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August 19, 2013

About those screaming babies in mass

(Continued)

Believers on both sides insist that they are defending the holiness of the Mass itself, as well as its role in the lives of their children.

Part of the problem, noted Kandra, is that Catholics on both sides have grown up in an era in which it is far too easy to "become lazy and spoiled," often jumping from parish to parish seeking the right "fit" for their personal tastes and prejudices. What if their current parish's Mass schedule doesn't fit a child's soccer schedule?

"Why should we be surprised," noted Kandra by email, when "they can't abide something as normal -- and as intrusive -- as a baby's crying? ... It's vexing, and more than a little ironic, that a church that climbs on soapboxes and carries banners and prays endless rosaries in defense of life can be so intolerant of life when it's in the pew behind you, bawling.

"I still like what one priest said: A church without crying babies is dead. Let the babies come and cry. That's a sign of life."

Still, it's crucial to note that almost everyone agrees that priests need to ask the faithful to maintain some sense of decorum and discipline during services, noted Erin Manning, who posted during the original "screaming babies" debate, as well as on her own "And Sometimes Tea" website. It isn't safe, for example, to let little children wander around the sanctuary during services.

But in the end, one person's "screaming baby" is another person's child who is merely crying for a few minutes before slipping into a nap. There are also parents who hesitate to rush misbehaving children to the parish "cry room," where other kids may literally be playing with stacks of toys and ignoring the service altogether, Manning said via email.

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