Friday, June 17, 2016

Animal Clergy

With characteristic charm our beloved Holy Father has described priests who refuse to baptise the children of single mothers as 'animals'. I would not refuse baptism for that reason, I do say that I expect to see parents or parent at Mass, that is about the only criteria I ask for.
My friend Fr Alexander Lucie Smith makes the very reasonable point:
By the time the engaged couple present themselves, saying they want to get married in Church, it is already too late to start preparation. Preparation for marriage needs to start before the couple have met; it needs to start in childhood, or even, to be on the safe side, at birth. After all, whom you marry is the most important decision you will ever make.
The problem is that the child of a parent who doesn't practice or live according to the Church's teaching -sometimes actually rejecting large portions of it- is unlikely to practice the faith or live it. Statistics prove that they are themselves unlikely to be able to make a stable marriage themselves, thus in a sense proving the Pope's second point which simply rocks the whole structure of Catholicism, that majority of marriages are invalid.
Perhaps we really do need to be more rigorous in our baptismal preparation. Though we might not decline to baptise, perhaps we should defer it. Perhaps using the baptism of children to encourage parents to marry, to form a stable relationship in which to educate or bring up a child is not such a bad thing.
Maybe the Church, and couples but especially children might be better served by a few animals.


Anil Wang said...

The problem is actually the reverse. Baptisms for parents who attend mass are good and should not be delayed.

IMO, the core problem is that Confirmation is differed and Marriage Preparation is treated as a catechetical course. These cause several issues:
(1) Children are left without the sacramental grace of Confirmation until Grade 7 (in Canada at least)
(2) Confirmation is treated as a graduation that's earned (especially since it takes place near school graduation) rather than an unearned grace that's received in love.
(3) Homilies don't include catechetics (especially marriage catechetics), since "it's taken care of in marriage prep and confirmation".
(4) People aren't getting catechized, either because they aren't confirmed (either by choice because before they have knowledge of what they're choosing or because their families drift from the faith) or they marry outside the Church (without realizing that they must marry in the Church because they aren't catechized) or because they simply stop coming to Church because they don't know they should or think "they're being fed" at the local Protestant Service that actually tries to preach the faith.

My solution to the problem is simplify both confirmation and marriage (except for the discernment period and if the priest believes a couple really doesn't know the faith), and add an extra 5-10 minutes to each homily. That 5-10 minutes simply walks through the essential parts of the Catechism in a year and includes all core materials from the confirmation and marriage prep classes.

IMO, if this is 5-10 minutes is invested, the age of confirmation to the age of first communion and restore the proper order of the sacraments, Catholic Identity will begin to be restored, and "the reform of the reform" can finally take hold because people will understand enough not to fight it and actually welcome it. Without it, any effort to restore the Church will have to rely on the sheer will of outstanding priests, which by definition are the exception rather than the rule.

Liam Ronan said...

Why put God Himself to the test by delaying the baptism of the child, Father, when Baptism is necessary for the very salvation of the child?

"But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such." - Matthew 19:14

Fr Ray Blake said...

Baptism is certainly necessary but the presumption for infants is faith, as with adults. We baptise infants if they already belong to the "household of faith". It would be sacrilege to separate baptism from faith.

Jacobi said...

No Human Being is an animal. Baptism is a Sacrament. It can be given with intent to any Human Being. It is up to Christ then to judge.

Intent to marry for life, regardless, is the essence of a valid marriage. A simple question put separately to each will settle that .

As for animals, can't stand dogs. But I like cats!

BEANO44 said...

This is not the first time Francis has said this? He obviously wants to push it and it never resonated sufficiently through the Church the first time he said it.

Nicolas Bellord said...

But has not Pope Francis said that all animals go to heaven? So perhaps you are okay Father!

JARay said...

A certain John Carmel Heenan when he was Bishop of Leeds ordered a certain letter to be read in all parishes in the Leeds Diocese on the first Sunday of every month.
I remember it well.
It began as follows:-
"The Faithful are warned of the grave dangers of mixed marriages. Whilst many are partners to, or children of, such marriages, nevertheless the majority either lose their Faith or their Fervour...."
The constant repetition, every month, certainly got that message home. As I say, I remember it well!
I cannot see a certain Vincent Cardinal Nichols making such an edict!

Liam Ronan said...

@Father Blake,

Mark 10:13-14 is more pointed about Our Lord's reaction:

"And they brought to him young children, that he might touch them. And the disciples rebuked them that brought them. Whom when Jesus saw, he was much displeased..." Douay-Rheims Translation.

The question I suppose is how much faith must the parent/parents/godparents evidence to convince the minister of the sacrament that baptism ought be conferred.

Marc said...

I'd point out that Mr Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture writes that, "... Were the reports accurate? With regard to the 1st quotation, the answer, fortunately, is No. The Pope’s remark, made in an ad-lib response to a question, was terribly disjointed and difficult to follow. But apparently he intended to say that some priests treat children (or possibly their unwed mothers) as 'animals'. He did not aim that insult at the priests themselves." [] Where he obtained that 'clarification', I have no idea. And in any case, it only marginally betters the situation.

Fr Ray Blake said...

That is even worse.

Mr Grumpy said...

The animals thing is just a terrible translation, what he was actually saying was that priests who refuse baptism to children of unmarried mothers are treating the children and/or mothers "as if they were animals" (Come fossero animali). You may or may not agree, but it is not mere abuse.

Mr Grumpy said...

PS The original Italian of the "animals" quote is here (answer to first question):

Mr Grumpy said...

