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Is the Pope following traditional Catholic teaching?


scolairebocht

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There is, I think it's fair to say, a kind of discrimination traditionally practiced in the Catholic Church with respect to baptism which brings with it a few interesting issues. The fact is that if you are coming into Catholicism as an adult, from a Muslim or atheist family say, then you can receive baptism into the Catholic Church only after a period of study of the principles of the Catholic religion, its not an automatic process. The same is true of people converted into Catholicism by missionaries in Africa or wherever, they normally have to study for quite a while before they are allowed to receive baptism. This study could go on for years during which the students are called Catechumens and there is a whole detailed Canon Law structure about the teaching of Catechumens.

Anyway so far so good but the obvious discrimination is that in traditional Catholic countries like Ireland you get pretty automatic infant baptism, meaning almost anybody that requests it for their child and pays a small fee can get him/her baptised. Hence it seems there is a double standard here, an automatic thing given to a baby who can hardly understand what's happening as opposed to this long process that these other people have to go through?

Well in traditional theology this is explained by the fact that in those Catholic countries parents, God parents, and to a degree the educational system will be expected to replace that education that in the other instances will be necessary before the 'catechumen' is baptised. So in otherwords once the Church is satisfied that the child will soon get that education from their parents and God parents, particularly, then it's ok to go ahead with the baptism and to cement the deal the God parents will take an oath promising to do this. You can see that this agreement to bring up the child that way is central to baptism in this statement in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism."
( Catechism of the Catholic Church - IntraText )
This in fact is pretty much the traditional teaching of all the Christian faiths that practice infant baptism, for example here is a comment on it from the Presbyterian faith:

"Once we recognize that faith is a condition for baptism, and that baptism itself is not a demonstration of faith by the person baptized, the question can be asked, Whose faith is required? As we look now at the relevant biblical teaching, we will see that the faith of parents fully suffices for the baptism of their children."
( The Biblical Basis for Infant Baptism )
So hence problem solved? We can clearly what is happening here in that the faith of the parents (and to a degree God parents and overall educational environment in traditional Catholic countries) is making up for the infant who cannot understand these things and this is how there is no real discrimination because in the first category of baptisms it is assumed that the parental and family structure is not as condusive to learning about the Catholic faith.

Which ends our tuppeny lesson on traditional Catholic faith! But it also of course opens up a few questions about modern times. Obviously there are parents out there nowadays for whom you wouldn't be as confident about whether they are really planning to bring up the child a Catholic, and if not is a conscientious priest not obliged to have second thoughts in giving the baptism because otherwise our theological structure here kind of breaks down? What about if a child is presented for baptism and the parents are 'living in sin' as it were and, after some questioning, it appears they have no intention of 'regularising' the situation? What should an honest priest do who is trying to uphold what for him would be the law of God here? So anyway would readers agree that at least some times you can see the point of view of a priest refusing the baptism, if he were not satisfied as regards the sincerity of the parents in undertaking to bring up the child in the Catholic faith?

I think a lot of people could think of some examples where this could legitimately happen but if so it seems they would be out of sync with our new Pope from the Argentine:
"In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage,” Bergoglio told his priests. “These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation."
( I’m Seriously Loving This Guy )
This is very strong language and doesn't seem to allow for any circumstances in which a priest could legitimately deny that baptism? I say that because I think everybody would agree that a blanket ban on the baptism of children of unwed mothers would be completely wrong, because every case is different and no doubt there are many mothers who have every intention of bringing the child up in the faith, but 'hypocrites' flung at any priest who would do this?

That was in 2012 and in an interview in 2009 he clarifies his views in that he seems to regard the marital status of the parents as completely irrelevant:
"The child has no responsibility for the marital state of its parents."
( The Future Pope Francis: Additional Interviews and Writings )
Is that not in breach of the above described traditional Catholic theology, because clearly the marital status of the parents could be a clue as to their beliefs and faith?

Anyway no doubt there is a satisfactory explanation here, and no doubt also most people would regard it as a bit previous criticising the Pope's theology and that only a few days into the job! But nonetheless I think there might be an overall worthwhile point to make here. The point is that yes its great being a populist and being nice to everybody and man of the people etc but if the answer to all the questions is to be compassionate and open to all etc then is this not an example of where you could end up breaching the intellectual honesty and vigour of the Church's teaching? And once you have broken that is it going to be a lot harder to persuade people to become or stay Catholics?

You see this new almost humanistic populist approach, which I think the new Pope is already demonstrating, was what happened after Vat II, the 'new spring time' for the Church, the 'new renewal', and frankly it has been a spectacular failure, in most western countries at any rate. The reason why is because they mistake what a religion really is.

