Lesbian Couple & Baptism

by Jimmy Akin

in Sacraments

A reader writes:

Recently my parish priest
baptized the child of a lesbian couple. Now, I haven’t spoken with him
yet, but I will. So for instance, I don’t know if the couple is
sexually intimate or even practicing Catholics. In any event, where
does the church stand on this issue? I’d like to know your thoughts
before I speak to my priest and then my bishop who I will also speak
with.

The relevant Church law is expressed in the following canon:

Can.  868 ยง1. 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.

Strictly speaking, it doesn’t matter whether the parents or guardians of the child are themselves Catholic. What matters is that the child will be brought up Catholic.

(This is something that has been relevant at various times in history. For example, I was reading an article a while back about some villagers in Indo-China who were themselves unwilling to become Christian but who were most anxious to have their children brought up to be Catholics.)

The question for your purposes is whether the clause I’ve highlighted in blue is fulfilled if the caretakers of the child are a lesbian couple.

It seems to me that this matter is not clear.

While it’s true that the individuals can take the necessary steps to raise the child as a Catholic so that the child comes to think of himself as a Catholic and so that he goes to Mass and the sacraments and even learns the basics of the faith, it nevertheless seems to me that there is an argument that the living arrangement of his caretakers of itself constitutes a fundamental barrier to the child receiving an authentically Catholic formation–not to mention what they’re likely to teach him about sexuality.

In fact, it seems to me that one could argue that the child would not, in fact, be brought up in the Catholic religion but in a heresy since the child would in all likelihood be brought up to doubt or deny the fact that homosexual behavior is intrinsically sinful–this point being contained in the deposit of faith (e.g., read Romans 1) and having been defined by the orginary and universal Magisterium of the Church, qualifying it as a point that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith and thus making its obstinate post-baptismal doubt or denial a heresy.

The child, as a child, would  not be obstinately doubting or denying it (within the canonical meaning of "obstinate") by just taking his "parents" word for it, but one could nevertheless argue that the child was being raised in material heresy and not the Catholic religion.

On the other hand . . .

Rome hasn’t said that, and Rome baptizes the kids of all kinds of parents who are likely to raise their kids in material heresy.

Americans–who tend to read and apply the law very rigorously–are often shocked when they learn just how permissive Europeans are in applying the law regarding the above canon.

This is perhaps nowhere more clearly on display than in the Church’s documents regarding the pastoral care of Gypsies.

I’ve been meaning to blog about that–and will soon–but it’s stunning the pastoral concessions that are granted to Gypsies in the main document. It is clear that, while many Gypsies are nominally Catholic, the Church is perfectly willing to baptize their children even though they have moral certitude that the child will not be raised to participate in multiple sacraments. Yet the relevant dicastery has judged that helping Gypsies maintain at least some kind of Catholic identity, even if it is a gravely impaired one.

And the same goes for numerous non-Gypsy Europeans who happen to be pro-abort and pro-homosexual and who plan to raise their children to be the same. Their kids get baptized, too.

So based on European praxis, it seems that a person could well argue that "being raised in the Catholic religion" means only acquiring a minimal–one might even say nominal–Catholic identity, and this could be fulfilled by two lesbians promising to raise the child Catholic.

Thus the law seems to me not to be sufficiently clear on this point, and we could use a clarification from Rome.

The changing nature of society–as well as the dramatic weakening of Catholic identity in the developed world–is likely to force the Church at some point to clarify this and even to reconsider whether a foreseen minimal Catholic identity for the child is enough to warrant baptizing him.

In the meantime, as it is a doubtful point of law and a matter of significant pastoral concern, I would say that you are well within your rights to talk to your pastor and bishop about it and make your opinions (whatever they may be) known in a respectful manner.

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{ 66 comments }

Patrick August 29, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Great answer, Jimmy.
I would argue in favor of Baptism, if only because if the mother has the intention of raising the child as a Catholic, even if the mother’s understanding of all that entails is flawed, it protects the child’s soul during those early years.
Hopefully, baptism, regular church attendance, and church instruction also will open the child to being receptive to the true teachings once she/he reaches a more mature age. We accept baptisms for all Christian denominations that disagree on major points of belief- why push the child away now? Leave the door open for future hope and education in the faith. If the mother recognizes the power of God but does not fully grasp the impact of her lifestyle, she may be sinning but that does not mean she does not accept God.
The baby is a child of God, and there is much more justification for a baptism here than in the earlier case of Suri Cruise (or was it another celebrity baby that the grandparents wanted to baptize?). Besides, as I understand it, if the church denied the baptism, the mother could validly baptize her anyway with the proper formula and intention. The baby is the one receiving the Sacrament.

Chris August 29, 2006 at 12:45 pm

How can the child be raised as a Catholic when the ‘parents’ are lesbians living contrary to Church teaching?

Patrick August 29, 2006 at 12:51 pm

Chris,
I think every parent, if prone to honest self-examination, could find lots of examples where they are living contrary to Church teaching. Obviously, these 2 women have a big, obvious example. And we don’t know whether their pastor questioned them as to, their own weaknesses aside, they could teach their child that the natural order of living is for a man and a woman to be married, and that chastity is desirable for those not in that relationship. However, it seems to me that even a parent’s scandal should not separate an innocent from God. Teach the child as he grows. If the women come to church regularly and told the pastor they would bring the child to church and enroll him in (Catholic school /PREP classes/whatever) so that he could learn the tents of the faith, I think the pastor would be right to hold the most charitable view possible.

Sparki August 29, 2006 at 12:56 pm

Okay, so, I was batized in a Catholic Church but my parents only did it to appease my grandmother and had no intention of raising me Catholic. In fact, I had little or no contact with the Catholic Church afterwards, save for a smattering of Easter and Christmas day Masses when my parents felt compelled to attend.
So my baptism wasn’t licit then, right?
(It’s okay — I’d thrown away my Catholic baptismal certificate in a fit of pentacostalism as a young adult and couldn’t find the Chicago parish who had the permanenet record when I joined the Church in 2003. So I was conditionally baptized at that time anyway.)

Realist August 29, 2006 at 12:59 pm

Patrick, you are living in a dream world.

Old Zhou August 29, 2006 at 1:23 pm

Handy reference from last summer about
Canon 868

Brent Robbins August 29, 2006 at 1:40 pm

Only people that have a strong Catholic standing and believe in all the Church’s teaching should be able to have their child baptized. If not, then no baptizo!
The worst thing that tears apart the Catholic Church is a bunch of people that call themselves Catholic and live in heresy.

Ed Peters August 29, 2006 at 1:58 pm

I am never comfortable using the argument “they do it this way in Europe” as a defense of anything.

