Catholics urged to have babies baptized as soon as possible
MANILA, Philippines—Babies should be baptized within three months of their birth, an official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said Saturday.
Fr. Genaro Diwa, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on the Liturgy, said parents should not wait until they are “financially ready” to have their children baptized.
“What is becoming the normal thinking of us Filipinos is that what qualifies one for baptism is when you are financially ready,” Diwa said. “What becomes the qualification is if the feast is already ready, which is not good. It destroys the whole experience of Christian initiation.”
Diwa made the statement as the Catholic Church prepared to welcome adult converts during baptism rites on Sunday.
In February, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas also issued a circular which urged parents to have their children baptized three months after they are born.
“I think there is wisdom in the circular letter of the bishop to remind his Christian community that they should desire for the faith of the child and not for the perks of the celebration of baptism, which is like it is reduced to a mere social gathering to invite politicians and personalities,” Diwa said.
“I think that is the whole spirit of the circular letter—to focus on the essential of baptism. Although the family still has no financial capacity, they should already seek baptism for the child,” he added.
In his circular, Villegas said that he had “sadly noticed a diminishment in the proper understanding” of the sacrament of baptism.
“First, we wish to stress emphatically that the baptisms of infants must be scheduled a few weeks but not later than three months after birth. Ideally, as soon as the mother has recovered her strength after the child’s delivery, the baby must be rushed to the Church for baptism,” Villegas said.
“Secondly, we must bring back the primacy of baptism as a spiritual birth of a child into the family of God. It must not be reduced to a mere social event necessitating a party or banquet,” he added.
The archbishop also insisted that a baby’s parents and godparents should be dressed in white for the ceremony.
“The proper color for baptism is white. It is advisable for parents and godparents to be dressed in white in order to signify the cleansing from original sin that they seek for the infant in their arms,” Villegas said.
He also reminded parents about the admonition of Pope Benedict XVI about giving names to children.
“The Pope urges parents not to give their children names that are not included in the Christian martyrology and to refrain from choosing different names, even if these are in fashion,” Villagas said.
“Every baptized person acquires the character of ‘child’ starting with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit gives birth ‘anew ‘ to infant from the womb of the Church,” he added, quoting the Pope.
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