Baptism for brain damaged newborn


#1

My daughter and son-in-law had a beautiful baby boy in June. Unfortunately, he was born with severe damage to his cortex, which affects his breathing, and he suffers non-stop seizures. Although the medications keep the seizures from manifesting physically, they are still occuring; his skull and brain are not growing and he's in constant danger of apnea.

My daughter plans on baptizing him in late September, after my other daughter has her baby, so they can have a joint baptism. When I asked her to have him baptized by the hospital chaplain when he was in intensive care, she was adamant that she wants to wait until September. The problem is, although he's now home, the poor baby is really not doing well and I'm very worried that he won't make it to the baptism. I don't think my daughter is thinking clearly about this, but she's very stubborn and if I push the issue, she'll just dig in her heels.

I'll be visiting them in three weeks (I live 8 hours away). Should I baptize him when I'm there? It would mean going against my daughter's wishes, but there's a soul at stake. What if I have the chance and don't take it and the baby dies without baptism? Should I do it anyway, since they are planning to raise him as a Catholic?


#2

Her position seems to me to be extremely evil and selfish, although it may very well be the case that she is ignorant of the necessity of baptism. In fact I think the latter in this case seems more likely. I strongly recommend explaining the situation carefully to a priest of the parish so that he can have a serious conversation with her about it.


#3

I sure would be tempted to baptize the child. It only takes a few second. However, check with your priest first. Get his advise.

God Bless


#4

This is very unorthodox, and maybe a sin.

Others are welcome to correct or condemn me for telling you this.

What I would do is secretly baptize the very ill boy and contact their parish priest and tell them you baptized him under his conditions. So if the boy does make it to the joint baptism, the priest can whisper very silently, "If you are not baptized..." Other known as a conditional baptism.

Usually given to Mormons coming into the church or babies who were baptized because of near death but survived.

I understand clearly that the catechism states that the parents must have consent on the baptism, but like you said, and I agree, a very ill boy's soul is at stake.

But like I also said, others are welcome to correct or condemn me for telling you this. Because, in issues like this, Death is close, so this would be a case of near death baptism.


#5

Can you approach your son-in-law about this and get him to talk to your daughter?

Perhaps (God willing) the baby is doing better than you believe and the doctor has opined that the baby will make it to September?

As the baby is not today in immediate danger of death, I think it would be wrong to baptize without the parents permission. You are right that waiting seems silly but if you do it in secret and the baby is fine in September you may have have irrevocably damaged the relationship with your daughter. If the baby is taken home to God before that, remember that the consequences rest on your daughter and trust your grandson's soul to the mercy of God.

I feel for you and this weighty decision and will pray for you, your daughter and your grandson today.


#6

Thank you all for your replies. It’s a hard situation and I have placed the baby in God’s loving hands, just asking Him to let him be baptized.

@TheDoctor, the baby’s doctors will not, or are not able to give any answers, they simply say that it’s a matter of “wait and see.” And you’re right, I would damage my relationship with my daughter if I took matters in my own hands. My son-in-law is a wonderful man and is fully supportive of my daughter raising the children Catholic (they also have a 20 month old daughter, who is baptized.) Unfortunately, he was raised an atheist and doesn’t really understand what’s at stake, so talking to him wouldn’t accomplish anything. He’s taking steps toward accepting God, but is very tentative.

I don’t know their priest, but I think I will speak with my own parish priest and abide by his decision. Thanks again, everyone.


#7

Why do it in secret? If you are going to be staying there, why not keep some water on hand (and since you can plan ahead here, get some holy water) and if death becomes immenent, baptize at that point.


#8

Pius XII’s “Allocution to Italian Midwives”,... reasserted firmly the moral obligation to provide Baptism to infants in danger of death.

However, The Vatican has pronounced on this situation recently:

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION

THE HOPE OF SALVATION FOR INFANTS WHO DIE WITHOUT BEING BAPTISED*

101 “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them’ (Mk 10:14; cf.1Tim 2:4), allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.

103 What has been revealed to us is that the ordinary way of salvation is by the sacrament of Baptism. None of the above considerations (see the document) should be taken as qualifying the necessity of Baptism or justifying delay in administering the sacrament.[135] Rather, as we want to reaffirm in conclusion,** they provide strong grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the Church**.

There's sufficient grounds for hope that babies who die unbaptized will "see the beatific vision" (go to heaven).


#9

[quote="triumphguy, post:8, topic:292495"]
Pius XII’s “Allocution to Italian Midwives”,... reasserted firmly the moral obligation to provide Baptism to infants in danger of death.

However, The Vatican has pronounced on this situation recently:

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

There's sufficient grounds for hope that babies who die unbaptized will "see the beatific vision" (go to heaven).

[/quote]

Why should we console ourselves with hope when we can guarantee with a small action? This is nice to post if this thread were about a dead baby, but this is about a living child, and, as your quote says, the statement is not meant to qualify the necessity of baptism. It is silly and almost heinous in my opinion to hope for the saving of babies when we can irrevocably guarantee it with a drop of water and a few words.