PPS He says the priests in question were in a diocese neighbouring Buenos Aires.

John Fisher said...

Our reasoning is very skewed. The Pope way have opinions on many things but these opinions are open to ignorance, vanity and yes even personal instability. The Pope does not know if the vast majority of sacramental marriages are invalid. He can't see into peoples hearts and wills. It's an ignorant comment and unworthy of him. I think it's his unstable personality. This will increase as he ages and perhaps we will have another case like the nutty Pope wh suppressed the Jesuits and thought he b
Society can be induced to sin. One example obvious example was slavery. Buying captured Africans from Moslems and using them as cheap labour. It was legal but immoral and many took advantage of it because they could including Washington and Jefferson. Catholic get civil divorces because they can. Its an option which induces divorce. The gay ideology is another form of slavery that induces and captures those who go there. Options that are immoral entice and induce immorality destroying lives.
Lets not forget the nutty appeaser Pope Clement whose election in 1769 like that of Pope Francis was the "victim of such overweening interference, base intrigues, and unwarranted pressure. The ambassadors of France (d’Aubeterre) and Spain (Azpuru) and the Cardinals de Bernis (France) and Orsini (Naples) led the campaign. He was so unstable the Brief, "Dominus ac Redemptor" opens with the statement that it is the pope's office to secure in the world the unity of mind in the bonds of peace. He must therefore be prepared, for the sake of charity, to uproot and destroy the things most dear to him, whatever pains and bitterness their loss may entail. Often the popes, his predecessors, have made use of their supreme authority for reforming, and even dissolving, religious orders which had become harmful and disturbed the peace of the nations rather than promoted it. "Our predecessors, in virtue of the plenitude of power which is theirs as Vicars of Christ, have suppressed such orders without allowing them to state their claims or to refute the grave accusations brought against them, or to impugn the motives of the pope." Clement was obviously a nut. Clement has now to deal with a similar case, that of the Society of Jesus. Having enumerated the principal favours granted it by former popes, he remarks that "the very tenor and terms of the said Apostolic constitutions show that the Society from its earliest days bore the germs of dissensions and jealousies which tore its own members asunder, led them to rise against other religious orders, against the secular clergy and the universities, nay even against the sovereigns who had received them in their states".
Francis is an unstable egoist who thinks his thoughts must be profound because he is Pope. We will continually be assailed by his opinions until his death. We should look back in our history and see men like Francis who use authority to impose themselves mistaking themselves for the Gospel. It is hard and will be increasingly hard for us to separate the dross from the seed. My own opinion is we will have more guff like this to deal with.

Gregkanga said...

In the context of the current sacramental crisis of the Church, the sacrament of Baptism is not only necessary for salvation, but the gateway to all the other sacraments. As such it is the most important sacrament in the Church and a Catholic's life. It should not be administered to anyone who has not been evangelised, and in the case of infants, unevangelised parents. Sacraments and Grace, like faith are suppose to bear fruit, fruit that will last! How is it possible to effectively bear fruit, if the Church persists in throwing sacraments at unevangelised people, who do not have a relationship with Christ and his Body, the Church? This practice lies at the heart of the problem or should I say the crisis. If you look closely at the preparation for the sacrament of Baptism, especially for infants, you will find that it is fundamentally inadequate and incoherently done, and hardly ever touched upon or preached about from the pulpit after the sacrament has been administered. The Church, mainly through episcopal policies of sacramentalising unevangelised children, have produced nothing but two generations of lapsed Catholics.

Jacobi said...

@ G
Except in an emergency. Otherwise, correct!

Mr Grumpy said...

In justice to the translator I should say that my criticism of the translation was based on the transcript. I've now checked the video and what he actually said would need much better Italian than mine to decypher - it certainly isn't the same as the transcript.

Gillineau said...

Isn't the bit re. valid marriage what Card. Muller said only a bit ago, to general traddie approval?

George said...

George25/6/16 6:38 pm
Fr Ray, this is a tough one for me to understand. Would you also encourage Protestants not to get baptized or their children, since those baptisms also would be separated from the fullness of the faith, at best attached to a partial, imperfect faith?


Fr Ray Blake25/6/16 7:40 pm
I would encourage all to deepen their faith - superstition is not faith.
If those presenting a child are not able to answer the questions in the Rite, I believe they should lie - do you disagree?


George26/6/16 5:57 pm
That's tough to think about. My parents were very nominal. We never went to church. But I am happy that I had a baptism and at least nominal Catholicity. I'm fully praticing today, married with 8 children.

But you raise a good point. Perhaps the implicit faith of just showing up and desiring baptism should be sufficient?

Unknown said...

This is one of those remarks where the Pope is actually more conservative than people give Him credit for. The Pope here, is taking seriously the age old belief that one must be baptised to enter the beatific vision. If as a Priest you deny it, and the child dies at age 6 months, where does that child spend eternity? The official teaching is: "We DON'T KNOW". That is one of the reasons you DON'T delay infant baptism for ANY reason. And as a Priest, do you want to stand before God having denied Baptism to a child who died, to find out that particular child is denied the beatific vision because of you? What would your particular judgment be? Where would you spend eternity? How many extra centuries in purgatory would you be?

While I do agree with Father that "Baptism and faith" are sort of intertwined, that is based on the fact that, in the first century, the child were ASSUMED to belong to the religion of their parents. It was unheard of that the child would not be considered what the parents were. However, the church has always insisted on not delaying the sacrament, and I think we have to be careful of "assuming' salvation for those unfortunates who die without baptism before the age of reason. God bless, everyone! :-)

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