IF PARENTS ARE NOT MARRIED IN THE CHURCH, CAN THEIR CHILDREN BE BAPTIZED IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

IF PARENTS ARE NOT MARRIED IN THE CHURCH, CAN THEIR CHILDREN BE BAPTIZED IN
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
INBOX QUESTION
“If parents are not
married in the Church, can their children can be baptized in the Catholic
Church; someone asked me from a group on Facebook”
RESPONSE:
In this aspect, it is
pertinent to consult the documents of the Church and see for ourselves. Hence,
if the parents are not married in the Church, their Children (child) can still
be baptized provided the following conditions are met:
1.     
“- That the parents, or
at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their
consent;
– With a well-founded
hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic faith. If such hope is
truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular
law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.” (cf. Code of Canon Law 868)
On the other hand, if
there is no reasonable assurance that after baptism the child will be raised in
the faith, the priest has valid grounds for delaying the sacrament–or even
refusing baptism altogether, if it is certain that the child will not receive a
Catholic upbringing, something which is required by the sacrament itself.

“The Church must have a well-founded hope that the baptism will bear
fruit” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on
Infant Baptism, 
1980).
Nevertheless, the
canon Law has a provision for cases where the child is in danger of death; it
states: “an infant of Catholic parents, indeed even of non-Catholic parents, MAY
in danger of death BE BAPTIZED even if the parents are opposed to it” (Code
of Canon
Law 868 §2).
Having said this, we should
understand that the Church does not take the matter
of refusal of the first and most important sacrament lightly. The priest is
obligated to keep in contact with the family and to attempt to secure
sufficient assurances necessary for the celebration of the sacrament. Once the
priest is satisfied that assurances are met, such as the choice of godparents
who will be diligent in seeing that the child is raised in the faith, he cannot
refuse to celebrate the sacrament without delay.
In supporting the baptism of children whose
parents are not baptized, Pope Francis granted an interview on this matter in
2009 as a cardinal. The interview touches on the pastoral situation of granting
baptism to infants whose parents are not canonically regular with the Catholic
Church. I found the interview very encouraging since the Holy Father takes
an Augustinian and Thomistic approach to the question. 
Let’s look at what
he said.
Pope Francis says:
“The child has no responsibility for the marital state of its parents.
And then, the baptism of children often becomes a new beginning for parents.
Usually there is a little catechesis before baptism, about an hour, then a
mystagogic catechesis during liturgy. Then, the priests and laity go to visit
these families to continue with their post-baptismal pastoral. And it often
happens that parents, who were not married in Church, maybe ask to come before
the altar to celebrate the sacrament of marriage.”
First of all, Pope Francis’ argument is very
Thomistic. Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote: “Nor is it a hindrance to [any infants’]
salvation if their parents be unbelievers.” (Summa theologiae III, q. 68 a. 9 ad 2.)
The Pope’s answer is also very Augustinian.
Saint Augustine taught: 

“Little children are offered that they may
receive grace in their souls, not so much from the hands of those that carry
them (yet from these too, if they be good and faithful) as from the whole
company of the saints and the faithful. For they are rightly considered to be
offered by those who are pleased at their being offered, and by whose charity
they are united in communion with the Holy Spirit.”
(Augustine, Epistle 98).


(SEE ALSO: WHY DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BAPTIZE INFANTS? INFANT BAPTISM AND ITS SCRIPTURAL JUSTIFICATION. CLICK HERE)

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