Attending a lapsed Catholic's child's baptism
#1
Dear friends,

My wife and I have been invited to the baptism of a family member's child. The family member is baptised Catholic, but has never been practicing, and married outside the Church (the question of whether their marriage is valid is another topic, one I know the answer to).

Now, the couple have had a child and are organising a baptism for it. Thanks be to God. However, there is no doubt in my mind that their choosing to bapise the child is a show - they assent in no way to the faith, and consider it to be nothing more significant than a cultural practice and a family event. You know how it goes.

The question: Should my wife and I attend, or politely decline? Would it constitute a gesture of condoning their familial situation and their attitude towards the faith and sacraments if we were to attend? Or is it not a point worth getting worked up over, and should we attend just to keep the peace, and to let them know that we are enthusiastic about them having their child baptised?

That last element of the question may sound leading, but that is not my intention; I am more inclined to not attend, as my ultimate concern is for the proper practice of my family.

Even if you have nothing definitive to add, I ask that you would please offer your own thoughts.

Pax.
+ J + M + J +

"In te Domine, speravi."
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#2
(07-31-2020, 02:40 AM)Stalwart Wrote: Dear friends,

My wife and I have been invited to the baptism of a family member's child. The family member is baptised Catholic, but has never been practicing, and married outside the Church (the question of whether their marriage is valid is another topic, one I know the answer to).

Now, the couple have had a child and are organising a baptism for it. Thanks be to God. However, there is no doubt in my mind that their choosing to bapise the child is a show - they assent in no way to the faith, and consider it to be nothing more significant than a cultural practice and a family event. You know how it goes.

The question: Should my wife and I attend, or politely decline? Would it constitute a gesture of condoning their familial situation and their attitude towards the faith and sacraments if we were to attend? Or is it not a point worth getting worked up over, and should we attend just to keep the peace, and to let them know that we are enthusiastic about them having their child baptised?

That last element of the question may sound leading, but that is not my intention; I am more inclined to not attend, as my ultimate concern is for the proper practice of my family.

Even if you have nothing definitive to add, I ask that you would please offer your own thoughts.

Pax.

I would go if I enjoyed the company of most of the people who would be there.  Sounds like a young family who thought enough to get married and, at the least, long for a vehicle in which to celebrate the birth of their child and baptism with family and friends.  Because of this normal desire, they are having a priest put an indelible mark on the child which also may allow for the grace of actual conversion for your lapsed family member.  Why interfere with that?  Some of us double down when the Church is in a mess and study the Faith harder.  Others may not have the intellectual desire and look at the joke that most parishes and Catholics happen to be today and say, "why bother?".  But even so, they are still "traditionalists" of sorts in that they recognize something important that has been lost.  Looks like a family that has almost all the right elements going for it.  Maybe you electing to show up to this imperfect couple's home with an air of positivity will be the missing piece that may bring them back one day.  As far as children go, I told mine as soon as they could understand about all kinds of things including abortion at very young ages.  They seemed to handle it all even after initial scandal and horror.  I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea.  With my family and our personalities it was the right approach, kind of like some parents telling young children about Santa Claus because they fear they might attribute the Santa fantasy to equate to what they may think is a Jesus fantasy later in life.  Be good and you will get toys at the end of the year is what Santa says.  Jesus says be good and you will go to heaven at the end of your life.  If this relative gets the slightest whiff that you disapprove, the chances he comes back to the Faith and the Sacraments will invariably decrease.  And, like you talk about them and kind of gossip, they may talk to this child every once in awhile about you in the persona of "ole uncle Fuddy-Dud" which won't work wonders in getting that baby to attend Mass on his own as a young adult. 

So you might want to think about it from that angle.
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#3
From your original message it isn't clear to me that the baptism will be in a Catholic Church, but that would be how I made my decision.

As a convert I am frequently invited to non-Catholic weddings and other ceremonies, attending was always a spiritual (and aesthetic) ordeal - and I have stopped going to these events except when it is immediate family (and then I don't take my children.)

However, if the baptism is going to be a valid sacrament I would certainly go. If a couple marries outside the church, then a priest preparing them for the baptism of their child in the church would (should) require them to con-validate their marriage, and the baptism itself includes the promise to raise the child in the faith. So, if they are baptizing their child in the church then you could be assured that they were on the path to amending their life and correcting their previous errors.
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#4
(07-31-2020, 11:44 AM)BrigidJoy Wrote: From your original message it isn't clear to me that the baptism will be in a Catholic Church, but that would be how I made my decision.

