Can I go to my nephew's baptism?

I know this has probably been posted already, or something similar, but any input would be much appreciated. My sisters and I were raised Catholic; one sister isn’t practicing at all anymore, and my other sister is somewhat. My second sister had her first marriage annulled, and remarried, but not in the Catholic Church. She just had a little boy (a wonderful blessing for her and her husband), and we have talked about baptism. I have told her that I cannot be a Godparent, and she understands how I feel.

Since she didn’t get married in the church (2nd time) and is now having her child baptized Lutheran, is it considered that she walked away from her faith? Is it wrong for her to have her child baptized in the Lutheran faith? My husband and I have had many discussions on this, and he is not going to attend because he feels that she has stepped away from her faith (wedding and baptism). I am not sure how to tell my family that he won’t be attending, and am not sure whether I can attend either. :shrug:

Thanks for any input.

Well in my opinion she is still a Catholic who is not practicing her Catholic faith and is attending a Lutheran church. So since she is still technically a Catholic, yes it’s wrong for her to present her child for a Protestant Baptism. Since she had her Marriage annulled there is no reason she cannot be validly Married in the Catholic church or in another church with her Bishops permission. Unless of course her “husband” was previously married.

What is the best way for you to asist her in returning to the Church - not going?

You are looking at the immediate issues (and I don’t want to minimize them). However, for whatever reason she has left, people have a tendnecy to make emotional judgements about things - the church, those who go there, those who prefess to be Catholic… and anger is one of the leading causes of people either leaving, or not returning. we can all agree the anger is wrong. But to someone who is angry, logic will not usually prevail.

How can you best assist her in returning?

I’m intrigued by this question.

Since we believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, we should also believe that this is a “valid” baptism. While the mother isn’t practicing her Catholic faith, shouldn’t we encourage and support the choice to baptize and help encourage the whole family back to the Catholic church at some time if possible?

And as for the original question, can she go?


Although she has walked away from her faith, she may some day return. In the meantime, would you prefer that your nephew not be baptized? The baptism is a valid one. And no priest would baptize him without a founded belief that he would be raised Catholic.

I suggest that you tell your sister how your husband feels about the fact that she left the church and now is having the baby baptized Lutheran, that he feels he can’t celebrate something he thinks is a sad separation from the church. Stress that he doesn’t reject them or the baby. Because this is a family event I think you should be there even if your husband doesn’t attend.

How did you handle going to the wedding?

I don’t believe that anyone answered that the Baptism was invalid? Yes, there should be a positive attitude towards having the child Baptized, but that as a Catholic she is required to Baptize and raise her child in the Catholic faith. The question would have to be answered: How would attending affect the "non-practicing Catholic? Would it encourage her to continue attending the Lutheran church? Bacause no one objected to her doing so? Would she feel obligated to atten the Lutheran church because her child was Baptized Lutheran? Because no one objected to her doing so?

Valid questions, but I repeat: there are more Catholics who have left the Church over anger about something than perhaps any other issue except weddings (first to non-Catholic or second without a deccree of nullity).

So perhaps the issue is, how does one address these valid questions? Can one attend while making it clear that one does not support the underlying issues of “being Lutheran”?

Is future discussion more likely to occur about coming back to the Church if one does not go (as in, boycotts)? In the best of all worlds, it may be that witness to the Church by not attending is the best answer. Last I checked, we do not live in the best of all worlds, but in a very broken, sinful one. Christ was condemned because he ate with sinners. He told them not to sin, but that did not equate with his cutting off relations with them; rather, he cut off relations with those who followed the law to the letter.

Ultimately, whether the sister comes back to the Church or not will be the sister’s choice. The OP has no control over that. She may or may not have influence; and that infulence may or may not be damaged by her not attending. But if the sister wants a “reason” to reject the Church further, she certainly will have the “rigid, hide-bound, unloving, rule oriented, judgemental, etc” routine to fall back on if the OP does not attend.

Going to the baptism, if the OP makes clear her concerns, she can clearly be seen as not supporting the change to the Lutheran church but supporting the baptism of the child. It leaves open the door to futher talk. Not going is so easily interpreted as closing that door, that I would be extremely hesitant to take that action.

It is also extemely easy to give advice if one has not “worn the moccasins”.

Hmm . . . if this child one day decides to become Catholic (or mom decides they will return to the Church), a Lutheran baptism is accepted by the Catholic Church, right?

Should that make a diference? I don’t know :shrug:

All baptisms from Christian churches which follow the Trinitarian formula are accepted. That lease a few out; Jehova’s Witness is on; Seventh Day Adventists may be another; LDS is out.

When someone joins the Catholic Church and they were previously baptized, e.g. in the Lutheran church, they are not re-baptized but simply recite an oath (I profess and accept…).

Good Post! This is, IMHO, exactly the sort of situation where a pastoral decision needs to be made in the best prudential judgment of the poster - perhaps after consulting her priest. There are 3 matters for consideration as I see them: 1. The child; 2. the parent(s) and 3 the community. The concern here is making a decision that is best designed to effect the salvation of those concerned.

  1. The child needs to be baptized. It sounds like that will happen no matter what. OK

  2. Bro Rich raises valid questions about the parent - as does otjm. This is where it gets murky. Without knowing the individual and circumstances, I don’t see how anyone here can answer authoritatively. Somehow the poster must consider what action is best suited in the instant case to lead to the salvation of the parent, take that action and pray. Sometimes the concerns of Bro Rich will prevail; sometimes those of otjm - it’s very fact specific and person specific. What i will say, from my own family, my parents made the choice to attend certain family member non-Catholic “celebrations.” In at least 3 of them, I firmly believe they made the right decision by attending as not attending would have created a very wide breach of relations. An aunt and uncle who chose otherwise for their children crated a terrible breach.

  3. Lastly, how will others view it and will it create scandal, i.e., lead others away from the church. Again, a tricky issue. Much of the diminution in the faith over the last 40 years has, IMHO, resulted from “pastoral” decisions run wild leading to syncretism and apostasy. Personally, i think a priest, brother or sister is more affected by this consideration than the average lay family member. Assuming the poster is not a cleric or vowed religious, I would opt for attending or not irrespective of the potential for scandal in that such a person does not hold a “leadership” (for lack of a better word) role.

Thanks for everyone’s input. I do have an open communication with my sister and I believe she knows how I feel - that I wish she would be baptizing Catholic but that I will do what I can to help my nephew and his faith. My family is very open and honest, and that is probably the best thing to do. THANKS AGAIN!!

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