Press-Republican

On Religion

August 19, 2013

About those screaming babies in mass

It was a blunt, honest, raw question and Deacon Greg Kandra knew it would stir deep emotions and fierce arguments among Catholic readers.

The question's originator, a Catholic mother of six, stressed that she sincerely wanted to know: "Why don't parents take screaming babies out of church?"

Nearly 200 online comments later -- with Kandra moderating comments to keep the dialogue constructive -- legions of Catholic writers are still airing their "screaming babies" differences at his "The Deacon's Bench" website and elsewhere online.

The author of the original letter added: "When I politely ask the parent of a screaming child why they refuse to leave Mass so they don't disrupt it for everyone else, they get angry at me! ... There were four screamers at the morning Mass -- every Saturday the same families show up with screaming babies AND STAY in the chapel with them! People have expressed their desire that they leave the kids at home, but they don't."

Reactions on the other side were just as harsh, with Catholics expressing anger at those who glare at parents who bring noisy toddlers to church, allowing their children to act up Sunday after Sunday.

"Jesus embraced children, folks, and so does our church," read one typical response. "If you don't want to hear them cry, the solution is not to remove the holy little ones from the church. The solution is for you to go to the 7 a.m. quickie Mass or the solemn high Mass that takes three hours. Find a Mass kids aren't going to and shut yourself up in that one."

Catholics on one side accuse the others of being too judgmental. Then Catholics on the other side -- often from earlier generations -- argue that today's parents are not sensitive to the needs or others or strict enough when disciplining their children.

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