article on the Church's relationship with the State, Canon Reiss of
Westminster Abbey stated that
"If one of the parties to a marriage is
baptised, a couple can normally be married as of right in their parish
church. If parents want their child's birth to be marked by
baptism, then most clergy will readily do so, even though, wrongly,
some may try to impose conditions, contrary to canon law"
This is wrong in two respects. Baptism is not
a pre-requisite for marriage, and as Council member Ian Robins pointed
out in the letter below, imposition of conditions is permitted.
Robert Reiss claims that it is “wrong” for the clergy to try to
impose conditions on parents and godparents before the baptism of
children. How can it be wrong to respect the integrity of the
participating adults who are being required to commit themselves to
the Christian faith and to involvement in the Body of Christ?
“turn to Christ” must mean something. There are many Christians in
this country and in the wider world for whom commitment to Christ
involves considerable and even ultimate sacrifice. Are we not selling
the faith short by allowing ill-informed promises to be made in the
manner that Canon Reiss seems to approve?
imposition of conditions is, in fact, permitted by canon law for the
purposes of “preparation”. Handled with pastoral sympathy and wise
but gentle firmness (for example, planning the baptism date in
consultation with parents and as part of the preparation), this makes
the whole experience potentially a first step towards a genuine faith
a baptism where one or more adults are already committed members of
the Church requires a different approach.”
fuller exposition of the legal position is given on http://www.baptism.org.uk/law.htm