Baptising babies violates human rights – for life!

The Irish Times

Baptising babies into the Catholic Church suppresses people’s freedoms for life, the former Irish president says.

Mary McAleese thinks the Church needs to overhaul the practice of baptising babies. She says it violates 21st-century human rights.

In an address to Oxford University, McAleese said canon law claims the Church is entitled to limit, compromise and control church members’ rights.

This entitlement is tied into the “christening contract which most of us slept or cried through,” she said.

Her talk – entitled ‘Baptismal obligations? Revisiting the christening contract – a necessary prelude to any synodal journey’ – called for a change in two aspects of infant baptism.

McAleese told her audience that she – and an increasing number of educated laity – would like changes made to the way baptism imposes lifelong obligations and compulsory obedience to church teaching.

Babies cannot understand what is being promised on their behalf, she explained.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “having become a member of the Church, from now on, he is [we are] called to obey and submit to the Church’s leaders.”

There’s no way in canon law the 37,000-per day infants baptised into the church can “escape even when they become capable of understanding their implications,” she said.

An alternative to the christening contract could be developed, McAleese suggested.

This should offer members an opportunity for expressing a voluntary commitment to these obligations when they are mature enough to do so.

Contemporary understanding of human rights, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have overtaken Canon Law’s limits on people’s freedom of conscience, opinion, belief and religion, she said.

In her opinion, Canon Law and the Catholic Church are at a “crossroads”.

McAleese, who is a canon lawyer, said and there was “evidence of panic” at the top of the Church “and a familiar degree” of denial.

“Some old and some new enemies are blamed for the serial crises in the Church; secularism, relativism, feminism, gay cabals, atheism, selfish individualism, sectarianism, a hostile media,” she said.

The Catholic Church’s “imperial top-down model of control” which centralises power in a clerical elite and “obliges unquestioning loyalty from the lay and paying masses” is not simply outmoded, it is no longer fit for purpose and never was, she said.

It has damaged itself by its own mistakes and has shattered its reputation by abuse scandals.

The Church is hollowing out faith from the inside and its control system had skewed relationships between the laity, the clergy and the hierarchy making the laity been unequal Church citizens, excluded from discernment and decision-making.

“So, we can say truthfully of Church teaching it has been a case of ‘everything about us – without us’.

“It still is and will remain so regardless of synodality,” she warned.

In March, the Irish bishops announced they were planning for a national synod for the Church in Ireland.


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