The Sacrament of Baptism and the Challenges of Gender Ideology

The Sacrament of Baptism and the Challenges of Gender Ideology


Introduction


The Rite of Baptism, i.e. the current rite according to which the sacrament of Baptism is administered in the Catholic Church, has been in force since 8 September 1969,[1] and already at its promulgation, it was evident that it failed to solve all the difficulties and dilemmas caused by social changes and their impact on marriage and family. Today, more than half a century later, we can see that ambiguities and dilemmas have increased, especially caused by the so-called irregular family situations, by which concepts that were self-evident until yesterday can no longer be precisely defined, such as family, marriage, parents, person, etc. This also undermines the traditional teaching of the Church that a marriage is comprised exclusively of a husband and wife,[2] which means that we are witnessing different theological interpretations and pastoral treatment of new forms of communal life, for which until recently there was a general consensus that these were moral and social deviations. This applies, for example, to single and extramarital relationships, communities of divorced and those civilly remarried, same-sex partnerships and other similar associations, whose way of life is contrary to God’s laws according to the teachings of the Church. In addition, it should be added that medically assisted conception is mostly associated with some of these forms of life, which also contradicts what the Church teaches. As a result of such unions, which are recognized in civil, but not in church frameworks, it is often not even possible to establish elementary family relationships, such as: who is the father, who is the mother, who is the husband, who is the wife or, for instance, who the child belongs to. Since the Rite of Baptism did not foresee such changes, the question arises whether a child can be baptized whose parents/guardians/adoptive parents, or those who are considered such in civil law, live in an evidently sinful state and have no intention of departing from it?

Before we try to answer this, it should be emphasized that this question cannot be viewed separately from the process of redefining marriage, family, parenthood and the human person, which has been going on in society for a long time and is known as gender ideology. One can also see more clearly today the causes, ways, goals and consequences of such actions.[3] The causes are primarily the loss of religious identity, i.e. the widespread rejection of God and God’s commandments, although some kind of subjective idea of ​​faith is still retained by many, and even more so in the rejection of the Church and church teaching, and also in general the value of those societal authorities which took care of the preservation of public morals. The methods of action are regularly aimed at publicly ridiculing religion and believers, especially Catholics and the Catholic Church, as backward and intolerant, under the slogans of mercy and love for others. The goal is to banish Christian values ​​and morality from public life, ultimately establishing a society without God. The consequences are universal and impossible to stop. There is no area of ​​life in which they are not reflected. This of course, includes the impact on the teachings and life of the Church, which in turn opens up numerous specific pastoral issues, especially relating to access to the sacraments. In this reflection, we will focus only on the sacrament of Baptism, bearing in mind possible cases when it is requested for a child of same-sex partners who are considered as its parents, adoptive parents or guardians according to civil law.[4]


The (Im)possibility of baptizing a child of same-sex partners in the light of church laws


The answer can be found by adhering to church documents, especially liturgical books, and in this sense, in addition to the Rite of Baptism, it is important to mention the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church,[5] the Instruction on the Baptism of Children[6] and the Directory for Pastoral Sacraments in the Parish community.[7] Also, the answer cannot fail to take into account the overall teaching and practice of the Church and be narrowed down to specific cases, especially because it should always be remembered that gender ideology attempts to impose itself in just such a way – by evoking sympathy only for the “wounded” or “innocent” side, without observing the problem from all angles, and at the same time purposefully inciting the public’s animosity towards the Church, accusing it of a lack of mercy.

As a result of such propaganda, there are an increasing number of those who claim themselves to be members of the Catholic Church, but at the same time lead a life contrary to the commandments of God and the Church, and do not see any difficulties in this. Moreover, there is an increasing number of those who use their own reason to come to the conclusion that their way of life is not sinful at all and that the Church has no right to demand repentance and change from them as a condition for certain rights, for instance – access to the sacraments. In other words, it follows that their personalized faith, which in its core has little in common with the faith of the Church, is practically the only impulse for the sake of which they want to be partakers of God’s sacramental grace and the only deposit they can refer to. This is a sign that they do not understand or do not want to understand either the mystery of the Church as the sacrament of salvation or the mystery of the sacraments as visible signs of God’s invisible grace by which he grafts us into his Trinitarian life. It is for this reason that the Church teaches that the sacraments are important, and the sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation. Yet, at the same time, it emphasizes that these are holy rites that should not be neglected and that for their effectiveness a positive response from the human recipient is also necessary.

Bearing in mind the sacrament of Baptism[8] and its necessity for salvation, the Church faithfully follows Christ’s command written in Mk 16:15-16: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” The verb to baptize (Greek βαπτίζω – baptizo), means to immerse, that is, it signifies immersion in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection and emergence to a new life. In the Croatian language, the word krst – Baptism, and Krist – Christ, are closely correlated. Hence, to baptize means to graft into Christ, to make Christ-like. The one who is baptized dies to sin and becomes a new creature. Just as Christ died once and rose again, Baptism leaves an indelible mark by which the baptized person is permanently united with Christ.

