“Ask a Priest: Should My Child Be ‘Dedicated’ at a Protestant Service?”

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Q: I’m hoping you can help me in my dilemma. My husband and I are married in a civil union but plan to have our marriage blessed in the Catholic Church soon. I am Catholic, he is not. We recently had our first child, and had him baptized in the Catholic Church. My husband’s family is now asking to have our child dedicated at the church my husband grew up in. What should I tell them, as I have been taught that as Catholics we aren’t supposed to participate in non-Catholic religions? I really could use some advice. Thank you. – B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good to hear that you are having your marriage convalidated (“blessed”) by the Church. That can bring you and the marriage a supernatural assistance through grace.

That will help you live the faith better. And as a Catholic parent you have a serious obligation to raise your children in that faith.

There are a few issues you want to consider in regard to the dedication, however. The dedication is intended as an act of consecration of the child to God. It is a ceremony practiced in some evangelical groups, including Baptist circles.

First, if you take the child to be dedicated in a Protestant service, people might assume any number of things. For instance: that you are distancing yourself from your Catholic faith and embracing Protestantism, or that you intend to raise your child as a Protestant.

Second, the dedication ceremonies are held instead of infant baptisms. Many Protestants oppose the notion of infant baptism, thinking that it’s better to let a child reach the age of reason to decide about baptism. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, does believe in the value and validity of infant baptism, with good reasons.

The point here is that the dedication ceremony itself is an implicit way of discounting the value of your child’s baptism. Yet, since “Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ” (Catechism, No. 1267), your child is already consecrated to God.

This isn’t to imply that your husband’s family is thinking, “Let’s show B. how wrong she was about getting the baby baptized.” Nevertheless, that is the message that would be implicitly sent by a dedication. (For related reading see this Catholic Answers post.)

Third, you might want to think through the implication of this dedication ceremony. Does your husband also plan to bring the child to Protestant services later? And if so, won’t that confuse the little one?

How will a child be able to know that the Catholic faith is the one true faith if Dad is bringing him to Protestant services and Mom goes along with that?

While attendance at a non-Catholic religious service might be OK on occasion, it’s careful not to send wrong signals to the children.

Perhaps it would be good to speak with your Catholic pastor. And intensify your prayers and sacrifices for your husband and child.

Count on my prayers.


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