Here is an amusing story from the newsie site for BYU:
Good, accurate historical records are hard to come by; especially those with names. Thanks to linguistic evolutions, military conflicts and numerous other factors, some periods of history have full, rich accounts while others have splotchy accounts at best. But even in the best of times, finding the names of the king and family is easy. Finding several generations of tenants or farmers can be near impossible.
Fortunately for historians and researchers, the Catholic Church has kept detailed membership registries for over 1,000 years, giving us the names, parents and birthplaces of every church member in society: princes, priests and peasants. In fact, these records have endured as one of the hallmarks of the Catholic clergy. These records have been a valuable asset to scholars, historians and even individuals doing personal research. These documents were of particular interest to Latter-day Saints trying to chart their own genealogy. [Genealogy! Okay! So that’s what they’re doing!]
But not anymore. As of Monday, the Vatican has ordered all Catholic dioceses worldwide to cease showing membership records and registries to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Catholic officials say the order was an effort to prevent Mormons from baptizing by proxy their Catholic ancestors.
Catholic Church members and officials have spit out lots of good reasons and support for this decree. Catholic author Hugh McNichol said that giving out such records could be exposing embarrassing circumstances like a child born out of wedlock or of an unknown father. [Well… yah! People have a right to privacy, after all.] McNichol went on to say that this is private information, and "should be considered privileged information by all members of the [Catholic] Church."
If it’s private information, then why would it be issued to arbitrary scholars [What’s an "arbitrary scholar"? Is this someone who just studies any old thing? Someone who draws conclusions for no particular reason?] or historians over direct family descendants, if those descendants happen to be LDS? The idea of protecting family secrets is a fair one, but family secrets stay in the family, not the Church. They’re to be preserved only to immediate family lines, not released to Church selected and approved audiences.
Those wishing to access the documents must now prove a "legitimate reason to view these sensitive snippets of a person’s theological history," McNichol wrote. [That sounds reasonable. Any research library or archive would ask the same.] What more legitimate reason can you get than keeping a continuing documentation of "a person’s theological history"? [A person’s "theological" history…] Or perhaps a better reason is needed before a private institution will release information about an individual to members of their own family.
McNichol even goes as far as to say Mormons taking these names to do baptisms for the dead is "comparable with piracy of a person’s free will and soul as well."
If they really are trying to protect the dead from "piracy of the soul," indulgences might be a better place to start than baptisms.
[Hardly the same issue, really.]
But the heart of the issue of the Catholic Church’s belief that LDS baptisms for the dead are a "detrimental" practice. Therefore the record keepers are "not to cooperate with the erroneous practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." [Sounds about right to me.]
Smells like fear. [Try sound common sense.]
If the Mormon Church is true, then part of LDS Church doctrine says that no one who has proxy baptisms done in their behalf is forced to accept the Mormon faith. [Ehem… so what?] In a 2005 interview with the Associated Press, President Gordon B. Hinckley said that the baptismal rite is only offered to individuals in the afterlife, not required. "So, there’s no injury done to anybody," he said. So what’s the point of preventing baptisms by withholding names if the proxy baptisms don’t harm the individuals?
And if the Mormon Church isn’t true – as the Catholics assert – and the practice of baptisms for the dead is false doctrine, then why hide the names? Wouldn’t that be like stopping a child from talking to an imaginary friend? Humor the kid; he and his friend aren’t hurting you. And he might have an imaginary army to back him up. [Because Catholics would believe that to participate in such a thing, to cooperate materially in such a process, would be to cooperate in a rite of a false religion.]
This editorial represents the opinion of The Daily Universe editorial board. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.