A Catholic priest in Soroti Diocese, the Fr. Joseph Eciru, has banned baptism of children whose parents have not married in the church.
By Godfrey Ojore
SOROTI - A Catholic priest in Soroti Diocese, the Fr. Joseph Eciru, has banned baptism of children whose parents have not married in the church.
Presiding over the baptism of 17 children at Kaler Catholic Church in Gweri sub-county, Soroti district on Sunday, Eciru said it was the last time he was baptising children whose parents were not wedded.
“I will not accept this anymore and I want men with pregnant women who are here to consider wedding them before coming to baptise their children.”
“Better inform your in-laws about your wedding early enough. Why do you men want to waste people’s daughters like that?” he asked the parents.
An angry Eciru almost refused to baptise the children after he learnt that most of their parents were not wedded.
Everest Okello, the Soroti district education officer, who was present in the church, requested the fathers of the children to promise Eciru that they would wed, but they all declined.
The failure by the children’s fathers to respond to Okello’s request prompted some of the mothers to shed tears.
Some of the parents were seen sweating after Eciru threatened not to baptise their children.
“Who among you is promising to wed? Who? If you are not responding, then I am going away because I don’t want to contravene the biblical teachings,” Eciru said.
After hours of pleas from the wedded believers, Eciru accepted to baptise the children, but declared that he would no longer baptise children, whose parents are not wedded.
“I would love to be wedded but my husband says he has no money and that he is not ready. I don’t know what to do since we are still having more children,” a mother of seven, who asked not to be named, said.
Parents queuing to have their children baptised at Kaler Catholic Church on Sunday. PHOTO/Godfrey Ojore
When contacted, the diocesan chancellor, Fr. Lawrence Akepa, who spoke on behalf of Bishop Emmanuel Obbo, said Eciru was right.
“He is right because that is the type of guidance people need. This guidance is not only needed in Kaler, but everywhere. That is how the Catholic Church works,” said Akepa.
He further explained that according to the Canon Law, all Christians who have produced four children must wed.
“This looks like something new but Catholics know it. All those with four children and above must wed because we believe that people who have lived that long together are mature in faith,” Akepa stressed.
Reactions to Fr. Eciru's decision
trueFlorence Maraka, Born-again Christian
Did John the Baptist, who baptised Jesus, ask if parents of the people he baptised were wedded? The Bible prohibits those who add to or subtract from Jesus’ words. The Catholic Church should rely on the Bible instead of their Canon Law.
trueArchbishop of Tororo Archdiocese, Denis Lote Kiwanuka
Baptism of children whose parents are not wedded in church differs from diocese to diocese. The Church should not punish children for their parents’ sins. It should also not stop a boy from joining a seminary to train for priesthood or a girl from joining a novitiate because the parents have not wedded in church.
trueSamuel Ojolim, a Catholic
I was a victim of that Canon Law, but I later got baptised without my parents first wedding. How can you talk about weddings, yet most Christians are in polygamous marriages?
trueAlis Mujasi, a Catholic
As a Catholic, that is new to me. I have six children who I have baptised and I have not wedded because I have two wives. When did this law come into being?
trueArchbishop John Baptist Odama of the Gulu Archdiocese
I don’t know the rules of the diocese of Soroti regarding that. However, it is not just a matter of the parents being wedded. Baptism is a matter of deciding one’s relationship with God, thus the child must be in an environment that enables it to grow while practising the faith it is baptised in. According to the Church, the parents must undergo instruction before baptism.
Priest bans baptism of unwedded couples'' kids