A lesbian couple in Colombia has had both mothers’ names listed on their child’s baptismal certificate, which is reportedly a first for the country and a move which the archdiocese is now defending.
Manuela and Luisa Gómez were rejected several times when seeking to have their child, Matthias, baptized in the Catholic Church. While most parishes would celebrate the sacrament, the first ten churches refused to list both mothers on the baptismal certificate. The couple said they simply sought “a place to feel accepted as a homosexual couple and allow us to do the baptism,” and not including both their names did not reflect acceptance of the family. But they believed the baptism would be possible. And it finally was on July 13th, reported El Colombiano [the following is a translation]:
“After trying several parishes where they were told that the child could be baptized, but only the pregnant mother would be put on the baptismal certificate, they were about to give up because their wish was that the names of the two women appear in the document. However, an acquaintance recommended they go to one parish in particular. After talking with the priest the response was positive.
“‘He wrote to the [archdiocesan] curia, investigated, and told us that it could be done because under Canon Law the sacrament should be documented with the same data that appears in the civil registry of the minor’s birth, which in this case had two fields: mom 1 and mom 2,” said Manuela.”
“Of course, she noted, they were left with an unknown because in the document the names of Luisa’s parents were not written, as one set of grandparents. The only explanation the couple received was that according to the same Canon Law, only blood relatives can appear.”
Manuela commented to Caracol Radio that having their child welcomed into the church with both the mothers’ names on the baptismal certificate was “a source of pride, joy and sends a social message of inclusion.” She added, “all priests must do it because this is regulated by canon law and it is essential that couples inform themselves and know that it can be done.”
The Archdiocese of Medellín, where the baptism occurred, is defending the pastor’s move. Fr. Juan Diego Ruiz, a legal advisor, said that 2014 archdiocesan guidelines about baptizing the children of LGBTQ parents focused on welcoming children to the faith. El Colombiano reported:
“‘The child needs religious services and the church opens its doors to deliver that life of faith, regardless of the child’s origin. There is a negative opinion against the church that I would think is not valid because since 2014 the archbishop and the Archdiocese of Medellín released some guidance about baptism in these types of cases, even when children are adopted by same-sex couples,” the spokesperson highlighted. . .
“The legal advisor also stressed that any couple who has problems or is met with a pastor refusing to baptize their child, can go to the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Medellín to report that the sacrament is being denied to that child.”
Interestingly, Medellín’s Archbishop Ricardo Antonio Tobón Restrepo has seemingly putting aside a 2017 instruction from the Pontifical Council on Legal Texts that bars listing same-gender couples, as well as transgender parents on baptismal certificates. The Council’s then-president, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, wrote in a letter:
“In the current Code, there is no specific law regarding the annotation of same sex couples or ‘transgender persons’ as parents in the baptismal register. The term ‘parents’ used by can. 877 CIC refers clearly to the father and the mother, man and woman created by God who are united in the sacrament of marriage (cf. can. 1055 §1 CIC) or to such a couple who adopted a child. . .
“The annotation of same sex partners or ‘transgender persons’ as parents would be contrary to the aforementioned canon and the teaching of Our Lord and of the Church on marriage as desired by God to be a union between a man and a woman. If one of the partners is the child’s natural father or mother, he or she must be mentioned in the register; the other partner cannot be annotated.
“Given the above indications, we do not consider it possible to annotate in the baptismal register two mothers or two fathers or a ‘transgender father’ whose real nature is a woman or a ‘transgender mother’ whose real nature is a man.”
But Manuela and Luisa Gómez with their child, Matthias, prove the cardinal and his opinion are wrong. It is quite possible to annotate a baptismal register with two mothers for indeed such families are blessed by God and, to quote the couple, “change is happening.”
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 12, 2019