Baptism Question


#1

My husband and I were raised Roman Catholic but are now atheists. Both of our mothers have told us that when we have children it is important to them they be baptized, as they are still Catholics. Neither of us have a problem with our future kids being baptized and would be happy to do it for our family, but as far as we know at least one of us would have to attend classes and promise to raise the child in the faith. We respect our beliefs and the beliefs of the church enough that we would not be comfortable lying for the sake of baptizing our child.

Are there any loopholes we can use? Can our parents take the baby to baptism with our consent but without our participation? We recognize what a big deal this is to our family and want to make them happy, but we don’t know if this can be done.

Thank you for your advice.


#2

From The Code of Canon Law:

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:
1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;
2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.
§2. An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.

As point 2 says, the child is expected to be raised in the Catholic faith. This is the responsibility of the parents/legal guardian.


#3

You are encouraged to reconsider your atheism and return home to the Catholic Church. Many parents do this for the sake of their children and find that they themselves are enriched in personal holiness and the pursuit of Heaven. If you respect the Church enough to know that your children should be baptized, then you are showing great faith already. It just takes a little more to step into that confessional and be reconciled with the Church again. Your marriage may require convalidation, and that will be easy if your circumstances are exactly as you describe.

That said, baptism can be delayed for a child, but it would not be denied. It is possible that your child must grow to the age of reason (about 7 years old) to choose baptism for him/herself. You would certainly still be expected to assist the child in attending Mass and religious education classes.

I encourage you to consider your own salvation as well as that of your child. Does it give glory to God to say that you are now atheists? Can you give the best example and discipline to your children if you have no moral law on which to base it? Those are questions that are best answered sooner than later.


#4

Elizium, please recognize that comments like this are the reason I’ve been scared to ask Catholics for advice. I respect the faith of others and trust that they have thought long and hard about the best path for themselves - please respect me and my beliefs and trust that I did not lightly declare myself an atheist. I only want my children baptized because it means something deep and spiritual to people I love.

From the other comments, I’m guessing that it is as I feared and my children won’t be able to be baptized without my husband or I actively participating. I wish there was a way around this because we hate to so disappoint our parents, but the quoted material seems pretty clear.

Thanks for the facts everyone.


#5

[quote="Marmar85, post:4, topic:299099"]
Elizium, please recognize that comments like this are the reason I've been scared to ask Catholics for advice. I respect the faith of others and trust that they have thought long and hard about the best path for themselves - please respect me and my beliefs and trust that I did not lightly declare myself an atheist. I only want my children baptized because it means something deep and spiritual to people I love.

From the other comments, I'm guessing that it is as I feared and my children won't be able to be baptized without my husband or I actively participating. I wish there was a way around this because we hate to so disappoint our parents, but the quoted material seems pretty clear.

Thanks for the facts everyone.

[/quote]

I have to ask the same question I've asked others, why would you want your children to be part of somthing you don't believe in. If you are so sure there is no God then tell your family that you choose not to have them baptised.

If you as their parents cannot give a reasonable asurance that the kids will be raised in the faith then no they will not be accepted for baptism. Furthermore, if you have publically renounced your Catholic faith you are no longer in a position to ask the Church to baptise your kids, your actions may have excommunicated yourself and therefore you do not have the authority as Catholic parents to ask the Church for baptism.


#6

A good and faithful Catholic will tell you the truth and nothing else. And btw, there is only one path and it is very narrow, few take it. On the other hand the path to destruction is wide and well traveled. If you care to, PM me to talk more about this and baptism.


#7

[quote="Lapey, post:5, topic:299099"]
I have to ask the same question I've asked others, why would you want your children to be part of somthing you don't believe in. If you are so sure there is no God then tell your family that you choose not to have them baptised.

If you as their parents cannot give a reasonable asurance that the kids will be raised in the faith then no they will not be accepted for baptism. Furthermore, if you have publically renounced your Catholic faith you are no longer in a position to ask the Church to baptise your kids, your actions may have excommunicated yourself and therefore you do not have the authority as Catholic parents to ask the Church for baptism.

[/quote]

To us baptism is simply one action that makes our parents happy. That's the only reason for us to pursue it. If it would make them happy to see our baby wrapped in fig leaves and to sing silly songs to them we would probably do that too, because doing so would mean nothing to us but would mean a lot to them. Of course we could just tell them tough luck, but we love and care for our parents and respect that this is an important ceremony for them. I turned to this forum as a last ditch effort to find out if baptism is even possible in this circumstance. Since the answer is no, we will have to find a way to gently break the news to our parents.

