Pope Francis urges baptism of babies versus waiting for them to make decision as adults

Pope Francis is urging parents to baptize their babies as soon as possible instead of waiting for them to become old enough to decide on their own baptism.

(Wikimedia Commons/Alberto Poggioli)The sacrament of baptism is an important part of a baby's life, Pope Francis said.

During a general audience at the Vatican last Wednesday, April 11, the pontiff explained the value of a baby's baptism. Appealing to new parents, the pope acknowledged that some might consider holding off on the sacrament until the baby grows up and understands what is a baptism.

"But this means not trusting in the Holy Spirit," Pope Francis explained. "When we baptize a child, the Holy Spirit enters him and the Holy Spirit fosters in that child the Christian virtues, which will later flourish," he added.

The pope also urged parents to give their children the gift of faith as baptism welcomes babies into the Church and into the faith of their parents. It opens the door for the other sacraments in the Catholic Church and serves as the guiding light and foundation of every Christian child.

Hence, Pope Francis said putting off baptism until the child can understand what it is about is not a sound excuse since parents have to trust the Holy Spirit to guide their children in their journey of faith. Linking baptism to Easter, the pontiff said, "[Baptism] a sign of purification for a new beginning."

He also reminded the rest of the audience to reflect on the sacrament they underwent as babies; that being baptized as a Christian makes one a witness to God and a recipient of His salvation.

During the gathering, Pope Francis baptized eight people from the ages of 28 to 52, according to Aleteia. Adult baptism in the Catholic Church applies to a catechumenate, or an older person seeking to convert to Catholicism through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). The practice has roots in the time of Paul the Apostle, as written in Acts 19.