Must we baptize the children?

Must we baptize the children?

In the context of a broader article that claims that the rates of baptism in all Christian churches are falling, USA Today states a clear falsehood, at worst, or oversight, at best. It quotes a Fr. Paul Sullins, a sociologist at Catholic University of America, as saying that the Church no longer requires the Catholic in a mixed marriage to promise to have the children baptized.

Fewer Catholics are choosing to marry in the church, and Sullins says they may be less “attached to the sacraments.” And, since a change in church law in 1983, Catholics who marry non-Catholics no longer must promise to baptize and rear their children as Catholics.

Now the church requires only “a general recognition by the couple that the Catholic partner’s faith will be respected.”

That is clearly wrong. Canon 1125 says that before a Catholic can enter into a marriage with a non-Catholic Christian, he must receive the permission of the bishop who is to require certain conditions to be met, including the following: “The Catholic party ... makes a sincere promise to do all in his or her power to have all the children baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church.” Canon 1059, regarding marriage with a non-baptized person would seem to apply the same requirement to children of that marriage.

The whole article appears to be a mish-mash anyway, mixing up the Catholic sacrament with the practices of Protestant denominations. Even the this statement seems confused:

The Catholic Church has more than doubled in size in the past half-century, but its rate of infant baptism steadily has fallen, Sullins says.

Which means what? In order to become a Catholic one must be baptized, either upon entry or previously in a non-Catholic church or ecclesial community. So if the size of the Church doubled, then a fall in the rate of infant baptism only speaks to the method by which people are entering the Church, not the overall health of the Church. By definition, 100 percent of Catholics are baptized.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli