By Father RJ
I’m not sure if you remember me but we were batchmates in [high school]. Anyways, I am contacting because I need your advice on something. I have a friend who recently had a baby with her partner (they’re lesbian) through IVF. They want to have the baby baptized in church but they are worried to go through with it because of all the inquiries it will raise. They were wondering if it would be possible if they would be acknowledged as both parents of the baby even if just in the baptism ceremony. They do not know who the father of the baby is because they basically just got a donor from a sperm bank from the US.
So is it possible to have same-sex couples be considered as parents in baptism?
I would appreciate any help or advice you can give.
A month after I received this message on Facebook, I was blessed with the opportunity to baptize the baby of a lesbian couple into the Catholic faith earlier this year. This was a first for me, and, God willing, not the last.
Frankie* was reluctant about getting her baby Pink* baptized into the Catholic faith. She was thinking of deferring Pink’s baptism until she was an adult and could choose her religion on her own.
Her partner, Shane*, begged Frankie not to deprive Pink of the grace of growing up in the Catholic faith. Both Frankie and Shane were born and raised Catholic in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines.
Frankie acquiesced, on the condition that they find a Catholic priest who would not scold nor judge them, and would be willing to acknowledge the two of them as the baby’s parents during the baptismal rite.
Had they had not found me, a bona fide Roman Catholic priest who happens to be gay, through a common friend on Facebook, would they have found another Roman Catholic priest in the Philippines who would have agreed to baptize their baby acknowledging that the parents are both female? I cannot say.
The Philippines is still a pretty much conservatively Catholic country. Just last year, a Catholic priest was caught on video shaming and scolding a single mother during her baby’s baptism. Just last December, I happened to concelebrate Holy Mass with a Diocesan priest who for some reason felt the need to include in his sermon his disapproval of same-sex marriage.
The parish priest was informed that Pink was conceived through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). His response echoed Pope Francis: “I’m not judging you.”
Still, the precaution was taken not to inform the parish priest that the parents of Pink are in fact a lesbian couple. All he knows is that Frankie is the biological mother of an IVF baby.
The baptism went smoothly. Throughout the ceremony, I referred to Frankie and Shane as the parents of Pink. Frankie later told me that she got goosebumps when I first mentioned both their names as the parents.
It was a graced event for me and, I would like to believe, for the family and all the guests. Frankie messaged me afterwards, saying: “We’re very grateful that you could bless us and our family, Father. Pink truly is a blessing from God and I know He sent you to make today possible.”
During a recent trip to the United Kingdom, the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was quoted in an interview as saying: “…the harsh words that were used in the past to refer to gays and divorced and separated people, the unwed mothers et cetera, in the past they were quite severe. Many people who belonged to those groups were branded and that led to their isolation from the wider society.”
Out of fear of being subjected to “harsh words” from the so-called “good Catholics” and from the “shepherds” of the Church, Frankie and Shane almost put off the baptism of their beautiful baby Pink. Would that one day, such ceremonies could be conducted openly and without fear, with the loving blessing and warm embrace of our Holy Mother, the Church.
*NAMES CHANGED TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF THE PEOPLE IN THE ARTICLE