Catholic Church Takes Measures to Avoid Mormon Baptism of the Dead

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

It looks like I am not the only person who is against Baptism for the Dead. As I have said many times, I hate the idea of Baptism for the Dead because it takes away the person's rights. It's immoral. If they lived their life as a Catholic, or a Jew, let them stay how they were. It's not up to the Mormon faith to decide what is right for everyone else. Here are a couple articles about this topic, I want to thank Winyan for bringing these articles to my attention on PostMormon.org.

Vatican Warns of Mormon 'Baptism of the Dead'
By Chaz Muth
5/3/2008
Catholic News Service

Vatican issues an order to Bishops to not allow Parish records to be given to genealogical societies of the Mormon Church.
WASHINGTON (CNS) - In an effort to block posthumous rebaptisms by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic dioceses throughout the world have been directed by the Vatican not to give information in parish registers to the Mormons' Genealogical Society of Utah.

An April 5 letter from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, obtained by Catholic News Service in late April, asks episcopal conferences to direct all bishops to keep the Latter-day Saints from microfilming and digitizing information contained in those registers.

The order came in light of "grave reservations" expressed in a Jan. 29 letter from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the clergy congregation's letter said.

Father James Massa, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said the step was taken to prevent the Latter-day Saints from using records -- such as baptismal documentation -- to posthumously baptize by proxy the ancestors of church members.

Posthumous baptisms by proxy have been a common practice for the Latter-day Saints -- commonly known as Mormons -- for more than a century, allowing the church's faithful to have their ancestors baptized into their faith so they may be united in the afterlife, said Mike Otterson, a spokesman in the church's Salt Lake City headquarters.

In a telephone interview with CNS May 1, Otterson said he wanted a chance to review the contents of the letter before commenting on how it will affect the Mormons' relationship with the Catholic Church.

"This dicastery is bringing this matter to the attention of the various conferences of bishops," the letter reads. "The congregation requests that the conference notifies each diocesan bishop in order to ensure that such a detrimental practice is not permitted in his territory, due to the confidentiality of the faithful and so as not to cooperate with the erroneous practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

The letter is dated 10 days before Pope Benedict XVI's April 15-20 U.S. visit, during which he presided over an ecumenical prayer service attended by two Mormon leaders. It marked the first time Mormons had participated in a papal prayer service.

Father Massa said he could see how the policy stated in the letter could strain relations between the Catholic Church and the Latter-day Saints.

"It certainly has that potential," he said. "But I would also say that the purpose of interreligious dialogue is not to only identify agreements, but also to understand our differences. As Catholics, we have to make very clear to them their practice of so-called rebaptism is unacceptable from the standpoint of Catholic truth."

The Catholic Church will eventually open a dialogue with the Mormons about the rebaptism issue, Father Massa said, "but we are at the beginning of the beginning of a new relationship with the LDS. The first step in any dialogue is to establish trust and to seek friendship."

The two faiths share intrinsic viewpoints on key issues the United States is facing, particularly the pro-life position on abortion and an opposition to same-sex marriage.

However, theological differences have cropped up between Mormons and Catholics in the past.

In 2001 the Vatican's doctrinal congregation issued a ruling that baptism conferred by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be considered a valid Christian baptism, thus requiring converts from that religion to Catholicism to receive a Catholic baptism.

"We don't have an issue with the fact that the Catholic Church doesn't recognize our baptisms, because we don't recognize theirs," Otterson said. "It's a difference of belief."

When issuing its 2001 ruling, the Vatican said that even though the Mormon baptismal rite refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the church's beliefs about the identity of the three persons are so different from Catholic and mainline Christian belief that the rite cannot be regarded as a Christian baptism.

Latter-day Saints regard Jesus and the Holy Spirit as children of the Father and the Heavenly Mother. They believe that baptism was instituted by the Father, not Christ, and that it goes back to Adam and Eve.

Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald -- vicar general of the Diocese of Salt Lake City -- said he didn't understand why the Latter-day Saints church was singled out in this latest Vatican policy regarding parish records.

