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Pope baptizes 32 babies, stresses parents' role in fostering faith

Catholic World News - January 13, 2014

Pope Francis baptized 32 babies on Sunday, January 13, and told their parents: “You have the duty of transmitting faith to these children. It is the most beautiful inheritance you can offer them.”

It is traditional for the Pontiff to baptize children on the feast of the Lord’s Baptism, and Pope Francis honored that tradition with the annual ceremony in the Sistine Chapel. The Holy Father celebrated Mass ad orientem, rather than bringing a movable altar into the Sistine Chapel.

The Pope drew some extra attention to the rite by baptizing one child whose parents had been married in a civil ceremony rather than in a church wedding. The couple had approached the Pontiff during an audience, asking him to baptize their child. It was not clear from media reports whether the couple had regularized their marriage canonically.

In the past, Pope Francis has argued strongly in favor of baptizing children whose parents are not married. The Code of Canon Law allows for such baptisms, if the minister has a reasonable expectation that the child will be brought up in the Catholic faith. In the case of the January 13 baptism, the couple was legally married; the only question was whether they were properly married in the eyes of the Church.

“I like to baptize children,” the Pope said after the ceremony in the Sistine Chapel, as he addressed his regular midday audience; “I like it very much.” Reflecting on the day’s Gospel, which recounted the Lord’s Baptism, the Pope said that Jesus submitted to Baptism as a sign of his complete identification with his people, having come to serve mankind in an act of charity.

“Does it not appear to you that we all need a supplement of charity?” the Pope asked his audience. To clarify, he said that he was referring not to “occasional help without involvement,” but true self-giving charity that entails “sharing, taking on the discomfort and suffering of one’s brother.”

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  • Posted by: FredC - Jan. 13, 2014 7:44 PM ET USA

    The pope has shown that we need to baptize any child that has a reasonable chance of being raised Catholic.

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