Q: We’ve been approached by someone who is curious about the church, but not sure if he wants to join. He is unbaptized, as are his 2 children. He is divorced and his wife lives out of State; I’m not sure yet if the relationship is amicable or not. I have only spoken with his now girlfriend who is a member of our parish. The children are about or under catechetical age. The parishioner who called (his girlfriend) is asking if and when it might be possible to baptize the children; saying that the father would agree to that.
Does one of the parents have to be baptized or received Catholic in order for us to baptize their children?
A: I think you need two results from this investigation: A tacit approval of both natural parents for the baptism of the children, and reasonable assurance that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith.
I’d go cautiously with this case. We may baptize on the approval of one parent, but in prudence it would be good to get the other parent’s view. If the other parent objects, I would make the pastoral decision not to baptize those kids.
The church does not absolutely require that a parent raise the child in the faith, but that there is reasonable assurance that the child will be raised. If the only committed Catholic in this case is the girlfriend of the father, again, I’d make the pastoral decision not to baptize those kids. It all sounds risky.