Baptizing Son Who Lives With Non-Catholic Father : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

I have posted here before, regarding my being newly accepted into The Church this last Easter Vigil, and also that my husband and I are waiting for the pronouncement of incorrect form for his previous marriage from our Diocese, so that we can have our marriage validated. I have received many uplifting posts regarding this situation and I want to say thank you to all those who have encouraged us.

My question is this...(sorry to be long-winded)

I have a son and daughter from my previous (nullified by the Diocese) marriage. Neither of these children were baptized because I was not Catholic at the time of their birth.

My son is now twelve and my daughter is eleven. My daughter lives with me, and now that I am a member of The Church, and the marriage to my second, Catholic, husband will be validated soon, I want her to "catch up" with her baptism and first communion. We also have her signed up for religious education through our parish this far so good with my daughter.

The problem is with my son. He will be staying with my husband and I all summer, but will then return home to California, where he lives with his father (my ex). My ex is not any religion...well...sort of New Age, if it could be classified. My ex is mildly anti-Catholic, but only hints at these things to the children...he isn't outright critical of it. His fiancée is an ex-Catholic and is unfortunately VERY critical of The Church. Since they are to be married, my son will be raised in a somewhat anti-Catholic, or at the very least not a pro-Catholic, environment. Even though I speak with him by phone about the faith, and send him books, etc., I can only do so much from across the country.

At any rate, I want my son to be baptized and have first communion while he is with me for the summer. My son has a desire to do this also. The problem however, may be that the Priest who baptizes cannot have what they call "an assurance" that the child will be raised as a Catholic because he doesn't live with one.

Obviously, I don't want him to live in mortal sin and not be baptized just because he lives in a "non-Catholic" environment.

OK all of you Canon-Lawyer-Wanna-Be's....what do you all think? :0) I thank you ahead of time for your thoughts.

-- Victoria (, May 22, 2003


Response to Baptising Son Who Lives With Non-Catholic Father

Isn't this something you need to settle through the family law courts? Hate to say this, but maybe try to get custody if you agree not to ask for any child support?

-- GT (, May 22, 2003.

Just a quick note, because I have a lot of work to catch up on this evening. You are thinking of the rule for "infant baptism" with regard to the assurance of being raised as a Catholic. I believe both your son and daughter are old enough to no longer be counted in this category. (I'm thinking 7 years old is the cutoff, but I don't have time to look it up.) Thus, the decision to become Catholic is theirs alone; there is no need for promises on anyone else's part.

-- Mark (, May 22, 2003.

You are very right about the custody issue. However, I probably should've mentioned that part. I have legal custody of both children. I could force my son to live with me permanently, but he does not like my husband...even though my husband loves him. Therefore, he wants to stay with his father and doesn't want to live with me...even though he and I are very close.

This has been dreadfully hard on everyone due to the consequences of my actions. Even though I've been reconciled and accepted into The Church, there are still life's entanglements from previous choices to deal with.

At any rate, if...over the summer...I could convince my son to live with me that would be great but I don't want to hope for that.

Also, I COULD take him from his father by force, i.e., the law...but I don't think that would really do anyone any good. I just being too nice? What do you guys think?

-- Victoria (, May 22, 2003.

How willing is your ex to work with you on this (taking your son to Mass and catechism classes), or are there close friends or relatives in his area who would be able to take your son with them (you would of course want to set up permission slips and releases to authorize medical treatment in case of accidents)? Is there a catechism group he can study with online? I take it your ex has no problems with your daughter being raised Catholic?

Due to your son's age, forcing him to live with you now may backfire on you in the end, and actually, he may be old enough already depending upon the state you live in to tell the judge he wants to be with his father and not you (always best to avoid those showdowns, imho, children should not be put on the spot like that, ever).

As long as your ex is not a bad person, he should be a part of your children's lives. Part of it too may be that it's a "boys" thing, a dad/son thing, not really your new husband (your son may not want to hurt your feelings by saying outright he'd rather live with your ex because...of all sorts of reasons, kids being kids).

-- GT (, May 22, 2003.

Thank you for your well thought out replies, GT. I really appreciate it. God bless you.

-- Victoria (, May 22, 2003.


I also think that GT has given you some good advice. At a gut level, I think that forcing your son away from his father could have serious negative repercussions, and I would recommend trying less drastic approaches first. I wish you the best in this difficult situation, and you are in my prayers. Unfortunately, my personal situation is quite different than yours, so I can't give you any first hand advice. My daughter adores my new wife, but she has been the target of parental alienation syndrome against me for several years. And the divorce decree forbids any changes to her religious upbringing, so she will remain a Baptist for the time being. She does attend Catholic Church with us every other Sunday, but she is not enrolled in the "RCIA for Kids" class (sorry, I can't remember the real name) that is for fourth-graders and above who have not received first communion.

As for canon-lawyer-wanna-being, my early post was correct:

Canon 868.1: For an infant to be baptized lawfully it is required: (1) that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent; (2) that there be a well­founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.


Canon 852.1: The provisions of the canons on adult baptism apply to all those who, being no longer infants, have reached the use of reason.

Can. 97.2: A minor who has not completed the seventh year of age is called an infant and is considered incapable of personal responsibility; on completion of the seventh year, however, the minor is presumed to have the use of reason.

-- Mark (, May 23, 2003.

Victoria, I too will be thinking of you! One more thing, your son's stepmom-to-be should be made aware that it (religious upbringing) is an issue between you and your ex, and she should stay out of it if she doesn't support it. Maybe she should hear about it from your ex, if you catch my drift.

Stepparents can be influences for good in a child's life, but basic decisions about a child's upbringing are always the province of the parents, whether the stepparent likes it or not. Stepparents have a right to their opinions, but that is about it. Other than being very anti-Catholic, is she a bad person for your children (I assume you trade children during the summer) to be around?

You just continue what you are doing with your new husband, being a good influence, and as your son grows, he will see that. Oh, maybe not immediately, but later on (he is after all a child thinking like a child, not thinking as an adult would). As I said, children choose to live with one parent over the other for any number of reasons (you live in the country, they live in the city, you're the strict one, he's not, etc.).

-- GT (, May 23, 2003.

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