#10

It may be that she sees an earlier Baptism as giving up. If it were me the baby would be baptized but then would celebrate both cousins' baptisms at the later date.

I have known babies that were baptized in the hospital that celebrated later.


#11

YTC, Of course you are right, but.... We can't guarantee anything, because we are not near the baby.

If something were to happen to the baby before it is baptized then the OP and her sister (who may be acting "selfishly" because she is gripped by grief, anxiety, fear and distress) can have a strong hope that the baby will go to heaven.

My wife and I have a child with severe disabilities and the first few weeks were extremely fraught with fear, loss, anxiety, stress. And at the same time we had to learn how to care for a baby with extreme needs (unable to feed, hole in the heart, "failing to thrive," not demanding to be fed, low muscle tone, all the side effects of this disability). Unless a person has experienced that they have no idea what the family might be going through.

If this baby is having constant seizures the family must be beside themselves, as well as emotionally and physically exhausted.

In this case, they might not be able to make calm decisions like baptizing the baby in case it dies. They might cling to the scheduled baptism date as a sign of hope that things might get better, that the baby will be OK, and as a symbol of not giving in to the brain injury.

And if something were to happen then there remains the strong hope (affirmed recently by the Church) that the mercy of Christ will prevail in this situation and the baby will be reunited with his Saviour in Heaven.

Therefore neither the OP nor the mother need berate themselves for not doing the "right thing" in this tremendously difficult circumstance.

What we all need to do is pray for the mother and child.:signofcross:


#12

Triumphguy, thank you for your kind understanding. I'm sorry for what you and your wife have gone through. Is your child doing well?

I think you hit it on the head; my daughter doesn't want to "give up" and having him baptized earlier may mean to her that's there no hope.

As I said, I've given him to God and I trust in Him completely.


#13

Thank you - sorry daughter not sister.:o

My son has down syndrome, but he's a fine young man now. However he did give us many many scares along the way. One thing we had to fight at first was the hospital counselling us to let him feed on demand (he didn't demand:(). They said our lives would be easier that way. Our lives would have been easier.... but we would have been without our son, and my life would have been worse.

My son has been an inspiration to me throughout his struggles, and sicknesses, and operations. He enrichens everyone's life that he comes into contact with. He has a sense of fun and adventure, a great sense of humour, and a warm and loving heart.

I'll pray for your daughter and grandchild.


#14

[quote="returninglamb, post:1, topic:292495"]
My daughter and son-in-law had a beautiful baby boy in June. Unfortunately, he was born with severe damage to his cortex, which affects his breathing, and he suffers non-stop seizures. Although the medications keep the seizures from manifesting physically, they are still occuring; his skull and brain are not growing and he's in constant danger of apnea.

My daughter plans on baptizing him in late September, after my other daughter has her baby, so they can have a joint baptism. When I asked her to have him baptized by the hospital chaplain when he was in intensive care, she was adamant that she wants to wait until September. The problem is, although he's now home, the poor baby is really not doing well and I'm very worried that he won't make it to the baptism. I don't think my daughter is thinking clearly about this, but she's very stubborn and if I push the issue, she'll just dig in her heels.

I'll be visiting them in three weeks (I live 8 hours away). Should I baptize him when I'm there? It would mean going against my daughter's wishes, but there's a soul at stake. What if I have the chance and don't take it and the baby dies without baptism? Should I do it anyway, since they are planning to raise him as a Catholic?

[/quote]

Canon Law:

See the part I highlighted.

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.


#15

[quote="corsair, post:3, topic:292495"]
I sure would be tempted to baptize the child. It only takes a few second. However, check with your priest first. Get his advise.

God Bless

[/quote]

Yes, I would be very tempted too. I'd seek out my priest and ask his direction.


#16

Please tell your daughter that in the case of an emergency Baptism, your grandchild can still participate in the scheduled Baptism rite by being anointed with chrism and given the white garment and the baptismal candle.


#17

I would also be very tempted to baptize him in secret. It sounds as if he may be quite close to death, but even if he's not, he still needs to be baptized.

It's about the sacramental reality, not the party and pictures.


#18

You miss the point entirely.

Of course it’s not about the party and the pictures. Do you really think a mother of a brain damaged child gives a hoot about the party and the pictures? Seriously - think about it for a second.:mad:

It’s about hope and belief that the baby will survive. It’s about not giving up.


#19

[quote="JD27076, post:4, topic:292495"]
This is very unorthodox, and maybe a sin.

[/quote]

My priest made an announcement about this one Sunday when he noticed there were a lot of "very pregnant" women in the parish, but none of them had contacted him about baptism. He reminded them of their grave responsibility to have their babies baptized within less than a month.

My moral theology book confirms this as being mortally sinful, and this is just regular baptism without danger of death.

It sounds to me like the pastor needs to get involved.


#20

[quote="triumphguy, post:18, topic:292495"]

It's about hope and belief that the baby will survive. It's about not giving up.

[/quote]

Or she's in denial of the severity of her child's condition.


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