- Now the talking really begins
Pope Francis wanted frankness and openness and that is what he got. But there is also the sense that the real debate in the Church about marriage and families is only just starting
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An Argentine archbishop has said the recent baptism of a baby being raised by her mother and a lesbian partner is not an endorsement of their lifestyle.
Archbishop Carlos Nanez of Cordoba, in whose cathedral the baptism took place, said the situation mirrored that of any other person who asks for baptism: “The one who is receiving baptism is the girl. It is her right,” he said.
Umma Azul was baptised on 5 April. Azul is the daughter of Soledad Ortiz, who entered a civil marriage with her same-sex partner Kartina Villarroel under Argentina’s equal marriage law, passed in July 2010.
Denying media reports that he had met the lesbian couple and authorised their confirmation, Archbishop Nanez said in a statement to the US-based Catholic News Agency that “they came here without speaking to me and were directed to a parish where they had to fulfil the necessary requirements for preparation for baptism.”
He added that he had spoken about the case with Cardinal Antonio Canizares, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, “so the Holy See is aware of this”.
The archbishop noted that at baptism parents and godparents commit to raise the child in the faith. “We vouch for their goodwill, but we do not have the absolute certainty that … their lives are completely consistent with the values of the Gospel.”
“The Church in that matter demonstrates that she is a merciful and wide-reaching mother, in order to open the doors of salvation,” he continued. “Baptism is a right of every human person, and I think that the Holy Father as well, ever since he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, always advocated for great openness in administering these sacraments.”
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio famously insisted that all children should be baptised, whatever the situation of their parents. In September 2012 the future Pope said: “In our Church region there are priests who do not baptise children of single mothers because they were not conceived within the sanctity of marriage. They are today’s hypocrites. They clericalise the Church. They keep the people of God from salvation. And the poor girl who had the courage to bring her child into the world when she could have returned it to its maker, goes on pilgrimage from church to church to get it baptised.”
Baptisms in the Buenos Aires region are said to have quadrupled as a result of the then-Cardinal Bergoglio’s policy.