Some Day August 29, 2006 at 2:13 pm

You are wrong there Mr. Brent.
Baptism should be given to all children. So long as there is no opposition from parents.
Now after they are baptized, we still first have to seek the salvation of the baptized person.
But if it is evident and no change is made by the individual, then in act of love, you:
a.burn him at the stake, like all heretics at a minimum deserve.
b. jail him so he never perverts another soul.
c. The worst of all, excommunicate him, preventing him from EVER going to Heaven and losing that which we were called for, the Beatific Vision.
d.all of the above

Brother Cadfael August 29, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Some Day,
Baptism should be given to all children. So long as there is no opposition from parents.
Are you disagreeing with the provisions of canon law cited by Jimmy, or do you view your interpretation to be consistent with them?

bearing August 29, 2006 at 2:28 pm

I wish someone would explain to me what benefit there is to the child to deny him baptism in this circumstance. I understand that here is a valuable opportunity to catechize the child’s mother and guardian, but I’m unclear on how it is better for this innocent soul to deny him his baptism rather than to provide it.
Incidentally, “there must be a founded hope” — that’s HOPE, which is rather a lesser degree of certainty than some here appear to demand. The fact that the mother expresses a wish to raise her child Catholic seems a foundation for such hope.

angela August 29, 2006 at 2:38 pm

2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion
That means the ENTIRE religion, in its ENTIRETY, ALL truths, ALL aspects, ALL dogma -
if there is not a hope that the infant will be “brought up” in the Catholic religion – then “no”.
There is a much higher degree of conformity required of a soul that has been baptized (I think Fr. Hardon was the one who recently wrote about that)(someone help out, please, if you know) including the intention of the rest of the sacraments.
No – these people have not “decided” to raise them in the Catholic faith – they have decided to reject the faith for their own disordered physical satisfaction and raise the child in “their” faith. If they cannot provide a Catholic upbringing for a child – then do not impose the higher level of conformity required of a person baptised. Let God work in their lives so that, as older and wiser (hopefully, somehow) prayed-for adults – they can be given that gift.

Some Day August 29, 2006 at 2:45 pm

Ofcourse I am with what the Church says.
Isn’t that what I said.

Some Day August 29, 2006 at 2:46 pm

There will be Catholic religion, only that the guardians are extremely out of line with it.

CMinor August 29, 2006 at 3:29 pm

But if it is evident and no change is made by the individual, then in act of love, you:
a.burn him at the stake, like all heretics at a minimum deserve.
b. jail him so he never perverts another soul.
c. The worst of all, excommunicate him, preventing him from EVER going to Heaven and losing that which we were called for, the Beatific Vision.
d.all of the above

Some Day:
I really, really hope this was an attempt at humor.

Sister Beatrice August 29, 2006 at 3:40 pm

In fact, it seems to me that one could argue that the child would not, in fact, be brought up in the Catholic religion but in a heresy since the child would in all likelihood be brought up to doubt or deny the fact that homosexual behavior is intrinsically sinful–this point being contained in the deposit of faith (e.g., read Romans 1)… the living arrangement of his caretakers of itself constitutes a fundamental barrier to the child receiving an authentically Catholic formation
Romans 1 speaks about lust and degrading of the body. It does not speak about two women who live together as the questioner stated, “I don’t know if the couple is sexually intimate.” The Catechism does not teach that homosexual tendencies are sinful, or that being a homosexual per se is sinful, or that it’s a sin for two homosexuals to live together. Simply put, there is no evidence presented of any sin nor any reliable evidence that a child raised by lesbians grows up “in all likelihood” any more or less morally deficient or more or less Catholic than anyone else. There are many devout sisters and brothers in Christ who were brought up with the guidance of what are called homosexuals, whether they be in the family, or dressed in robes at the local parish or elsewhere, and there are many raised by heterosexual married couples who’ve fallen away. The Catechism instructs that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” To conclude that hope is altogether lacking for a child raised by a lesbian couple is, in my view, unjust.
To remind, the Church laws says, “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…” Note, the baptism is to be delayed if hope is *altogether* lacking. It does not require abundant hope.

J.R. Stoodley August 29, 2006 at 4:07 pm

I am with those who propose strict standards for baptizing. If there is no real hope that the child will not be raised in material herecy, then we have no business baptizing him or her.
I like Ed Peters don’t see why the way they do things in modern Europe, except the Holy See, has any relevance.
Sister Beatrice, at the very least the couple is comiting grave scandal. We’re talking about a “lesbion” couple LIVING together for crying out loud. I’d say there is about as much chance of them not doing the nasty as of Pope Benedict announcing tonight that he is becoming Buddhist.
Some Day, I have to disagree with you on this. Baptism is not a right, and Canon Law does not allow for children who will not be raised in the Catholic Faith to be baptized. The issue of what to do with heretics is a subject for another discussion, or at least for when this thread gets old and I feal more comfortable going off on tangents.

Mike S August 29, 2006 at 4:55 pm

I understand that Baptisms of other religions are valid if the contain the proper form and matter. If that’s the case, what’s the problem?

Catholic Mom August 29, 2006 at 5:22 pm

I would like to look at CCC 1253: Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers, It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The response is: “Faith!”
I do believe the Faith of the Lesbian parent and guardian is immature and very imperfect. It is a pastoral judgment as to whether there is any hope the Faith of the parent will mature. Since none of us did the counseling or teaching prior to the administration of the sacrament, I am not sure any of us can judge this specific case. I don’t see this situation is much different than an unmarried heterosexual couple presenting their child for baptism.
It is not unheard of for non-Catholics to want their children to be raised Catholics. Cardinal Arinze writes in his book God’s Invisible Hand how it was common for children in his village to be baptized because they are attending Catholic schools even though the parents have not been baptized and did not practice the faith. Perhaps this baptism is a similar evnagelization effort.

J.R. Stoodley August 29, 2006 at 6:15 pm

Mike S.,
The baptisms of other trinitarian Christians are generally presumed to be valid provided the correct words are used and the one doing the baptizing intends to do what the Church does with baptism. That is a separate issue to who a Catholic priest should baptize.
Catholic Mom,
You may be right, but my interpretation is that the Catechism is saying that the baptize person’s faith can be quite basic at first. They do not have to be theological experts. That is different than if they specifically reject any part of the Faith.
The Chrisian Faith consists of belief in God, in all God has said, and in all God’s Church proposes for our belief. You can not separate those elements. In a certain sence they all stand or fall together. While I would not hold that a person who accepts some but not all of the faith has absolutely no faith, I think it is safe to say that the one who rejects any part of God’s word or the binding teachings of the Church does not have the (Catholic) Christian Faith on the most basic level, and thus should not be baptized. Nor should we baptize one who we can be confident will not be raised in this entire Faith.

Sister Beatrice August 29, 2006 at 6:33 pm

Sister Beatrice, at the very least the couple is comiting grave scandal. We’re talking about a “lesbion” couple LIVING together for crying out loud.
It can be scandal if we promote unsubstantiated assumptions about people and their lives. It’s not a moral fault to be a lesbian, nor is it morally wrong for two women, even two lesbians, to live under the same roof, to share, to love one another as Christ loves us. Is that all they do together? For some, perhaps yes. For others, no. Each couple is different. Same with married heterosexual couples.
I’d say there is about as much chance of them not doing the nasty as of Pope Benedict announcing tonight that he is becoming Buddhist.
There are many lesbians living together who aren’t “doing the nasty” as you put it. As far as the Pope’s announcement, Jesus looked and said, “with God, all things are possible.” It’s possible that a “lesbian couple” can live saintly lives together. Is it likely? I don’t know, but there’s always hope.

