Friend whose Children are Unbaptised

I don’t want to be a nosey Nellie, but I have a friend whose children are unbaptised. He has expressed to me that it “greatly bothers” him. This is a very complicated situation, so let me explain some of the factors. One, his wife is Catholic, attended Catholic school K-16, and now teaches at a Catholic school. He is from a Protestant denomination, Lutheran, from which the modern church would, I think, accept the baptism. I suggested to him that the most important thing would be to get the children baptized. They do not wish to raise the children as Catholics, but his wife would like to continue teaching at the Catholic school, her dream job, even though it pays significantly less than the public schools. They do not want to get the children baptized in the Lutheran church for fear that the principal of the Catholic school would hear about it. Also, this is actually a fairly good friend, as well as a co-worker whom I don’t care to tick off.

Of course part of my concern is the children and this rather bizarre set of choices and how to voice (or not) my concern. On a larger scale, though, I question the policies that have allowed this situation to develop, and I really blame the priest in charge of the school, though he’s mostly dealing with the consequences of bad policies, such as allowing non-Catholics into Catholic school.

If the Lutherans would probably not care about the baptism, and the wife is Catholic, then I don’t understand what the problem is or why they haven’t done this already. Where do they go to church? Are they attending Mass, or going to a Lutheran church? Seems like a very strange situation.

Not enough information.
Sounds like the Catholic wife is thinking of herself more than her children. Anyone who does not care about the immortal souls of their children needs a good talking too. How selfish can she be to endanger children’s immortal souls?
Also if she does not want her children raised as Catholics why does she have the hypocrisy to teach at a Catholic school.
If the husband wants them baptised then he should take control of the situation and see to it in his own Church.

a CAtholic who refuses to baptize her children and raise them Catholic has rejected the Church and all she holds and teaches and has no business teaching in a Catholic school. Whether or not you are the person to tell her that is your dilemma, or whether or not you are the person to inform her principal or pastor. You are operating under the assumption that the pastor knows of this teacher’s situation, yet your description of her fears indicates he is not. If my children attended this school I would not hesitate to inform the pastor privately.

Here is their problem (well, one of them). In order to be baptized in the Catholic Church, the parents have to promise to raise the child as Catholic. They would be lying to the priest, which is a big no-no…:eek:

All you can do is pray, until you are asked for more advice. On a side note, I see nothing wrong with allowing non-Catholic students into a Catholic school. Non-Catholic teachers is a bigger problem. I hope she isn’t teaching religion…

Yes, probably all I can do is pray. Which is a lot, actually.

The father and I had the conversation, once. I pushed the envelope as far as I could, but have prudently resisted bringing up the topic again. I’ve also resisted calling the priest/principal because somehow I sensed that would be meddling, though the urge is at times strong. I suspect it would be somehow sinful for me to do so.

And no, I don’t have a horse in that race, i.e. my seven children do not attend that school. One is in college and the rest are home-schooled, starting this year, after public schooling. A couple years ago, we did strongly consider the Catholic school but opted out for both financial and religious reasons. My brother, an atheist, had taught science at a religious school (I mistakenly thought Catholic because it was named after a Saint) and I was aware that this teacher had serious issues with Catholicism. I concluded that an education at a Catholic school did not guarantee that the children would receive a quality Catholic education. Sad, but true.

My comment about allowing non-Catholic children into the school relates precisely to the hiring/firing of teachers. My understanding is that, if the school services non-Catholic students, then they must also be open to hiring non-Catholic teachers (except for religious instruction). Thus, it goes without saying that the priest could not fire her for rejecting Catholic doctrine. I also think that much of this problem starts when the church started accepting interfaith marriages, which used to be considered a sin.

Can you provide documentation to support your claim. If something is a sin its always a sin. Something can’t be a sin before and now not a sin.

We are undoubtedly in different jurisdictions, but I would think that a Catholic school would retain its Catholic identity no matter who attended. Indeed, some non-Catholics may even send their kids there because of its higher reputation versus the public school. Anyways, something to look into if you like.