"We have a policy not to give out baptismal records to anyone unless they are entitled to have them," Msgr. Fitzgerald said of his diocese. "That isn't just for the Church of the Latter-day Saints. That is for all groups."

Though he said the Salt Lake City Diocese has enjoyed a long-standing dialogue with the Latter-day Saints, Msgr. Fitzgerald said the diocese does not support giving the Mormons names for the sake of rebaptism.

Mormons have been criticized by several other faiths -- perhaps most passionately by the Jews -- for the church's practice of posthumous baptism.

Members of the Latter-day Saints believe baptizing their ancestors by proxy gives the dead an opportunity to embrace the faith in the afterlife. The actual baptism-by-proxy ceremony occurs in a Mormon temple, and is intended to wash sins away for the commencement of church membership.

Jewish leaders have called the practice arrogant and said it is disrespectful to the dead, especially Holocaust victims.

"Baptism by proxy is a fundamentally important doctrine of the Latter-day Saints," Otterson said. "We have cooperative relationships with churches, governments -- both state and national -- going back to the last century. Our practice of negotiating for records and making them available for genealogical research is very well known."

Father Massa said he is not aware of aggressive attempts to obtain baptismal records at Catholic parishes in any of the U.S. dioceses.

He also said the Catholic Church will continue to reach out to the Mormons and carry on the efforts of understanding that have already begun, especially in Salt Lake City.

"Profound theological differences are not an excuse for avoiding dialogue, but a reason for pursuing dialogue," Father Massa said.

- - - Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Will Pope Benedict become a Mormon after he dies?

Sun Feb 4, 2007 6:22pm EST
Reuters By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - Pope Benedict was baptized at birth and will most likely be baptized again one year after his death, not by his Roman Catholic Church but by a Mormon he never met.

The Mormons, a U.S.-based denomination officially named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), encourage members to baptize the dead by proxy in the belief they are helping the deceased attain full access to heaven.

Church members are told to focus on their ancestors, a rite understandable in a relatively new denomination founded in 1830. But so many now perform the rituals for celebrities, heroes and perfect strangers that the practice has spun out of control.

Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, Mao Zedong, King Herod, Al Capone and Mickey Mouse have all appeared for a short time in the International Genealogical Index for proxy baptisms, said Helen Radkey, a researcher specialized in the IGI.

"It seems that any kind of name at all may be submitted," said Radkey from Salt Lake City, where the Church is based. The IGI also accepts names for rites that "seal" spouses in eternal marriage or parents and children in eternal families.

This has outraged Jews and baffled Christians who see it as usurping the memory of their departed relatives. The Church says it cannot stem the tide of dead baptized in its own temples.

"The only way we could prevent it would be to undertake independent genealogical research on every name that came in, an utterly impossible task with the many tens of thousands of names that are submitted each year," Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said in an email responding to questions from Reuters.

So Benedict looks set to join his predecessor John Paul and a centuries-long list of popes Mormons have baptized -- despite the fact that he, back when he was the Vatican's top doctrinal authority, ruled that Mormon baptisms were not even Christian.

"There is no reason theologically why a former Pope or any other church leader shouldn't be offered the same opportunity given to the rest of mankind," Farah said.

JEWS, CATHOLICS, PROTESTANTS, MUSLIMS

The Catholics are not the only non-Mormons on the Church's International Genealogical Index (IGI), a list of those baptized or cleared for the rite in which a Mormon undergoes a full immersion baptism at a temple in the name of the dead person.

Jewish Holocaust victims, Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin and Mohammed ibn Abdel-Wahhab, founder of Saudi Arabia's stern version of Islam, have all popped up on the list.

A purged version of the IGI is on the Internet, at www.familysearch.org, a Web site run by the LDS church, but does not show which rites have been performed.

That data is reserved only for Mormons, who can consult it at one of the 3,400 Family History Centers worldwide where they go to enter names for these rites using special software. The rites are then performed at temples off-limits to non-Mormons.