DaveJ August 29, 2006 at 6:57 pm

I think ya’ll are jumping to way too many conclusions on this topic. First of all, it is not a sin to love another person. You assume that they are having a homosexual relationship when in fact they may not be at all.
All of this conjecture started with a reader who even admits he does not know all the details, and has not talked to the priest involved in the baptism. The fact that they were lesbians might just have been his opinion. There are many variables here that we do not know the answers to.
Since we do not have all the facts, I have to have faith that the priest knew what he was doing and acted in accord with the teaching of the Church.
Dave

J.R. Stoodley August 29, 2006 at 7:01 pm

Would you support a heterosexual couple (clearly romantically inclined to each other) living together with no possibility of their getting married? Would you say a child they are raising in those conditions should be baptized? Perhaps you would but the couple would still be commiting great scandal, and that means it is an objectivly sinful lifestile under any circumstances.
Given the intrinsic evil of same-sex sexual activity, and the disordered nature of same-sex attraction itself, and the greater gravity of sodomy than fornication, the scandal of their relationship is even worse and the child even less likely to be raised any kind of good Catholic.
We can not judge the interior motivations of any person or their spiritual state, but we can and must judge the objective actions of a person, especially in such important cases as this. I can not imagine any possible circumstances in which a lesbian couple living together is not a serious sin except extreme situations like being trapped on an island with only one building on it.
I definitely don’t think such a couple could be living a life of heroic virtue, comiting such a sin. They may not be culpable for the sin, but a saintly life is more than just living an objectively sinful lifestyle in sufficient ignorance to avoid commiting mortal sin.

J.R. Stoodley August 29, 2006 at 7:10 pm

Sorry, that was addressed to Sister Beatrice.
Dave,
Even in the unlikely case that these two are not in a romanic relationship, they are still same-sex attracted women living together raising a child. Hence the scandal.
To clarify my position, same-sex attraction by all indications is not chosen, though personal choices may well have to do with it in some cases. In any case the attraction is still disordered and any romantic relationship between people of the same sex abominable.
I agree that since we do not know the exact situation we can not give a difinitive answer as to whether or not the child should have been baptized. It may be that the parents promised the priest that despite their lifestyle they would raise the child believing in the whole teacihng of the Catholic Church including conserning same-sex attraction and the definition of marriage. I doubt it though.

Orthros August 29, 2006 at 7:14 pm

The fact that there are any folks who, claiming to be Catholic, cannot see the cut-and-dried horror of a lesbian couple trying to raise a child “Catholic” reiterates my fervor for a good ol’ fashioned Baptist-style revival within the Church.
As the New Oxford Review quipped on a bumper sticker: “I’d rather be roasting heretics”.

Catholic Mom August 29, 2006 at 7:59 pm

Orthros,
There is no question that we shouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. The first mistake these women made was to put themselves in a lesbian relationship. This mistake is compounded as they bring a child into the relationship. However, the child is here and cannot be undone. Given this regrettable situation, how should we respond when they ask to have the child baptized? We are concerned for the soul of the child. I don’t think we should throw away this soul because of the sins of the mother. On the other hand, I think the priest has a duty to inform the mother that the Church views her situation as a serious state of sin and demands that she live chastely. She must be told that by asking for baptism she is agreeing to raise this child in the Catholic Faith in its entirety. Is she ready to do this? Since we were not privy to any of the counseling that occurred I am not ready to pass judgment on this particular case.

Orthros August 29, 2006 at 8:27 pm

Catholic Mom,
I am the last person in the world who wants to see children punished for the sins of their parents. When I was (recently) a Protestant, I baptized my own son in my kitchen sink when he was very sick so as to ensure his salvation were he to die (still believed in baptismal regeneration, strangely enough, even whilst a Presbyterian).
That said, situations such as this fail to pass the sniff test of “will this child be brought up in a Christian environment”? I want this child to be saved, and honestly my heart and prayers are more sensitive to him precisely *because* he is starting life behind the spiritual 8-ball, so to speak.
But as Romans reminds us, where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. I just know that “buying” grace by trying to baptize everyone, including those who will not be brought up Catholic, seems somehow to create more spiritual harm than good. If it were not so, our Church would insist on the baptism of everyone: pagans, heretics, schismatics, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, etc.
Instead, She insists that those baptized should be expected to be raised as orthodox Catholics. Can’t tell the inside… which is why we have so many nominal baptized Catholics… but we certainly can perceive when people are living in an objectively sinful situation (heterosexually or homosexually) with no desire or intent to repent.

Tim J. August 29, 2006 at 8:31 pm

“Would you support a heterosexual couple (clearly romantically inclined to each other) living together with no possibility of their getting married? Would you say a child they are raising in those conditions should be baptized? Perhaps you would but the couple would still be commiting great scandal, and that means it is an objectivly sinful lifestile under any circumstances.”
J.R., You took the words right out of my mouth…

J.R. Stoodley August 29, 2006 at 9:04 pm

A good thing to remember in this discussion is that by denying baptism we are not denying salvation to the baby. If the child dies before reaching the age of reason it seems pretty clear that he or she will go to heaven, whether directly or no. If the child reaches the age of reason then he or she will be able to make their own decisions and be responsible for it.
The purpose for baptizing infants, besides removing any trace of a doubt that if they die in infancy they will go to heaven, is for the baby to be raised within Catholicism as a menber of the Church from the very beginning. If the child is not going to be raised Catholic there is little point in baptizing him or her, not to mention it being canonically illicit, expecially now that the Magisterium is shying away from the theory of Limbo.

Sister Beatrice August 29, 2006 at 9:17 pm

Even in the unlikely case that these two are not in a romanic relationship, they are still same-sex attracted women living together raising a child. Hence the scandal.
Unless you’re insisting that “romantic” means sexual, it’s very possible to have a romantic relationship without any sexual activity and/or sexual attraction. How long have you believed expressions of love or affection to be scandalous?
same-sex attraction by all indications is not chosen, though personal choices may well have to do with it in some cases. In any case the attraction is still disordered
It’s false to suggest that all same sex attraction is disordered. You can be attracted to someone of the same sex for a wide variety of reasons. Homosexual sexual orientation is not the sole possibility.
we certainly can perceive when people are living in an objectively sinful situation (heterosexually or homosexually) with no desire or intent to repent.
Without adding more to the story, there is nothing “objectively sinful” about two lesbians living together. So what are you so certain about?

Tim J. August 29, 2006 at 10:50 pm

Sister, you seem willing to chop words into fine little bits while ignoring their obvious meaning. Did you really think that “same sex attraction” meant being attracted to a person’s… what… keen analytical skills? Enthusiasm? New hat?…
A “romantic” relationship without sexual attraction? This is a contradiction in terms. In any commonly understood usage of the word, when people are said to be in a “romantic” relationship, they are – by definition – mutually sexually attracted.
Parsing things to this degree is highly disingenuous. If two people are in a homosexual relationship, then to point out that they might REALLY only be “in” a “homosexual” “relationship” seems calculated to obfuscate, rather than to clarify the issues.
Funny, raising a child together was not something I ever considered doing with any of my old college “roomies”. By choosing to “play house” in this very public way, these women invite scandal.
Your reading of the situation seems willfully myopic; Two lesbians, living together, asking for Baptism for a child they are raising…
Are we really to believe those who say “Nothing to see here, folks. Perfectly normal… move along… move along…”

Matt C. Abbott August 29, 2006 at 10:52 pm

“Sister Beatrice” –
You assert:
“It’s false to suggest that all same sex attraction is disordered. You can be attracted to someone of the same sex for a wide variety of reasons. Homosexual sexual orientation is not the sole possibility.”
That’s an interesting bit of sophistry, but it doesn’t square with the Catechism:
“2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial….”
Also, you seemingly have no problem with homosexual “couples” who raise children. Again, this is contrary to what Rome has said on the matter:
http://catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=108&art_id=28458

Matt C. Abbott August 29, 2006 at 10:54 pm

Well said, Tim!

