A Catholic priest baptized the child of a lesbian couple in Argentina last weekend. Carina Villarroel and Soledad Ortiz asked Archbishop Carlos Jose Nanez for the baptismal blessing of their daughter, Umma Azul, and he approved, according to a story from The Advocate.
The baptism was performed by a priest at a Cathedral in Cordoba. The Archbishop said the parents’ marital status had nothing to do with the decision to approve the baptism. The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church only states that for the approval of baptism "there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion.”
The event drew publicity in the deeply Catholic country that was the home of Pope Francis, the current pope. Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010, making Pope Francis the first pontiff from a country with marriage equality.
Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was asked to be the child’s godmother, and she agreed.
Ortiz told CNN she asked the president for the honor as “a way to thank her and former President Nestor Kirchner for that law that gave us rights.”
While the baptism does not mark a significant departure from Catholic doctrine, many hope it may signal a softening of the church’s position on gay marriage and homosexuality in general.
Ortiz also said, "Now we hope to get married by the church and we will fight for that.”
Recent comments from Pope Francis indicate that he, at least, is thinking about gay rights. A recent Time Magazine article discussed some remarks from the pope, particularly quotes from an Italian newspaper where he responded to questions about civil unions.
He acknowledged in that interview that some states are seeking “to regularize different situations of living together” to ensure healthcare and other benefits. He added, “We have to look at the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
Many took those comments to mean the church may be open to recognizing civil unions.
His most famous remarks, though, came last year when he responded to a reporter’s question about the church moving to accept homosexuals.
"If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem ... they're our brothers,” he answered.
A CNN opinion piece argued those comments could signal a more pastoral approach to gays and lesbians that would lead to welcoming them into the Catholic Church.