Radkey, who has exposed non-Mormon entries on the IGI for over a decade, alerted U.S. Jewish groups last December that the famous Jewish Nazi-hinter Simon Wiesenthal had turned up on the IGI as a departed soul cleared for Mormon baptism.

Rabbi Marvin Heir, head of a Jewish human rights group in Los Angeles named after the deceased Austrian, called this "very offensive. Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his whole life to Jews. I don't think he needs help getting into heaven."

The Church pledged in 1995 not to list Holocaust victims and other Jews after many names were found on the IGI. It took Wiesenthal's name off its online list but critics like Radkey say internal lists still have large numbers of Jewish names.

POPES AND FICTIONAL WIVES

Pope John Paul II was baptized not once but four times in April 2006, in line with Mormon practice of waiting a year before starting these rites. He died on April 2, 2005.

His name was purged from the online IGI, so a normal search will not find them. But his four now-anonymous files are still in the database and three still show his parents' names.

Pope Pius XII was baptized three times and also "sealed" in eternal marriage to a fictional Mrs Eugenio Pacelli. Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order of priests, was also "sealed" to a bogus wife. Catholic clergy do not marry.

Names are purged from the public IGI after being found and publicized. Pope John Paul I and Pope Paul VI were both baptized and were listed on the online IGI in December but removed after Reuters asked about them, Farah confirmed.

But earlier popes, going back at least to the Crusader Pope Urban II (1088-1099), are mostly still there. "They remove any names that could potentially cause criticism," Radkey said.

Father Thomas Weinandy, head of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, described proxy baptism as inappropriate.

"We don't know whether the person would want this or not," he told Reuters from Washington. "Catholics and other Christians feel they are already properly baptized. But it's harmless.

"As for the popes, I think most Catholics would find that somewhat inappropriate but also rather humorous. They're already in heaven! So it's redundant, even if it did work."

BAFFLING NOTION

Mormons believe the early Christians strayed from the true faith and only the LDS Church returned to the right path. All those who lived before 1830 were thus unable to join the Church and have full access to all the glory of heaven.

To trace and baptize these people, it has built up the largest genealogical library in the world, the Family History Library at its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. This includes public lists of names collected around the world.

Clearly sensitive to questions about the practice, the LDS Church defends it as a central tenet of its faith. It argues the proxy baptism does no harm because the dead can reject it in the next life, a notion baffling to most Christians.

Farah said Mormons were "always deeply saddened to hear" that non-Mormons might be offended to find their ancestors' names had been harvested from public lists and baptized into a faith they did not follow during their lives.

Church rules say deceased who were born in the past 95 years should not be submitted for baptism without permission from their living relatives, but the IGI shows this is often ignored.

Farah said the LDS Church has tried to discourage abuse of the system. "We continue to look for ways to improve," she said.

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved



7 comments:

  1. Anonymous Says:

    If you have ever taken even the smallest moment to actually try to understand either "Mormon" doctrine or even the idea of a loving and benevolent Deity, you would realize that, even under Mormon doctrine, it is the free will of the person being baptized by proxy to accept or reject the ordinance. And if you really believe that mormons are so ill-informed or wrong-headed, and that God (or whatever name you may attatch to any supreme being you believe in) would punish the soul of someone for something they have no control over, than you have a greater problem that the mormons do. If the mormons are wrong, they are eating and drinking thier own damnation. If they are right, they are providing the opportunity of salvation to those who did not receive that opportunity in life.

  1. Sydney Says:

    Anonymous,

    Firstly, I would like to reply to the "if you have ever taken even the smallest moment to actually try to understand either "Mormon" doctrine" comment.

    Are you kidding me? Have you read any of the articles on this blog? Of course I have, and it's kind of a rude way to begin the comment, don't you think?

    Anyway, back to the point.

    You obviously support the idea of Baptism for the dead. That is fine... I certainly don't.

    I find the issue morally wrong, as do millions of other people. Sorry you disagree with my points, but being rude isn't going to help you get your point across, is it?