J.R. Stoodley August 29, 2006 at 11:43 pm

Sister Beatrice,
Since Tim J. and Matt C. Abbot have responded well enough in a negative way, lets look at the matter in a positive way.
Human beings are created in the image of God. All of us. Adam and Eve sinned and thus all kinds of disorder is introduced into our lives. There is a darkness in our past and an inherent weakness in our nature, though we still remain fundamentaly good.
One of the most marvelous reflections of the Trinity in Creation is Marriage, an essential part of which is sexuality. There are many forms of love, some of which are proper and good to have for a friend of the same sex, and all of which are closely related to the Love of God and should lead to it. Perhaps the most emotinally powerful kind of love is the eros which forms naturally between a man and a woman, who are ordered towards each other. The Greeks had an idea that man and woman were once the same being that was split in half, and now each half desires their other half. This is not exactly accurate, but reflects the tendancy for man and woman to become one flesh in marriage. This kind of eros, the love that desires another, is not equivalent to sexual attraction and not based soley on the physical appearance but is inseparably bound to sexuality and ordered toward marriage and therefore the marital act. That love that aspires to the other is only fulfilled when the person recieves the other totally. That totality implies not just physical totality but perminant exclusivity. This aspiring eros love is a reflection of God’s desire for us and our desire for God (which can also be called eros but it is unsexual), which should (and in the case of God always does) lead as in marriage to agape, oblative love, in which the one gives him or herself entirely for the other.
When they do come together the loving union between the man (the first person) and the woman (the second person, with her origin from the first) from that love comes new life (a third person). This is probebly the exalted reflection of the Trinity in the natural order.
When two first persons or two second persons try to come together in this way there is no chance of fertility. It is absolutely contrary to the entire purpose of sexuality, which I would say includes both physical attraction and the related romantic eros love. It is clearly contrary to the intent of God, and the Church has unambiguously affirmed this truth.
This is why homosexual attraction, or romantic feelings if you prefer, between people of the same sex is always wrong. Inasmuch as such feelings are not intentionally brought about by a personal choice they are not sins, but are still disordered, arising from fallen human nature. When such feelings are encouraged and nurtured that can be a sin, and of course when they are acted upon.
This is wrong not just because it is “improper”, but because it is contrary to God’s will. Sin separates us from God, which is why it is so bad and why God, who loves us with such an intense desire, gives himself in love totally to bring us back to Him. This is why it is so bad to in false charity accept “homosexuality” as an identity and refrain from condeming situations such as this. The only lasting good of any consequence for these people is their relationship with God, which depends greatly on their obedience to God’s will, and hopefully eventually the merging of their own wills with that of God.
Thus true love for these people entails hoping and praying that they will end this disordered relationship, and opposing the idea of others copying them.
We then come to this child. Growing up in this situation the child will have the great injustice done to him or her of being raised in a false family that is a perversion of true romance and contrary to the will of God. Probebly the best thing would be for the child to be removed from this terrible situation and adopted by a real family, but this is not possible in todays society.
Since these “parents” (only one of them could be a true parent) no doubt have convinced themselves that what they are doing is right, and children have a tendency to think that their parents are not doing something gravely wrong. Further the idea of this disorder being a defining part of the identity of the people makes the Church disapproval towards same sex attraction seem like a great prejudice akin to racism.
In this envirionment it seems virtually impossible that the child would be raised believing in the full Catholic Faith. In that case, while the salvation of the child is as important as any other and we hope and pray the child will later be baptized, for now that admittance into the Church would be inappropriate.

Sister Beatrice August 30, 2006 at 7:02 am

A “romantic” relationship without sexual attraction? This is a contradiction in terms. In any commonly understood usage of the word, when people are said to be in a “romantic” relationship, they are – by definition – mutually sexually attracted.
While romance is often sparked by sexual attraction, and often endures with it, sexual attraction is not a requirement for romance. Other commonly understood usages of the word, according to the dictionary, include an “imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized.” Or, “marked by expressions of love or affection.”
you seemingly have no problem with homosexual “couples” who raise children. Again, this is contrary to what Rome has said on the matter:
http://catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=108&art_id=28458

Children of same sex couples can face problems as well as reap benefits. Yes there can be benefits. I’m not going to be one sided about it. It simply wouldn’t be honest. Cardinal Trujillo and others would do well to remind people that a knife cuts on more than one side, and that not all voices of the Church or other experts are in agreement on the matter. I would do well to remind that the article did not claim that “hope is altogether lacking”.
When two first persons or two second persons try to come together in this way there is no chance of fertility.
Fertility is not the issue in this story. These women aren’t trying to have children. They already have a child to care for, and there is nothing in the story that makes it clear that a better living arrangement is reasonably available other than the one they’re in now.
It is absolutely contrary to the entire purpose of sexuality, which I would say includes both physical attraction and the related romantic eros love.
I don’t believe God intends everyone to procreate, and while sexuality is certainly tied to procreation, I don’t believe human sexuality is limited in purpose to simply making more babies. Science does not insist that homosexuality is antagonistic to what you call the procreative purpose. Scientists suggest that homosexuality may actually serve an important role in human survival.
This is why homosexual attraction, or romantic feelings if you prefer, between people of the same sex is always wrong.
Homosexual feelings can arise involuntarily, like a meteor hitting you on the head. Would you call it “wrong” or “intrinsically disordered” were a meteor were to hit you on the head? So why should we label involuntary feelings as wrong? It may be a problem for the person, but problems are not wrong. And as I mentioned, science does not believe homosexual feelings are necessarily wrong, especially in light of evidence that they may serve an important purpose to humans overall.
When such feelings are encouraged and nurtured that can be a sin, and of course when they are acted upon.
Well, it need not be a sin for such feelings to be encouraged and nurtured, or even acted upon. Sometimes it’s beneficial in seeking resolution to encourage, nurture and even act upon them, whether that be as would happen in a therapy session, or as in everyday life. There’s nothing wrong with surrendering to God as therapist and allowing Him to direct when these feelings arise. His direction may be to act upon them in some way, if only to face them rather than to hide from or fear them.
This is wrong not just because it is “improper”, but because it is contrary to God’s will.
The mere fact that a pair of lesbians live together need not be contrary to God’s will. Nor is it necessarily contrary to God’s will for lesbians to explore and share their feelings with and/or for one another.
This is why it is so bad to in false charity accept “homosexuality” as an identity and refrain from condeming situations such as this.
It’s not false charity to refrain from condemning situations such as this, because for one, there is nothing clear in this situation on which to condemn. It’s hard to even say what “this situation” is. Some questioner asks about an alleged lesbian couple who may or may not be doing whatever, and you’re salivating and ready to condemn. As to “homosexuality” as an identity, whatever that’s in reference to, is that any worse than St. Paul calling himself a sinner or Mrs. Jones calling herself a bus driver?
Thus true love for these people entails hoping and praying that they will end this disordered relationship, and opposing the idea of others copying them.
It’s easy to talk about ending a relationship, but for many it’s equivalent to tearing apart their lives. What are they to do? Where are they to turn? What does the Church or society offer for them in practical terms? It’s not like they’re necessarily suited for finding husbands and getting married, or for living alone, or with their families. Who is going to take care of the child? You admit your dream of having the child adopted by what you call a “real” family isn’t practical. As much as you might pray for it, have you considered the scandal that can result when a “disordered relationship” ends?
Many same sex couples find benefits in time spent in relationships with others, to include the relationships they hold with their partners. For many, it helps to protect them from disease, mental illness and other hardships that result from situations not in their control and provides them with necessary social and financial security in a world that tends to be hostile toward “disordered” people. Being in a same sex relationship has even been an integral part of many such persons’ struggles to “find God.”
Growing up in this situation the child will have the great injustice done to him or her of being raised in a false family that is a perversion of true romance and contrary to the will of God.
The countless well-adjusted, God loving children raised by same sex couples and the countless maladjusted children raised by married opposite sex couples fly in the face of your claim.
Further the idea of this disorder being a defining part of the identity of the people makes the Church disapproval towards same sex attraction seem like a great prejudice akin to racism.
Well, they didn’t choose this “disorder” or to call it a disorder, so it’s not exactly that they defined themselves. To that end, we could say that the stigma the majority places on it has done the lion’s share of making it a defining characteristic.
In this envirionment it seems virtually impossible that the child would be raised believing in the full Catholic Faith.
Perhaps by the time the child grows up enough to understand such aspects of the faith, the parents and/or the Church will also have come to a better understanding of their/its own position in the matter.
pray the child will later be baptized, for now that admittance into the Church would be inappropriate.
I pray that God’s will be followed, whatever that may be.

