Baptising my kids - I'm Catholic, wfie is agnostic

Hello all, nice to join you here .

I’m a returning Catholic to the church and want to get my 2 y.o. and 3-month old baptized. My wife knows this is important to me, but has her reservations on a few fronts. 1) She had a horrible, senseless tragedy perpetrated against her family, so she is not quite the godly type. 2) She doesn’t believe in Jesus or what a baptism entails (she could be considered Jewish/Agnostic). 3) She is further jaded by the church priest-scandals and brings this up…even when I remind her the Catholic Church does a great amount of good in the world 99 % of the time.

How do I get her to agree? It would be duplicitous for me to go behind her back. But I have also said I would be willing to partipcate in any Jewish traditions…her family had scheduled a naming-rite for my 1st born but kind of dropped the ball on this.

I guess I could go non-denominational; that way we could avoid the whole “do you agree the children will be brought up Catholic (she won’t agree to this). But any baptism, anywhere…is going to bring up the symbolic relationship to Jesus and the rebuke of evil. So how can I convice my wife? Any thoughts?


You have an obligation as a Catholic to ensure to the extent possible that your children are baptized and raised Catholic. You are also the head of the household and you ultimately do not need your wife’s consent to have your children baptized. Don’t go behind her back, just tell her that you believe in God and in the Church and that this is something that the Church commands that you must do, so you will do it.

First off, welcome.

As for getting the kids baptized, I would not go behind her back. This would likely just end up in resentment once she found out. The biggest issue is if she refuses to allow you to raise the children as Catholics. As a Catholic it is your duty to do your best to raise them in the faith. That is one of our primary responsibilities as Catholic parents. Baptizing them in the Catholic Church imposes things on both you, them, and their God parents. Their baptism would make them Catholic and they would then be bound to follow canon law (e.g. marriage in the Church, yearly confession, etc.) If they cannot be raised as Catholics then it makes no sense to baptise them in the Church. That being said, baptizing them in a nondenominational church would be shirking your duty as a Catholic parent to raise then in Christ’s one true church.

What to do? First pray for her heart to be opened. It did wonders when my wife did so for me. Second you need to figure out how you can raise them Catholic if she is so opposed. I would setup time to talk with a priest at the local parish to ask him how to proceed.

One item of note since you mention being a returning Catholic. I don’t know if you were married outside of the Church, but if so and it was not done with the Church’s permission then you may have a minor issue being in an invalid marriage. When children are baptized at least one of their parents must be a practicing Catholic. The priest might want to delay the children’s baptism until you have shown a return to the sacraments. This includes reguular mass attendance, confession and making sure any marriage irregularities are taken care of. Not trying to throw a monkey wrench into the works, but don’t want you surprised if anything like that comes up that you aren’t prepared for.

Once again welcome to CAF and welcome home.

  1. Don’t marry a non-Catholic. Woops, too late for that. :frowning: Marrying a Jewish woman is going to be particularly problematic for your children. Either Jesus is God, or just a guy, he can’t be both. What usually happens is that the kids end up nothing, because who is right? Mom? Dad? Neither! It’s all bunk! :frowning:

  2. Don’t try to church-hop, you’re a Catholic by baptism so you are under obligation to act like one, and to teach your children the faith as well.

  3. Go and see your parish priest ASAP. Tell him about your marriage and how you want to baptize your children. Follow his direction and guidance.

  4. Welcome to CAF.

Heresy! :wink:

I guess I could go non-denominational; that way we could avoid the whole “do you agree the children will be brought up Catholic (she won’t agree to this).

Does she not agree to be involved in the Catholic education of the children? Or does she not agree to have you educate them as Catholic? If it’s the former, she doesn’t have to take part, and the onus would only be on you (and the godparents) to raise them. I wouldn’t go behind her back though.

Otherwise, someday, the kids might will want to be baptized. What would she do then? That seems a bigger issue…

If she’s willing to have them baptized, but just not by the Catholic Church, I’d sooner do it myself than go to another church. Possibly illicit, but valid. Might make for a mess when it’s time for First Communion though.

This is the sort of thing that should be discussed prior to marriage. I don’t really know the answer to this. I would not be in this situation because I would not have agreed to marry someone who didn’t want my children to be baptized. Were you not practicing at the time or something? My instinct is that you should tell your wife that you are not raising your children agnostic and that she dosn’t have to participate but you intent to have your babies Baptized. The only thing is, that wouldn’t be fair if you weren’t Catholic when you married.

“Might” is quite the understatement.

There is also the option of waiting until they are old enough to ask to be baptized.

From my perspective, the option of having them baptized in a different denomination is “out” - not only because it is against Church teaching for Catholics to participate actively in non-Catholic liturgies, but also because is not fair to other denominations to simply “use” them to get a Trinitarian Baptism merely because the Catholic Church has stricter rules - if you don’t plan to raise your child in the church where you are having them baptized, it’s a lot like showing up for a meal at someone else’s house uninvited and unannounced, and then leaving without helping to clean up afterwards.

I should also point that the relationship created by baptism isn’t symbolic - it is a real relationship to the real Jesus, and your children will really and truly become children of God and members of the Body of Christ when you have them baptized. Or they won’t if you don’t.