In my opinion a good analogy to religion is any other academic field or discipline, say maths or whatever. So there you throw up your equations on the board and teach the truth that say 2+2=4 or what have you, and this is what the Church is trying to do, put across truths appealing to, in the main, your God given reason and intellect. Now the 'reformer' comes along and he says that that teaching is not inclusive enough, its not 'reaching out' to those outside or alienated from the Maths class and the solution is that you should finesse that truth. So hence its not longer 2+2=4 its a matter of personal opinion, or depends on the circumstances of the age etc etc, you can now welcome those into the Church who believe that 2+2=5 or whatever.

Maybe you can see, when you think about it like that, that maybe a proportion of people could feel a bit better in Maths class but in short order you will alienate all the others who thought they knew what was going on but now have no idea what underlying intellectual honesty is underpinning all this. The truth is the truth and it must naturally be both eternal and lasting in all circumstances? 2+2=4 was as true in the 1950s as in 300 BC because that is the nature of truth? You start messing with that intellectual rigor and I don't see how you get more adherents at all in the long run.

Thats what I am worried about with respect to the current Pope but I guess we will just have to wait and see...
 
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He3

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So - is the Pope a Catholic?
 

derryman

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I think that a casual glance at the new testament shows Jesus was not much of a mathametician. heshowed quite clearly that 2+2 did not always make 4.
 
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The Catechism does not say that the parents' faith or religious practice is a pre-requisite for Baptism, only that it is important for the purpose of the subsequent instruction. The main point of Baptism of children that age was that high infant mortality meant that it was too risky to wait until the age of reason. The risk of the child dying without Baptism far outweighs any qualms about the religious practice or belief of its parents.

Therefore the Pope was quite right to say that it was an unthinking clericalism that would deny Baptism to such a child and put it at risk of unbaptised death. You simply have to ask yourself the question of what do you really believe Christ would do in such circumstances, given His approach towards tax collectors, prostitutes, etc. - would he really deny baptism to a child of a single mother who was asking for it? I think we know the answer to that.
 

BlackLion

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Traditional Catholic teaching is love one another. what the pope and other popes follow is to keep the status quo.
 

derryman

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It would be so contradictory and hypocritical to oppose abortion and refuse baptism. I donytt believe the sacrament is the priests to refuse to anyone
 

scolairebocht

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In answer to toxic and derryman I will quote this from Canon Law 868 §1.2:
"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."
( Code of Canon Law - IntraText )
And with respect to the Godparents you have Canon Law 874 §1:
"To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:
...
3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on."
( Code of Canon Law - IntraText )
So you do have to fulfill those requirements before a baptism can take place otherwise the priest is not acting properly?
 
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In answer to toxic and derryman I will quote this from Canon Law 868 §1.2:

And with respect to the Godparents you have Canon Law 874 §1:

So you do have to fulfill those requirements before a baptism can take place otherwise the priest is not acting properly?
The relevant words there are 'altogether lacking'. That would require evidence of persistently anti-Catholic disposition to be invoked. The very fact that the mother is presenting the child for baptism at all would seem to provide evidence of at least some faith.

The context of the Pope's comments was refusal on the grounds of the mother having the child out of wedlock. That is not sufficient reason to refuse on its own (though if the mother was somehow completely lacking any tie to the faith then there might be cause to refuse) - my opinion is that discretion should be used on the side of presuming the bona fides of the mother - the baptism of the child is of extreme importance.
 

derryman

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When jesus was preaching salvation there was no canon law. Give me Christian love and keep the law for the evildoers
 

gerhard dengler

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Scolairebocht presents what is a dilemma.

The rules state one thing and as pointed out in the OP there are circumstances where a priest is faced with a situation where neither the parents or the godparents are observant
Catholics in those instances.

The reported statement about the baby not being responsible for the non-conformity of the parents or godparents is a valid point.
Objectively, the baby cannot be responsible for it's parents/god parents non-adherence to rules of the church.

The core of this issue is that the parents/godparents are presenting the baby for baptism.
The baby is not there of it's own volition.
Therefore the priest has to take this in to account when deciding.

It is a dilemma.

I attended a Christening in a parish in south county Dublin recently. It was clear to me that the majority of the parents and their family and friends treated the occasion more as a social event rather than the dispensation of a religious sacrament.

I felt very sorry for the priest.
 