In addition to the Christological effect, Baptism also has an ecclesiological effect. Through the sacrament, the baptized person becomes a member of the Church, a sharer in the common priesthood, called to live in the freedom and dignity of a child of God. Since the sacrament of Baptism is the only way to become a member of the Church,[9] it is understandable that the question of the Baptism of an infant of same-sex partners should be approached with particular attention.


Code of Canon Law


The Code of Canon Law (Code), regulates in canon 851, article 2, that the pastor should ensure that parents and godparents who request Baptism for a child are properly instructed about the meaning of the sacrament and the obligations associated with it,[10] thus preventing ambiguities and unwanted situations, which we can increasingly expect. Hence, unpleasant situations can arise if pastors omit the pre-Baptismal instruction or if those who seek the sacrament do not accept the obligations arising from it.

On the other hand, the Code states in canon 843, paragraph 1, that “the sacred ministers can not refuse the sacraments to those who ask for them at appropriate times, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Since the child is baptized in the religion of the parents, the appropriateness, proper disposition and the right to receive the sacrament refers to them, and considering that people who live in same-sex partnerships directly, stubbornly and persistently oppose God’s commandments and the Church’s regulations with their way of life, we do not see the possibility of them properly seeking the sacrament, nor being properly disposed, which means that ipso iure they are denied the right to the sacraments. Hence, we can maintain, that there are no ecclesiastical/canonical elements for which the sacrament could be administered to them.

In addition, same-sex partners are often called the parents of a child born from a medically assisted procedure of conception, and this entails at least two things. First, these interventions have been condemned by the Church decades ago as sinful, among other things, because it involves the abortion of a number of other children eliminated in the same procedure, and although the child itself cannot be blamed and has the same dignity as any other child conceived in a natural way, the responsibility of those persons who freely submitted themselves to the procedure of medically assisted conception cannot be ignored, neither can they be excused by claiming ignorance nor justified by appealing to mercy in this day and age. In other words, those Catholics who decide on medically assisted conception have a moral obligation to study why the Church teaches that this procedure is sinful,[11] as well as what penalties they incur if they undergo the procedure.[12] Since it can be reasonably assumed that same-sex partners who directly or indirectly participated in the procedure of medically assisted conception do not repent at all for the sins committed, this is another reason for which it can be concluded that there are no ecclesiastical/canonical reasons for administering the sacrament of Baptism to a child to those whom in civil circles are considered as its parents.[13]

Secondly, the process of artificial insemination undermines the importance of both the unifying and creative aspects, as well as the mutual unification of spouses, thereby making the love and conjugal union of spouses, open to procreation, irrelevant. We are witnessing how unnatural forms of cohabitation arise because of this, which do not benefit, but harm the child, since from the beginning he is deprived of one or both parents or is put in a disadvantageous position in some other way. For instance, for those who live in a same-sex partnership, none of them can be called a parent in the sense that the Church teaches, because they lack a unifying aspect – natural sexual union, which is reserved for a husband and wife, as well as a procreative vision – the conception of a child in a natural way, as God intended, and not with the help of technology. In these cases, either the father or the mother or both of them, are missing in reality. Due to the moral consequences of their way of life and the way in which they came about having a child, they cannot in any way be compared to, for instance, guardians or adoptive parents. And a question still remains whether their parental role as guarantors of the Catholic faith in the sacrament of Baptism can be replaced by godparents or the faith of the Church.

For the Church, the question of who the parents are is not irrelevant, because their faith is taken as a pledge for the Baptism of a child. The rite of Baptism, does not envisage the possibility of multiple parents, whether two mothers or two fathers. Therefore, it seems not only reasonable but also necessary to adhere to the existing church norms and not adapt them to worldly standards. This is also confirmed by the Code in can. 841, which states that “the sacraments are the same for the universal Church and pertain to the divine deposit” and that “it is for the supreme authority of the Church alone to approve or define those things which are required for their validity”. Since the supreme ecclesiastical authority has not made any new adjustments or amendments for irregular marriages and families, it is the duty of pastors to adhere to the existing ones.

Hence, we reiterate, that the Code stipulates that before Baptism, parents and godparents are to be properly instructed on the meaning of the sacrament and the obligations associated with it, which means that the pastor should clearly state to same-sex partners who request the Baptism of a child what is necessary for it to be permitted. Canon 868, article 1 states the following:

“1° the parents or at least one of them or the person who lawfully takes their place gives consent;

2° there be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such a hope is altogether lacking, the Baptism is to be put off according to the prescriptions of particular law and the parents are to be informed of the reason.”

Analogously to the non-recognition of a new civil marriage if there already exists a sacramental marriage bond, here too, those who are considered the parents or legal guardians only civilly or legally but not ecclesiastically or canonically, cannot be called as such. In other words, the possible consent of same-sex partners to the Baptism of a child cannot be considered valid, when one is not, or both are not the parents, while the biological but not the legal parents, are not consulted at all, and sometimes are not even known. Adapting to secular regulations would mean directly departing from church law and justifying sin.

