CCCB clears up confusion about baptism for children of same-sex couples

Speaking on the impact of same-sex marriage on the Catholic Church in Canada, Cardinal Marc Ouellet reportedly told the Senate hearing committee last Wednesday that in the case of baptism, “according to our canon law, we cannot accept the signatures of two fathers or two mothers as parents of an infant” in our baptismal registers.

His statement left the impression with several senators and observers that the Catholic Church would not allow the baptism of children of same-sex couples.

Senator Marcel Prud'homme took issue with the cardinal’s statement, saying that a child should not be denied baptism.

But Benoit Bariteau, associate general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Ottawa Citizen that this would only be the case if both partners in a same-sex union insisted on signing the baptismal certificate.

"If the parents insist that the two signatures be on the act of baptism, if we say no, it will be their choice of seeking baptism or not," said Bariteau.

He explained that if one signature is sufficient for both parents, the Church would not refuse to baptize children of a same-sex couple.

In an interview with the Montreal Gazette the following day, Msgr. Allan McCormack pointed out that the Canadian bishops have not issued a uniform position on the issue. The Ottawa-based canon lawyer reportedly said it is up to individual priests, working under the authority of their bishop, to decide whether to baptize an infant.

Fr. John Walsh, pastor at St. John Brebeuf in Montreal, told the Gazette that it is a basic Catholic principle that the Church never refuses baptism to an infant. Fr. Walsh said he has already baptized children of same-sex couples and modified the register in these cases to list a mother and “parent.”

After three days of hearings, the Senate committee approved the bill and is expected to report back to the Senate today with a recommendation to pass Bill C-38 with no amendments.

The bill is expected to receive final passage in the Senate Tuesday or Wednesday.

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