My name is Tiffany. I'm from New Jersey and was raised Catholic.
My husband is not Catholic but is a Christian. We got married,
not in the Church; but at the location of our reception.
At the time of the wedding, we had already
had a child out of wedlock who was baptized in the Catholic
church. I had been going to Church all my life and received
the sacraments from our parish.
After we were married, we had
another child and, of course, wanted her baptized. Our priest
called a meeting and ask us, why we were not married in the
Catholic church. After all was said, he told us we could still
get our daughter baptized, but that her and our son's baptism
would not be "recognized" by the Church until my husband
and I were married in the Catholic church.
I am writing this
because I wanted to know,
If the Church does
not recognize our children's baptism, does God recognize it?
If we were not married in the Church, is our son's baptism recognized? }
This seems a bit odd. Perhaps the priest did not explain himself well
or you didn't understand what the priest was saying.
The Church recognizes all baptisms as valid, so long as they are properly
performed with the proper intention. That includes baptisms performed in
Protestant churches so long as they are Trinitarian and the intention is
to perform a Christian baptism.
What is at issue is your marriage. As a Catholic, you are permitted to
marry outside the faith so long as you receive a dispensation. These are
routinely granted, however, you are required to have a Catholic wedding
and agree to raise your children as Catholics. For that reason, the
Church may not recognize your marriage, especially if it was performed
by a Justice of the Peace. That's because the Church doesn't recognize
the government's right to issue marriage licenses. In the Catholic Theology,
Marriage is a Sacrament or Covenant. This is something God has not empowered
governments to perform.
At best, a civil marriage is a contract. Something the Church is not in
the business of recognizing.
Nevertheless, I see no reason to question the baptism of your first child.
It was presumably a valid baptism administered in a Catholic Church. The
Church could refuse to baptize the second child because technically you
are living out of wedlock in the Church's eyes. As a result, the Church
has no assurance that you will bring up the child as a Catholic if, indeed,
you are not living as a Catholic; that is a different story altogether.
The Church recognizes all valid baptisms no matter where or how they take
place. In fact, in an emergency, anyone, (including laity), can perform
a valid baptism. Again, so long as it is Trinitarian and the intention
is to perform a Christian baptism.
In your situation, it is quite possible that what priest meant was:
The children can't participate in any further Catholic schooling or receive
the other sacraments because the evidence points to the fact they will
not be brought up in the faith.
In that case, once they are old enough to make the decision
for themselves, they can seek out the Church.
Hope this helps,
Mary Ann replied:
There has to have been some misunderstanding along the way. If your children
were baptized in the Catholic Church, they were baptized in the Catholic
church and the baptism is recognized.
It's even recognized if they received
a valid baptism from another denomination. However, these days, the Church
usually hesitates to baptize a child when neither of the parents is committed
to the Catholic faith. Perhaps the priest assumed that since you
had not made your marriage valid in the Church, you were
not intending to be Catholic any longer yourselves. The Church wants at
least one parent to be committed to the faith so "that parent" can raise
the children in the faith in which they are baptized.
I think the priest perhaps
was talking about your marriage not being recognized. As a Catholic, you
were bound to be married with an official Catholic witness, and to get
to be married outside of a church and
to be married to a non-Catholic
These things are easy to do. Since you did not have a Church marriage,
the civil marriage you have is non-sacramental and invalid. The priest
wants you to raise your marital union to the level of a sacrament, so
that you can participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
I hope you do. The benefits and joys are immense!
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