Kristin August 30, 2006 at 7:06 am

I’m torn on this one. One one hand, I think the baby should be baptized. The baby is innocent, and baptizm is necessary for salvation. The baby will receive the grace from the baptizm that may lead him to a greater conversion later on. However, the baptizimal ceramony always places a great emphasis on the Mother and Father raising the child in the Catholic Faith. I wonder how the ceramony was worded if there were two mothers present? But then as one of your other readers pointed out, I think it is safe to say that the majority of parens baptizing their kids today are not living an authentic Catholic lifestyle themselves, the sin of a lesbian couple is a grave public sin. I think I’m leaning towards baptizing the baby though…this poor kid will need all the grace he can get considering his parental situation, there is hope for every person, and God writes straight with crooked lines.

Matt C. Abbott August 30, 2006 at 7:27 am

“Sister Beatrice” –
The Church teaches that the homosexual inclination is objectively disordered, and that homosexual acts are (objectively) sinful. Do you assent to this teaching? Yes or no?

Anna August 30, 2006 at 7:30 am

Sr. Beatrice:
A child needs a mother AND a father in order to form their own gender identity and relate to the opposite sex. Having two mothers or two fathers is gravely disordered and very confusing for the child. I belive people are “homosexual” for a variety of reasons–the media will have you think that they did not choose it, however if you talk to many homosexuals many will tell you that they did choose it. For example, I recently ran into one of my childhood friends who told me she was in a lesbian relationship. I was a bit shocked, and reminded her how boy crazy she was in high school and she said, “oh, I am still attracted to men, I just happened to have fallen in love with a woman.” Turns out her father sexually abused her–many women turn to other women because they have had bad experiences with men. Do I think some people have an inborn homosexual tendancy, yes, but I think that number is smaller than what it is commonly believed to be. Nevertheless, engaing in homosexual activity is disordered. Sometimes in life we are called to take up our cross, those who struggle with homosexual tendancies are being asked to share in the suffering of Christ.

Mery August 30, 2006 at 8:49 am

I love this blog and I never posted. I just lurk, but I had to post on this one because I’m still shaking my head at Sister Beatrice’s comments. Relativism abounds everywhere, from what I can tell.
I don’t have much to add, for others such as J.R. Stoodley and Tim J. have said it for me, but I would like to add one thing. For those who say the church would be wrong in denying the child baptism, I don’t see it that way. The ones that would be responsible for denying the child baptism would be the two mothers (?) who choose to live contrary to church teaching. Oh when will people take personal responsibility for their actions?
Please don’t tell me how much same-sex people suffer as if they have no free-will and self-control like everyone else. We all struggle with sin, it’s just that we don’t glorify it or go around bragging about them.
May God have mercy on us all!

Amy L. Cavender, CSC August 30, 2006 at 9:02 am

Matt,
is it really necessary to use the scare quotes around Sister Beatrice’s name?
It makes you appear as though you’re questioning whether she is, in fact, a sister. Perhaps you are, though I hope not.
Should we not assume–at least in a forum of this type–that people are who and what they claim to be, unless there is solid evidence to the contrary?
That you disagree with Sr. Beatrice’s position on the current topic is clear–and legitimate, and understandable. But whether or not she agrees with Church teaching in its fullness (or with anyone’s considered judgment about how that teaching should be applied in particular circumstances), that fact has no bearing on whether or not she’s a vowed religious.
As for the substance of the discussion:
Are the Church authorities who have approved the baptism of Gypsy children wrong in their judgment of what’s appropriate? Is it wrong to baptize the children of contracepting Catholic parents because they don’t fully accept the Church’s teaching?
If the answer to either of those two questions is “no,” what are the relevant differences between those cases and the case currently under discussion?
Amy

Tim J. August 30, 2006 at 9:02 am

“Other commonly understood usages of the word, according to the dictionary, include…”
Sister, REALLY… you are at it again. Is it not obvious that we were talking about “romance” in terms of a relationship between two people and not some longing for adventure or heroism or some such? You are hiding from the plain meaning of words.
“Cardinal Trujillo and others would do well to remind people that a knife cuts on more than one side, and that not all voices of the Church or other experts are in agreement on the matter.”
For what it’s worth, the knives in our house ALL cut on just side… As for “voices in the Church”, I give many of them about as much credence as if I heard voices in my head. The voices that matter have spoken long ago. This is the constant teaching of the Church, and your hope that it may change is misplaced. It does not matter whether you, or anyone else, agrees with it.
“Scientists suggest that homosexuality may actually serve an important role in human survival”
I always send up a red flag when people say “Science has shown…” or “scientists suggest…”. Which scientists? References, please. In addition to which I must point out that though I have great respect for GOOD science, I don’t worship Science. I don’t look for science to guide me on the deep mysteries of life. Homosexuality is wrong, no matter how many scientists vote the other way.
“…as I mentioned, science does not believe homosexual feelings are necessarily wrong”.
Gee. Just wait around, folks… “science” may yet discover that adultery is beneficial for human survival… does that mean that it would be okay for me to indulge these feelings of attraction that I have to women other than my wife? I mean, they’re just involuntary feelings… how can it be wrong when it FEELS SO RIGHT???
“The countless well-adjusted, God loving children raised by same sex couples and the countless maladjusted children raised by married opposite sex couples fly in the face of your claim.”
Oooh, Sister… your hostility to “breeders” is showing. Not to mention that I just doubt your claim on it’s face. It’s a myth that comforts you, but I would love to see some (unbiased) statistics on family and personal dysfunction in relation to same-sex parenthood. Unbiased means NOT something torn from the pages of PFLAG or the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force…
“Perhaps by the time the child grows up enough to understand such aspects of the faith, the parents and/or the Church will also have come to a better understanding of their/its own position in the matter.”
Only if the parents clarify their understanding of Catholic teaching. You wait in vain for a change in Church doctrine.
It is unfair to hold out for these people false hope that the Church may flip on the issue and suddenly repudiate 2000 years of constantly held belief. They deserve the truth. Their choices in this matter are crossways to Church teaching, and the more clear they are on that, the better.
“I pray that God’s will be followed, whatever that may be.”
Her will be done, Sister?

