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Gregory Matthews

Roman Catholic Interfaith Relations

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Gregory Matthews

# 1

The following is a true story which happened to me,  It will be of interest to Gustave.  At the end, I will ask a question that I will answer at a later time.  Some of  you may have heard me tell the story and know the answer to the question.  If  so, please do not give the answer away.

It is a quiet Sunday morning.  I am on call, as a chaplain, to a Metro hospital and my phone rings.  An unmarried mother of two (2) children has given birth to her third.  She agrees that she is not able to care for this third child and has agreed to give it up for adoption.  She is a Baptist by faith.

A Roman Catholic couple has decided that they want to adopt this child.  The mother has agreed to it.  On this morning the mother, the child, the RC Couple and a hospital Social Worker all are at the hospital, at which time the mother is to hand the child over to the couple and the adoption will take place.  However, at the last minute, the mother has stated that she will not surrender her child until that child is baptized by Protestant clergy.  So, the hospital has called me.  I have told the hospital that I will be there in 30 minutes.

 

Question:  What should I do in this case?

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Gustave

Baptize the Baby in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A Trinitarian formula Baptism performed by Protestant Clergy is just as valid as one performed by a Catholic Priest.

i had always assumed that Baptist’s believed an individuals conscience pertaining to Baptism had to be fully realized ( by the individual being Baptized ) prior to Baptism - evidently I assumed wrong.

 VERY interesting situation!!! 

[No, you were not wrong--GM.]

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Gregory Matthews

# 2

A patient in our SICH is comatose and near death.   His Roman Catholic relatives request that I bring the RC priest in to provide the Sacrament of the Sick.  I am going to do that.   It would be a violation of HIPPA for me to tell the family that the patient claims to be SDA.   I am going to call the priest.  I will tell the priest that the patient has listed SDA in his records and that is not a violation of HIPPA.

The priest will come in at my request.

What is the priest going to do?

 

 

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Gustave

Probably say a blessing over the person. As you’ve described it I doubt the Priest would perform a full anointing of the sick (which is a sacrament) if the person’s stated faith was other than Catholic, Orthodox, certain Lutheran churches, & other aligned liturgical Churches.

This persons relatives didn’t know his current religious affiliation?

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JoeMo
2 hours ago, Gregory Matthews said:

What should I do in this case?

Quick answer - a baby dedication; or find another Protestant chaplain to "baptize" the child.  I would imagine as an SDA chaplain, you are convicted that a person can only be baptized by their own choice.

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Gregory Matthews

# 2:  Here is the deal:

*  As the patient had regestered as a SDA, the priest  could not give him the Sacrament of the Sick.

*  The priest agreed to visit the family as the priest wanted to be pastoral in this time of crisis.

*  The priest was allowed to provide and did provide a "blessing" as Gustave stated.  Whether or not the family knew that this was not a sacrament, I do not know.  Regardless, the family received pastoral care.

 

As to   whether or not the family knew that the patient was SDA and not Catholic, I do not know.  In my work as a hospital  chaplain I experienced instances in which a family member attempted have the priest do something that the priest would not do.  In fact, I worked so closely with one priest the he instructed me in very specific cases not to call him.  Catholic priests may be overworked as all clergy may be overworked.  In my last assignment as an Army chaplain, I worked directly under a senior Roman Catholic priest.  Under some very specific guidelines, I had instructions not to call him.

I am reminded, as an Army chaplain, of being awakened at midnight by a person who demanded to speak to a RC priest immediately.  When I told the person that I would arrange for a visit at 8 AM the next morning, I was informed that the person would be sleeping at that time and would not get up just to see the priest.  So, I informed that person that was their choice, but I was not going to wake the priest up to talk to them at that time.

 

 

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Gregory Matthews

# !:

Here is the answer to what I did:

*  FIrst I visited the Social worker and got her perspective on the situation.

*  Next I visited the Baptist mother and established a realationship with her.

*  Next I visited the Catholic couple to understand where they were comming from.  They were devestated by the situation that they were in.  They had a Catholic priest standing by to baptize the child once they had the child.  After  istening to them, I proposed a solution in which I would not baptize the child and I asked if they would agree to my proposal.  They immediately accepted it.

*  I next visited the biological mother again.  I reminded her that she was violating a major belief that she had been taught as to baptism and I asked her If that was really what she wanted to do.  Then we talked abut my proposed resoluton of the problem.  She agreed to my proposal.

*  Shortly the Baptist mother, the RC couple, the Social Worker and I entered the hospital chapel.   There I laid hands on the biological mother and thanked God for her desire to follow God and I asked God to bless her in her future life.  Then I laid hands on the Roman CAtholic couple.   I thanked God for their willingness to accept the responsibility of raising this child and I asked that the Holy Spirit would guide them in this journey of raising this chilld.  At the end of this, it was time for the biological mother to hand the chold over to the adoptive mother, as had been agreed.

*  At that time the biological mother stated that she wanted to talk directly to the adoptive mother  alone and she wanted all of the rest of us to leave.  So we did.

*  After several minutes of waiting, the adoptive mother walked out of the chapel holding the child in her arms, with the biological mother behind her.

Mission accomplished!

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Gustave
1 hour ago, Gregory Matthews said:

# !:

Here is the answer to what I did:

*  FIrst I visited the Social worker and got her perspective on the situation.

*  Next I visited the Baptist mother and established a realationship with her.

*  Next I visited the Catholic couple to understand where they were comming from.  They were devestated by the situation that they were in.  They had a Catholic priest standing by to baptize the child once they had the child.  After  istening to them, I proposed a solution in which I would not baptize the child and I asked if they would agree to my proposal.  They immediately accepted it.

*  I next visited the biological mother again.  I reminded her that she was violating a major belief that she had been taught as to baptism and I asked her If that was really what she wanted to do.  Then we talked abut my proposed resoluton of the problem.  She agreed to my proposal.

*  Shortly the Baptist mother, the RC couple, the Social Worker and I entered the hospital chapel.   There I laid hands on the biological mother and thanked God for her desire to follow God and I asked God to bless her in her future life.  Then I laid hands on the Roman CAtholic couple.   I thanked God for their willingness to accept the responsibility of raising this child and I asked that the Holy Spirit would guide them in this journey of raising this chilld.  At the end of this, it was time for the biological mother to hand the chold over to the adoptive mother, as had been agreed.

*  At that time the biological mother stated that she wanted to talk directly to the adoptive mother  alone and she wanted all of the rest of us to leave.  So we did.

*  After several minutes of waiting, the adoptive mother walked out of the chapel holding the child in her arms, with the biological mother behind her.

Mission accomplished!

That looks to me like a job extremely well done!

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