Late Baptism - Discrimination

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My son was unable to gain access to our local catholic school (UK) because he was baptised a few days after his 2nd birthday. The reasons why this happened are complicated. After attending mass on a regular basis (weekly) since we moved to our current parish 8 years ago we were told that we had not paid the sacrement enough respect and as such he was prioritised after those children baptised before their 2nd birthday.

He is in effect now a 2nd class catholic and a caste system exists.

I have been trying to understand why a person baptised 1 minute before their 2nd birthday is more catholic than one baptised 1 second after their second birthday. This in effect says that anyone who converts is less catholic.

Does anyone know of any process by which I can appeal to the vatican for dispensation against this discrimination.

To be honest I feel as though I have been judged and have no recourse to defend the dignity of my family or son. This seems to bethe one sin for which there is no absolution.
This sounds preposterous, and I can’t imagine any good reason for such a policy. Do they have more applicants than openings in the school?

I would urge you to contact the principal of the school directly to see if there is some misunderstanding. If you do not obtain satisfaction from him, then contact your bishop.
They do have more applicants than openings but it is deemed that those baptised before 2 are more catholic than those after 2. What I find most galling is that my eldest son is only one of a handful of his peer group in church every sunday. I have appealed to the bishop but his reponse is that matters of school admissions are not in his baliwick.

Although we are on the wait list any child moving into the area baptised before 2 will always take precedence.
I am lucky enough to have other parishes and catholic schools within a short distance. If possible, I would recommend another school, and also change parishes.

If you are not so lucky, is there a school board you could appeal to? Although the bishop said it was not his realm to go into (which also seems strange to me), he may have some assistants who deal with educational issues in your area.
Unfortunately the local catholic education service provided guidance that did not support the view of baptismal discrimination but at the same time did not outlaw it. My son now goes to a catholic school on the otherside of town rather than the one six doors from our house. The problem I have is that he is starting to ask why he cannot got to the one that is next door. I have thought about going to another parish but at the same time can’t help thinking why I should. The school continues to quote canon law at me and there seems to be no one in the catholic church who can rule on canon law interpretations and usage.
I have to say that I’ve never heard of anything so rediculous. Isn’t there any recourse to you? An appeal. perhaps? Have you contacted your Bishop’s office?
If they’re rejecting your son because he was baptized after his 2’nd birthday, then they need to read Galations 3:27-28. Also, tell whoever is descriminating against your son that our lord was baptized at the age of 30.
I am suprised that your bishop would not help you. Have you talked to your pastor?
The school continues to quote canon law at me
The only one that even remotely applies would be Can. 867 §1:
Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptized within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it.
And that Canon points out it is your failure to meet an obligation, not a fault of the child’s.

Any other stab at Canon law is likely smokescreen.

Heaven help a child in that Parish whose parents converted when the child was 5.
The problem is that the school has created a system where it thinks it can guarantee places to true catholics. Not adhering to canon law 867 is seen as an indication of not being a true catholic. The belief is that you have only had your child baptised to get them into the school. The priest has a hang up that people with children are only in his church for this reason. The Bishop is not prepared to challenge this and as the school has good exam results does not want to rock the boat. You have probably guessed that a lot of the parents who have had their children baptised before 2 are never seen again in the church after their children enter the school. In fact my older son (14) is only 1 of a handful of his age group that regularly attends mass and takes communion.

There must be some way that it is possible to appeal against a judgement based on canon law. I think I will find that there is not because there is no expectation that an event like this would ever occur.
Would you please provide the #'s of the Canons that they are using to justify this. You need to speak with the vicar of Education in your diocese. You could also seek out a Canon Lawyer and request a hearing before the tribunal of the diocese about this discrimination against Baptized Catholics by a parish school. The new code of Canon Law has in it something that was missing from the old code. A specific section stating the rights of the Faithful. In this scetion is where you will find the necessary support against this misuse of the Baptismal canon.
Dear Br. Rich SFO

Thanks for this. The canon law they are using is 867.

I have looked at the rights of the faithful and it looks useful. for anyone interested

I think I will use some of this in a letter to the Bishop.

Anyone know how you get access to an Ecclesiastical Court?
Let me say first: I am quite sympathetic to your case, and I hope you will soon be excepted from the draconian policy you describe. And you *should * be able to meet with someone who has the power to make exceptions to policy, even if they have a hard time admitting it (as is often the case when butting up against stoopid, arbitrary, zero-tolerance-type policies).

But just to advocate for the school for a moment, I bet I know why they have seemingly carved this who-is-more-Catholic-than-whom policy into stone. I would bet money that:
  • The school charges a different (higher) tuition to non-Catholic students than to Catholic students (which they are allowed to do, at least in the US in my diocese)
  • They have created this policy to thwart those non-Catholic (or non-practicing) families whose children are “suddenly” baptized just prior to entering the school.
  • You are in the unfortunate position of having been caught by this policy.
I don’t mean to imply the school was *wise * to institute this policy – Only that I bet that’s the reason (It might even be the case that no one remembers this reason, if the school is now experiencing sufficient numbers of enrollments)

I really do hope you will be able to make your case to be excepted from this policy soon.
Dear tee_ef_em

The first bullet point is quite interesting as I did not know this about US schools. In the UK there are a few private Catholic Schools (I suppose ampleforth in yorkshire is the most famous). All of the rest have running costs funded by the state and 90% of the capital or build costs. However with budget restrictions etc, almost all schools only get 90% capital funding.

The UK govt funds catholic schools to protect human rights and the right follow canon law in having your child eductated in a catholic school.

You are bang on the money with the reason why the school came up with this rule but they left no room for extenuating circumstanes. I could go into them but I don’t want to bore people.

However it is equaly true that some people could have their children baptised at birth be seen in church just before the application to the school and never be seen again. Sorry I am trying not to judge but i must be equally true.

However even though this was the reason I am convinced that no one has the right to make this judgement. Even St Paul was allowed his Damascus moment and look what he ended up doing for us all. It is very rare that any service does not have at least 1 reading from St Paul.

It is unfortunate but I have been trying for 3 years to get the school to change the rule but to no avail. I have even been told on one occasion that it must have been gods will. This is probably true but I am praying that its god will that I can get the people who run the school to see the light. One day someone will come into the parish from another country who was unable to get a baptism or arrives without papers and how will this be explained to them.
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