JonathanR. August 30, 2006 at 9:13 am

Wow, “romantic relationship” without sexual attraction? Where in the hell is that possible?

Matt C. Abbott August 30, 2006 at 10:12 am

Sister Amy –
If “Sister Beatrice” identifies the community to which she belongs, I will no longer use the “scare” quotes. Otherwise, how do I know she (or he) isn’t in actuality a dissident layman posting under the pseudonym of a religious in order to lend credibility to her statements?
“Sister Beatrice” may indeed be a religious, but, in a way, I hope she isn’t, given her posts.

Amy L. Cavender, CSC August 30, 2006 at 10:43 am

Matt writes:
If “Sister Beatrice” identifies the community to which she belongs, I will no longer use the “scare” quotes. Otherwise, how do I know she (or he) isn’t in actuality a dissident layman posting under the pseudonym of a religious in order to lend credibility to her statements?
Thanks for the reply, Matt. In response to your last question, in fairness I can only say that you don’t. But why assume the worst?
Ought we not to assume the good intentions and general honesty of posters in this forum, until and unless there is solid proof otherwise?
Whether or not you intended it that way, my first reaction to the scare quotes around Sister Beatrice’s name was to read it as a not-so-veiled insult.
My own wish is that people would post under their proper names, as you do. It would certainly reduce the need for second-guessing about people’s intentions.
But I’m sure there are some legitimate reasons for people to post under pseudonyms, and in any event they do, whether there are legitimate reasons or not. So I guess we’re stuck with muddling through… :-)
P.S. My apologies if the quote above shows up with the html tags still visible. The preview function seems not to be working correctly–at least not in Firefox–so I’ve no way to check my formatting before posting this.

Amy L. Cavender, CSC August 30, 2006 at 10:48 am

Ugh–looks like it came through without tags and without indenting the quote. Sorry!!

Bentbow August 30, 2006 at 11:43 am

This is a tough issue. On the one hand, one’s heart goes out to the baby. On the other, what message does the church send if it seems implicitly to accept gay relationships? (And good point, Amy, about the legitimacy of allowing contracepting parents to baptize – that is problematic as well. The difference between the two cases I think is that the one presents a visible scandal, and the other is not nearly so visible.)
I think Catholic Mom puts it very well: “Given this regrettable situation, how should we respond when they ask to have the child baptized? We are concerned for the soul of the child . . . On the other hand, I think the priest has a duty to inform the mother that the Church views her situation as a serious state of sin and demands that she live chastely. She must be told that by asking for baptism she is agreeing to raise this child in the Catholic Faith in its entirety.”
Right ho – but how about also if the priest, in order to uphold marriage, only allows the birth mother to sign the baptismal certificate and not the other partner; or in the case of adoption, allows one parter to sign as mother, and does not permit the other to take the place of the father. I would go so far as to suggest that, while charitably counseling the two, the priest would only allow one of the couple to be present while the child is baptised, to avoid scandal and uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage.
Oh Sister Beatrice – (by the bye, show some charity, a few of y’all – no need to throw in ugliness, it doesn’t aid your arguments) – I know it is hard to argue against a relationship when one considers that love is involved; how can love be wrong? But the thing is, it can be disordered. Talking out one’s inner conflicts in therapy is one thing; but going to the point of action to explore them is another, because it leads to sin.
If the couple calls themselves lesbian (leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the intial questioning reader was making assumpions or not) it is pretty clear that they are in a sexual relationship, a kind that has been determined by the Church to be wrong.
For someone who disagrees with the Church on this point, the best answer I think is to submit in action and in prayer to the Church’s teachings. Much fruit comes from this, and God will honor this choice by anyone (as in doing so they make sacrifice to seek His will rather than their own) and will assist them with His grace. And I do agree that for someone in a homosexual relationship, the right move is to prayerfully part, and submit completely to God’s grace. His grace is sufficient for all things, even for what might seem an impossibly painful parting.

Some Day August 30, 2006 at 11:46 am

“Sr.Beatrice” is being extremely scandalous with that post and if Jimmy should like, should delete it as it does no good to anyone to see that one who should defend the Church more stongly actually proclaims things contrary to Her teachings. Prostitution is a sin right.
No one here would allow a prostitute to post pictures correct? So why allow a prostitute of the soul, which is infintetely worst, to do so here.

Sixten August 30, 2006 at 12:09 pm

The question was, where does the church stand on baptizing the child of a lesbian couple. And the question specifically does not assume that the couple is sexually intimate.
As I understand it, the church’s stand is that a lesbian can be just as good and decent and observant a Catholic as anyone else.
It is also a given fact that at least one of these particular lesbians does have a child.
That being the case, she has a duty to raise the child. And if she is a Catholic, then she has a duty to raise the child in the church. No one can really object to that, right?
Well, doesn’t the church permit adult men and women who have some impediment to marriage to live together as “brother and sister” even if one or both of them is raising a child? There doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of difference here unless you reject the premise that a lesbian can be just as good and decent and observant a Catholic as anyone else.
They seem to be trying to do the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt.
Sister Beatrice’s observations make a lot of sense.

Some Day August 30, 2006 at 12:21 pm

Occasion of Sin constitutes a sin as well.
You can’t walk into a whorehouse and not commit a sin, because even if you didn’t “do anything” the occasion of sin already counted as one. Being in an immoral relationship is already a sin, regardless of the intimacy.
So at a minimum, you know HS living together at a minimum constitutes a voluntary occasion of sin.
Ergo, a sin is commited now matter how “clean”they are.

bearing August 30, 2006 at 12:29 pm

I still don’t see adequate treatment of the plain text of Canon Law: specifically the word HOPE.
It sounds as if many commenters think that Canon Law only allows for baptism if we are CERTAIN that the child will be raised Catholic. The formula I am seeing repeated is along the lines of, “The question is whether the child WILL BE raised Catholic.”
It does not say this. The question for the pastor is actually whether there is A FOUNDED HOPE that the child will be raised Catholic. A “founded” hope, to be sure, but this is not the same as “we are certain.”
What is hope?
My parents were heterosexual and married, yet when they presented me for baptism they had no intention at all of raising me in the Catholic faith or indeed in any faith. I have no idea whether the priest who baptized me was able to sniff that out or not. My younger brother was not baptized at all.
Today, I am Catholic and he is not. I believe that my baptism protected me despite the environment of my home. This biases me a bit towards the “hopeful,” I suppose.

