In Instrumentum Laboris 2014, the working document for the October 2014 Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, #120 The Transmission of the Faith to Children in Same Sex Unions has in part

However, when people living in such unions request a child’s baptism, almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children. Many responses indicate that it would be helpful to receive more concrete pastoral directives in these situations. Clearly, the Church has the duty to ascertain the actual elements involved in transmitting the faith to the child. Should a reasonable doubt exist in the capability of persons in a same sex union to instruct the child in the Christian faith, proper support is to be secured in the same manner as for any other couple seeking the baptism of their children. In this regard, other people in their family and social surroundings could also provide assistance. In these cases, the pastor is carefully to oversee the preparation for the possible baptism of the child, with particular attention given to the choice of the godfather and godmother.

Focusing the on - Clearly, the Church has the duty to ascertain the actual elements involved in transmitting the faith to the child - what are these actual elements that the Church has a duty to ascertain?

Answering with basis from the Sacred Deposit of Faith (Sacred Scripture + Holy Tradition), can a child presented by a same sex couple be validly baptized in the Catholic Church?

cf. illicit vs. invalid | C.SE.

Please see:

  • It looks like your question answers itself. Oct 11, 2014 at 16:31
  • @bruisedreed Long time no chat. Please expand on why you say so. Btw at first glance, that's what initially comes across. It is in subtly couched language. The answer of course will be the one that explicitly states the Church teaching and shows it consistent with tradition. Remember what the respondents emphasized in not equal to Church teaching. And this statement - it would be helpful to receive more concrete pastoral directives in these situations - is a give away that there isn't a Church teaching on which to hang such baptisms on.
    – user13992
    Oct 11, 2014 at 18:11
  • What would the Church do if one who is a practicing member of Church of Satan presented themselves for baptism? Think along those lines. PS this is a question to which I have some thoughts on but do not have an answer from the Church's perspective.
    – user13992
    Oct 11, 2014 at 18:16
  • The question in the title has an easy answer: Yes, the child can be validly baptized, even by a layman like me. The difficult question is whether the baptism is licit, i.e., permitted. Unless the child is in danger of death, lay people cannot licitly baptize, and, for a priest to licitly baptize in such a case, he would have to be convinced that the child will be brought up as a Catholic. Such conviction would be very hard to (honestly) achieve if the parents are living in a state of continuing, grave, public sin. Oct 11, 2014 at 18:22
  • @AndreasBlass That's why I chose valid vs. licit. Example if one went to confession and confessed without a firm purpose of amendment, that confession will be invalid and therefore illicit and one will come away in a worse state than that in which they were in before they went to confession. I believe the right answer will first address: actual elements that the Church has a duty to ascertain. PS If it is invalid, it is also illicit. cf. this question.
    – user13992
    Oct 11, 2014 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


Here's the current practice in the USA:

Baptism of children in the care of same-sex couples presents a serious pastoral concern. Nevertheless, the Church does not refuse the Sacrament of Baptism to these children, but there must be a well founded hope that the children will be brought up in the Catholic religion. In those cases where Baptism is permitted, pastoral ministers should exercise prudential judgment when preparing baptismal ceremonies. Also, in preparing the baptismal record, a distinction should be made between natural parents and adoptive parents.

cf. Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care | USCCB.

these circumstances arose not too long ago in my diocese any Bishop Morlino was quoted

“If the gay couple were to come forward and present the child for baptism and somehow sincerely intend that the child be brought up Catholic, and if an arrangement could be made such that the child being brought up a Catholic was a reasonable hope, then we would strongly favor the baptism of the child,” he said.

If the same-sex couple could not provide that reasonable hope themselves, “then we would try to direct them to choose godparents who could intervene and bring the child up Catholic.”

“We’re not looking for a reason to exclude the child from baptism. We’re looking to create the conditions so that the child can validly and licitly be baptized,” he said.

“That is pastoral service.”

cf. New Pastoral Frontier: Baptisms of Children to Same-Sex Couples | NCR.

Here are some of they ways the synod identified that folks in "Irregular Situations" can get help:

Still another reality on all continents is the existence and activity of Catholic schools and Catholic colleges, in which the children of parents in irregular situations can enroll without any distinction being made.

Instrumentum Laboris - 145

Many times the children are the ones who evangelize their parents.

ibid. 146

new initiatives are being enacted, including opportunities for formation in prayer and retreats, intended for parents and often taking place simultaneously with their children’s catechesis in preparation for the sacraments; “schools for parents”; catechetical programs on sexual morality and moral issues related to the family;

ibid. - 147

and it is important to remember that:

Particular Churches are well aware that children or young people are not to blame for the choices and living situation of their parents. Consequently, children are welcome everywhere, without distinction with respect to others and with the same love and attention.

ibid. - 149

but this might be the optimal solution:

In other cases, children of families with irregular situations receive Baptism after three or four years of catechesis, at an age when their peers are admitted to First Communion, as mentioned by some episcopal conferences in Africa.