Even more important is the question of the well-founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith. It is hard to believe that even in such a case there can be any hope for raising a child in the Catholic faith, because the “parents” persistently live in a state contrary to the commandments of God which they have no intention of forsaking. Parents are the first educators of their children and they raise them best by their own example,[14] and here they do it in a negative way – by inculcating their sinful way of life into the child’s consciousness as something normal. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that in such cases there is no well-founded hope that the child would be brought up in the Catholic faith, hence, the Baptism of the child must be postponed, and this should be explained to those who seek the sacrament.


Catechism of the Catholic Church


The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) also warns against this in No. 1231, stating that “infant Baptism requires a post-Baptismal catechumenate”, which brings about “the necessary flowering of Baptismal grace in personal growth”. The parents are primarily responsible for this, with the support of the godparents and the whole Church. Since Baptism is a “sacrament of faith” and that in it the grace of God’s salvation is especially poured out as a pure gift and thus becomes the wellspring from which the entire Christian life springs (Cf. CCC, Nos. 1250-1255), parents have a moral obligation on their part to do everything they can to remove every obstacle for postponing the Baptism. Moreover, the Church teaches that Baptism is “necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament” (CCC, No. 1257), which means that, observing just this aspect, same-sex partners should necessarily reject their sinful way of life and thus show that they really want the child’s salvation. Beyond danger of death therefore, Baptism must be postponed, not because of the stubbornness of the Church, as many are tempted to accuse it of, but because of the stubbornness of those who persistently continue to live in sin and thus prefer personal pleasures instead of the eternal well-being of the child.


Pastoralis actio


This is precisely what the Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Baptism of infants (Pastoralis actio, PA) in number 24 points to, providing an answer to possible difficulties regarding the Baptism of children in contemporary pluralistic circumstances, in which a homogeneous religious identity has been lost. There we read:

“The Church is well aware that she must take the social reality into account. But the criteria of homogeneity and pluralism are merely pointers and cannot be set up as normative principles; they are inadequate for settling a strictly religious question, which by its nature is a matter for the Church and the Christian family.”

This rejects any external pressure and non-Church attempts to change the doctrine on Baptism, especially because “too often pluralism is being invoked in a paradoxical way, in order to impose on the faithful behavior patterns that in reality are an obstacle to the exercise of their Christian freedom”. Gender ideology is very much reflected here, hence, such external influences coming from the secular domain must be decisively rejected.

Therefore, in responding to possible objections, the Instruction mentions the following:

“Although the Church is truly aware of the efficacy of her faith operating in the Baptism of children, and aware of the validity of the sacrament that she confers on them, she recognizes limits to her practice, since, apart from cases of danger of death, she does not admit a child to Baptism without its parents’ consent and a serious assurance that after Baptism it will be given a Catholic upbringing. This is because she is concerned both for the natural rights of the parents and for the requirements of the development of faith in the child” (No. 15).

It should be emphasized here that Pastoralis actio is the response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of 1980, to the questions it received due to the ambiguities surrounding the Baptism of infants, caused by social and family changes. Since no new guidelines have been issued, this clarification remains valid to this day and all are obliged to follow it. Hence, we repeat once again, that the Instruction states that the Church “does not admit a child to Baptism without (…) a serious assurance that after Baptism it will be given a Catholic upbringing”. The possibility that same-sex partners who do not reject their sinful way of life could provide a child with a Catholic education can only be viewed as an illusion, and even if by some miracle they were able to do so with their words, they would deny it with their actions, just as St. James says that “faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

PA explains it even more clearly in No. 28, in which it gives direct instructions to pastors. Thus, it is said there that “the Baptism of infants must be considered a serious duty” and that “questions which it poses to pastors can be settled only by faithful attention to the teaching and constant practice of the Church”. It further emphasizes that pastoral care “regarding infant Baptism must be governed by two great principles, the second of which is subordinate to the first”, namely these:

“1) 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. Considered in itself, the gift of these blessings to infants must not be delayed.

2) 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. As a rule, these assurances are to be given by the parents or close relatives, although they various substitutions are possible within the Christian community. But 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.”

Here, therefore, the Congregation instructs that the Baptism of infants in itself should not be postponed, which would in regular situations comprise the duty of the pastor to baptize the child, but this does not apply to irregular situations. For if there is no serious guarantee for the upbringing of the child in the Catholic faith, the sacrament must be postponed, and if it is no guarantee at all, it must be denied. When it comes to same-sex partners, it is completely clear, as already explained, that there can be no serious guarantee, and it is very likely that there will actually not be any guarantee. In this light, the pastor could at best, have a doubt whether the sacrament should be delayed or denied, and no doubt whatsoever whether it should or should not be administered. In any case, PA continues in No. 29, to mention that it is the duty of the pastor to judge each individual case on the basis of the two above-mentioned criteria in his conversation with the parents, although here we should not ignore the fact that same-sex partners are not the real parents, so the conversation with them can be understood more as a matter of goodwill, and not as a duty.

