Well...it is a problem, apparently. She called a few days ago to let us know that her parish wasn't budging on this issue and demands that we take a baptismal class, regardless of the fact that we just baptized our own child THREE WEEKS ago!!
Let me be clear: we're not anti-baptismal classes. We think they're a great idea for parents of the child receiving the sacrament - as long as the child's sacrament isn't being delayed because of it. And at this point, that's what's happening. Not because we haven't taken the class yet, but because all the proper forms haven't been filled out yet!! When Jack was baptized, we set the date and then the priest worked with us on a time we could come in for our info session/class. Perfect. That's how it should work. The state of a child's eternal soul should not rest on whether or not the proper boxes have been checked! (Oh..and they're also telling her they can't do it until after Lent now! I guess they don't have any "openings" until then. Openings?? For baptism??? GET THIS CHILD BAPTIZED!! It doesn't take that long! He'll almost be a year old by then!!! Appalling, and dare I say, sinful.)
Back to our story. So Mike was, well, let's say "not happy." He asked her for the number to her church office so he could talk the baptismal director himself. He was able to reach her and she insisted that a baptismal class for godparents is "Canon Law." He argued that no, it is not, and asked to speak to the pastor. Amazingly the pastor was in and agreed to speak with him. He too insisted that this "requirement" is Canon Law. Mike swore that, no, it is not. The pastor just insisted that we need to take the class and hey, even he learns something new every time! Well, great, but we wouldn't even be taking their class so how do they know what we'd learn?? Which just proves that this is simply an effort in formalities and "box-checking." In the end, the pastor reluctantly agreed that maybe a letter from our priest would suffice.
I called my pastor who agreed that this is all just a big bizarre formality and who confirmed that no, a class for godparents is not a Canon Law requirement. All that is required by Canon Law is that the godparents be Catholics in good standing, which again, a letter from our priest will confirm for them. I asked my pastor that if the letter wasn't good enough, what we should do. He replied, "Well it better be, but if not, just come in for a cup of coffee and we'll call it a day!" Love that guy!
Again, let me state that we're not anti-baptismal education classes. I think they're great for Catechesis (which I believe is severely lacking these days) and that most people benefit from them. I just think it's horrific that a child's sacrament is delayed because of it. Mike even found on the church's website that baptisms require THREE MONTHS notice to "process all the paperwork!" WHAT?!?! Three months??? What IS Canon Law requirement is that babies should be baptized as soon as possible following birth!
"Can. 867 §1. Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it."
And here is the Canon Law requirement for sponsors:
"Can. 872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.Can. 873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.Can. 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism."
In the end, we'll take the class if this ends up being the hinging factor. We won't allow ourselves to be what delays the sacrament any longer. Maybe I sound childish, but it's the principle of the thing at this point! We don't have time to take the class in all honesty, and I'm not even sure that the next one at our parish would occur before the date she has set. And my pastor agreed that it's ridiculous.
Something else that came up in our extensive discussions over this is: Shouldn't a baby be baptized regardless of the parents' intent to raise the child Catholic? I mean, yes, the parents should raise the child Catholic if they want to baptize him Catholic. But should that be a be-all-end-all requirement? In extenuating circumstances, shouldn't they always want to baptize a baby? Shouldn't the church go ahead and baptize a baby on the spot if a non-Catholic couple walks into a church and says, "We want you to baptize our baby"? I know it's not an ideal situation but isn't it better than the innocent child walking around with Original Sin until the parents get their act together? We did read that if a baby is left at a church, it's the priest's obligation to baptize him immediately. Maybe I'm wrong, but that just seems like the right thing to do. Any insight on that?
Another question: Can anyone baptize a baby? I mean, I know anyone can, but I've also read that the parents have to request it in order for it to "count." What's the rule on that one?