Q: Greetings from Australia! I hope you don’t mind me contacting you with a thorny pastoral issue.
I’m seeing two parents who have requested baptism for their daughter – 2 years. Neither are Roman Catholic and after a great conversation and listening to their story – which involves serious illness for her a few years back which resulted in a move toward thinking about becoming an Roman Catholic – and he is supportive and has Roman Catholic grandparents – they’ve been coming to Mass for several months. Both have expressed a desire to become Roman Catholics and we’ve been discussing how best to do that. However, she has aged family and has asked if is possible to celebrate the child’s baptism earlier than their initiation. We’ve got the same problem as when they first came to me: neither parent currently Roman Catholic so who would make the promises.
I’m wondering: if we celebrated the Rite of entrance into the catechumenate for the parents, and they become catechumens, are they able to make the promises as the parents at the child’s baptism?
I’d appreciate your comment and suggestions regarding what can be done within the liturgical law.
A: Canon 868 §1 says the child may be baptized if one parent agrees and if there is a “founded hope” that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion.
You may have a founded hope already. Entrance into the order of catechumens would strengthen it. You have another option – you could advance the baptism of the parents before Easter of next year if you thought that this deserved consideration. With permission of the bishop you could use the Christian Initiation of Adults in Exceptional Circumstances, which begins at paragraph 307 in the Australian RCIA, and baptize the parents when you intend to baptize the girl.