Documentation regarding interfaith marriages: 1962 Missal, section on examination of conscience prior to confession. And my logic is like yours. Once it’s a sin, it cannot change. By the way, I am the product of an interfaith marriage. There were six children. I am the only practicing Catholic, one of my brothers is some kind of Protestant, the rest are atheists. I wish my mother had been Catholic. It is to some extent through the example of my mother, especially her hatred of the poor and lack of respect for human life, that I have returned to the religion of my grandmother.

Yes, non-Catholic children have always been able to attend. I think that’s what missionaries were all about. But there was always the implicit hope that the children would convert to Catholicism, and many did. But today there is no attempt to convert, only to celebrate diversity. But you miss my point. In the current legal environment, by teaching non-Catholics the school must also be willing to hire non-Catholics. How can the education be truly Catholic if the teachers are not themselves Catholic? Surely you realize that a truly Catholic education permeates all areas of instruction, especially health, activities, history, and even to some extent science. And certainly English and Literature.

We have a lutheran who teaches at our Catholic School. He;'s far and away the best teacher we have in the place, and yes, he does teach some of the religion classes. It was a concern for some parents and he actually invited my wife, and about a dozen other parents to sit in on his classes for a week. My wife, and others WERE STUNNED. His explanations were clear, concise, accurate. His classes were fun and interactive and much deeper than anyone expected. He’s the only non-Catholic full-time teacher we have, and everyone loves him. OUt music director is not Catholic either, and the music at masses has never sounded more “religious” or “traditional” than it does now.

I know if our area it’s NOT a requirement that a teacher be Catholic to teach in a Catholic School.

I am puzzled by the baptism thing. That may purely be an issue of job fear. I would think the child could be baptized Lutheran if the father is set against the kid being raised Catholic. Perhaps mom has done what she could to have the child raised Catholic and dad has simply said: “this isn’t going to happen, period.” It’s a very odd situation, but I can tell you, as part of a mixed marriage, sometimes the things people from outside your family say are harder than anything inside your marriage.

I don’t have a 1962 missal. Can you quote the section (if its not too long). I am not aware that the Church ever taught it was a sin for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic. I cannot find any reference to this in the CCC or Canon Law.

Sounds unlikely, since the Church did celebrate marriages between Catholics and Protestants – it required a dispensation, where now it only requires permission. Perhaps it was a sin to marry a non-baptized person.

Dear wife and I discussed this thread, and she…well…this is the type of thing she likes to research. So I’ve copied some of her e-mail below:

*According to the Code of Canon Law of 1917, the case of mixed religion was an impediment to marriage. Before the Sacrament of Marriage could be administered, the impediment had to be dispensed with. A dispensation was granted rarely and only in individual cases when the dispensation granted would bring about a lesser evil than the thing to be avoided. Prior to the 20th century, usually the only dispensations that were granted were due to degree of bloodline–marriages between cousins or distant relatives. In the 20th century, dispensations were granted purely on the whims of the priest involved.

According to the law, a dispensation is viewed negatively. It is literally a setting aside of the law in a certain circumstance. The Church recognized the error of this and such dispensations were granted rarely. The Code of Canon Law of 1983 has done away with the term “dispensation.” A dispensation is no longer required to enter into a mixed marriage. Under the revised code, mixed marriages require permission, not dispensation. According the law, permission involves something that is favorable but might contain risks. Permission is given if the parties involved attempt to minimize the risks involved. In this way, the Church views mixed marriages favorably but with risks–and if those risks are removed or minimized in some way or at least some effort is made in that direction, then permission is granted.

Prior to 1970, a Catholic could marry a baptized non-Catholic at a Catholic Church. BUT they could not be married “on the altar” and no Nuptial Mass was offered. More often they were married in the vestibule or another room in the Church. If there was no room available, the couple were married in the Church but in the aisle near the 2nd pew. The non-Catholic had to take a class and sign a document in many cases stating that they understood marriage, recognized that children were a product of said marriage, and that all children would be baptized and raised Catholic.

