Baptism

Nearly 50,000 baptisms registered in China in 2017, says Vatican agency

The Catholic Church in China registered 48,556 baptisms in 2017, according to a report by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In this Dec. 24, 2006, file photo, a man is baptized during a Christmas Eve Mass on the outskirts of Xining in northwestern China's Qinghai province.

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church in China registered 48,556 baptisms in 2017, reflecting the vitality and missionary strength of the Catholic communities there, according to a report by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The figures likely are incomplete, however, given the difficulty of procuring data from Catholic communities in the rural parts of China, the report said.

DEAR FATHER | Hope is virtue that transforms our understanding of unbaptized babies, heaven

I love my mother. She is a great, holy woman. But whenever she calls me, her first question is, "Where are you?"

When I was a bit younger, this question could make me a bit nervous. But now I understand her question had two meanings. First, it's the natural curiosity of a mother. Second, she wanted to be present with me in her thoughts and prayers in whatever I was doing at that moment.

DEAR FATHER | Church remains hopeful children who died before birth will have eternal life with God

First, let's review.

Baptism is the necessary sacrament for one to receive to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:5). While ideally one would receive this sacrament, the Church has understood from her foundation two other ways to receive the graces of this sacrament.

The Baptism of Desire is received by someone preparing for baptism but dying before the sacrament is conferred, or by a person who never hears about Christ but lives a good life as their culture understands that to be. The Baptism of Blood is received by someone who is martyred for the faith, but isn't baptized.

DEAR FATHER | Examples of baptism of desire show more than one way to receive graces

Jesus tells Nicodemus at the beginning of St. John's Gospel, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit" (John 3:5).

BEFORE THE CROSS | Laity is called to study and exercise the ‘baptismal priesthood’

A new president will be inaugurated Friday, Jan. 20. What spiritual preparations are you making?

We might want to forget how contentious the race for the presidency was, or about the unsettled response to the result. But, as people of faith, we shouldn't forget.

Instead, we should pivot on those things and ask: what contribution will we make over the next four years to the well-being of the country? If the next four years were to be measured by our actions and attitudes, how would they be remembered? Answering those questions requires some spiritual preparation.

Parents are called to guard faith, make it grow

Pope Francis baptized one of 28 babies in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 8.

VATICAN CITY — Parents are charged with guarding the faith given to their children at Baptism and helping them become true witnesses by example rather than just rules, Pope Francis said.

By asking the Church for faith for their children through the sacrament of baptism, Christian parents have the task of helping their children to grow so that they "may be witnesses for all of us: also for us priests, bishops, everyone," the pope said during a Mass in the Sistine Chapel.

At Mass Jan. 8, the feast of the baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis baptized 28 infants — 15 boys and 13 girls.

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