refusing baptism to a child ...can that still be done???!!!

I was talking to a lady in my parish (anglican) today and she converted from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism because her sons daughter was refused baptism. This happened because her son and his girlfriend were not married… they were told by francisican priests that they would not baptize the little girl till they got married. Is this Roman Catholic teaching? As far as i knew it wasn’t… i know it is not anglican teaching thats for sure. TO deny baptism of a innocent girl based on her parents actions i thought for the most part was unheard of in todays society?

Yes. One of the promises that the parents and god-parents make during the rite of baptism is to raise the child in a devoutly practicing Catholic home and be his first teachers in the Faith. These things would be physically impossible if the parents themselves are not actually living the Catholic life.

To deny baptism of a innocent girl based on her parents actions i thought for the most part was unheard of in todays society?

The Church is denying them an empty ritual that will have no meaning to the girl as she grows up in such a sad situation. (After all, without marriage, who is to say where her father will be even a year from now, never mind throughout her growing up years, to be her first and best teacher of the Catholic faith.)

The Franciscan priests are right to demand that the parents get their act straightened out before standing up in public and proclaiming that they will raise the girl in a devoutly practicing Catholic home, and be her teachers of the Faith.

You know what, people who leave based on something so flimsy weren’t very firm in their faith to begin with. Instead of putting the blame where it belongs-- on her fornicating son who got his girlfriend pregnant out of wedlock and has done nothing to rectify the situation-- she gets mad at the church. Brilliant.

Here is the relevant canon:

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.

Doesn’t sound to me like the priest had a well-founded hope that the parents planned to practice the faith.

It should be.

As the canon says, “if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed

Certainly the goal of the Church is for the parents to make the commitment necessary to raise their children in the faith. Remember, the parents are making the baptismal promises on behalf of the child. If they have no intent on actually following through on the promise, the priest is right to refuse to participate in a lie.

Paragraph 2 of the canon states:

  1. 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.

Therefore, in danger of death the child can be baptized. Otherwise, the parents are expected to get their act together first.

wow, i guess we are still prerpetuating old intolerant practices… and to think i had convienced myself things have changed. In the anglican church we never deny Baptism and therefor Salvation from an individual based upon fornication… that is crazy to do otherwise! All you hear about on this board is fighting for the rights of the unborn, fighting for life etc… yet that same voice denies baptism and thus salvation!?

Not *deny *-- Delay.

So “carried, married, & buried” suffices for Anglican salvation? (And apparently the middle one is more like a suggestion?)


What makes more sense: 1) allowing the child to be baptized, his/her parents agreeing to raise the child in the faith, and then not doing so or 2) having that bit of assurance that the parents have a strong faith, are doing what they need to do (get married), agreeing to raise the baptized child in the Faith, and then them doing so??

One of the biggest mistakes I made was not passing on the Faith to my children when they were younger. Now my middle one had to play catch-up when I reverted, but my oldest one is long gone, and doesn’t see the need to have any sort of faith, especially in the Catholic Church. I’m glad that more priest are scrutinizing the parents when it comes to this Sacrament…once they make a promise like that, they should be able to keep it.

no but we dont but off or ‘delay’ someones right to God, salvation, and the gifts of the Spirit because of something that is out of their control!

So let me get this right, all those babies you ‘saved’ from abortion (some of which i would assume are out of wed-lock) you’re just going to then turn your eyes away from them, or ‘delay’ till their parents get married?

I repeat: Is “carried, married (maybe), and buried” considered a good Anglican life?


The unmarried parents probably walked into a Catholic Church and asked for their child to be Baptized. They were probably NOT known at that parish, had never darkened the door prior. They most likely did not attend Mass as practicing Catholics. So it would make sense since they do not practice their own faith how in the world are they going to raise this child in the Catholic Faith? The child most likely was not in any danger of death. So it would have been suggested, lets delay the Baptism and get your own Catholic life on track first. They, the parents probably just never came back for the next meeting.

this baby was NOT denied baptism, which is indeed against canon law. The priest as you clearly state acted within his perogative to DELAY baptism until such time as the parents gave assurance that this child would be raised Catholic. Evidently they did not do this, and the priest was proven right as they left the Church anyhow. By itself, the fact that the parents were not married is not a reason to delay baptism, but it is certainly evidence of their beliefs about the Church (they deny its authority and disobey its laws). Evidently in their interview the parents did not give the priest any assurance they intended to carry out their duty to raise the child Catholic. In this instance it is indeed a violation of canon law to baptize, and the priest was right to delay until such assurance is forthcoming.

No, the baptism is not being delayed because the baby is out of wedlock and not because they are not married now.

The baptism is being delayed because the parents aren’t practicing the faith-- not attending Mass, living together in cohabitation perhaps, whatever their situation is the priest saw an issue. After the priest met with the couple he lacked the well-founded hope the child would be raised in the faith.

1ke, if the godparents were both practicing Catholics that were close to the family do you think that would have made a difference? I guess, what I am saying is could there be some situations in which the Priest may think there would be a reason or hope that the child could be a Catholic in spite of the parents, or would that be something that would not be strong enough to rely on? Just wondering.

Maybe. For example, if the grandparents were practicing and promised to take the children to church every week, or maybe if the child lived with the grandparents, that would be up to the priest.

