Diocese of Madison

P.O. Box 44983
Madison, WI 53744-4983
Phone (608) 821-3033
Fax (608) 821- 4552


Statement
Friday, J une 27, 2014
For Immediate Release

In recent days, there have been a number of news reports with regard to the Diocese of Madison and the
presentation of children for baptism by same-sex couples. This communication discloses all facts and official
correspondence between the diocese and news outlets on this matter. Any reporting beyond what is presented
below is speculative at best and scurrilous at worst.

On May 10, 2014, Msgr. James Bartylla (Vicar General of the Diocese of Madison) in a confidential
email to priests, among numerous other items, wrote:

Re: Same-Sex “Couples” Seeking Baptism of a Child – If a party or parties to a same-sex union approach a priest in the Diocese
of Madison seeking baptism of a biological child of one of the parties to the same-sex union or an adopted child of one or both of the
parties to a same-sex union, please contact the Office of the Vicar General. As you know, there a plethora of difficulties,
challenges, and considerations associated with these unnatural unions (including scandal) linked with the baptism of a child, and
such considerations touch upon theology, canon law, pastoral approach, liturgical adaptation, and sacramental recording. Thus,
please seek consultation and coordination with the Office of the Vicar General, since each case must be evaluated individually.

On June 2, 2014, Brent King (Director of Communications for the Diocese of Madison) was asked
about Msgr. Bartylla’s email to priests, by a reporter from the Wisconsin State Journal. His response
follows:
As you probably know, there have been a few well-circulated and sometimes sensationalized news stories regarding this matter. So
the question arises for a pastor, “what if...?” In a confidential email sent to priests, Msgr. Bartylla offered that his office would
assist pastors on a case-by-case basis, given our (God’s first and foremost) desire that all be offered the graces of baptism, as well as
other just considerations. That his communication with priests was intended to be confidential in nature, addressing a pastoral
matter with the priests, Msgr. Bartylla will not be available to discuss this matter with you or others. This would be a poor
precedent to set (that the Vicar General sends an email, with a certain expectation of confidentiality, and then discuss those items in
a public forum). I offer the following article from the Catholic News Agency, which may be of some help.
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/argentine-archbishop-defends-baptism-of-child-with-lesbian-parents/

On June 6, 2014, Judge Barbara Crabb, issued a ruling striking down Wisconsin’s Constitutional
Amendment, defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

On June 12, 2014, following Judge Crabb’s ruling, the Wisconsin State Journal decided to revisit the
matter and the question “Do you see this change in approach altering the number of babies
baptized?” was posed to the diocese. Brent King’s response to this question was:

If a parent is sincere in presenting a child for baptism, no. We believe that baptism is the entrance into a new life in Christ and
His Church, open to all. In presenting a child for baptism, we confess to believe what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. We
want the child to be a part of that Mystical Body, throughout this life and the next. As is the case with any child, outside the
situation of danger of death, when a parent, or the person who lawfully holds their place, gives consent to and presents the child for
baptism, and where there is reasonable hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic faith, that child will be baptized. If
such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is to be deferred. Any parent who desires baptism for their child, and truly intends to raise
the child in the faith and all that means, should approach the Church, requesting the sacrament. We want everyone to receive this
most important sacrament, and we are dealing with this sensitive matter prudently, for the child’s sake and the integrity of this most
sacred sacrament.

On June 26, 2014, the Vatican presented the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for October’s
Synod Assembly on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.
Paragraph #120 of the documents addresses the “Transmission of the Faith to Children in Same Sex
Unions.” This paragraph was shared with reporters on the same day:

The responses are clearly opposed to legislation which would allow the adoption of children by persons in a same-sex union, because
they see a risk to the integral good of the child, who has the right to have a mother and father, as pointed out recently by Pope
Francis (cf. Address to Members of the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE), 11 April 2014 ). However, when people
living in such unions request a child’s baptism, almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same
care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children. Many responses indicate that it would be helpful to receive more
concrete pastoral directives in these situations. Clearly, the Church has the duty to ascertain the actual elements involved in
transmitting the faith to the child. Should a reasonable doubt exist in the capability of persons in a same sex union to instruct the
child in the Christian faith, proper support is to be secured in the same manner as for any other couple seeking the baptism of their
children. In this regard, other people in their family and social surroundings could also provide assistance. In these cases, the pastor
is carefully to oversee the preparation for the possible baptism of the child, with particular attention given to the choice of the
godfather and godmother.

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