Furthermore, No. 30 states that in the event that those who seek the sacrament do not practice religion or are not Christians, priests should clearly inform them of the responsibilities they assume, and it gives these guidelines:

“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 the assurances given—for example, the choice of godparents who will take sincere care of the child, or the support of the community of the faithful—are sufficient, the priest cannot refuse to celebrate the sacrament without delay, as in the case of children of Christian families. If on the other hand they are insufficient, it will be prudent to delay Baptism. However, the pastors should keep in contact with the parents so as to secure, if possible, the conditions required on their part for the celebration of the sacrament. If even this solution fails, it can be suggested, as a last recourse, that the child be enrolled in a catechumenate to be given when the child reaches school age.”

In light of the above interpretation, the request for Baptism of an infant by same-sex partners, in addition to what has been stated thus far, entails other problematic points, of which at least two should be singled out here. First, if the pastor accepts same-sex partners as the true parents of the child, even though according to church norms they are neither de iure nor de facto such, is he thereby opening a Pandora’s box, since in the future he might have to accept other irregular forms of common life, recognized by civil laws, such as a “marriage” between a man and a goat or a woman and a stone, or between several male and several female persons? Although there are no such “marriages” in our country yet, they are recognized in some other countries and it is reasonable to assume that under the influence of gender ideology, they will soon be here as well. Hence, the acceptance of same-sex partners as the parents of the child for whom they are seeking Baptism, not only creates liturgical and canonical issues, but also has a very negative impact on morality, catechetics, dogmatics, anthropology, etc., since it attacks with all its force upon the entirety of the Church’s teachings.

Secondly, can the pastor rely on the guarantees of the godparents and the community of believers, that is, is there any probability that the child’s godparents could be pious people who could seriously take care of the child, when by agreeing to be godparents they are essentially justifying the unnatural life of same-sex partners? In addition, the role of godparents, and especially the community of believers, has been reduced to a minimum nowadays, which means that it is hard to imagine that there is even a grain of hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith. Considering this, it seems that the only reasonable thing to propose would be enrolling the child in the above-mentioned form of a catechumenate.

In this way, same-sex partners would show whether they really have a desire to baptize their child, or whether they are seeking the sacrament for entirely erroneous reasons, such as an insufficient knowledge of its meaning or as a provocation. Being aware of the fact that with their way of life they themselves create an obstacle for the Baptism of a child, they can still show some form of guarantee that they care about the Catholic faith and the child’s salvation by enabling him/her, for instance, to attend religious instruction classes in kindergarten and school, thus preparing the child to be baptized in the future, when age and other conditions are met. In light of this, as PA 31 points out, the sacrament is postponed for pedagogical reasons, so that those who seek it become more aware of their own responsibility and are encouraged to make religious progress. This again leads to the conclusion of how important pre-Baptism and post-Baptism catechesis is, as well as the entire catechetical formation, because many unwanted situations can be avoided by maintaining clarity.


Directory for Pastoral Care of the Sacraments in the Parish Community


In 2008, the Croatian Bishops’ Conference published the Directory for the pastoral care of the sacraments in the parish community, and in Nos. 37-42 it repeats and further elaborates on that which is mentioned in PA about the principles and conditions for baptizing an infant. It especially emphasizes the fact that in the Republic of Croatia, a large number of citizens declare themselves Catholic, however, the reality is that many who seek the sacrament do not know its meaning, yet do so for the wrong reasons: from traditional, to social, to magical. The Directory does not say anything about the Baptism of an infant raised by same-sex partners, because such cases were not even foreseen fifteen years ago, but it firmly adheres to PA, quoting it often, hence, everything that has already been said applies here as well.

It is good to repeat and point out that the Holy See did not issue any other instructions after PA, even though family circumstances have changed a lot. However, these new forms are not even taken into account, which is reasonable to understand, because their structure cannot be called a marriage and a family, for they fall under the domain of gender ideology. Given that the practice of entering into same-sex partnerships has been going on for many years, and the Rite of Baptism and all other relevant church documents do not take this possibility into account at all, it is logical to conclude that no bishop, let alone a pastor, can change on his own without new instructions, what exclusively pertains to the highest church authority. Also, bearing in mind that the Holy See has repeatedly spoken out on the deviancy of gender ideology,[15] the admission of a child raised by same-sex partners to the sacrament of Baptism, beyond danger of death, would therefore mean that the Church would be undertaking something that it has never accepted, which is, something directly opposing church teaching.

