Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baptisms, Dedications, and Apples to Apples

The Wisconsin State Journal tells us that the Madison Catholic Diocese changed their procedures around baptism for the children of same-sex couples. The actual policy and philosophy behind it are still unknown, but the article has a few interesting tidbits-

...on the central question of whether the change would alter the number of babies baptized, King responded in an email, “If a parent is sincere in presenting a child for baptism, no. We believe that baptism is the entrance into a new life in Christ and His Church, open to all.”


“In general, the Catholic church does not punish the child for the sins of the parents,” Thomas Reese, a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, told me. “As archbishop of Buenos Aires, (Pope) Francis got angry at priests who would not baptize children born out of wedlock. I would presume the same principle applies here.”

Telling, though, was this line:

One priest did not think the memo was newsworthy, reasoning that very few same-sex couples with children attend Catholic parishes in the diocese. 

I grew up in the Catholic church but left, and questions of gender and sexuality were a big part of my reasons.  I'm on a different path these days, and I've found my calling as a Unitarian Universalist religious educator. 

This morning I took part in a child dedication, in some ways familiar, but also quite different, from a baptism. Our communal theology is not so tied to original sin, but we do look to give children and their families a community, a safe place to share their awe and their wonderings. 

All of us have a role to play in the dedication, and in the Sunday School hour and the years that follow, as the child moves from her parents' arms to sweet stories and play in the preschool room, to crafts and big questions as she considers how she can live in harmony with the world. 

I spent the evening with some of our high school youth, lounging on a sofa while we shared a movie and they played an endless game of Apples to Apples, enjoying each other's quirky senses of humor. Some of these youth have grown up in the church, while others are very new, joining us as their own paths change.

Perhaps in ten or twenty years, it will be their babies and toddlers up on the chancel, touched with the water and the rose, affirmed by the congregation.

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