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British judge rules 10-year-old Jewish girl may seek baptism

Catholic World News - August 03, 2012

A British judge has ruled that a 10-year-old Jewish girl may convert to Anglicanism and seek baptism.

“Clearly her upbringing for the first eight years of her life lacked any significant religious teaching upon which her own moral compass could be based,” the judge stated in his ruling. At the age of eight, her parents divorced, and her father converted to Christianity. When the girl decided to seek baptism, her mother and maternal grandparents filed suit, alleging the child had been brainwashed.

The girl spends alternate weeks with her father and mother.

“I accept the evidence of the father that it was [the child] who asked to accompany him to church, that it has been her wish to continue to attend regularly with him, that it is her wish to learn more about Christianity, and her wish to be baptized,” the judge stated. “Her exposure to Christian teaching and her positive reaction to that clearly indicates that she has an emotional need which is being met by this experience.”

“I am satisfied that [the child’s] welfare interests are best served by allowing her to be enrolled in a baptism class and to present herself for baptism into the Christian church as soon as she is ready,” the judge continued. “If the mother feels unable to accept this judgment and consent to this course of action it may proceed without her consent.”

“I have made it clear to the parties that I have no power to order [the child] to be baptized,” he added. “That is as decision for the Minister of her church to take in the light of his evaluation of her understanding and commitment, so far as he judges those criteria to be relevant. My powers are limited to considering whether the father should be prohibited from taking any positive steps towards his daughter's baptism and in terms of any specific issues order directing that such steps may be taken without the consent of the mother.”

The judge also ordered the mother to permit the girl to attend church during the alternate Sundays she is living with her.

“Being baptized does not mean that you give up your Jewish heritage,” the judge said in a separate letter to the child. “That will always be part of you and I hope that you will continue to learn more about that heritage and about your mother's faith. Even after you are baptized you are still free to change your mind about your faith later when you are older. Finally, and this is the most important thing, both your mother and father will carry on loving you just as much whatever happens about your baptism.”

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: demark8616 - Aug. 05, 2012 11:46 AM ET USA

    It is very encouraging to read news like this. Yes, all is not lost!

  • Posted by: bruno - Aug. 04, 2012 2:53 PM ET USA

    I think the real story here is how damaging divorce is and how poorly prepared many couples are entering into marriage. Did they never discuss how their children were to be raised? That's a pretty basic conversation for an intermarriage. Sad that it needed to be decided in a court of law!

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Aug. 03, 2012 2:25 PM ET USA

    This girl has a right to the supernatural life only baptism can give. Although Anglicans have no valid orders their baptism is still valid provided the the baptismal formula used in correct. This is a step in the right direction towards the Catholic Church.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 03, 2012 1:11 PM ET USA

    What a beautiful example of rational and compassionate justice from the British bench. All is not lost.

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