Faith/Spirituality Forum: For Patricia---Baptizing Children of Divorced/Remarried Catholics
For Patricia---Baptizing Children of Divorced/Remarried Catholics QUESTION from Father Smith on October 16, 2002 Dear Brother,
While I agree with your advice that Patricia should have her marital situation regularized and sacramentalized I would respectfully disagree with your assessment that her children could not be baptized.
Even though she herself can not participate in the Sacramental life, that does not impact upon her ablity to raise her children in the Faith and ensure that they fully participate in the life of the Church.
I, for one, would have no problem and have never had a problem with baptizing children of divorced and remarried Catholics who attend Mass faithful (although abstain from Communion) and whom I have the moral certitude will do what they can to raise their child in the Faith.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on October 19, 2002 Dear Father:
Thank you for your comments. It is good to have the perspective of a priest on this.
The operative condition is as you stated: ...attend Mass faithful (although abstain from Communion) and whom I have the moral certitude will do what they can to raise their child in the Faith. I would add to this that the parents MUST seek an annulment. I would question the sincere effort to live the Catholic faith if they refused to even try to get an annulment. And to refuse would be, in my opinion, an open act of rebellion to not even try to follow the moral teaching of the Church.
But I would take issue with the certitude of your comment that a parent can raise their children as good Catholic regardless of the fact that they have an illicit marriage.
Such a parent can do the best they can, but having an illicit marriage will have an effect on the children. Children learn by watching their parents example more than the parent's words. The example set by rebellion to the Church in getting married illicitly (which also means that the couple are living in sin and risking their souls) is not positive to the children.
Canon Law expects Sponsors (Godparents) to be leading a life of faith (canon 874.1.3). Are we to expect less from parents who are the primary spiritual guardians?
Canon 868.1.2 states that for a child to be baptized licitly there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; and if such hope is altogether lacking, the batpism is to be delayed....
To quote from the Canon Law Society of America commentary on this Canon law:
The parents' desire for their child's baptism must be sincere. Normally, this sincerity is evidenced by their own practice of the faith and by the fact that they do not view baptism as a mere social convention. This sincerity is the basis of the well-founded hope that the child will be raised in the practice of the faith which the canon requires for the lawfulness of the baptism.
Sincerity would require, I believe, that the couple make all due efforts to regularize their marriage.
If the application for Nullity is denied by the Church, then it is a different matter. I would say that if the parents' are living an otherwise good Catholic life (though technically they should live as brother and sister if the annulment is denied), that the baptism of the children could be done.
In this case, when the child sees that their parents are not fully participating in the sacramental Eucharistic life of the Church, they can explain that mommy and daddy sinned and consequences come from sin. It can be a good lesson to teach the children about consequences.... though I would suggest that if the parents are not living as brother and sister as they should in this case, and thus are continually sinning, we may have a problem -- children recognize inconsistency like a radar beam.
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