MissJean August 30, 2006 at 12:34 pm

Baptize the babies. My grandmother was a great believer that if children were baptized, they would be “marked” so that every prayer for the Church would extend to them and that, eventually, they would come home to Mother Church. Maybe it’s an unrealistic view, but I find it comforting when I pray. :)

Kasia August 30, 2006 at 12:37 pm

Piping up from the children-of-lesbians peanut gallery…
My personal experience is just that – personal – and I will not say that my experience is universally true. However, since this has been touched on by several people and I *do* have first-hand experience, I’ll say this:
My parents ended a rocky 20-year marriage when I was 10 so my mother could be with someone else, who happened to be a woman. After that I was raised primarily by my father, and later also his second wife, with strong influence by my mother and her partner. I was not raised to be Christian, much less Catholic, and my mother would be horrified to learn that I’m considering becoming Catholic. She would see it as a personal betrayal, I guarantee it.
I do not doubt that my mother and her partner love each other. And of course I want my mother to be happy – it’s only natural to want someone you love to be happy. However, as I have come to Christ, and particularly as I have come toward the Catholic Church, I find myself in a very painful position: I can be faithful to the teachings of the Bible and, if I join it, the Church, or I can be faithful to my mother as she has chosen to live her life. It’s a horrible position to be in. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
I have yet to see a compelling argument from Scripture (or Tradition, to broaden the available pool of resources) that condones homosexuality. However, Jesus explicitly said that I have to honor Him above all else (I think the verse says something about hating one’s father). He also said that anyone who has put his hand to the plow and looks back is unworthy of Him. My choice is clear; it’s just unspeakably painful. It’s part of the cross I bear, and it’s participating in the sufferings of Christ.
Having been raised (prior to the divorce in particular) on the left fringes, I’ve known quite a few people who were raised by GLBT couples. I’ve known some people who were raised by GLBT people who turned out reasonably well-adjusted; I’ve known some people raised by straight married parents who were maladjusted. However, I haven’t met anyone who was raised by GLBT parents who was raised in the fullness of the Catholic faith. I would be extremely skeptical of claims that GLBT couples raise better-adjusted children, or that GLBT couples would be likely to raise their children Catholic (even St. Joan of Arc-style Catholic, much less orthodox Catholic).
Just my experience, and my opinion based thereon.

Lily August 30, 2006 at 12:46 pm

I have to ask: Why would this couple not seek out, say, an Episcopal priest to baptize the child? Since Episcopalians have a gay bishop, even, would this not seem to be a logical move? Rather than going to the local Catholic priest, who is, thereby, put on the horns of the very dilemma that we are discussing here???
I agree, the baby should be baptized for his/her own sake. It’s just not at all clear to me what the motives of the couple were, in seeking a Catholic baptism…(I know, they may be Catholic themselves; but given the circumstances, it seems to me that this would make more sense).

FI August 30, 2006 at 12:46 pm

No baptism for gay couples’ babies says Quebec cardinal
http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=38474
“Ouelett’s statement to the committee partially reflects the fact that there is little well-founded hope that a baby brought into a homosexual home, which homosexual “parents” have no intention of altering their lifestyle, will be brought up in the Catholic religion, since homosexuality is so fundamentally contrary to Catholic teaching. The couple is demonstrating a public, persistent contempt for fundamental Catholic teaching by their relationship.
Bariteau explained that both members of a gay couple obviously cannot sign the baptism act because that automatically and tangibly violates the very specific nature of Catholic teaching on the nature of marriage and parenthood, included in canon law. However, he also agreed that even if only one of the homosexual “parents” signs the baptism act it “doesn’t change the reality” that the parents are living in a manner that is directly contrary to the teachings of the Catholic faith.”

Anonymous August 30, 2006 at 2:55 pm

Miss Jean;
Your divorced and remarried father is in worse trouble than your lesbian mother, from the point of view of the Catholic Church (although both will certainly go to Hell if they do not repent during this lifetime).
It’s interesting that your mother feels betrayed and judged by your conversion, but not your father.
I have a similar situation in my family – a divorced/remarried family member asked me whether I was “judging” a homosexual family member by becoming Catholic. I truthfully responded, “No more than I am judging you.” :-p
Regarding the subject at hand:
1. Baptismal preparation and an interview with the parent who was having the child baptized were completed. The Pastor considered it prudent to baptize the child.
2. There may be a conversion process happening in the household that has not yet borne visible fruit. If so, then the baptism of the child is a cause for rejoicing, since it may be an early manifestation of a conversion process occurring with all three individuals involved.
3. In the Catholic Church since 1970 or so, we propose – we no longer impose. Thank God. So, we believe people when they say they are trying their best. We no longer do house inspections. (How many of those who are judging this lesbian couple for “scandal” have Protestant or Atheist books in their house? Really? Every book in your house has a Bishop’s stamp on it? Including the fiction? If not, prior to 1970, you’d have been excommunicated for causing a scandal to your children and others who live in your house. Nevermind those two women in the bedroom; it was Ernest Hemmingway in the library who was apparently fast-tracking the family to the lowest levels of Hell, back in those days.)

bill912 August 30, 2006 at 3:02 pm

“Every book in your house has a Bishop’s stamp on it? Including the fiction? If not, prior to 1970, you’d have been excommunicated for causing a scandal to your childten and others who live in your house.”
You were making a lot of sense until you posted that.

Brother Cadfael August 30, 2006 at 3:05 pm

Every book in your house has a Bishop’s stamp on it? Including the fiction? If not, prior to 1970, you’d have been excommunicated for causing a scandal to your children and others who live in your house.
Cite, please?

Mary August 30, 2006 at 4:55 pm

A child needs a mother AND a father in order to form their own gender identity and relate to the opposite sex.
Let us limit ourselves to the evil at hand. Refusing baptism will not cause these women to hand over the child to a married couple, or split and have the mother marry a man.
In other words, we must limit ourselves to what to do in a situation from which not all the evil can be removed.

fausmaxII August 31, 2006 at 6:18 am

In our diocese, we’ve been dealing with this issue for at least 20 yrs. Only the whole mess was complicated by the fact that the lesbian couples in question had their baby baptised at the main Mass on Sunday so that the congragation was called to witness that the child would be raised in the truths of the faith. Good luck to the gentleman who initially brought up the question when you discuss it with your pastor. Several families in our parish took that route and, when the situation came up again, went to the Chanchery to d/w them. We were told that every child has a right to baptism. We finally left the parish in question because we just didn’t see how we could ‘witness’ to a situation like this. Bottom line: Confusion still reigns.

