France - Baptismal Certificates Without Parental Gender Terms


Photo Credits: Sacred Heart Church

The assumption that every child is being raised by a father and mother is very common but people are coming to recognize that many families don't fit that assumption. Same-sex couples have been legally allowed to marry and adopt in many countries now and also there are programs helping same-sex couples and single people who want to have a child.

The Catholic Church in France is slowly recognizing this fact and the French Bishops’ Council for Canonical Questions has taken an important step towards equity.  They have approved a recommendation to remove gendered parental terms — “mother” and “father” — from baptismal registry forms so from now on they will refer to “parents or other holders of parental authority.” This way not only same-sex couples are included but also families in which there are other holders of parental authority besides biological parents.

This change could have a positive effect on inclusion of less-traditional families and acknowledgment that in reality there are different kinds of family. It does not approve or disapprove the fact that a child may have two mothers, two fathers, a single parent, etc. it is just a more appropriate form. But in spite of that there are those who are against the change because it will represent a rejection of Catholic teaching on marriage and the family.

According to Patheos, speaking for the Federation of Catholic Family Associations, honorary president Antoine Renard says the changes are unnecessary. The rules around the sacraments require parents to commit to raising children “according to Church rules,” and the rules don’t recognize these sorts of families: It’s strange the Church is being advised to adapt to state laws this way — I see no need for it. The Church teaches that families are created by fathers and mothers, and that other forms are not families. Lesbian and other couples demand otherwise, but this won’t be accepted by the Church.

Same-sex marriages and the right of same-sex parents to adopt children were legalized in France in May 2013. Now, seven years later, the Church is making small steps in order to adapt to French law and even cannon law. According to Patheos, the French Bishops’ Council president, Joseph de Metz-Noblat, bishop of Langres, said that they acted in accordance with the cannon law because it forbids ministers to deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times. Will there always be those inside the Church who will fight against any progress?

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