However, even though same-sex partners cannot provide serious guarantees for raising a child, it is necessary to evaluate once again whether there is a possibility for godparents or the religious community to do this for them. The task of godparents is discussed in the Directory in No. 41, recalling the conditions for godparents prescribed by the Code of Canon Law (can. 874) and the Rite of Baptism (general notes, No. 10): that the godfather (or godmother) is chosen by the parents of the baptized person, that he/she has reached the age of sixteen, that he/she is a Catholic, has received communion, been confirmed and, if married, in a church marriage, and is living in accordance with the faith and the assumed duty. Since, therefore, the godparent is chosen by the parents of the baptized, it can be justifiably assumed that, as their good friend, he/she would have the same or a similar worldview, even if he/she lives in non-Christian circumstances. The very fact that he/she agrees to be a godparent points to the conclusion that he/she supports their way of life, and even if this is not the case, it is almost impossible for him/her to testify with any serious guarantee that he/she is living in accordance with his/her faith and assumed duty. Even if that were possible, for instance, if a devout believer known to the pastor agreed to be the godfather out of pity for the child and his eternal good, the fact remains that despite the good intentions, he/she is promoting gender ideology with his/her acts and is thus acting against the teachings of the Church. Since even stricter conditions are required for godparents than for parents, we do not see the possibility that in such cases any godparent could truly fulfill his/her Christian duties.

If neither parents nor godparents can give a serious guarantee, their role can be taken over by the community, but even this seems practically impossible nowadays. Even though in past times, the community of believers could have truly had a significant influence on upbringing, that is, it could be said that the whole village raised a child, nowadays we can talk about a marked individualization of the family, to the extent that even the closest relatives no longer have any influence. In view of this, one can only conclude, that when same-sex partners ask for the Baptism of a child, the upbringing of the child in the Catholic faith cannot be presumed in any way and therefore the sacrament should be withheld, or postponed, and this decision will be made by the pastor based on the conversation, i.e. his insight into the overall situation.


The Rite of Baptism of Infants


The Rite of Baptism (RB) mentions in the previous remarks that according to the very order of things, the ministry and duty of parents in the Baptism of children is greater than the duty of godparents (No. 5), and it emphasizes that after Baptism, parents are obliged to bring the child up to the knowledge of God (No. 5, 5). In this light, godparents and the community help the parents in upbringing, and in a certain way godparents, also represent the baptized person’s family, which thus increases spiritually, along with the role of the Church as mother (general remarks, No. 8). But they cannot be expected to substitute for the obligations that belong to parents.

RB further notes that it is the pastor’s concern to ensure that the Baptism is performed with due dignity, and that the one who baptizes does so attentively and devoutly (previous notes, No. 7,2). The question arises whether a child whose Baptism is requested by same-sex partners can really be baptized in a dignified, considerate and pious manner, or is it far more likely that it would be scandalous to many? We will try to offer an answer to this question by following the actual Rite of Baptism of a child.

Difficulties arise from the very beginning, after the celebrant’s question: “(Parents), What name do you give your child?”, because here, as we have already mentioned, we are not talking about the real parents, and similarly, the child cannot be considered completely “theirs”. The celebrant’s subsequent words, after having received the parents’ response to the question of what they want from the Church of God for the child, then sound even more serious:

“You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”

Once again we ask ourselves, can the affirmative answer of same-sex partners really be understood as being sincere if they have no intention to stop living in sin and thus, with their way of life, instill in the child what is against God’s commandments? In other words, the celebrant tells them that they must be aware that raising the child according to God’s commandments is a condition for the child to be baptized. If, in fact, any parents were to answer that question by saying that they are not aware of it or that they do not want to raise the child according to God’s commandments, then the celebrant’s duty would be to postpone the Baptism, and we believe that the same must be done in the case of same-sex partners, because their affirmative answer cannot be recognized as being sincere. In light of this, the words of the celebrant also cause serious difficulties: “N., the Christian community welcomes you with great joy…”, because for many such a Baptism would not be a joy, but a scandal.

Furthermore, before the Baptism itself, the parents and godparents are asked to renounce sin and confess their faith, with a prior warning that they strive to raise the child in the faith in such a way that the divine life in him is preserved from the infection of sin, so that he can grow day by day. In a family union based on a same-sex partnership, the danger of a contagion of sin is so great that it seems impossible to avoid it. Therefore, the celebrant proceeds to tell the parents that, if guided by faith, they readily accept this task, they should remember their own Baptism, renounce their sins and confess their faith in Christ Jesus, the faith of the Church in which the child is baptized. The faith of the Church in which the child is baptized includes the complete acceptance of all of God’s commandments and those of the Church. Same-sex partners publicly show by their lives that they expressly reject some of them. Therefore, an affirmative answer to the questions: “Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?”, “Do you reject the glamor of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?” or “Do you reject Satan, the father of sin and prince of darkness?” can only be considered hypocritical. The same applies to their affirmative answer to the question: “Is it your will that N. should be baptized in the faith of the Church, which we have all professed with you?”

The clarity of the issue at hand is also indicated by the words of the celebrant when the child is Clothed with the White Garment, when he says that, through the help of word and example of those closest to him, he will bring that white dress unsullied to eternal life. It is hardly the case that the words and example of same-sex partners can contribute to the purity of the child’s white garment of life. We see similar substantial shortcomings when the celebrant says while offering the lighted candle: “(Parents and godparents, this light) is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly.” It seems more likely that same-sex partners, and even godparents, through their life example can only bring about the extinguishing of this light.