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You know Sidney, or whatever your name is, this page was done in bad taste, I hate to be in your shoes at the last day. These things about the temple clothing and other sacred things are not secret they are sacred. for just this reason, for dumb blind and ignorant people like yourself. God will have a reconing for people like you, good luck after your excommunication oh, yeah and that is what happens, you will lose the spirit if you had to begin with. Good luck without the guidance it brings.

  1. Sydney Says:

    Dearest Anonymous,

    Firstly, I want to thank you for making me laugh... I needed it. I find it very funny that you would say something like, "You know Sydney, or whatever your name is..." and then leave your comment as anonymous. Classy.

    Secondly, this page isn't in bad taste at all. As a matter of fact, I am very open to hearing everyone's opinions here. I even have faithful Mormons here regularly.

    Now, for the "I would hate to be in your shoes on the last day" comment... Why is it that you just blindly assume I am wrong and you are right? What right do you have to judge someone? If you are so righteous and faithful that you know what I don't, why are you not acting in a truly christian way? Isn't that one of the first things you learn? Hmmm... might want to think about it.

    I am not ignorant, I am far from it. I have spent so much time reading and learning all different points of view... have you? Doesn't seem like it. If you did take the time to research, you would quickly learn that everything on this blog is actual fact and can be backed up with newspaper articles as well as historical documents. Who is the ignorant one?

    I think you might just think you are a better person that you really are. Look in the mirror, it could do you some serious good.

    -Sydney

  1. malisa Says:

    i understand why u don't believe as the mormons do. it is hard to adjust to the fact that we could be right. how can that be when a boy found golden plates in the ground or that god told him they were there. i am lds and proud. u know me as a mormon. baptism for the dead is our way of making sure all who never had the chance to be mormans or join the church do. we can't baptize the pope. we believe only those who were put on this earth before the true church was restored can be baptixed by proxy. this is a recent change yes. but the person we are baptized for must still choose to join the church they are not atomatically members. as for the garments u believe to be secret, they are not they are sacred. thry are used to show us the point of treating our body as a temple. if they were secret then u wouldn't know about them or even see pics of them on the internet. they are importnat to us as a church, if u don't agree that's fine. that is one of the things our church preaches and that is that not all will agree with us, and that is there right. i don't think u know as much as u think. please ask a mormon about these things not a person who is agains't all we believe. we are happy to answer all ur questions.thanx

  1. malisa Says:

    i understand why u don't believe as the mormons do. it is hard to adjust to the fact that we could be right. how can that be when a boy found golden plates in the ground or that god told him they were there. i am lds and proud. u know me as a mormon. baptism for the dead is our way of making sure all who never had the chance to be mormans or join the church do. we can't baptize the pope. we believe only those who were put on this earth before the true church was restored can be baptixed by proxy. this is a recent change yes. but the person we are baptized for must still choose to join the church they are not atomatically members. as for the garments u believe to be secret, they are not they are sacred. thry are used to show us the point of treating our body as a temple. if they were secret then u wouldn't know about them or even see pics of them on the internet. they are importnat to us as a church, if u don't agree that's fine. that is one of the things our church preaches and that is that not all will agree with us, and that is there right. i don't think u know as much as u think. please ask a mormon about these things not a person who is agains't all we believe. we are happy to answer all ur questions.thanx

  1. Andee Says:

    Malisa,

    Obviously you haven't taken the time to read many articles on this blog.

    I was born and raised a Mormon, and I have had my "questions" answered by missionaries, stake presidents and bishops. The answers don't make sense, and it's apparent to me that people believe in Mormonism because they are desperate to. Even to the point where you would make excuses for past prophets doing things like marrying 14 year old girls and making horrific racist comments.

    I know exactly what baptism for the dead is. I don't agree with it. A persons religion is a private decision, and I have ALWAYS felt (even when I was a believing Mormon) that baptism for the dead was immoral and wrong. Baptizing people who died in the Holocaust is just one small example of how the LDS church "respects" others religion.

    I don't hate Mormons. I wish the Mormon church's leaders would be more honest with you and others in the membership.

    Again, if you want to have a conversation about things, please actually take the time to read more than a couple pages.

    Andee