Under current law, the same couple can have a Nuptial Mass. There are no altars, so this is a non-issue. The couple has to take a class (6 weeks) and no official commitments have to be made. The revised code has done away with the requirement that the Catholic spouse have “moral certainty” that the above promises regarding the marriage would be fulfilled.

Regarding the children, the 1917 code required that all the children be raised Catholic. No provision could be made to raise some children as Catholics and the others as "Episcopal/Baptist/Lutheran, nor could they be baptized in both faiths, nor could they not be baptized until “they could choose for themselves.” This was simply prohibited. If the guarantee could not be made, the dispensation could not be given. Under the current law, the Catholic spouse must agree to do “all that is possible” to ensure that this happens. Permission can still be granted even if it is foreseen that the the non-Catholic spouse will not allow this to happen. As long as the Catholic spouse gives a “good example” at home, then permission will be granted.

According to the Law of 1917, a dispensation had to come from the Holy See. Under the revised law, the episcopal conference determines under what conditions permission can be granted. They can require marriage prep for 6 weeks or 2 weeks. Or nothing.

I checked my 1962 Missal. There is no specific reference under examination of conscience regarding marrying people of differing religions. However, under the 1st Commandment, going to places of worship of other denominations is listed. There are other publishers of 1962 Missals and it may be in one of those.*

Earlier, I cited the 1962 Missal. I know that I read this in the examination of conscience, and I will check this coming Sunday if you are still interested.

For this, dear wife used as a reference for comparisons of *Canon Law: New commentary on the Code of Canon Law By John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green
As for the person who said their Catholic school’s religious education was provided by a Lutheran, I have only to say, “Wow!” Have you ever heard of meta-communication? It starts with the idea that most of what we communicate is not through verbal communication but through non-verbals. This goes on to what the listener actually hears versus the words that were really said. An example relevant to yours would be a parent who tells his children not to smoke cigarettes as he lights one up himself. If your Lutheran teacher is competent, he merely communicates that he understands Catholic doctrine, but rejects it nonetheless. What kind of example does that set for the children? If your Lutheran teacher is incompetent, then the children receive poor religious instruction. Either way, the children do not get a genuine Catholic message. In my opinion, it would be better if your Lutheran teacher were incompetent.

Back to my original thread. My friend’s wife received a Catholic education, K-16. He in fact, though a Lutheran, received a Catholic education, K-6. They were married in the Catholic church. It is a mutual decision for their children not to be educated in the Catholic church, but primarily hers to not have the children baptized. I am quite sure she is a competent teacher, and frankly a really nice person. Far nicer than I am, in fact. But how is it possible that she is remiss on such a fundamental teaching of the Catholic church, “new” or “old”? And how is it possible that the principal/priest overlook such a basic and important issue?

Beats me! What kind of mother will deliberately endanger her childrens immortal souls? If the father wants the children to be baptised, even in his church, then he really has to do something.
Sadly, I don’t know how to advise you what to do about it.

This is my two cents. Your friends knew which religion each belonged to. So really its their business.
No one knows what their issue is. It could be a case of them not agreeing on how the children will be raised ( a very common problem with interfaith families) and they chose not to share what the reason is.

If anything you can tell your friend’s husband that they both really need to sit and talk to teach other about that if its a real concern to him. It shouldn’t be your decision to go to anyone because its not your problem. They are those children’s parents and its up to them to do what they need to do.

As for baptisim really if you look back in history, Christ was baptised as an adult. Not an infant. Infant baptism began in the early middle ages when infant mortality was very high due to diseases, and so forth. That was when it was begun. Children don’t pass away as infants as much as they did back then. There was no such thing as vaccines and sometimes children would contract some type of disease. It wasn’t uncommon for even in the 17 and 1800’s for families with multiple children to lose most of their children due to illnesses due to polio, whooping cough , measles, mumps , rubella etc.

