The Diocese of Getafe, located in the Madrid region of Spain, is implementing a new pathway for parents who want to baptize their children.
Beginning in the 2023-2024 academic year, parents who wish to have their children baptized (especially those with uncertain faith or who baptize “out of tradition”) will be invited to follow a pathway to ensure that they make this decision with conviction and awareness.
The new Directory for Christian Initiation of the Diocese of Getafe requires parishes in the region to offer this opportunity, which also becomes a condition for administering baptism.
To prevent this from becoming a mere formalism, the Directory emphasizes the need for a relationship to be established between the parish priest, the baptismal pastoral team, and the family. The baptism date is considered last in this process. If, during discussions with the parents, there is no assurance that the child will grow up in an environment that fosters the practice and teaching of the Catholic faith, the parents will be offered primary resources ranging from Cursillos de Cristiandad (Christianity Workshops) to Alpha dinners, as well as Emaus retreats, and others.
In cases where parents do not accept, the diocese will offer them guidance to help them understand the need for this process before their child’s baptism. If they still do not wish to proceed, the baptism may be postponed.
Okay. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I can understand how it helps to ensure that families fully understand what they are getting into. But on the other hand, I’m not sure it’s helpful to create obstacles to grace. We’re talking about a young soul here. It also seems to be a pretty subjective judgment call to determine what it means to “grow up in an environment that fosters the practice of the Catholic faith.”
I can’t help but feel “postponing” baptism could very often mean “never getting” a baptism. (It happens. A lot.) Realistically, shouldn’t this kind of discussion be taking place before a couple gets married?