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Question 87.

Dear Pater,

I have a question regarding the baptism of our baby girl. I am a Catholic while my husband is an Orthodox. We have been married in the Orthodox church in Cyprus. Now we have a beautiful baby girl. I would like to baptize her twice...once in Cyprus and once in Poland, in that order, where I come from. Is that possible?
The main reason for doing this is my family... they will not be able to attend the baptism here, which is very important to me.
Also I would like my baby to have godparents from both sides, my husbands and mine. Can you please advise if there is a way to baptize the baby twice?
She will be raised in Cyprus in the Orthodox religion, attending the church here, as this is where we live.
Thank you in advance.
Best regards,


Answer to Question 87.

Dear M,
Your question is a common dilemma with mixed marriages and a serious matter which couples from different religions should had solved before their marriage. First you need to understand that the Orthodox Church believes she is the only one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and all other churches are schismatic or heretical. The Roman Catholic Church also believes that she is the only one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. There cannot be two so the one is true and the other is false. Now which is the true Church and which is a lie is not for me to tell you because I would be bias; this is something you must search for yourself.
In the strictest sense, marriages between different churches are not allowed because the couples have been baptized into different religions. The fact that the Orthodox Church accepted to marry you is what we call in ecclesiastical language an "economy", a dispensation or concession, which turns a blind eye to the strict rules of the Church and allows marriages between Orthodox and Roman Catholic and Anglicans and some other Christian denominations that believe in the Holy Trinity. But in doing this, the Church, especially in Cyprus, before issuing the marriage licence, insists that the non Orthodox partner signs a declaration that the children born of that marriage will be baptized and raised in the Orthodox faith.
Baptism is our initiation into the Church which is the body of Christ and our initiation into the sacraments of the Church. As there is only one body of Christ then there can only be one true Church and there can only be one true baptism. People from very many different denominations call themselves Christian, but the truth is that Christ cannot be divided therefore the Church cannot be divided and cut into 1000s of small pieces each presenting itself as the Church of Christ. One simply cannot belong to two different churches. St. Paul said “There is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God.” Eph 4:4)
In our times baptism has become a social event where families get together to celebrate and we have forgotten that the main reason for the baptism is not for the festivities and gifts, but a religious ceremony that mystically initiates someone into the Church and becomes a full member of Christ, for as we sing during the baptism "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
I understand your desire for both sides of the family to be present, but to baptize someone twice is just making a mockery of this sacrament. When we are baptized we are spiritually initiated into the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we are immersed into the water we partake of his crucifixion, death and burial, and when we are lifted out of the water we become partakers of his Resurrection. Thus as St. Paul says: "we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Romans 6:4-5)
For this reason we cannot have two baptisms. because if our baptism is a type of Christ's Crucifixion and death, then to have a second baptism would be like publicly ridiculing the Son of God with a second crucifixion and death.
To attempt to confer the sacrament a second time in order to satisfy family preferences is to make those preferences more important than the meaning of the sacrament, and our faith in Christ. Your child's faith and salvation in Christ must come first and you must not think of her baptism as a social event, but as the spiritual event that it is.
You have already mentioned that your child will be raised in Cyprus in the Orthodox religion, attending the church here. This is sensible, not only because I or your husband may believe that the Orthodox faith is the true faith, but because your child will grow up with the same beliefs as most children in Cyprus and will have a feeling of belonging.
You ask if there is any possible way for you to give your child two baptisms. All things are possible. If you don't tell the Catholic priest that your child was already baptized in the Orthodox Church how would he know? He would assume, as we would, that the child is still unbaptized. But this would be a lie, not only to the priest, but also to God, and even more serious, as already mentioned, a mockery of Christ's suffering and death on the Cross.
It would be better to find a way for some of your family to come over for the baptism. You say they cannot come. But if the reason is for financial reasons then maybe you and your husband should think of helping them with the cost of the tickets. Also if the language of the service is a problem, there are churches in Cyprus that offer English as an alternative. You did not say where in Cyprus you live. If you are in the Limassol area, our church of St. Andrew in Mesa Geitonia can offer you the service in Greek, English and Greek of just in English.

With love in Christ
Fr. Christopher