Brother Gordon August 31, 2006 at 9:05 am

Jimmy, an interesting and impressively evenhanded post. I don’t have much to add, except to recommend an episode of one of the podcasts that I listen to, “Four Guys Walk Into a Bar….” Normally it’s not a podcast about religion, but on this episode, called “Nobody expects the Rapture,” two of the guys got into a discussion, first of how Hell can exist in a world governed by a merciful God, and then of the issue of same-sex marriage, with a focus on how lay people can interpret Scripture correctly. What makes it interesting is that the two guys talking are a Catholic and a… well, I’m not sure, an agnostic I guess, but they have a very open and honest conversation about these things and they even kind of find common ground. It’s online at http://fourguys.libsyn.com/ or through iTunes. That discussion and this post are the kind of thing that gives me hope that clear, calm, evenhanded discussions about hard issues like these, by people of good faith from both sides of the issue, can actually result in progress.

Nick Wehri August 31, 2006 at 6:09 pm

Here’s my question. I would tell the parents that they’re living in heresy assuming that they in a lesbain relationship. Homosexuality has it’s origins in the devil. Plain, pure and simple. Homosexual acts are subhuman.

Jason August 31, 2006 at 8:26 pm

My single-mother raised my brother and I in the Church up until first communion, even though she was neither Catholic nor religious. Although we didn’t continue in the Church after FHC, that religious foundation gave me a Catholic identity to fall back on later in life when I felt the tug of God in my heart. And now, of course, I’m Catholic. My brother is not Catholic, unfortunately, but he is a devout Protestant of some sort, so I guess his baptism helped somewhat.

Anonymous September 2, 2006 at 8:26 am

In the parish, I would say that we have three fundamental tasks which arise from the nature of the Church and of the priestly ministry. The first is the sacramental service. I would say that Baptism, preparing for it and the task of giving continuity to obligations taken on at Baptism, already brings us in contact even with those who do not fully believe. It is not a task so much to preserve Christianity, but a challenging encounter with people who probably go to Church rarely.
And so, the task of preparing for Baptism – opening up the souls of the parents, relatives and godparents to the reality of Baptism – already can and should be a missionary commitment that goes beyond the confines of those who are already ‘faithful.’
quoting Pope Benedict — source:http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2006/09/off_the_cuff_ag.html

Catholic Mom September 2, 2006 at 11:13 am

I too thought of this discussion as I read Pope Benedict’s remarks on Amy Welborn’s blog.We do not ask that all those who present their children for baptism be “perfect” Catholics. The very fact that the mother is requesting a Catholic baptism rather than opting for an Epicscopalian or other Protestant baptism means in spite of her errors in faith, she harbors some semblance of a Catholic identity and wishes the same for her child. I think that is enough to provide the Hope that the child will be raised in the Faith.

J.R. Stoodley September 2, 2006 at 11:35 am

The point is we need a founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic Faith. Unless this situation is much more complicated than it seems, it is clear that there is virtually zero hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith. Raised calling him or herself Catholic and attending mass, maybe. But really Catholic, no. That settles the matter for me.

Fr. Lawrence October 21, 2006 at 6:15 am

This subject has always amazed me…witholding Baptism for external reasons, that is, outside of the spiritual welfare of the child.
If the couple is heterosexual and one of them a drunk, adulterer, or whatever, should we not use the same ‘logic’ to withold Baptism from their child? What reasonable hope is there that the little one will be brought up in the faith? The purpose of Godparents is to ensure that the child is in fact raised in the faith if the parents fail to do so.
My experience, over twenty-five years, has been that 1)People wait entirely too long to request Baptism. There’s a party to be arranged afterall, people to invite, cake to be ordered, decorations to be had; 2)There’s a huge argument over who will be the Godparents…people actually quit speaking to one another over this one if they’re not chosen.
Mother Angelica relates a story about her own Baptism being delayed. I forget the length of the delay, but it was significant. The Priest said to her Mother, “Why didn’t you just wait until she could walk to Church for Baptism?” Good Padre.
I NEVER refuse Baptism under any circumstances. It is not for me to withold the removal of Original Sin and endanger that child (or adult) for all eternity…canons or no canons. There’s such a thing as common sense. In fact, Baptism should be immediately after birth. Children are fragile and there are some real horror stories I could relate which I will not here.
Let’s look at the Sacrament from a practical standpoint. Baptism makes us a child of God free from all stain of sin. If one receives Baptism and dies a second later or sooner, they go immediately to Heaven. The closest thing we have to that guarantee is the one Our Lord gave concerning Divine Mercy Sunday. If we meet His conditions for that Sunday and die, we go straight to Heaven. No purgation, no nothing. Swoosh, off to Heaven.
Would you deny that possibility to an innocent little baby over canonical debates? I would much rather risk a chewing out or worse from Our Lord for Baptizing anyone than what He could do for not.
Look at the aborted little ones…murdered, thrown in the dumpsters, down disposals, harvested for body parts…do you see anything unjust here? Yet, we allow politicans who claim to be Catholic to receive Holy Communion even though they advocate this horror. The Bishops are finally getting ready to issue something formal on the subject…getting ready. Where have they been since 1973?
Yet, we want to withold a chance for Heaven for little ones over their parents or guardians being lesbians, or whatever. Why penalize the child? I repeat, I have never ever refused Baptism and will not under any circumstances. I would not want to be in eternity and look out and see a little one who could have been admitted to Heaven but who was not because of such refusal.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I believe just as He does with the Holy Innocents being murdered daily, He will have Mercy on the unbaptized if it is not through their own fault and perhaps, even if it is. His Name is Mercy. He told Saint Faustina that at the hour of death, He calls out to every soul.
Just as Limbo is on its way out, a state initiated by men, so one day hopefully will be any official prohibition to Baptism. God doesn’t put souls in a holding pattern outside of Purgatory and that is for the purification prior to entering Heaven. Jesus made clear in His great commission prior to the ascension, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (except children of lesbians, except children of a single parent, except children of a mixed race couple, except children with one arm, except Down Syndrome children, except) – NO EXCEPTIONS.
So my brothers and sisters, think. Go back to the Source for the answers and guidance, Jesus Christ. Look at what He did and how he regarded the adherence to rules and regulations failing to see the situation as it really was. Jesus was practical and not ritualistic. It cost Him in the end because He took on the ecclesiastical authorities of His day, the Pharisees. They felt threatened, feared loosing their powerful positions and perks…How dare this man come into our domain and talk about such things as being kind, loving and forgiving. How dare He insult us and call us whited sepulchres. And so, they did finally silence Him on Good Friday. Hmmmm, so they thought.
Very early on Sunday morning, boom – an angel rolls the stone away with a flick of his finger and sits on top of it…picture him dangling his feet. Light so brilliant eminates from the formerly dark, damp, musty tomb…and it is no ordinary light; it is The Light..stepping out into the world that had turned its back on Him. Silent no more, His Presence proclaimed to all of man and nature, once and for all, the chains of death had been broken. His silent resurrection spoke volumes and spoke them loud and clear. He speaks today and will continue until He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Hear Him.
Yes, the Church has authority over the flock, spiritual authority. But it is very serious business for any Priest to withold a Sacrament and he had better know what he is doing if he does so.
I applaud the Pastor for Baptizing the lesbian couple’s child. He has the obvious wisdom of Our Lord and did what Jesus would have done under the same circumstances. Thank God there are still Priests around who follow Him. No stipend, no Baptism…I won’t even go there. But I have Baptized such children when refused by another Priest for such reasons.
Blessings and Peace

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