Over a year ago, I wrote a post (entirely grounded upon my opinion) condemning cry rooms in Catholic churches. That post generated a fair amount of traffic, comment and controversy. At least, a “tempest in a teapot” amount of controversy.
Then, in January 2014, the Holy Father baptized a group of babies at the Sistine and said that “the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise…” I posted a followup to the original post on cry rooms entitled: Pope Francis agrees: Children Don’t Belong in Cry Rooms, and Neither Do You. I stated, somewhat “tongue in cheek”, that Pope Francis agrees with me.
Tongue in cheek because, while I am an avowed opponent of cry rooms myself, it seems fairly apparent (to me, at least), that I don’t speak for our Holy Father.
Everyone knows that fame and Catholic blogging are never partners, but shortly after I posted that blog about Pope Francis, I received an e-mail from a pretty “famous” Catholic “personality” who blogs, who objected (primarily) to the headline and my attempt to conflate the words of Pope Francis. He (fairly) pointed out that the secular media engages in this practice, and we should be careful not to do the same thing to try to bolster our own opinions.
I was somewhat humbled. Disappointed that my first one or two brushes with a “Catholic celebrity” hadn’t exactly garnered me any favorable ratings. I thought it charitable that this person elected not to make his disagreement public without first approaching me privately.
If nothing else, I wanted to be fair. And I was afraid of being denounced. So I changed the title of the blog post and I made a few modifications to the article. I thanked him via e-mail, and told him it had been very exciting to discover that he even knew who I was, much less had taken me seriously enough to spend the time to write me an e-mail.
Although I’m trying to be more circumspect when it comes to inferring the Holy Father’s positions, I don’t think there’s much left to infer regarding the Pope’s opinions regarding cry rooms, because on December 14, 2014, he said this:
“Children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church.”
Read the rest here.
Just to be fair, this article does not state that Pope Francis is speaking directly about cry rooms. Okay? But it strains credulity to suggest that a pope is in favor of cry rooms when he says children must never be kicked out of church, because that’s exactly what cry rooms do.
I suppose, if we must get really pedantic, that some parents may view cry rooms as a comfort or oasis from worry about disturbing others during mass. I suppose that some might not agree that cry rooms equate to being “kicked out of church”.
But I say in response, “If you built it, they will come.” If a parish constructs a cry room, it sends the clear message that crying babies and their errant parents should go there. It sends the clear message that certain members of the faithful are not welcome to take part in mass with the rest of the assembly. In effect, a cry room effectively does what Pope Francis says must never happen.
The Pope’s statement is NOT infallible, magisterial, take it or leave it dogma of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. It falls squarely into a matter normally relegated to the local Ordinary, at least to date (AFAIK). But if you, like me, believe that Pope Francis is the type of pastor who is always pointing to Christ, then we need to earnestly reevaluate whether cry rooms belong in our churches, because as of now it’s not purely about my opinion (or yours).