Pope Francis, aka my favorite pope (and not just because his name is awesome) performed the traditional Baptism Of The Lord mass today, and along with 31 other children, baptized the infant of an unmarried couple, a first ever for this ceremony. He went on to say that priests (and presumably former popes) who refused to do this in the past are hypocrites, a charge I fully agree with.
Now, baptizing the children of unmarried couples is nothing new for the Catholic church, which I’m sure all of our Catholic readers can attest to. As a former Catholic, I’ve attended plenty of my friend’s id’s baptisms, and many of them are or were unmarried. So this would be par for the course in a regular, neighborhood parish. But for the head of the Roman Catholic Church to not only baptize what the church considers and “illegitimate child,” but to openly condemn priests who won’t, is kind of a big deal.
This isn’t the first time that Pope Francis has encouraged priests to baptise babies with unmarried parents, but it’s certainly the most obvious. According to the Vatican Network:
“You parents have the baby boy or girl to be baptised, but in a few years it will be they who will have a baby to be baptised, or a grandchild… And so goes the chain of faith.
‘What does this mean? I would just tell you this: you are the ones that transmit the faith, the transmitters, you have a duty to pass on the faith to these children. It ‘s the most beautiful legacy that you leave to them: the faith.”
As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I’m an atheist, but I was raised in the Catholic faith. So, personally, the idea of it being someone’s “duty” to pass on the faith isn’t something I am completely comfortable with. But I think the spirit of the idea is absolutely correct. If the church wants parents to pass down the faith, they must be inclusive to these parent.s And yes, that needs to include unmarried parents, and hopefully gay parent, and others who fall outside of the very narrow spectrum of what’s considered acceptable in the church. In an era where less and less people are willing to take religious vows and church numbers are incredibly low they need all the parishioners they can get.