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BY The Editors
Changes in Baptism?
Regarding "The Drama of the Catholic Grandparent" (In Depth, Oct. 7 issue):
In the article, Father Greg Markey, says, "This practice (baptizing without consent of parents) is contrary to Church law and sinful," and "no one, not even a grandparent, has the right to baptize a child contrary to the parents’ will."
I shall not, and am in no position, to dispute Father Markey’s statement.
My sincere question is: Why did the nuns that taught us catechism and the priest who also taught us catechism teach us to do that at the first opportunity if the child was even slightly ill? It was not if in mortal danger, but at the first opportunity when illness comes.
Why did our bishop in Saskatchewan in the 1960s also tell us it is our duty to do so? We were not grandparents at the time. We were only teenagers, but it was directed to teach us what to do when we became adults.
Did the Code of Canon Law change that much? Why is it that something that not only was not wrong at the time, but also was a duty, has now become sinful? Is it that there is one law in Canada and another law in the U.S.?
Father Markey responds: The nuns were doing good work in teaching you how to baptize.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law reiterates the traditional teaching, "In case of necessity, any person who has the requisite intention may do so (baptize). Pastors of souls, especially parish priests, are to be diligent in ensuring that Christ’s faithful are taught the correct way to baptize" (Canon 861).
By emphasizing the illness of the child, I imagine that these diligent nuns were trying to impress upon everyone the urgency of baptism, for fear that any child would die without this most necessary sacrament for salvation.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law, which would have been the guiding law in the 1960s, also reserved baptism by a layperson only "in case of danger of death" (Canon 759).
I am not sure if Saskatchewan was considered missionary territory in the 1960s, but for mission territories this canon did not require that the person be at the actual point of death.
For example, some mission territory did not have a regular attending priest. Therefore, the catechists usually baptized children recently born, who, although at the moment were in reasonably good health, may have easily died before the priest arrived.
In regard to your coverage of religious freedom in the United States:
"The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of mankind" (Thomas Paine, 1776).
This means that the people who found and created America found and created it so that they could have a place where there’s freedom of speech, religion and assembly.
America was founded for specific reasons. People wanted a place where they could be free — free from a government that told them what their religion should be and what their opinions should be.
People didn’t have any religious freedom then in England, and even now, in some countries, some people still don’t.
Imagine if we all wore the same clothes every day; if we all had the same style of hair, same favorite stuff, same career choices. Everyone would not have any characteristics that separated them from everyone else.
But, thanks to our Founding Fathers, we are all allowed to be different. They followed God by letting us use our consciences and be how we are and do what good things we believe in. Though some of us have a lot in common, no one is exactly alike. Even twins may look alike, but they are very different on the inside.
These are just some examples of the point the above quote makes. It explains why America was formed and what freedoms we have that were meant for our country.
The Declaration of Independence gives us those freedoms. If I were to say something to our Founding Fathers, I would say, "Thank you for being different."
Elma, New York
Editor’s note: Trinity, 12, is a student at Annunciation Catholic School in Elma, N.Y.
I am not a Catholic, but I am married to one, and our marriage was blessed by the Church.
I just read the Health and Human Services’ mandate language for women’s care. While I understand Catholics stand against any form of birth control, other than the natural kind, the hypocrisy of not providing co-pay-free condoms floors me.
It seems that the ridiculous nature of the contraception mandate would be illuminated by asking why condoms are not covered.
Contraception is used for an elective activity. If an employer does not want to buy an insurance plan that covers a facelift, why does an employer have to cover contraception through its group health plan? And if an employer must cover contraception with no co-payment for women, why, then, doesn’t the equal-protection clause require condoms to be reimbursed under the same insurance?
It’s seems to me, then, that not only does the mandate violate Article 6 and the First Amendment of the Constitution, but also the 14th Amendment.
I say Article 6 because the mandate establishes a religious test to be an employer.
The letter of Father Al Fritsch ("Fair Play?" Letters to the Editor, Nov. 4 issue) requires a response.
What, pray tell, does "fair" mean? Is it fair for one person to be smarter, physically superior, work harder or be born in a better country than another?
In his "fair share of taxes," what would he propose for the wealthiest?
Does he realize that the top 1% pay more than 35% of the income taxes, or that the top 10% pay some 70%, and the top 40% pay over 95% of the taxes?
The bottom 5% of wage earners only pay about 4% of the taxes. Is that fair?
The vague definition of the poor also includes the young and others at part-time work in well-to-do families, people just starting work, those being paid in cash but not reported, many in the military and those in prison. Nor does their income include the social transfer payments such as food stamps, welfare, housing, et al.
At 100% of completely confiscatory taxes for the rich (which he does not define), not only would the economy tank — but it would only pay a minimal portion of our debt.
Then there would be no more economy to tax at all. These "rich" are also the people creating jobs with their income surplus. And, these days, many economists rightfully point out consumption is a better gauge of our economy — and this has shown the bottom quartile is doing better on an inflation-adjusted scale.
To further say our tax structure has caused the national debt is naive at best. It was created by excessive federal government spending over the years.
You can’t run up a massive debt if you don’t overspend in the first place. And most of the social spending has proven worthless or even counterproductive.
Also, he should understand income mobility, the vast movement from one income class to another as people mature, and that the lowest income groups have financially grown faster in percentage of income than any other since the 1990s.
He further calls climate change a "major right-to-life issue." I suspect he refers to man-made climate change, which has yet to be definitively proven, with many models calling it less than 1% of the cause. And most models do not include water vapor, a very large factor. I trust he does realize that the Earth has experienced vastly larger changes for thousands of years before industrialization than the worst predictions of most models.
Finally, even many of the models show that an increase in temperature would be more beneficial to agriculture in northern climates than the losses would be elsewhere.
To call some of these issues equal to abortion — the murder of innocent children — is unbelievable. Father may be a good priest, but he is completely lost in his comprehension of economics or what constitutes the culture of death.
Holy Land Experience
Pertinent to "Finding Holiness in the Holy Land" (Travel, History & Saints, Oct. 21 issue):
The article interested me, as I had recently made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
At the Mount of Beatitudes, I experienced a quiet, serene area, where many people were in groups singing, praying and visiting (groups from France, the U.S. and Ireland). No peddlers or beggars.
I did see poor areas, but I also saw wealth. I saw armed forces, but I never felt threatened. Mostly, I saw evidence of a great miracle of one man’s three-year ministry in a small area and the effect it had on the whole world.
I recommend a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
God bless, and may the Lord keep you safe.
Re: "Oldest Church in Nashville Tells of City’s Rich History" in our Nov. 4 issue: The current pastor of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows Church in Nashville, Tenn., is Father John Sims Baker. His last name was omitted inadvertently in the text of the article. Also, his predecessor is Father James Norman Miller. The Register regrets these errors.