The final blessings of the father and mother present a distinct difficulty. The Rite clearly indicates with each of its formulations that the Rite refers exclusively to the father and mother as man and woman, and there is no theological, liturgical and ecclesiastical-juridical foundation for it to be adapted or extended to some new forms of common life.[16] In other words, anything else would be a parody. In the case of same-sex partners who adopt a child born from artificial insemination, there is no father or mother, no wife/husband, and then no child (of theirs). Therefore, any conceivable ceremony in which a woman or a man would be blessed with the following words cannot be called anything other than a mockery: “God the Father, (…), may he bless the mother of this child. She now thanks God for the gift of her child…”, followed a little later by another woman or another man with this: “God is the giver of all life (…) May he bless the father of this child. He and his wife will be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith…” We can only imagine what it would look like if, for example, a man identified himself as the mother and brought an animal to the ceremony as his husband. Although this sounds ridiculous to many today, there is no doubt that some dioceses in the world already have such predicaments.


Conclusion


Sexuality is not just a marginal part of a man’s life, but a man is essentially and existentially recognized as a person by it. Thus, in the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona humana, we read:

“According to contemporary scientific research, the human person is so deeply affected by sexuality that it must be considered as one of the factors which give to each individual’s life the principal traits that distinguish it. In fact, it is from sex that the human person receives the characteristics which, on the biological, psychological and spiritual levels, make that person a man or a woman, and thereby largely condition his or her progress towards maturity and insertion into society.”[17]

Moreover, the experience of one’s sexuality is so intimate that one is reluctant to share the experience even with one’s own spouse, and many believers will say that it is this segment of human existence through which a person is most connected to God. This nakedness of the human body and soul, can only be touched by the One who created and shaped man. Sexuality perceived in such a sublime form, encompasses both the depth of celibacy and the depth of married life, and it is experienced in the same way by those who have decided on the single life. In other words, it surpasses carnality by far and has nothing in common with lust, but rather strives to achieve perfect integrity. On the other hand, any type of sexual abuse leads to such forms of self-humiliation and shame that one wants to flee from the sight of one’s Creator, just as the first parents did when they realized they were naked (cf. Genesis 3:8-11). Therefore, it could be said that upbringing in religion is much more than passing on religious knowledge and experience. The raising of a child in the faith means introducing him/her to the joy of gratitude and the delight of God’s love by accepting his/her own sexuality.

It is therefore understandable that deviations in the sexual arena, especially if they are presented as a desirable model for the functioning of society, exhaust all their strength only in moments of passion, yet after which, an eerie emptiness remains, and a sense of shame and a running away from God’s gaze. If we consider the desolation of gender ideology in this light, we can conclude that with each new form of sexual depravity, humanity sinks more and more into spiritual impersonality, through which many do not find their way to God, neither to other people, nor to themselves. It is the parents’ task to raise a child in such a way that he recognizes his sexuality as a gift from God, through which he is closely united to his Creator and Redeemer, but at the same time is firmly united to others, fulfilling his mission in life as a woman or a man.

This worldly view especially applies to spouses, who by fulfilling the first commandment written in the Book of Genesis: “Be fruitful and multiply!” (Genesis 1:28), should wholeheartedly strive for their own holiness, supported by the graces of the sacrament of marriage, and then pass on that holiness through education to their children, who will do the same to their own, and so on until the end of the world.[18] This is the magnificent task of married and family life, which according to God’s design is exclusively realized between a husband and his wife, exclusively as a man and as a woman, between the two together with their children, which cannot possibly be achieved in a same-sex union. Namely, the family is an image of the Holy Trinity, a miraculous exchange of communion and continuous love, the presence of God’s intimacy through the mystery of Christ’s humanity and the act of redemption in the intimacy of family mutual self-giving. It is also a reflection of the love between Christ and the Church, and as such it is the Church itself in miniature, the domestic Church, which draws its strength and effectiveness from the Eucharistic sacrifice. Since a same-sex union lacks the constitutive elements – a complementary sexual union that gives birth to life from mutual giving and family sharing in the Eucharistic bread – the source of divine love, it is impossible for it to convey what it does not possess or experientially understand. From this spiritual handicap, it cannot even understand the mystery of the sacrament of Baptism, the “door of faith”, the bath of liberation from sin, immersion in Christ’s passion and death and emerging with Him to a new life. If the same-sex partners themselves cannot understand this, because they have decided to live in sin and thereby trample on the wonderful memory of their own Baptism, how can they pass it on to the child?

