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Ask an Apostle: What happens to an unbaptized baby?

John Christman, S.S.S. answers your questions this month.
Catholic Voices

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Q: My granddaughter does not want to baptize her new baby. Will the baby go to heaven if it dies? 

—Worried Grandma

A: Congratulations on your new grandchild! Life is such a beautiful gift from God. I know many people who would love to have children but are unable to. Likewise, there are many people facing difficult pregnancies or challenging circumstances once their child is born. I don’t know your granddaughter’s situation, but I hope her child is healthy. Your question jumps from the birth of a new baby to the possibility of death rather quickly. Is your great-grandchild in poor health? If so, I am very sorry for the challenges you and your family are experiencing and understand you may be anxious about religious matters.

I also believe when it comes to infants who are completely innocent and just beginning their life’s journey, they are completely wrapped in God’s unfaltering grace, love, and mercy. God desires joy, peace, and salvation for us all, even more so for the most vulnerable and innocent. Take comfort in how God has revealed God’s very self to us. A God who “is love” sustains all things in love. We have a very strong foundation for hope.

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If your grandchild is in good health then, I have to ask, why are we talking about death? Now is the time to celebrate life! This is a new beginning! Your granddaughter is discerning her values as a mother. This is an important part of her journey. You may or may not agree with her values, but it would be good to lovingly listen to her, so that you might understand her better. Conflict over religious values will not draw you closer. Even worse, it could make her less inclined to spend time with you, and that could mean less time with your great-grandchild.

If you live your faith, your granddaughter will take notice. It can be a slow process, but remember God is present throughout. God guides each of us along our own unique path. Some of us have a difficult enough time trying to figure out our own path let alone directing some else’s path. Let God guide the bigger picture and take joy in accompanying your granddaughter and this beautiful new child along their way. There are many wonderful things you will discover together, if you are open to it. Enjoy the journey.


About the author

John Christman, S.S.S.

John Christman, S.S.S. is editor of Emmanuel, a magazine of eucharistic spirituality, and often writes on the subject of art and theology.

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