CORDOBA, Argentina — Archbishop Carlos Nanez of Cordoba, Argentina, explained that the recent baptism of a baby who is being raised by her biological mother and the woman’s lesbian partner is not an endorsement of their lifestyle.
Rather, he said in statements to CNA, the case “is like that of any other person who asks for baptism.”
“The one who is receiving baptism is the girl. It is her right,” he underscored.
His comments came in response to the baptism of Umma Azul at the cathedral of Cordoba on April 5. Azul is the biological daughter of Soledad Ortiz, a woman who contracted a civil marriage with her same-sex partner Kartina Villarroel under Argentinian law last year.
Denying media reports that he had met with the lesbian couple and even authorized that they receive the sacrament of confirmation, Archbishop Nanez said that “they came here without speaking to me and were directed to a parish where they had to fulfill the necessary requirements for preparation for baptism.”
He added that he has spoken about the case with Cardinal Antonio Canizares, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, “so the Holy See is aware of this.”
The archbishop noted that one of the commitments made by the parents and godparents of a child who is baptized is to raise him or her in the faith.
“When it comes to this, I think the people's goodwill is what is at stake,” he said. “Many people come to us to have their children baptized, and we vouch for their goodwill, but we do not have the absolute certainty that they are going to respect this or that their lives are completely consistent with the values of the Gospel.”
“The Church in that matter demonstrates that she is a merciful and wide-reaching mother, in order to open the doors of salvation,” he continued. “Baptism is a right of every human person, and I think that the Holy Father as well, ever since he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, always advocated for great openness in administering these sacraments.”
Archbishop Nanez warned that media reports on the baptism have been distorted.
“This is about the baptism of a girl who has the right to receive this sacrament, and as much as possible, we strive to ensure that the conditions are met for its correct administration,” he said.
“The media is often manipulated,” the archbishop stressed, “and we have to take a critical view. Not everything that the newspapers or the press says is true.”
Addressing a group of Italian priests in August 2006, then-Pope Benedict XVI also defended the baptism of children whose parents may not be entirely adherent to the Church’s beliefs.
He described baptismal preparation as “a missionary commitment that goes beyond the boundaries of people who are already ‘faithful.’”
“Baptism, its preparation and the commitment to giving continuity to the baptismal promises, already puts us in contact with those who are not convinced believers,” he said. “It is not, let us say, a task of preserving Christianity, but, rather, an encounter with people who may seldom go to church.”
Pope Francis has similarly defended the baptism of children whose parents are not in a valid marriage.
“The child has absolutely no responsibility for the state of his parents' marriage,” he reportedly told Italian magazine 30 Giorni during his time as a cardinal in Argentina in 2009. “And, often, a baptism can be a new start for the parents as well.”