In my experience I’ve only known one couple who was told “no”. She is a fallen away Catholic and heis a non-practicing Jew-- married outside the Church. They only approached the Church for baptism to make her mother-- a practicing Catholic who lives in another state-- happy. Of course the priest said no-- the couple was clear they had no intent of ever going to church.

The child can always approach on their own after the age of reason and ask for baptism.

My thoughts exactly! I was thinking about that the entire thread.

And thanks for the insight.

It is not babies only who require some evidence of their upbringing in/practicing of the faith.

Catechumens also undergo instruction for 1-3 years before they can be baptized as has been the case since the beginning of the Church.

Within the Anglican “communion” there are a variety of belief surrounding baptism-- talk about schizophrenic… within **one **“denomination” you can believe whatever you want about baptism… from a Catholic understanding of the Sacrament to a symbolic only understanding. So, please come down off your high horse about the Anglican Communion’s superiority. Pull the plank out of your own eye-- women’s ordination, gay ordination, support of abortion, contraception, and allowing of divorce-- before looking at what you perceive to be a speck in the Catholic eye.

I am ever thankful I saw the EC for what it was and left it 15 years ago for the Catholic Church.

of course their “could be”, that is why the priest exercises his best judgement using the facts given to him by the parents. It is they who must present the child for babtism, by the way, not the godparents, and not the grandparents. However, we are discussing a specific situation raised in OP, about a person who left the faith over it, which proved that the grandparents were not adherents of the Faith either, since they were so ready to ignore the teachings. OP has just raised this issue as an excuse to rant about it, repeatedly ignoring the distinction that has been made between denial and delay of the sacrament, in order to attack the Church’s authority over the sacraments. A grandparent who was truly concerned with their grandchild’s salvation would also have been concerned over their own child’s salvation, and been working strenuously to bring her back to the Church and have her marriage blessed.

Wow, I guess I just have a totally different view here. The comment was made early in the thread

The Church is denying them an empty ritual that will have no meaning to the girl as she grows up in such a sad situation.

The Church does not consider baptism to be merely a ritual, but necessary to salvation. Whether it has meaning to the person later on is up to the person, but that does not change the fact that according to the Church, the grace necessary for salvation is imparted through this “ritual”. As such, it objectively cannot be “empty” regardless of the state of the parents.

I personally find a great inconsistency present here. As Catholics we are rightfully “pro life” and consistently stand against the physical abortion of a person’s life. Yet in the next breath we are willing to risk aborting the child’s *eternal *life by “delaying” the baptism necessary to achieve that eternal life. To say that there may be some misplaced priorities here would be something of an understatement.

We are all in “danger of death” every single minute of our lives. We have no guarantee from one second to the next being permitted another breath outside of God’s will.

To be playing “russian roulette” and holding the baby’s salvation hostage as a ploy to bringing the parents “in line” to me is an incredibly dangerous policy. And what does it say of our reasons for seeking God? That we believe we can coerce people into living a Catholic faith, and that we teach them to do so by threat? Uh, ok…I can see where that is likely to achieve a “conversion of heart”, which is the only true purpose of our faith. Instead we’ll accept any external appearance of “living the faith” regardless of what might really be happening.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the actions, or lack of them, of a third-party caretaker being relevant to the situation. The fact that the baby is brought forward for baptism, to me, should cause us to jump for joy. For now we–the community–not only get a chance to do our part in helping to bring this baby to salvation, but we also get the opportunity to model the love of God to the parents, and possibly bring them to a conversion of heart. That kind of conversion comes from seeing love and joy modeled, not from threats.

The “delay vs deny” semantics to me are just a red herring. How long are we going to “delay”? And are we going to continue to do so, into denial, if the parents just don’t yet understand the benefits of compliance? I’m sure that that will help them greatly in coming to love God and respect the Church. :rolleyes:

I’m sorry, but to me this is just another heavy-handed tactic that greatly resembles what the Spanish conquistadors did when coming to this country, in giving the Native people a choice to convert or die. I would have thought by now that the Church of the Prince of Peace would have evolved a little further.


The sacraments are a serious matter. If the Church has to accomodate everyone’s demands for them without any restrictions where would we be?

I’ve never heard of a child’s baptism being delayed in the Catholic Church simly because her parents were not married. Has anyone else heard of this? It certainly would be terrible.

Do you think the problem may have been that the unmarried parents are living together? If that is the case, they may be giving scandal at the very least. The worst case scenario (and I pray this is not true) may be that they are living unchastely, possibly even in a state of mortal sin. Sadly, in some situations it is the parents poor choices that result in a child’s baptism being delayed.

It’s always been my experience that the Catholic Church is reluctant to have anyone participating in a sacrament where the words they say are just for show or worse, an outright lie. The Church encourages baptism for infants and spiritual health for parents, not putting one above the other.

as stated here at least twice, no the mere fact that the parents are not married is not enough reason to delay the sacrament. The priest, not the grandparent, not OP, and nobody here is the person who interviewed this couple and used his best judgement, based on their answers as to whether they intend to raise the child in the Faith. If the answer is no, he would violate canon law by baptizing at this time. Since we were not there, we don’t know who said what to whom, it is best to assume the priest knows his business. It is the parents in this case, with the help of the grandparent, who is denying the sacraments, not the priest.

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