In this light, as has been emphasized many times, they (same-sex partners) cannot raise a child in the faith, because at best they can teach him knowledge of catechism and good behavior, but they cannot instill in him an understanding of the purity of sexuality and how it is God’s gift. Without this guarantee, as required by all the church documents that have been examined, the sacrament of Baptism cannot be administered. Instead, pastors are called to teach those same-sex partners who, despite refusing to live according to God’s commandments still feel that the Church is their Mother, with all due patience and consideration for the one lost sheep, to encourage them to renounce sin and live in the true freedom of the children of God, so as to eradicate the obstacle to baptizing a child and remove the scandal, i.e., to demonstrate that they really care about his/her eternal good.


[1] Croatian translation: Rimski obrednik: Red Krštenja (Roman Ritual: The Rite of Baptism), Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 1970.

[2] Thus, for example, in the Code of Canon Law we read: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” Codex Iuris Canonici, auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II. promulgatus, in: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 75 (1983) 2; Croatian translation: Zakonik kanonskoga prava s izvorima (Code of Canon Law with sources), promulgated by the authority of Pope John Paul II, Glas Koncila, Zagreb, 21996, canon 1055, paragraph 1.

[3] With regard to theological reflections on the challenges of new forms of communal life, perhaps the most famous author in our country is Sr. J. R. Anić. She is usually criticized for not respecting church documents and general church teaching enough, and for promoting moral relativism and gender ideology. See more on her view of this reality in: Jadranka Rebeka ANIĆ, Kako razumjeti rod? Povijest rasprave i različita razumijevanja u Crkvi, Institut društvenih znanosti Ivo Pilar, (How to understand gender? The history of discussions and different understandings in the Church, Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences), Zagreb, 2011.

[4] Although Croatian legislation (still) does not allow the direct adoption of children by same-sex couples, it is possible to do it in a roundabout way, and since more often than not one of the persons from the partnership is also the biological parent, the terms parent / adoptive parent / guardian, are often used in everyday life and intertwine, without clear distinctions, so here, for the sake of easier navigation, we will mainly use the term “parent”, knowing that such parenting is always truncated, and sometimes non-existent. More on this legal predicament in, Cf. Mislav KUTLEŠA – Mladen ŠKVORC, Evolucija moralno-pravnog položaja istospolnih zajednica u Republici Hrvatskoj (The Evolution of the moral and legal position of same-sex unions in the Republic of Croatia), in: Bogoslovska smotra, 86 (2016) 1, pp. 213-235. With regard to the question of the possible administering of the sacrament of Baptism to a child of same-sex partners, it is worth paying attention to this commendable contribution: Mislav KUTLEŠA, Kršćansko oblikovanje odgovornog roditeljstva. Sakrament krsta pred izazovima novih modela roditeljstva (The Christian formation of responsible parenting. The Sacrament of Baptism facing the challenges of new models of parenting), in: Bogoslovska smotra, 87 (2017) 4, pp. 813-837.

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, mandated by Pope John Paul II. (1992), Croatian translation: Croatian Bishops’ Conference – Glas Koncila, Zagreb, 2016.

[6] CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, De Baptismo parvulorum (1980) – On the Baptism of infants (Latin and Croatian), in: Đuro PUKEC and Vladimir STANKOVIĆ (editors), Šeper – Materials for a Biography, 2, Nadbiskupski duhovni stol, Zagreb, 1983, pp. 490-521. According to the opening words, the Instruction is also called Pastoralis actio.

[7] CROATIAN BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE, Direktorij za pastoral sakramenata u župnoj zajednici (Directory for Pastoral Sacraments in the Parish Community), Glas Koncila, Zagreb, 2008.

[8] In Croatian theological terminology, we distinguish Krst – Baptism from Krštenje – the Rite of Baptism. Baptism is a sacrament, the grace received by the baptized person, while the Rite of Baptism is the ritual in which the sacrament of Baptism is administered.

[9] The Church distinguishes Baptism with water, desire and blood. Baptism with water is the regular way of administering the sacrament, which can be by immersion and pouring; Baptism by desire refers to those who were preparing for the sacrament, but died before receiving it, and Baptism in blood, refers to those who while preparing for the sacrament, were killed for their faith.

[10] Although the Code has undergone numerous modifications since its first edition in 1983, the canons listed here have remained unchanged, and they are listed according to the aforementioned edition. The same applies when citing the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

[11] More on this in: CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH, Donum vitae – The gift of Life, Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 1987, especially part II.; Ibid., Dignitas personaeThe dignity of the person, Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 2009.; Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2373-2379; HOLY SEE, Charter of Family Rights (1983), Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 32009, art. 4.

[12] Since human embryos are destroyed in the process of medically assisted conception, the same penalties apply here as in the case of abortion, i.e. the penalties are latae sententiae, sentence already passed, i.e. those that are applied by the very fact that the effect has occurred. The penalty for abortion is excommunication, i.e. denial of spiritual goods and rights that derive from the sacrament of Baptism. Thus, those who participate in any way in an intentional and direct abortion, that is, in the procedure of medically assisted conception, do not have the right to access the Sacrament of Reconciliation and cannot receive absolution, thereby denying them the right to receive communion.

