Forget what the Church has always practiced! Baptize anyone who asks.
by Christopher A. Ferrara
May 1, 2015
Another day, another novelty from the lips of Francis. This time, in remarks following the ordination of new priests, he declared: “Do not ever refuse Baptism to anyone who asks! (my emphasis)”
Never refuse Baptism? Under any circumstances? That is hardly what the Church always taught before Francis. For example, in a 1980 Instruction on Infant Baptism, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that “infant Baptism must be governed by two great principles, the second of which is subordinate to the first.” The first great principle, of course, is that “Baptism, which is necessary for salvation, is the sign and the means of God’s prevenient love, which frees us from original sin and communicates to us a share in divine life…”
But the second great principle, which Francis would apparently ignore, is that: “Assurances must be given that the gift thus granted can grow by an authentic education in the faith and Christian life, in order to fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament.” Accordingly, “if these assurances are not really serious there can be grounds for delaying the sacrament; and if they are certainly non-existent the sacrament should even be refused.”
As the Instruction further teaches: “In fact the Church can only accede to the desire of these parents if they give an assurance that, once the child is baptized, it will be given the benefit of the Christian upbringing required by the sacrament. The Church must have a well-founded hope that the Baptism will bear fruit.” If sincere assurances are given, then, naturally, “the priest cannot refuse to celebrate the sacrament without delay…” But if, on the other hand, “they are insufficient, it will be prudent to delay Baptism.”
Take, for example, a “gay couple” that has no intention of raising their immorally acquired child in the Christian faith but rather in their own version of it, which includes the “right” of homosexual “couples” to live in an adulterous union based on the practice of sodomy, call it a “marriage,” and adopt children — all in violation of the Church’s infallible teaching on faith and morals.
Vatican Insider reports Francis’ remark as “words that may be interpreted to rebut priests who refuse to baptize children of same-sex couples…” It would be hard to deny that interpretation in the face of his use of the word “never” without qualification. Never means never, unless one adds a qualifier, and none was added here. But this would seem to be in line with the thematic ambiguity Francis has been cultivating for the past two years, always tending in a liberalizing direction, however. Call it guided ambiguity.
Worse, Francis did not limit his remark to the case of infants, where the urgency of Baptism would militate in favor of the sacrament, but rather included those who ask for it themselves, meaning adults. Is there to be no process of discernment by the priest in this regard? Is he to baptize even someone who openly “disagrees” with fundamental teachings on faith and morals? That would be a sacrilege. Indeed, not a few have presented themselves for Baptism in defiance of the Church precisely in order to legitimate their own errors or immoral “lifestyles,” as if the sacrament were some kind of entitlement instead of a gift of the Blood of Christ.
Yet again one has the impression that Francis simply says whatever he wishes and does whatever he pleases with little or no regard for what came before him in the Church if he deems it unnecessary. As he declared in the interview with Civiltà Cattolica that so delighted the liberal media: “The Church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.”
Really? Which rules are those? The process of discerning fitness for Baptism, according to the perennial teaching of the Church, appears to be one of them. According to Francis. Our Lady of Fatima, intercede for us!