As a convert I am frequently invited to non-Catholic weddings and other ceremonies, attending was always a spiritual (and aesthetic) ordeal - and I have stopped going to these events except when it is immediate family (and then I don't take my children.)

However, if the baptism is going to be a valid sacrament I would certainly go. If a couple marries outside the church, then a priest preparing them for the baptism of their child in the church would (should) require them to con-validate their marriage, and the baptism itself includes the promise to raise the child in the faith.  So, if they are baptizing their child in the church then you could be assured that they were on the path to amending their life and correcting their previous errors.
The baptism will be in a Catholic church, but there is no talk whatsoever from the priest of having the marriage con-validated. As I said in the original post, their approaching the sacrament of baptism is viewed by them as purely a trendy, cultural, familial-traditional event which is more about family catching up than anything to do with religion.

Thank you for your replies so far.
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"In te Domine, speravi."
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#5
It sounds to me like the Priest is simply ignoring Canon Law:

Quote:Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

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.

As a result, I would not attend and I would tell the parents why.
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#6
I would approach these lapsed Catholics, and thank them for the invitation, and congratulate them on their decision to return to the practice of the Faith and raise their children in the Catholic Faith. See what reply that gets.

A priest is morally obliged, and will answer to God if he fails, to ensure that there is a "founded hope" (which is to say a reasonable assurance) that a child he is baptizing will be raised as a Catholic. If this child is not, it will most likely be damned, and suffer much more in Hell because of the Baptismal Character it has received.

Personally, I would not attend a baptism if the couple were not practicing Christians and baptzing their child for the right reason (so he could be raised a Christian), because this seems to show an approval and support of the couple's irregular and sacrilegious attitude in general, and would appear to them to suggest they are living in an okay situation, that the priest is doing nothing wrong by not ensuring the child will be raised as a Catholic, and that Baptism is just a cultural rite, and not a Sacrament.

But, my gut would say to poke the couple and pique their conscience into hopefully doing the right thing here, but intentionally misunderstanding their motives, and congratulating them on the decision to return to the Church and raise their children Catholic. With that, though, offer your genuine support of them if they want help in doing this, since perhaps that tongue-in-cheek way of approaching it will discover that it is not as much of a show as you think, or start a discussion about their problems to which you can propose real solutions and help.
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#7
(07-31-2020, 08:03 PM)jovan66102 Wrote: It sounds to me like the Priest is simply ignoring Canon Law:

Quote:Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

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.

As a result, I would not attend and I would tell the parents why.

I don't think this is a Catholic baptism. Remember she married outside the Faith. It's likely this is a Protestant ceremony.
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#8
(07-31-2020, 08:37 PM)austenbosten Wrote:
(07-31-2020, 08:03 PM)jovan66102 Wrote: It sounds to me like the Priest is simply ignoring Canon Law:

Quote:Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

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.

As a result, I would not attend and I would tell the parents why.

I don't think this is a Catholic baptism.  Remember she married outside the Faith.  It's likely this is a Protestant ceremony.
I will clarify again that it is most certainly a Catholic baptism.
+ J + M + J +

"In te Domine, speravi."
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#9
(07-31-2020, 08:41 PM)Stalwart Wrote:
(07-31-2020, 08:37 PM)austenbosten Wrote:
(07-31-2020, 08:03 PM)jovan66102 Wrote: It sounds to me like the Priest is simply ignoring Canon Law:

Quote:Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

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.

As a result, I would not attend and I would tell the parents why.

I don't think this is a Catholic baptism.  Remember she married outside the Faith.  It's likely this is a Protestant ceremony.
I will clarify again that it is most certainly a Catholic baptism.

Have you called and spoke with the priest about this? Not every priest is versed in Canon Law and he might not know, or he may have actually tried to counsel them in raising the child in the faith.


My 2 bits.

I'd say go and perhaps make a comment about the joys of having a childhood of going to church and that it's good they are giving their child that sort of blessing. I agree with Adam...a lot of people are not as intellectually or spiritually with it as we are...but it's good they are at least trying to stick together with marriage, and baptize their baby...even if they don't really know why.

Say prayers for them.
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#10
(07-31-2020, 08:37 PM)austenbosten Wrote:
(07-31-2020, 08:03 PM)jovan66102 Wrote: It sounds to me like the Priest is simply ignoring Canon Law:

Quote:Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

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.

As a result, I would not attend and I would tell the parents why.

I don't think this is a Catholic baptism.  Remember she married outside the Faith.  It's likely this is a Protestant ceremony.
I would do whatever I could to encourage this couple to the return of the practice of their Catholic Faith. If when the child makes its first communion it might ask its parents, "Why don't you all go to Holy Communion?"
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