Like most traditional minded Catholics, I can't see how parents committed to their Irregular Situation (which is my new favorite euphemism) can profess what they need to profess at their children's baptism. (something about rejecting "all Satan's works"). Not that you can stack a remarried Irregular Situation somewhere higher than a same sex Irregular Situation and twice as high as a single parent Irregular Situation, but, there is a certain extra amount of scandal that comes in to the church when considering two fellows telling the congregation a bald-faced lie vs a remarried couple telling a lie one death apart from normalization and a single mother not even remotely telling a lie, but actually needing support from the church community that she's probably not getting.

The only reason I write that is because as you may know, there are only four kinds of ordinary Baptism. (this isn't doctrine, it's just reality). You can be Baptized before Mass, during Mass, after Mass or not at Mass. If I were going to do something that was potentially scandalous, but somehow valid, then I would opt for doing with with the congregation not present.

But, I found this note:

Finally, to prevent the scandal of the weak we are sometimes obliged to sacrifice some temporal good of less importance, but we are not bound to do this when the goods are of greater importance.

interesting when looking up the meaning of the word scandal in the old Catholic Encyclopedia. I'd say Baptism is a good of greater importance (and not a temporal one). So it can't be forsaken to prevent scandal.

And lastly, apply what the Synod folks are saying about the feelings of divorced and remarried Catholics who are unable to receive the Sacraments. One of their major gripes is that it seems like a public punishment. That's not what the sacraments are for, they're medicine if anything. Medicine that can kill you (through Blasphemy) if you receive them unworthily. So perhaps that's why the Synod is finding that they only real confounding factor in allowing children from same sex unions to be baptized is ensuring that they get proper formation in the Faith (and morals) but should not go against what their parents teach because that (undermining the rights of parents to form the their children) is also not what the Church is for as it is not in harmony whatsoever with the Natural Law.

But now we've circled back around and that's why they're called Irregular Situations.

  • You have definitely provoked thinking. Thank you! This verse Matt 23:15 comes to mind. Food for thought, if a polygamous man presented himself for baptism, what would the Church require him to do?
    – user13992
    Oct 12, 2014 at 4:53
  • @fms yeah, it's a little troubling. For the most part, I'm really liking the honesty that is coming out of that Synod though. They're not pulling punches and saying "This is easy, just stay the course" but I don't think they're gonna give in to modernity either.
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 12, 2014 at 4:56
  • @fms, there's a part on polygamy in there too, I'm guessing they're gonna have to sort that out too (that appears to be Africa's "Irregular Situation")
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 12, 2014 at 4:57
  • The last sentence in your second to last paragraph is mighty thinking! I never even thought about that. SS couple presenting a child for baptism perhaps = trying to square the circle.
    – user13992
    Oct 12, 2014 at 5:01
  • @fms, I actually did read about this in the local paper more recently than I remembered! looks like our bishop calls it Licit and Valid! (and I can assure you that the Bishop Morlino is not a hippie dippy, free-love sort of Pastor.)
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 12, 2014 at 5:18

One must profess the entirety of the Catholic faith to be Catholic (cf. Pope Leo XIII's Satis Cognitum). Same-sex parents, by their actions and example, intentionally violate natural law (children have a right to a female mother and a male father) and disregard the 6th precept of the Church ("To obey the marriage laws of the Church"); they are practically unbelievers. There is thus no "founded hope that the infant [of a same-sex couple] will be brought up in the Catholic religion":

From the '83 Code of Canon Law:

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:

1/ the parents or at least one of them [e.g., if a single mother] or the person who legitimately takes their place [e.g., an adoptive parent] must consent;

2/ 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.

To baptize a child of unbelieving parents is illicit.

St. Thomas Aquinas says

it would be dangerous to baptize the children of unbelievers; for they would be liable to lapse into unbelief, by reason of their natural affection for their parents.

  • So SS couples are unbelieving because of the life they are living? Please see my comments interchange with AndreasBlass above. If such a baptism were to occur, would it be illicit but valid?
    – user13992
    Oct 11, 2014 at 21:17
  • @FMS: SS couples disregard the 6th precept of the Church ("To obey the marriage laws of the Church"), and one must hold the entirety of the Catholic faith to be Catholic (cf. Pope Leo XIII's Satis Cognitum). Yes, if the baptism is performed with the right matter (water), form ("I baptize thee… etc."), and intention, it is valid.
    – Geremia
    Oct 11, 2014 at 21:52
  • Good answer you may wish to amend the answer with reference to Pope Leo. Not sure I agree about the validity of the sacrament cf. the example I gave on confession in OP.
    – user13992
    Oct 12, 2014 at 4:14
  • You have a good answer but not complete. Here SS couple ARE presenting a child for baptism. It is their will. Your answer should reflect this. The children of the Jews example you quoted is not analogous, nor is this a case of a clandestine baptism.
    – user13992
    Oct 12, 2014 at 4:44
  • @FMS: Yes, the question "Whether the children of Jews should be baptized against the will of their parents?" is not analogous, but what I quote from that article does apply here.
    – Geremia
    Oct 12, 2014 at 6:00

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