Don’t get me wrong. Infant baptism is a beautiful thing. I’ve loved watching infants getting baptised. But I’ve noticed lately, even more so after attending the Rite of Election how beautiful it will be to see the adults in our church become baptised. Knowing that they are willing giving themselves to the Lord.
Amazingly enough I was surprised to see many catechumens at the Rite of Election versues candidates. So sadly there are lots of people walking around who are NOT baptised for whatever reason. But they are now making a conscious decision and willingly coming to the Lord with their own conscious and to me that makes it even more beautiful.

Who knows maybe your friends will agree to as what they want to raise their children in eventually. Hopefully the Holy Spirit will lead them. It will. It has for us. My two oldest are baptised Methodist, and my two youngers have not been baptised. But they will be at the Easter Vigil. Reason being because my husband and I could not agree for a very long time as to what we wanted to baptise our children in.
Who knows even if your friends don’t do it maybe their children will be lead to the Lord themselves and will get baptised on their own when they become adults.
But its not your call to be the religion rule snitch. You can kindly tell your friend to discuss it with his wife if its such a heavy burden but that is where your responsiblity lies.

As for Non Catholics in Catholic schools. Hey they are hurting these days. We have Catholic schools closing and consolidating because families aren’t able to afford it like they once used to. Our little Catholic school only has 59 kids in from preK-8th grade. The only reason we haven’t closed is we fundraise to death and Fr. recycles metal like a nut, and those that attend church give to the school, and the final fact that the next closest Catholic school is 45 miles away and we live in the snow belt. I do feel at some point the school will eventually close down though. Now if we were in the city our school would have been closed down years ago.
So with that said most of the kids in our school ARE Protestant. I was told they also many years ago had Hindu and Muslim students too. Only because of the enviroment and atmosphere and the good academics the school gave, and still gives. Its a WAY, WAY better alternative than the public school. The public school teachers send their children to the little Catholic school that we have here because they know how bad the public schools have gotten.
We have mostly Catholic teachers with the exception of the 1st grade teacher and the 3rd grade teacher. They are both student teachers and are not Catholic. But our school is a blended school ( prek/K, 1st/2nd , 3rd/4th, blended (5,6,7,8th) all together). So the 2nd grade teacher who has taught religion for 30+ years have the 1st and 2nd graders and the 3rd graders the 4th grader teaches both 3rd and 4th. The older grades , the teachers are newly Catholic and they do the best they can and if they don’t know an answer to a question they go to the 2nd grade teacher for answers. Relgion class is not an option in our school but if you went to the city it is. My sister said one school has a few Baptists ( kid you not) and they opt out of the relgion class and are doing something else during that time.
Catholic schools do not focus on conversion, though they do feel that by their actions that some day those children will convert when they become adults ( I’m one of them :>)
They teach more diversity. Fr always ends children’s Mass on Fridays with " Go to church, any church. Spend time with the Lord in your church. He encourages the kids to go to their church and if they don’t have a church they are welcome at their church.
So honestly going to the principle or pastor of your church and to tell them that your friend hasn’t baptised her children will really fall on deaf ears because its not their business or concern either. In the end its up to the parents to do what they know is right.

Actually its not their business, at least not when one of the spouses is Catholic.
In case you didn’t know it is a REQUIREMENT for a Catholic to have their babies baptised as soon as possible after birth. Its not an option.
For a mixed marriage to be valid the Catholic party must receive permission to marry and such permission is only given if the one Catholic parent promises to try his/her best to see that the children are brought up in the Catholic faith and these promises are made known to the non-Catholic party prior to the marriage.

Canon Law:

Can. 867 §1 ]Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it.

Can. 1124 Without the express permission of the competent authority, marriage is prohibited between two baptised persons, one of whom was baptised in the catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act, the other of whom belongs to a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church.

Can. 1125 The local Ordinary can grant this permission if there is a just and reasonable cause. He is not to grant it unless the following conditions are fulfilled:

1° the catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith, and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptised and brought up in the Catholic Church;

2° the other party is to be informed in good time of these promises to be made by the Catholic party, so that it is certain that he or she is truly aware of the promise and of the obligation of the Catholic party

3° both parties are to be instructed about the purposes and essential properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by either contractant.

