Ireland’s former president: baptism forces babies to be Catholic

Ireland’s former president, Mary McAleese, says baptising babies is a violation of their human rights.

By baptising children before they have reached the age of reason, the Church is creating “infant conscripts who are held to lifelong obligations of obedience,” she says.

“You can’t impose, really, obligations on people who are only two weeks old and you can’t say to them at seven or eight or 14 or 19 ‘here is what you contracted, here is what you signed up to’ because the truth is they didn’t,” she says.

McAleese says the current model of baptism “worked for many centuries because people didn’t understand that they had the right to say no, the right to walk away.”

“But you and I know, we live now in times where we have the right to freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of opinion, freedom of religion and freedom to change religion.

“The Catholic Church yet has to fully embrace that thinking.”

McAleese is a practising Catholic who holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

In 2012 she published a book – “Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law”.

McAleese is also a vocal opposer of Church teachings on homosexuality and women’s ordination.

Speaking at a We Are Church event at Gonzaga College in Dublin on June 16, said she had voted Yes in the May 25 referendum that removed pro-life protections for the unborn from the Irish constitution.

In the past she was firmly pro-life. She says her vote was “not a sin,” despite a bishop’s remarks that Catholics who voted Yes needed to go to confession.

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