CORDOBA, Argentina, April 8, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Fears that a public Catholic baptism ceremony for an Argentinean lesbian couple’s child would amount to little more than a media stunt to promote the Church's acceptance of homosexuality appear to have been borne out Saturday at the Archdiocese of Cordoba’s cathedral.
After the celebration of the sacrament, the couple, Karina Villarroel and Soledad Ortiz, kissed while posing for photos with the child, Umma Azul, at the front of the Church.
Villarroel, the non-biological “mother,” told local press the Catholic Church’s decision to grant the baptism was important “because it signifies that there is a real social change and acceptance” following the passage of the country's “marriage equality” law.
The final step, she said, would be “to be able to have the church consecrate their (gay) marriage, as right now it is only a civil marriage.”
Villarroel also explained that their decision to have Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as godmother was “a way of thanking her and ex-President Nestor Kirchner for the law which granted us our rights.” Kirchner, who was not present at the ceremony, was instrumental in the passage of same-sex “marriage” in 2010.
The world’s media has jumped on the story. A Google News search returns nearly one thousand news stories on the subject in just the last days, and that is likely to continue to grow as Villarroel and Ortiz have announced a national tour with the baby, including a trip to the capital, Buenos Aires, to participate in numerous television programs and to meet with the president.
According to local church sources this baptism “would have been much more difficult if Jorge Bergoglio were not the Pope.”
In September of 2012, Bergoglio, then archbishop of Buenos Aires, ordered all priests to administer the sacrament of baptism to all infants, be they children of single mothers or other out of wedlock situations. Archbishop Bergoglio warned priests against being hypocritical in the administration of the sacraments and driving people away from salvation.
Cordoba Archbishop Carlos Nanez has defended the baptism, saying it was not intended to support the lesbian couple’s homosexuality, but rather is a “right” of the child.
He denied reports that he had personally approved the baptism. “They came here without speaking to me and were directed to a parish where they had to fulfill the necessary requirements for preparation for baptism,” he told ACI Press.
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He added that he had “already spoken with and explained the case to Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, therefore this is already known to the Holy See.”
Regarding President de Kirchner’s role as godmother, Archbishop Nanez said he had given specific instructions to Father Carlos Varas, the priest administering the sacrament, “to assure that at least one of the godparents is committed to guaranteeing the Christian education of the child.”
According to Varas, “We always baptize and we can never deny baptism to anyone.”
But critics of the archdiocese’s decision to proceed with the baptism have pointed to the Church’s Code of Canon Law, which says that for an infant to be baptized in the Catholic Church “there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion.”
“If such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason,” canon 868 §1 adds.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the importance of the gift of the sacrament of Baptism for infants and warns “the Church and the parents” against “deny(ing) a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God.”
The Catechism also clearly states, however, that “for the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life.”
Archdiocese of Cordoba