By The Librarian
Babies baptised into the Catholic ChurchÂ are Â“infant conscripts who are held to lifelong obligations of obedienceÂ”, according to former president Mary McAleese.
Saying that early Baptism breaches fundamental human rights, she said: Â“You canÂ’t impose, really, obligations on people who are only two weeks old and you canÂ’t say to them at seven or eight or 14 or 19 Â‘here is what you contracted, here is what you signed up toÂ’ because the truth is they didnÂ’t.Â”
The current model of Baptism Â“worked for many centuries because people didnÂ’t understand that they had the right to say no, the right to walk awayÂ”, she declared.
Â“But you and I know, we live now in times where we have the right to freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of opinion, freedom of religion and freedom to change religion. The Catholic Church yet has to fully embrace that thinking,Â” she told The Irish Times.
She said conscience was Â“supremeÂ” where Catholics were concerned.
Â“My human right to inform my own conscience, my human right to express my conscience even if it is the case that it contradicts the magisterium [teaching authority of the church], that right to conscience is supreme.Â”
She said many things down the centuries were taught Â“with great passion that quietly now have been abandoned by the very magisterium that taught themÂ”.
She instanced examples such as its condemnation of Gallileo or, more recently, the description in 1930 byÂ Pope PiusÂ XI of those who advocated emancipation and equality for women as Â“false teachersÂ”.
Mrs McAleese said she did not intend to attend any World Meeting of Families events in Dublin in August because it had Â“become a political rally rather than a religious and spiritual experienceÂ”.
The meeting, which will be attended by Pope Francis, is a forum Â“for the reinforcement of orthodoxyÂ”, she said.
She will, however, be taking part in the Dublin Pride Parade next Saturday Â“under the BeLongTo bannerÂ” and with Â“the members of our own family, straight and gay, young and old, weÂ’ll all be thereÂ”.
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