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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Baptizing your child when you are divorced

by Catherine Frakas 29 Jun 2001

Baptizing your child when you are divorced QUESTION from Patricia on October 9, 2002 I am a Catholic who was married in the Catholic Church.I have since been divorced and remarried in a civil ceremony.I did not apply for an annulment. From this second marriage I have 2 sons whom I wish to have baptized in the Catholic faith. Will the church still baptize them? Why should they be punnished for my sins?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on October 16, 2002 Dear Patricia:
You may not like my answer, but I am telling you the naked truth.
Your question should be titled, Baptizing your child when you are divorced and remarried outside of the Church.
The problem is the remarriage, not the divorce.
When a child is batptized the Church must have a reasonable expectation that at least one parent is a good Catholic and can raise the child as a Catholic.
If the parents are not in communion with the Church, how can they truly raise their child Catholic? Raising a child is not be academics, it must be by example.
Thus, no, you will most likely not be able to baptize your children since you are not in communion with the Church due to your marriage situation which places you in a state of continuing sin.
In addition, the fact that you married in a civil ceremony shows contempt for the Sacrament of Marriage and the Catholic Teaching. How can this be an example to your children of living a Catholic life?
If you have changed over the years and wish to repent of this situation, then you need to contact a parish priest about applying for an annulment. If the annulment is granted, then you may regularize your marriage by having it blessed in the Catholic Church. Then you would be able to have the children baptized.
But, dear, the children are not being punished for your sin. And I am glad that you recognise what you did as sin. Rather, the children are suffering from YOUR sin and YOUR decisions. That is no different than any other issue in family life. The parents sins and decision ALWAYS effect the children.
It is not the Church's fault that this situation is the way it is. It is YOUR fault and you must take responsibility for it. Baptism is a VERY serious thing and not just a rite of passage or a traditional thing to do. Baptism cannot be taken lightly adn the Church will not Baptize unless the parents are in position to be good Catholics and promise to raise the kids Catholics.
So, do not blame the Church. You made your decisions, accept the consequences.
The issue now, is how to repair the situation. The first step is to apply for an annulment. The Annulment process is a healing one. Do not be afraid of it. Most of the process you will not even be involved. After you fill out the paperwork you just sit back and wait for the Church to make a decision. That may take a year or so, depending on the diocese you are in. And, if you don't have the money to pay the diocese for the annulment fee, then you can pay in installments or not pay at all. It will NOT stop the process. You will get a decision from the Church REGARDLESS of whether any fee was paid.
We will be in prayer for you and your family that you will follow through on what you need to do to regularize your marriage and come into full communion with the Church.
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