By the way, the baptism of Jesus as an adult and other people baptised by John is not really a relevant argument. The baptism by John did not forgive sins.
Only baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit takes away both original sin and personal sin. The fact that we are born in original sin is why babies must be baptised as soon as possible.

Thank you so much for your knowledgeable post. If more people like you actually spoke up and led the church, I probably wouldn’t feel obliged to attend the SSPX.

"By the way, the baptism of Jesus as an adult and other people baptised by John is not really a relevant argument. The baptism by John did not forgive sins.
Only baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit takes away both original sin and personal sin. The fact that we are born in original sin is why babies must be baptised as soon as possible. "

It absolutely is. There is NOTHING in the Bible that states infants MUST be baptized.
How can you state that Jesus’ baptism as an adult is not relevent arguement?

Show me where in the Bible where He states that infants must be baptised. You can state Cannon Law but those are man made laws not the laws of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you, again read , that for a very long time only adults were baptised. It wasn’t until sometime in the middle ages , I believe around the 14’s or so) when baptism became a family affair. This being so because infant mortality was so high. The thought and belief that children were in limbo also was believed. Which is NOT a true statement and is not supported by the Catholic church.

Catholism is very different here in the United States. Its not practiced with the same intensity as other countries. Especially the Philippines, where most of the population there IS Catholic.
The US is very different. We have so much diversity here, more than any country on earth. We live in a country where we have so many faiths that it would be impossible for me to list them all. I am most sure that if I went to the Philippines that Catholism would be so very different than it is here.
For instance someone in the Philippines may walk miles to get to a church , if someone had to walk a block here they would complain. Unfortunately people here in the US are NOT as dedicated to religion as other parts of the world. Granted some may adhere strict policy but they are few and far between.
Plus we have the 1st Amendment right, right to free speech , right to free exercise of religion (The Establishment Clause prohibits the federal, state or municipal establishment of an official religion or other preference for one religion over another, non-religion over religion, or religion over non-religion.) right to free speech and right to peaceful assembly.

I guess my point is if the original poster wants to get in between their friend and cause marital tension (because that is what will happen) ,and cause their friend to lose their job ( not at all good with our economy right now). Then that person should tell his or her friend that he needs to discuss this with his wife if its heavy on his heart, and back away.

It is their business how they raise their children, and something that is between them and God. Not another person to decide. We are not the judge, God is. They will have to live with their decisions on how they raise their children. We cannot make people do what they are not willing to do. Not sure how it is in other parts of the world but you just cannot do it here.
Otherwise not only will the poster be getting in between their friends then that person will lose their friends. I guarentee it.
Americans don’t like to be told what to do. :rolleyes:

Well I pray your RCIA journey goes well but I should tell you that the Canon Law sections I referred you too will have to be accepted by you if you are to become a Catholic. It makes no difference what nationality you are. Catholics in America cannot reject Church teachings just because they are American or have the 1st Amendment. All the teachings of the Church plus Canon Law apply to ALL Catholics worldwide. Rejection of any teachings is a sin. You may not initially understand the teachings but you have to accept them and then go deeper into them to understand what underpins the Church teachings.

As for laws made by man and not God you are wrong. Christ established the Catholic Church (the only Church he established) and gave it authority. The Church is entrusted with the Deposit of Faith. This means whatever the Church teaches in matters of faith and morals has the full authority of God behind it.

Dying in original sin would normally condemn a person to Hell. The Church does not know what happens to unbaptised infants which is why the Church insists on babies being baptised as soon as possible after birth and there is nothing in Scripture which denies that. The Church entrusts unbaptised infants to God’s mercy but God gave the Church the Sacraments and that is the way the Church can at least ensure an infant is saved if they are baptised soon after birth.
Baptism with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit takes away both original sin and personal sin. Baptism by John the Baptist did not. Jesus’ baptism was to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus did not need forgiving.

By the way I know the thinking from the Protestant side. I was a born and brought up Methodist. However, God gave me the grace to see the Catholic Church is the only true Church and I got to know and accept and eventually understand the Church teachings.

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