The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Overheard in the rectory: a baptism question

I’m starting a new category here at The Bench: “Overheard in the rectory.” Because some of this stuff is just, well, incredible.

My first installment, from a phone conversation this afternoon.

Caller: “Hello, Deacon. I’m having my baby baptized at your church. And I know that one of the godparents has to be Catholic, right?”

Me: “That’s right.”

Caller: “Well, we’re having trouble finding a Catholic. Does Greek Orthodox count?”

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Paul Stokell

posted August 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Deacon Greg,My copy of the Green Monster (James Coriden, et al.'s latest commentary on the CIC) says no: "It is not permissible, however, for a member of a separated Eastern church to function as a sponsor in a Catholic baptism unless there is also a Catholic sponsor (p. 1063, commenting on c. 874, ref. CLSA Advisory Opinions [Washington, 1995], 261-264, my emphasis).

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Paul…I know. I just thought it was hilarious, the way she asked the question. :-) DGK

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St Edwards Blog

posted August 29, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Oh, can I play? *sigh* You know that I get many good ones of my own!Fran

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Jeff Miller

posted August 30, 2009 at 12:17 am

Surprisingly I see this as a positive thing.At least she knew that one of the Godparents had to be Catholic.

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Sue Ballmann

posted August 30, 2009 at 12:46 am

I think you could write a book on this topic. I'm not sure I have seen one quite like it yet. You could have a lot of fun here.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 4:15 am

I think it is sad that so many I see at baptism's or at other Catholic sacraments seem to be there without basic knowledge of the teaching of the Church. I think there is a little more to the role of godparent that simply having the label of catholic in any form or fashion. Somehow I wish the church required that those seeking to baptise their children into the faith needed to go to a class on relevent teachings of the church as so did the godparents.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2009 at 8:02 am

Jeff…Actually, she only knew that because I told her the day before, when I filled out the paperwork with her. And Greta…Most parishes do require that parents and godparents attend a class. At my parish, we have an hour-long seminar on the church and the sacraments (which includes some teaching on the expectations of parents and godparents) which is held the week before baptism.DGK

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posted August 30, 2009 at 8:51 am

I work at a parish, not the one I worship at.People are required to attend a baptism class. My work pastor is pretty clear about what is required for baptism and I think that is a good thing.There is a class for baptismal parents and if this is their first child being baptized at this parish, they need to meet briefly with Father as well.What strikes me is how many people see baptism as entitlement. On the other hand, the way that this pastor pastors and presides as well at the baptism and the class leading up to it, are tremendous opportunities for evangelizing. People who have not been well catechized should not be scolded, but rather informed with great love and hospitality.If after that they willfully choose otherwise, the choice to return at some time remains theirs to make.

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Thomas Scott

posted August 30, 2009 at 10:02 pm

I'm thankful she is trying to get a child baptized. I actually think that is a logical question for a Catholic to ask…..

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posted August 31, 2009 at 12:22 am

Deacon, we did a survey before making changes in our own baptismal requirements. Not to find out what the church teaches, but to understand better ways we might want to serve those seeking the sacrament. What we found was that over 60% do not have any classes and of those that did, the majority did not have the godparents required to attend or to verify that they knew anything about the sacrament or what they wer agreeing to do. My husband and I are godparents to 8 children and on 7 of them there was no class for us or any real checking of qualifcations. One couple who was at the last baptism we were blessed to be godparents at told us that one was an aethist and the other had not been in a Catholic Church in over 10 years. We immediately went up to tell the priest that there was a serious problem here. He indicated that he does not get involved in this but leaves it up to the parents to decide. What a shepherd and guardian of the sacraments this guy was for his parish. Having witnessed so much, I am constantly thankful for our Dominican parish and its wonderful leadership.

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Michele Laughlin

posted August 31, 2009 at 7:32 pm

I am having a terrible time with this in my parish. I actually had a meeting with a couple who don't know anyone who is an eligible Catholic. The wife became Catholic just before they married a few years ago and all her family and friends are faithful Episcopalians. The 'Catholic' family members are all married in civil marriages. The husband actually said to me, 'so we need a Catholic warm body and then someone else can be the real godparent?' They have not attended the required class yet, but they are not getting the fact that Godparents must be practicing Catholics who will be present to the child and a good example in faith. They are actually considering having the child baptized Episcopalian to get around the godparent issue so they can have their brother and sister be the godparents, although neither is a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church and then having the child make a 'Profession of Faith' before First Communion. This is from a family who attends Mass every week. They also won't consider asking the grandparents who are good Catholics, since they 'won't be around very long for the child'. Good grief. Can't this be discussed in homilies since very few attend actual Adult Faith Formation classes until they are retired??

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