From a reader:
Our pastor has a policy of no infant baptism during Lent. We have baby due prior to Ash Wednesday and would like to baptize son after.
I am under impression canon law mandates infant baptism soon after birth.
Can this policy stand in the face of the canon?
There is no canonical reason for prohibiting baptisms during Lent.
This is a practice pushed by the same sort of liturgists who came up with the dopey idea of removing holy water from stoups during Lent. It’s silliness. It is more than silliness. It is dangerous. It plays games with things that are truly important.
Canon 867 establishes that parents “are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks” (Parentes obligatione ne tenentur curandi ut infantes intra priores hebdomadas baptizentur).
There is admittedly some wiggle room there. Nevertheless, “a few weeks” is ordinarily something less than a month. A case could be made that a child born on Ash Wednesday who is baptized on Easter Sunday is baptized “within the first few weeks,” but unless there is a serious reason for delaying the baptism (e.g., travel time for distant relatives, military obligations, etc.), the question is: why delay the baptism?
If you want to do something about this, speak to the pastor first. Find out his reason is for the “policy”. It may be that he forgot to pay the water bill and the parish’s water supply has been turned off and it will take some time to reconnect the pipes, and, since he is embarrassed about the screw up, he is covering his tracks by imposing this silly policy. If that is his explanation, offer to pay for a couple gallons of bottled water to assist the good pastor in the interim.
If the pastor refuses to allow an exception, let him know that you are going to make an appeal to the local bishop. Then write to the bishop (or perhaps to the “regional vicar” if this is a big diocese), with a copy to the pastor, asking if the policy could be changed, or if permission is needed to seek baptism at another parish that is more accommodating to the needs of the faithful. (No permission is needed, in fact, but ask anyway.)
Since time is of the essence, pursuing further recourse to the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship would probably be pointless: you probably wouldn’t get a response back before Easter.
If no response is given from the bishop and the pastor is unwilling to budge, take your adorable little pagan heathen to another parish with a less rigid, less silly pastor and ask for the sacrament.