[13] According to Croatian law, same-sex partners do not have the right to the joint adoption of a child or to medically assisted conception, but that right belongs to an unmarried and gainfully employed woman (not a man), hence, some decide to have this procedure first, and then enter into a same-sex partnership. Cf. Zakon o medicinski pomognutoj oplodnji (Law on Medically Assisted Fertilization), Art. 10, https://www.zakon.hr/z/248/Zakon-o-medicinski-pomgnutoj-oplodnji. Others find some further ways, for instance, through mutual cooperation between two same-sex couples, one male and one female, or in some other fashion. More on this in: Cf. Mislav KUTLEŠA – Mladen ŠKVORC, Etički izazovi reproduktivne medicine i Zakona o medicinski pomognutoj oplodnji u kontekstu istospolnih zajednica (Ethical challenges of reproductive medicine and the Law on Medically Assisted Fertilization in the context of same-sex unions), in: Nova prisutnost, 15 (2017) 1, p. 101-117. On the position of the Catholic Church on the legal recognition of same-sex unions: Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCRINE OF THE FAITH, Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons (2003), https://www.vjeraidjela.com/promisljanje-o-prijedlozima-za-zakonsko-priznavanje-zivotnih-zajednica-medu-homoseksualnim -to persons/.

[14] There are several church documents that speak of parents as the first heralds of faith and of the family, based on the marital union of husband and wife as a privileged place of upbringing. Here we cite only two statements: “…parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith for their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.” SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Lumen gentium. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964), in: Dokumenti, Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 72008, No. 11; “Handing on the faith presumes that parents themselves genuinely trust God.” POPE FRANCIS, Amoris Laetitia, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 2016, No. 287.

[15] Pope Francis has repeatedly warned about the dangers of gender ideology and called on many to oppose the ideological colonization that threatens the family. Cf. POPE FRANCIS, Amoris laetitia, No. 56.; Miodrag VOJVODIĆ (edited), Neki tvrde kako bi ‘papa Franjo glasao za ratifikaciju Istanbulske konvencije’…?! Evo što ovaj papa govori o rodnoj ideologiji i užasima ideološke kolonizacije, (Some claim that ‘Pope Francis would vote for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention’…?! Here’s what this pope says about gender ideology and the horrors of ideological colonization), https://www.bitno.net/vjera/formacija/papa-franjo-rodna-ideologija-kritika-istanbulska/; VATICAN NEWS – SC – PS, Pope: Obitelj je pod napadom, razne ideologije žele obezvrijediti ljudske vrijednosti, (The family is under attack, various ideologies want to devalue human values), https://www.vaticannews.va/hr/papa/news/2022-09/papa-obitelj-je-pod-napadom -ideologies-zele-ogoliti-ljudske-vr.html and other places. Cf. also CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, „Muško i žensko stvori ih“. Za put dijaloga o pitanju roda u odgoju, (“Male and female he created them”. Toward the path of dialogue on gender issues in education), Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 2019.

[16] The Rite of Baptism foresees possible adaptations for which the episcopal conferences, bishops and celebrants are competent, however, none of them are so broad that would allow for the rite to be modified that much, so as to be suitable for the Baptism of an infant of same-sex partners. As we have already stated, the highest ecclesiastical authority is responsible for changes to the rite, and no variations have occurred thus far. Therefore, it is the duty of every celebrant to strictly adhere to those parts of the rite which are unchangeable. In this light, it can be concluded that the RB in no way foresees the possibility of baptizing a child of same-sex partners. Cf. general notes, Nos. 30-35 and previous notes, Nos. 23-31.

[17] CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH, Persona humana – Ljudska osoba (Persona humana – The Human Person) (1975), Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 1976, No. 1. The following quote is worth mentioning: “Sexuality not only determines the physicality of an individual person, but also enters into the definition of the personal identity of that same person.” CROATIAN BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE, Direktorij za obiteljski pastoral Crkve u Hrvatskoj (Directory for Family Pastoral Care of the Church in Croatia), Kršćanska sadašnjost, Zagreb, 2002, No. 8.

[18] “If a person lives a harmonious married and family life, interwoven with the experience of mutual acceptance, trust, forgiveness, he transfers these same values ​​to social life: to his workplace, relationships in society, social structures and political life. The values children absorb growing up in the atmosphere of their parents’ married life and in the family environment, they carry with them into life and transfer them to their families, professional relationships and all other forms of social life.

The family is the cradle and basic unit of society. At the same time, it is the first and permanent place of upbringing and spiritual growth, not only for one person, but also for an entire nation. Thus, the family is the “spiritual genealogy” of an individual and the “focal point” of the civilization of love. Born within human society, it is at its center and is the foundation of its future. At the same time, human society has a strong influence on the stability, permanence and quality of married and family life, which is reflected back in the life of the social community.” CROATIAN BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE, Direktorij za obiteljski pastoral Crkve u Hrvatskoj, (Directory for Family Pastoral Care of the Church in Croatia), No. 1.


(Translated from Croatian)

Sakrament krsta pred izazovima rodne ideologije