Again, thank you all for answering my question.


#8

Well to us and your parents it is much more.

Can. 849 Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments and necessary for salvation by actual reception or at least by desire, is validly conferred only by a washing of true water with the proper form of words. Through baptism men and women are freed from sin, are reborn as children of God, and, configured to Christ by an indelible character, are incorporated into the Church.

If you are so concerned with your parents feelings and wishes, you have the ability to have your children baptized. All it takes is a commitment from you to discover the faith of your parents. Seek out truth by looking into RCIA and learn the faith in which you are baptized. We do not have the answers, only God has them.

Bottom line is, if your children are to be baptized it is your decision. By making that commitment to join RCIA and re-enter the Church you can please your parents. But if you say no to God’s Church then you say no to your children’s baptism, and their spiritual well being. It is entirely your doing, not the Church. I pray you reconsider your current thinking that atheism is the religion you choose to follow. It is most definitely a belief system, just like religion. The difference in your parent’s religion and yours is who is God. In ours it is Almighty God Himself who holds all truth, in your religion it is you because you think that you hold all the truth in everything.

Again the offer is still there for a private message conversation. God is always, tirelessly waiting for you to turn and look at Him!

Catechism of the Catholic Church

2566 Man is in search of God. In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence. “Crowned with glory and honor,” man is, after the angels, capable of acknowledging "how majestic is the name of the Lord in all the earth."1 Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence. All religions bear witness to men’s essential search for God.2

2567 God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.


#9

Truth is very important. Your not wanting to lie is good. And edifying.

It is not a question of loop-holes but of the reality of the Sacrament of Baptism and the need for the child who is baptized to be then raised in the Faith as a Catholic Christian. They have then a right to this. A right to be raised and to live what they have received. So will your children be raised in the Faith if they are baptized? Will they be able to live what they have received? That is a question you can explore with the local Priest.

I would suggest going and having a meeting with the Parish Priest.

Now of course if the child is in danger of death – that is a whole other issue – they can be baptized (Priest can explain). If they survive such a danger then they ought of course to be given the what would be their right --to be raised in the faith. But keep that in mind if such should arise.

I would like to invite you both to explore (even again) the questions of existence.

This next Month (Oct 11) begins the “Year of Faith” -proclaimed such by Pope Benedict XVI – I would like to invite you to once again to come and see – to explore --to seek. And especially to follow the addresses of Pope Benedict XVI during this year.

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/index.htm (you will see I think at the top of vatican.va/phome_en.htm – “Year of Faith” which will follow his addresses --not sure but that has been the case during various trips etc–save that and come back to it next month and over the next year)

I came into the Church from the outside. I have close family who are “atheist or agnostic” who where very formative on me personally. I do not embrace though their view. I have found instead that true life is in Jesus of Nazareth as have various former atheists.

So truly wish you great things in life! (and more!) and I hope you will take up my invitation.

I would like to quote a few excerpts from from Pope Benedict XVI if I may…(I know such was not your intent in coming here --but please let me offer just a few short quotes that l find quite profound:)):

“We believe in God. This is a fundamental decision on our part. But again the question has to be asked: is this still possible today? Is it reasonable? From the Enlightenment on, science, at least in part, has applied itself to seeking an explanation of the world in which God would be unnecessary. And if this were so, he would also become unnecessary in our lives. But whenever the attempt seemed to be nearing success - inevitably it would become clear: something is missing from the equation! When God is subtracted, something doesn’t add up for man, the world, the whole universe. So we end up with two alternatives. What came first? Creative Reason, the Creator Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, yet somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason. The latter, however, would then be nothing more than a chance result of evolution and thus, in the end, equally meaningless. As Christians, we say: “I believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth” -I believe in the Creator Spirit. We believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason.”

– Pope Benedict XVI (12 Sept 2006 Homily in Regensburg)

“It is not science that redeems man: man is redeemed by love. This applies even in terms of this present world. When someone has the experience of a great love in his life, this is a moment of “redemption” which gives a new meaning to his life. But soon he will also realize that the love bestowed upon him cannot by itself resolve the question of his life. It is a love that remains fragile. It can be destroyed by death. The human being needs unconditional love. He needs the certainty which makes him say: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38- 39).”…

“Day by day, man experiences many greater or lesser hopes, different in kind according to the different periods of his life. Sometimes one of these hopes may appear to be totally satisfying without any need for other hopes. Young people can have the hope of a great and fully satisfying love; the hope of a certain position in their profession, or of some success that will prove decisive for the rest of their lives. When these hopes are fulfilled, however, it becomes clear that they were not, in reality, the whole. It becomes evident that man has need of a hope that goes further. It becomes clear that only something infinite will suffice for him, something that will always be more than he can ever attain.”…

“…we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is “truly” life.”

