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Posted October 2, 2007

Book: A Concise Guide to Your Rights in the Catholic Church
Author: Kevin E. McKenna
Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, IN. 2007. Pp. 127

An Excerpt from the News Release:

With the increasingly charged political climate in the Catholic church, A Concise Guide to Your Rights in the Catholic Church is a handy reference guide for anyone who wishes to learn about their rights and responsibilities within the Church. The author, Kevin E. McKenna, is former president of the Canon Law Society of America and draws upon his experience to decode complex canon law into easily understood language.

A Concise Guide to Your Rights in the Catholic Church lays out contemporary pastoral issues then situates them within the framework of Catholic teaching, carefully referencing related Church documents. Each chapter concludes with a series of questions that challenge the reader to reflect on the relevance of the chapter to his or her own experience.

“This little book lifts the veil from the mystery of canon law and sheds ample light on its richness and practical wisdom for everyday Catholic life,” says Rev. James J. Conn, S.J. Ordinary Professor of Canon Law, Pontifical Gregorian University.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Can Parents be denied the sacrament of baptism for their children?

Frequently one or both parents presenting their child for baptism are not practicing their faith. For whatever reason, the faith of the parent(s) may have grown dormant. Sometimes an encounter with a representative of the Church has resulted in a feeling of alienation on the part of the parents. Or perhaps the practice of religious faith has never been a vital part of their upbringing. This is a delicate challenge to the pastoral minister, conscious that the baptismal rites are addressed to cooperating and practicing members of the faith community.

Parents are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth and are to be properly prepared for it (CI 867 $1, CCEO 686). There must, however, be a well-founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic faith before the sacrament may be administered. If such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed and the parents informed of this decision (CIC 868, $2, CCEO 681 $1,4).

Each diocese should have policies regarding the deferring of the sacrament. Pastoral experience over the years seems to indicate that outright refusal is a violation of the right to the sacraments and rarely results in a return to the Church. In fact, it may permanently estrange the parents from the practice of the faith. Most often, a patient and persistent approach in educating parents to the connection between the meaning of the sacrament, the faith of the child, and the parents’ faith life can lead to the establishment of a well-founded hope of a Catholic upbringing.

Table of Contents:

1. The Development of Human Rights in the Catholic Church

2. The Christian Faithful

3. The Laity

4. The Clergy

5. Some Specific Issues in the Church Today

6. Vindicating Rights in the Church