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Kristy WithTwoSons wrote:

Hello all,

My question is more of a concern.

My husband and his family are Catholic and all baptized. They would like our son (12 months old) and new son, due next month, baptized together.

I am not Catholic nor have I been baptized in any Christian church however I am very supportive of the values of the Church and can say that I try to live true to those values every day.

I am fine with my sons being baptized in the Church but I have concerns.

My husband attends Church on the important days and observes Lenten rules. He has two children from a previous marriage who have been baptized and receive Communion. He was previously married in the Church and, although we have discussed it, he has not been divorced in the Church yet, so as I see it, the Church still recognizes his marriage to his ex-wife.

We have a tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife, who tends to enjoy controlling my husband when we have custody of his children. Her name is very similar to mine, and since she still has my husband's last name, there is a lot of confusion at schools, doctor's offices, etc., as to who is who. She left my husband in order to be with women and does not seem to have any motivation to confirm the divorce in the Church. So here is my question/concern:

  • How would my husband's status, being still married in the Church to his ex-wife, affect our son's Baptisms?

I believe this is more of a pride issue for myself than anything but this is my family and I feel a bit like an outsider in the whole process.


  { How would my husband's status: (still officially married in the Church) affect our son's Baptisms? }

Eric replied:


The irregular marriage doesn't sacramentally affect the baptism. If the Baptism has already been cleared with the priest given the circumstances, there should not be an issue. Theoretically, the priest has a right to defer the Baptism according to his own discretion. The relevant canon (Church law) is as follows:

Canon 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

  1. the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;
  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: New English Translation. (1998). (p. 285). Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America.

Unless the priest concludes that given the irregular marriage situation, there is not a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion, which is unlikely, there won't be an issue. There is no explicit rule that says that those in an irregular marriage cannot have their children baptized. Such a situation is not the children's fault, and they should not be punished or denied Baptism for it.

By the way, just a note of language; the Catholic faith does not recognize divorce at all. What it recognizes is a declaration of nullity. This is what your husband should seek.

  • A divorce is a dissolution of a real marriage
  • a declaration of nullity (popularly referred to as an annulment) is a declaration that the marriage was defective from the beginning in a manner so severe that it never came into being in the first place.

An obvious example is if both parties were adopted and did not know when they got married that they were brother and sister, or first cousins. That would be an invalid marriage.

There are a wide variety of grounds for annulment.


Mike replied:

Dear Kristy,

You said:
I am not Catholic nor have I been baptized in any Christian church however I am very supportive of the values of the Church and can say that I try to a live true to those values every day.

I am fine with my sons being baptized but I have concerns.

In addition to Eric's fine answer, I would encourage you to pray that the Holy Spirit guide you in your current situation. There are a lot of benefits and graces to being a Catholic Christian which will help you stay true to the values you mentioned.

If, over time, you feel called to join your family in the faith, make an appointment with the local pastor to discuss your current marital situation and the possibilities of becoming a Catholic.

Being a Catholic and being a Christian do not involve believing two different faiths. The word Catholic means in its totality. So the Catholic faith is the Christian faith in its totality as St. Pacian of Barcelona implied back in 375 A.D. and the Catechism states in CCC 830.

Check out my Favorites page for more . . .

and remember, with God, nothing is impossible.


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