–Pope Benedict XVI Spe Salvi


#10

As Bookcat says, you should meet with your parish priest. At least do that much as a gesture to your parents. There is no harm in meeting with a priest since, as you say, you respect his beliefs.

Can I ask what reasons caused you to choose atheism? Was it something that happened with Church leaders, or some general discontent with how things were run? Was it something in the liturgy or just the requirement to attend so many liturgies through the year? Was it articles of faith, that you couldn’t assent to in good conscience? Resurrection of the body, artificial birth control? Did you find compelling proof that convinced you that God does not exist? Perhaps it was a combination of these reasons.

Everyone has their reasons for choosing a religion, and I am curious why you chose the religion of atheism (over something more non-committal such as agnosticism).


#11

I think talking to a local priest would be a great idea, thank you. Maybe he would be willing to pray a blessing over the baby? That might be a sufficient compromise until the kid is old enough to decide for themselves (no, I do not automatically assume my children will be atheists - we will encourage them to study religion as we have done and to decide for themselves).

I really do not want to start a theological debate here. I would never try to “convert” any of you to atheism and I hope you will respect me enough to not try to convert me. Coming here was honestly a struggle for me because I felt sure a debate would be started, and I am simply not interested in that. I only want to respect my parents’ faith as best as I am able without lying to them or anyone else.

Like I said, i’ll contact a priest. Thank you all!


#12

It’s a good idea to talk to the priest, I do agree. But as far as your second paragraph, if I were to not try to “convert” you back to the faith I would not be fulfilling my baptismal duty. See, this is what your parents know, baptism is more than just a thing you do. It is a thing that God does for you; this sacrament brings a person into the family of God as adopted sons and daughters of God. With that come many obligations and responsibilities. I pray that you find out the true meaning of baptism and request it for your children in honesty, not to please your parents.


#13

The fact that you are asking for loopholes has me worried. Baptism is a sacrament that deserves respect. Taking some classes to learn about the Catholic faith is a wonderful idea and it’s something I encourage. If at the end, you realize that you still don’t agree with the Catholic teachings, I think it’s best that you don’t baptise your children. One of the promises you make when you baptise your children is that you will raise your children inside the Catholic church and that you will raise and teach them about the faith. Considering you are atheists and seem to have no desire to raise your children inside the Catholic church, you are going to be actively breaking the promise.

Baptism to make the family happy as far as I’m concerned is also ridiculous. If your family insists, tell them it will be their responsibility to take the kids to church, teach them about God etc. If you aren’t comfortable with them learning about God from family, again, don’t baptise the kids. Baptism is an extremely special day inside the church, one that shouldn’t be held for the sake of it. It deserves meaning and love for Christ. There is so much more about the Catholic church than most people realize. Check out the Catholic church and truly investigate it before you say no to God. Remember joining the church has no age limitations.


#14

Marmar,

I wasn’t gonna chime in, but I saw this post by Lapey, and I thought I might add my two cents.

Lapey suggests that your parents understand baptism in a way that you two don’t, but I’m not certain. If what your parents is saying is “we want you two to return to the faith, and baptism is a good way to approach it”, then Lapey’s comments are reasonable. However, I didn’t get any of that from what you’ve said to us. Instead, it seems to me that they’re just saying, “please get our grandchild baptized.”

In other words, both you and your parents have understandings of baptism that could be a little more fully developed. It would seem that, for your parents, the issue is just “get baptized – do this ceremony”; whereas for you two, it’s just “respect our moms – do this ceremony.” As Lapey points out, that isn’t what a Catholic baptism is all about. It’s more than just a set of actions to do in order to show respect to people; and it’s also more than a set of actions that have some sort of magical properties. Rather, it’s like registering your child to go to school. If all you do is show up and register your child, but don’t follow through and commit to getting them to class and supporting their education, then you’ve missed the point of it.

So, I appreciate that you want to respect your parents, but going through the ceremony without any thought to making good on the promises that come with it… well, that does no respect to either parents or to the sacrament itself.

In addition to talking with your parish priest, you might also consider talking to your parents about what their understanding of baptism is – it might also be a good idea to suggest to your parents that they, too, talk to their priest!

Good luck…!

Blessings,

G.


#15

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