MADISON, Wis. — In the 21st century, the Church is encountering requests for children’s baptism from parents in same-sex relationships. But few dioceses have actual policies in the area, which requires a great deal of pastoral attention and no one-size-fits-all answers.continue at NCRegister
In the Diocese of Madison, the vicar general, Msgr. James Bartylla, sent out a May 10 email to pastors asking them to “please seek consultation and coordination” with his office on requests for baptism of children to same-sex couples. The email stated that each case “must be evaluated individually,” because of difficulties in same-sex unions that “touch upon theology, canon law, pastoral approach, liturgical adaptation and sacramental recording.”
Msgr. Bartylla’s email was originally confidential to priests. It emerged after being leaked by a third party to the Wisconsin State Journal, which erroneously reported that the diocese was centralizing those decisions and seemed to indicate it was taking the call away from pastors.
“If priests read Msgr. Bartylla’s memo carefully, what he asked them to do was to consult and to coordinate with his office,” Madison Bishop Robert Morlino told the Register. “He never mentioned that they needed his permission.”
Bishop Morlino said the diocese had been wondering over the last few years about how many times certain pastoral situations arose, such as the baptism of a child raised in a same-sex household. He wanted to know whether the local Church was consistent in its pastoral care and to “better understand what is happening among our people.”
“So to consult and coordinate with him meant that our office would be aware of what the situation was concretely and what the pastor was planning to do; and if we had any further considerations with regard to a consistency of practice, then we might offer him those suggestions,” he said.