Week 21 ~ September 6, 2006
~ Baptism Issues
It's been a quiet post-holiday week around here. Dan has started school and really likes it so far. It's funny having him spreading homework out on the kitchen table, working through problem sets, scheduling things like pre-natal classes and doctor's appointments around his mid-terms and finals, etc. It's not something either of us could have ever imagined in college! We had a great time with my in-laws . . . lots of nutritious meals and down-time, a beautiful hike, good conversation.
One thing I told both my mother and my mother-in-law about when they were here that I haven't yet mentioned in this journal is the situation with baptizing my kids. I am Catholic. Dan was baptized Catholic but isn't really any religion, unless skeptical open-mindedness is a religion. We were married in a Catholic ceremony, and he's always been supportive of me going to church and raising any children we have Catholic.
So my problem isn't with anyone in my family. It's with the church itself. I picked up the baptism brochure at my new church last month and discovered that godparents not only must be Catholic but they must have a letter from their parish stating that they are active members. That eliminates most of our friends and everyone in either of our families who we would want to be godparents for our twins. Dan's sister isn't any more Catholic than he is. My brother and sister don't go to church any more and haven't for years. And we still need a fourth person, who isn't very likely to be Catholic either.
This really irritates me. I know the reason behind it: the godparents are supposed to be spiritual advisers for the child. But the reality is, the role of godparent (regardless of which Christian church you belong to) is really a symbolic honor designed to create a bond between your child and an adult friend or family member you love (nobody would call The Godfather of the movie a great spiritual adviser, though he was certainly Catholic). I've never heard of anyone whose spiritual education was overseen by a godparent. My sister, brother and I don't have "all Catholic" godparents. Under the rules I read in that brochure, the only people I know well at all who are qualified to be godparents are my mom and two grandmothers-which would be ridiculous.
My mother-in-law told me I should go talk to the priest about the situation. I think she's right. Surely it's more important that the babies get the sacrament than that their godparents fulfill some bureaucratic requirement. I've been putting off the task, however. I'm not sure what we'll do if they say no. Maybe not have godparents at all? I've been chafing under some of the rules and requirements of the church for a long time, much as I agree with other positions and with the general environment of prayer and good works. One of my friends pointed out that Martin Luther wanted to stay Catholic too, but he was forced out. I really hope that doesn't happen to me because of something like this.