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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

913: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” (Is 55:1).

Day 913: Thursday, September 15, 2022

“All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” (Is 55:1).

Archbishop John C. Wester: The church should baptize children of same-sex couples

Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Editor’s Note: In some Catholic dioceses and parishes, the question of whether to baptize the children of same-sex couples is not disputed. The child, say some dioceses and parishes, should be treated like any other children whose parents present them for the sacrament of baptism. In other dioceses and parishes, the approach is far different, with some couples being turned away. Here, Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., addresses a pastoral question that has caused distress in parishes and among same-sex Catholic parents.

The Great Commission, as presented at the end of the Gospel of Matthew (cf. 28:16-20), could easily be called “The Great Gift,” as the risen and ascended Christ, who possesses “all power in heaven and on earth,” empowers the disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

From that mountaintop 2,000 years ago down to the present age, the church has been conducting its divine mission and sharing the gift of baptism with the same generosity with which our Savior gave it to us.

This generous impulse of the church is mirrored in the Book of Isaiah: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money, wine and milk, without cost!” (55:1). Although speaking of the Eucharist, Pope Francis also captured this theme in his latest apostolic letter, “Desiderio Desideravi.” He wrote: “No one had earned a place at that Supper. All had been invited. Or better said: all had been drawn there by the burning desire that Jesus had to eat that Passover with them.”

It is of great concern, therefore, when people are refused the sacrament of baptism, or any of the sacraments, for that matter

The general disposition of the church is one of hospitality, openness and welcome, in the spirit of the new evangelization. Refusing to baptize children of same-sex couples is not in keeping with this outreach, and I find it quite troubling. To refuse baptism to these children solely on the basis of the fact that they have same-sex parents, while possibly done with good intentions, is not supported by church teaching or practice, in my view.

Let me say from the outset that when a parent (or parents) request baptism for their child, this is a moment of grace not only for the child but for the parents as well. Indeed, the first response should never be “Sure!” or “Nope!” Automatic approvals or blanket refusals are never good pastoral practices. Rather, the priest, deacon or lay leader should journey with the parent(s) and help them to understand the beauty, implications, responsibilities and rights of this important moment of faith. This is true for all parents requesting to have their child baptized, including same-sex couples.

The Vatican II declaration on religious freedom, “Dignitatis Humanae,” states that the family, “since it is a society in its own original right, has the right freely to live its own domestic religious life under the guidance of parents.” Hence, not only is the church’s outreach one of welcome, but it is also incumbent upon the institutional church to respect the domestic church, the family.

Some families have only one parent due to divorce, abandonment or death. Sadly, many families are fragmented by addiction, violence, dysfunction and poverty. In all of these cases, I am not aware that the norm is to refuse baptism to their children.

Rather, we meet these couples where they find themselves and encourage them to grow in the faith as they pass that faith on to their children. Yet same-sex couples are at times refused baptism of their children. Why?

I suspect that same-sex couples’ children are refused baptism because a judgment has been made that they cannot raise their child in the Catholic faith as LGBTQ parents. This is not true

It is important to keep in mind that the question at hand is the baptism of the child and not the ability of the parents to live up to all of the church’s teaching on marriage. Just the same, there are substantial, foundational and critical elements in the same-sex couples’ relationship that do offer strong assurances that the child will be raised in the faith.

I want to underscore here the critical importance of love. In the baptismal rite, the priest or deacon tells the parents that they are “the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Without a doubt, same-sex couples are quite capable of teaching their children about the faith, by living lives that respect others, by remaining faithful to each other and by loving one another.

God is love and the most fundamental catechesis that a child can receive is to be loved, to return love and to be a member of a loving family. All other catechesis is based on this.

In addition, same-sex couples give witness to many other aspects of Catholic life that form a coherent catechesis for children: commitment, fidelity, self-giving, honesty, humility, kindness, spiritual depth, church attendance, respect and so much more. These considerations form the basis for the specific Catholic teaching that same sex parents give to their children.

As a pastor, I am also persuaded to baptize children of same-sex parents because the parents, by requesting baptism for their children, are showing good faith.

This is a time of grace for the parents. The priest, deacon or lay minister should take advantage of it by spending time with the couple, exploring the faith with them, challenging them to grow in that faith and supporting them in their desire follow Christ as Catholics. I believe that undue attention given to the fact that the couple is gay blinds the church’s minister to the abundance of positive and virtuous qualities that abide in their relationship.

LGBTQ parents who strive to live and love their Catholic faith may rightly ask, like the Ethiopian in Acts, “What prevents us from baptizing our child?” I believe that the answer is: Nothing. “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” (Is 55:1).

(Cathedral in Santa Fe)

Event at St. Patrick's: 9/20, 9/27, 10,4, 10/11, 1018

A 6 week long course with The Rev. Bruce Bramlett.

Uncovering and Challenging a History We Thought We Knew: The Development of Rabbinic Judaism and Classical Christianity, 586 B.C.E. to 325 C.E. This six-week class will explore the long developmental trajectory of Rabbinic Judaism and Classical Christianity through the critical period of western history from 586 B.C.E. to 325 C.E. Beginning with the traumatic, decisive events of exile in Babylon where what we call “Judaism” began, we will trace the development of Jewish tradition and self-consciousness through its encounter, accommodation, and resistance to the Hellenistic world.

This course will be held on Tuesdays from 11:30-1:00 on the following dates: September 13, 20,27 and October 4,11,18.

Class will be held in Stevenson Hall at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 9000 Sonoma Highway in Kenwood, California.

We will have light refreshments at 11:15. A recommended donation of $30 for the course will help off-set expenses. Please. R.S.V. P. to Bobbiejo at or call 707-833-4228 ext. 1.

Link for Rabbinic Judaism class:

ANNOUNCEMENT #2: from our friends at NETWORK


Register for Our Election Workshop Series Today!

Dear Friends,

Are you a multi-issue voter who is ready to build a multi-racial, inclusive democracy? Would you love to know how you can connect faith, Catholic Social Justice issues, and voting? Then NETWORK's virtual three-part election workshop series is for you! NETWORK is hosting, Transform Our Politics! Becoming a Pope Francis Voter, to provide a vision and skills for this election season and beyond. Register today!

The interactive workshops explore NETWORK's Cornerstones to Build Our Country Anew: Dismantling Systemic Racism, Cultivating Inclusive Community, and Rooting Our Economy in Solidarity. NETWORK staff will also teach messaging strategies that you can use with friends and family to have productive transformative conversations, write letters to the editor, and more.

Sign up for NETWORK's Pope Francis Voter election workshops today!

Each week, the same workshop will be offered on Mondays during the day and on Wednesdays in the evening. The workshops will be 90-minutes long and held on Zoom.

I. Dismantle Systemic Racism on Monday, September 12, Noon Eastern/9:00 AM Pacific or Wednesday, September 14, 7:00 PM Eastern/4:00 PM Pacific. Learn More.

It was a terrific workshop. You can watch the recorded version using this link.

II. Cultivate Inclusive Community on Monday, September 19, Noon Eastern/9:00 AM Pacific or Wednesday, September 21, 7:00 PM Eastern/4:00 PM Pacific. Learn More.

III: Root Our Economy in Solidarity on Monday, September 26, Noon Eastern/9:00 AM Pacific or Wednesday, September 28, 7:00 PM Eastern/4:00 PM Pacific. Learn More.

This election season, we can cultivate a community of voters who are committed to building a better kind of politics. Sign up for all three sessions of Transform Our Politics! Becoming a Pope Francis Voter today!

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