Possibly illicit…? Possibly illicit??? You have interesting ideas about what ‘liceity’ means… :wink:

Thank you for the thoughtful answers everyone. Responding to the tone of the thread, yes, I’m now seeing that we should have had a more in-depth discussion of this before marriage. I’m pretty sure I got her to commit to agree to Baptism however before we were married. I guess right now I am building up my ‘spiritual ammunition’…so to speak – as I have gone back to church and will go to confession soon.

The other problem would be the Godparents…they would have to come from my side. In truth, her sister and brother-in-law are much more involved with the kids then any of my siblings. Of course, they are agnostic and Baptist respectively. I don’t know how I can get around this one either…Can you not have Godparents approach the altar with Mom and Dad? And what would my wife do during the proceedings anyway?

Ahh…such a quagmire here, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get this done.

Godparents (called “sponsors” in official Church documents) are not required if none suitable can be found. You might ask your pastor to suggest a suitable sponsor from the parish - the sponsor or sponsors do not need to be from your family.

You don’t have to make an event out of it if it is going to be a source of stress, anxiety or contention in your immediate family or your extended family. You don’t have to have a party or send out invitations, or even bring it up among your non-Christian family and friends if you don’t think they will be supportive. You can simply go to the church with the children and have the pastor or his delegate conduct the rites of baptism, and then go home. I know it is a wonderful thing to celebrate and it might feel wrong not having a celebration, but having the children receive the Sacrament is the most important thing.

You’re “pretty sure?”

If you had received a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic, I’m “pretty sure” there wouldn’t be any question about this. So, I’m assuming that you were not practicing your faith at the time of your marriage and that your wife didn’t agree to raising your children in the Church. Now, several years down the road, you unilaterally decide that you want your kids to be raised in some religion that their mother does not believe in. I can understand why there might be some push-back on her part.

It’s great that you are returning to the Church, but I wouldn’t make an issue of baptizing the children at this point. I think the best thing you can do is practice your faith and quietly set an example for your family. Hopefully they will eventually follow along.

What I REALLY wouldn’t do is to have them baptized without their mother’s agreement. To do so might be the beginning of the end for your marriage, and you’ll find yourself taking your kids to Mass during your once a month visitation week-end.

Baptism is necessary for salvation. He has an obligation as a Catholic to have his children baptized and to raise them in the faith. The fact that he has ignored that obligation until now didn’t make it go away, and his kids are still young enough that they won’t remember not being baptized and brought to Mass right away. He shouldn’t fight with his wife about it, but this is not a negotiable issue, especially for a husband and father. He isn’t the Catholic wife having to choose between “obey your heathen husband” or “raise your kids Catholic”.

So… I’m just wondering what you think is going to happen to his wife when she dies. She isn’t going to stop being Jewish.

While the OP hasn’t been very forthcoming about the facts of his situation, it appears that he was married outside the Church, was not practicing Catholicism at the time, and did not have his wife’s agreement to raise any children Catholic. Consequently, it is very much a “negotiable issue.” In order to have any hope whatsoever of raising these kids Catholic, he needs their mother’s cooperation. The fact that he’s “a husband and father” makes no difference. Without his wife’s cooperation, she can frustrate his efforts at every turn. I stand by my advice - set a Catholic example, but don’t force the issue.

Dear OP,

Please do your best to assure your wife that yes, it’s more than unsettling that there have been abuse and other crises in the Catholic Church - actually, for almost 2000 years. But remind her that the fact that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing in every single faith expression, but their existence does not invalidate what each faith expression professes. Hopefully, they will repent of their ways.

Remind her of Psalm 51, King David’s prayer of repentence, which we call the Miserere. He had sinned grievously. He lusted after another man’s wife, and basically arranged to have the man killed (by putting him in the front lines of battle), and then David cheated on his wife and had an affair with the woman (Bathsheba). This King of Israel, whom the Jewish people respected for many right reasons! But his prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin, and David fell on his knees and with intense contrition, begged God to forgive him.

In the late 1800s, a Methodist minister coined the phrase “The Church is not a hotel for saints, it is a hospital for sinners.” We all sin, to some extent.

The Catholic Church, instituted by Christ Himself, founded His Church as the instrument of salvation for all of us sinners. Christ’s merciful forgiveness abounds for each and every one of us – even the abusers (although there must also be accountability, which is different from forgiveness).

Welcome back, OP. You will be strengthened in wonderful ways by your Reconciliation with our Lord and with His holy Church! I am happy for you.

I hope you will talk with a priest soon about your situation. The issue of baptizing your children while maintaining a loving relationship with your wife is so important. In the meantime, pray your heart out, and keep being a light of Jesus’ love toward your family!

I don’t know what will happen to her, as I will not be there when her soul is judged.

Her ethnicity has nothing to do with anything, so you must be claiming that there is no chance of her being baptized. I am curious as to why you would say that.

He is the one that has the obligation to raise his kids Catholic. His wife does not have to consent to raising the kids Catholic if she is not Catholic. If what you are claiming is true, that “in order to have any hope whatsoever of raising these kids Catholic, he needs their mother’s cooperation”, the Church would never consent to a marriage involving disparity of cult or even a mixed marriage.

Actually, that used to be the case. When the code of canon law was revised in 1983, though, the requirement for the non-Catholic spouse to make this promise was removed. Instead, the non-Catholic spouse is informed of the Catholic spouse’s promise to “do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptised and brought up in the catholic Church”.

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