Expatriot

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"TRADITIONAL" Catholics will have a major problem if the Pope turns out not to be a fanatic. From what I have seen so far he may well be genuine, fearless and honest. That will make for a very interesting to do. I am a lapsed Catholic. If everyone in the Vatican has to wear brown robes and sandals I may come back to the faith. But I "real" Catholics don't want the like of me about the place. What will happen?
 

scolairebocht

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Yes Gerhard thats the way it is with a lot of parents now and frankly it isn't the case with many that they give a hoot about the Catholic religion when they bring their child for baptism. Its just like a birthday or any other social event so unfortunately I disagree with toxic that you could take that act itself as proof of wishing to bring the baby up as a Catholic.

But I totally agree that any kind of blanket ban on illegitimate children is also wrong, as I said in the OP, but in all circumstances would the priest be wrong to refuse it here? Bearing in mind those clear strictures from Canon Law? And yet when you read the Pope talking about those priests being 'hypocrites' you would get the idea that he has no sympathy for any priest who would do that?
 
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"TRADITIONAL" Catholics will have a major problem if the Pope turns out not to be a fanatic. From what I have seen so far he may well be genuine, fearless and honest. That will make for a very interesting to do. I am a lapsed Catholic. If everyone in the Vatican has to wear brown robes and sandals I may come back to the faith. But I "real" Catholics don't want the like of me about the place. What will happen?
Don't let extremists put you off. The Church is there for everyone, we're all sinners, and most Catholics want to see this Pope succeed in clearing out all the filth and corruption, starting by reforming the Curia. Give it a go.
 
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Yes Gerhard thats the way it is with a lot of parents now and frankly it isn't the case with many that they give a hoot about the Catholic religion when they bring their child for baptism. Its just like a birthday or any other social event so unfortunately I disagree with toxic that you could take that act itself as proof of wishing to bring the baby up as a Catholic.

But I totally agree that any kind of blanket ban on illegitimate children is also wrong, as I said in the OP, but in all circumstances would the priest be wrong to refuse it here? Bearing in mind those clear strictures from Canon Law? And yet when you read the Pope talking about those priests being 'hypocrites' you would get the idea that he has no sympathy for any priest who would do that?
The priest would be entitled to refuse where there is evidence that there is no respect for, or appreciation of, what is occurring. The only point I would make is that the priest should, where possible, give the benefit of the doubt - it is the baby who matters most.
 

Cato

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In answer to toxic and derryman I will quote this from Canon Law 868 §1.2:

And with respect to the Godparents you have Canon Law 874 §1:

So you do have to fulfill those requirements before a baptism can take place otherwise the priest is not acting properly?
I've witnessed a couple of examples of where these rules have been ignored by priest. Indeed, I know of one baptism where the father and godfather were both atheists and where this was known to the priest. Few seem to take it seriously.
 

mayoonmymind

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Traditional Catholic teaching is love one another. what the pope and other popes follow is to keep the status quo.
Could we just give this pope a chance to settle in to his enormous task rather than start the usual ripping apart as SOME people in the media are bent on doing .
Watching the thousands (of all denominations, and none)who stood in the rain in the square to greet the pope, had a very profound effect on me as a lapsed catholic.
For some unknown reason there is no criticism of the Anglicans who seem to have all kinds of odd rules.
Please, a little less bitching and a little more open-mindedness.
 

gerhard dengler

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Yes Gerhard thats the way it is with a lot of parents now and frankly it isn't the case with many that they give a hoot about the Catholic religion when they bring their child for baptism. Its just like a birthday or any other social event so unfortunately I disagree with toxic that you could take that act itself as proof of wishing to bring the baby up as a Catholic.
Indeed.
The families and their friends were all talking loudly as other families were presenting their baby at the font for the sacrament of baptism.
Their children were running all over the church, some even running around the church altar.
Their parents too busy talking and posing for photographs to stop their children from running wild.

The priest twice had to ask the parents to keep the children under control.

But I totally agree that any kind of blanket ban on illegitimate children is also wrong, as I said in the OP, but in all circumstances would the priest be wrong to refuse it here? Bearing in mind those clear strictures from Canon Law? And yet when you read the Pope talking about those priests being 'hypocrites' you would get the idea that he has no sympathy for any priest who would do that?
It is a concern that the man who is now Pope would cite such priests as hypocrites.
The priest is in a dilemma.

I agree with your view about the ban concerning illegitimate children.
 

scolairebocht

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Agreed toxic, it is the baby who matters most but then the Catechism also makes clear that the graces given by baptism, at least to some degree, depend on the parents being on board here. So if you want whats good for the child then it would be better if the priest could make sure of this with respect to the parents.

But yes normally the benefit of the doubt is rightly cast in favor of doing the baptism but if you have a baby when the parents are maybe living together unmarried and maybe they will even say to the priest that they have every intention of staying that way does the priest not have a duty to issue that 'delay' here?
 
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