ASK FATHER: Father denies Communion to girl who was “rebaptized”

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

My daughter attended a Christian Youth Camp this summer with her girl friends. She asked me if she could renew her baptism vows in Lake [removed]. [Renew “vows” or “promises”?  We do that at Easter.  But… in a lake?  That sounds like water was involved, like a “baptism”, not just a renewal of baptismal promises.] We as parents said yes, thinking it would help her be closer with God. [?] And it did, she came home a different child. She has been attending Mass several times a week. She volunteers weekly at the Covenant House. She is actively involved in the Newman Center at [university name removed]. She prays daily, reads the bible daily and keeps a prayer journal.

Today at mass, which the arch bishop was presiding over, she went up to get communion just as she does every week. Father Andrew stopped the communion line. He said he saw on her facebook page about the baptism. (which i would like to know why he is looking at her facebook in the first place) [Facebook pages are public.  A little digging, based on your email and the concrete info you provided, produced your daughter’s Facebook page almost immediately.  Someone, an acquaintance in common, could have told the priest involved about what was visible on that public Facebook page.  When I saw the page, there was nothing about a baptism at camp, but it could have been … removed after the fact?] Told her that she had renounced her catholic faith when she renewed her baptism this summer. [That priest seems to have seen something that I didn’t see on Facebook.] After admonishing her for several minutes in front of all the other parishioners who were nearby and her extended family who was present at the mass, he refused to give her communion. He told her she was no longer a Catholic. She was humiliated. She has been upset for the remainder of the day.

Is this the normal protocol.

Father learned of something that raised a serious concern.  It seems to me that Father, in defending, publicly, the unity of the Church and integrity of our Catholic Communion might have picked a better moment and method, especially if he really admonished her for “several minutes”, which is a long time, particularly in front of his Archbishop.  Father must have thought this was grave enough to take that bold step.  That suggests to me that he didn’t see … nothing.

To renew baptismal promises and/or to go through something like a baptism with any pouring of water, etc., in a non-Catholic context is a serious issue and deserves attention from one’s pastor.

Consider this: You would be rightly upset with Father if you learned that he didn’t care if some member of his parish had gone out and tried to repeat baptism in some other group, thus committing a public act of schism… and then gave her Communion.

Your daughter’s “baptism” at CYO was a public act.  It seems to have been also made public on Facebook, even if that information is no longer there now.  Also, if it happened, how Father saw it is now irrelevant.

Seeking baptism in another denomination is a clear act of schism.

This is not arcane knowledge, particularly in light of the fact that we confess “one baptism” in the Creed each Sunday.

Could Father have been more discrete?  Yes.  Could he have asked her to see him outside of Mass?  Yes.  That said, he was right to warn her about her situation and the danger she has placed her soul in.

The practice of our Catholic Faith is not all warm hugs and fluffy kitties and moments of sentimentality.  We must be ready, as baptized and confirmed Catholics, to stay true to our Catholic Faith and identity in every context, no matter what peer pressure there might be or how our emotions might be sweeping us up in the moment.  We have to walk the path of salvation which Our Lord says is narrow.

It is a good thing that we are on the threshold of the Year of Mercy.

There is nothing that we little humans can do which is so bad that, through the ministry of the Church and by the merciful grace of God, we can’t resolve, provided that we are more concerned about our identity and soul than our feelings and appearances.

This is a tough learning experience.  Your daughter can make a good confession about this “baptism” at CYO and return to full communion of the Church and then build on the graces God is giving her and those life lessons.  We can all recover from momentary embarrassment.  Losing Communion is a much greater danger.

Also, this is an object lesson about how she should be careful about what she posts on the internet.  Parents: Do you know what your children are posting on Facebook?

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2 Responses to ASK FATHER: Father denies Communion to girl who was “rebaptized”

  1. Adaquano says:

    Would this be a similar situation to say, attending a Lord’s Supper or other communion service outside of the Church and your pastor found out that you had done so? [Not quite. Simple attendance is one thing. Participating by reception of their “communion” is another.] Additionally, do you think priests often stress enough the renewal of our vows at Easter? One of my favorites parts of the Easter Vigil is renewing these Baptismal vows and seeing others fully come into Communion with the Church.

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    There are, basically (long story omitted), only two grounds for publicly withholding holy Communion from a Catholic, Canon 915 or Canons 1331/1332. The burden is on the minister to PROVE that he acted in accord with one or the other canon. And when I say “prove” I do not mean “make a plausible case for” or “lots of people think this is the way the law ought to read”, but PROVE he acted in accord with canon law as it reads. Frankly, based on what is actually posted here so far, I’d rather defend the girl than the minister. This, from someone who is well known for his willingness to urge public enforcement of both cited canons.