As a retired permanent deacon living in Malta, I was most interested in the reported comments made by Fr Renè Camilleri (“Stop baptisim at birth, drop religion clause”, February 12).
Having spent many years in the UK baptising and preparing families for baptisms, I was surprised to read that Fr Camilleri was advocating that “people should decide for themselves”. He may, of course, have been misquoted. One hopes so.
Being a practising Catholic in a western society, much of which is aggressively secular, has forced many to make their faith a ‘private affair’, not to make oneself obvious or a nuisance to those one lives and works with. Thankfully, from my observation, that has yet to happen here. Sadly, in the UK it already has.
In preparing families and individuals for baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation, the stress surely should be that these occasions, and their preparation, are a family affair. The parents are critical in the preparation and will influence the recipient of the sacraments in a major way if they are given the spiritual and devotional example from those who are raising them and love them. In many parishes in the UK, it is now customary for parents who wish their children to attend the local catholic school to register when they and the family attend Mass, and in particular, have written confirmation that the child has been baptised.
I would question the rationale that ‘I will let my child decide when they are old enough to understand as to whether or not they wish to be initiated into the Catholic Faith’. Not to belabour the point, the sacrament of baptism is God’s everlasting confirmation of His love. Are we suggesting that parents should not love their children until they are old enough to understand what love is? They may have to wait a very long time.