
The parents have zero obligation to marry each other.
They need to sit down with a priest and go over their issues. As long as there’s some forward movement in faith then the baptism should be able to go ahead.
why do they want their child baptized Catholic? If you mean they are living together without benefit of marriage, they have rejected Catholic teaching on marriage and family, so it is legitimate to ask why they want to raise the child in a faith they reject, or at least do not understand, and which they themselves do not follow. That is what the priest is going to ask. He must have assurance the child will be raised Catholic, and a situation like this raises real concerns. He is justified in delaying (never denying) baptism until such time as the parents can show reasonable assurance the child will be raised Catholic. The wise priest will be careful how he approaches this conversation so that it can become a moment of grace wherein he can help them see the importance of not only baptism and matrimony but of the other sacraments.
A lot of priests will baptise the children when the parents are not “practising”. I know my parish priest (a canon lawyer) baptises to keep “peace” in the family when the grand parents are insisting but he knows the parents aren’t practising and aren’t likely to actually raise their child as anything but a nominal catholic.
Best advice is for them to call their local parish. What’s required really depends on where they live and who they will be dealing with.
Since ordination in December, I have baptized about 40 to 50 children, if there would be a requirement of the parents being married, that number would be about 10% of that. Sadly, this appears to be the norm in our modern society.
I use the oportunity to catechize, both in the seminar and the ceremony. To teach the truth to the parents of the children and all the family and friends. We have picked up a couple of RCIA participants because of this opportunity for contact with these people. We must always use the opportunities given to invite to conversion, not mandate conversion.
Very true. In some areas of the country unmarried parents are the rule, not the exception. I would guess these are mostly poorer sections of the south. I know this is true of puzzleannie’s area as well.
From my experience, many unmarried parents who wish to have their child baptized do it as sort of a “cultural” thing.
they have rejected Catholic teaching on marriage and family, so it is legitimate to ask why they want to raise the child in a faith they reject, or at least do not understand, and which they themselves do not follow.
That’s not a very Catholic viewpoint of the situation. Just because someone struggles in one area of morality/life/faith does not mean they struggle in all areas. Just because they aren’t living the right way in one area does not mean they reject everything about the faith/Church. Sin is a part of everyone’s life. We need to be careful not become “total depravity” Protestants.
That is what the priest is going to ask. He must have assurance the child will be raised Catholic, and a situation like this raises real concerns.
Sinners raise children in the Catholic faith all the time.
He is justified in delaying (never denying) baptism until such time as the parents can show reasonable assurance the child will be raised Catholic.
Delay of baptism is always a last resort. I’m not sure this case meets those last ditch requirements.
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