France: A Tribunal Orders the Inscription of a Baptism to be Erased

Source: FSSPX News

On October 6, 2011, the Coutances family court (Manche) ordered the diocesan association of Coutances and Avranches to definitively erase from the baptismal registry a person who demanded that his name be erased.  In its judgement, the tribunal esteems that the presence of the name of the plaintiff in the baptismal registry goes against the principles that guarantee the right to privacy.

“The fact of having been baptized by the Catholic Church is an intimate event that is part of an individual's personal information,” reads the text.  But, “the existence of this baptism on a registry accessible to a third party to the individual concerned constitutes in itself a disclosure of this fact that consequently breaches the right to privacy.”

The judges have condemned the diocese “to erase definitively, within 30 days, under penalty, all mention of the baptism” of R.. L.. “for example, by coloring over with indelible black ink.”  For the note “has disavowed his baptism” written on the registry in the margin next to the name, is not enough for the free-thinking plaintiff.

The diocese denounces the decision of justice as “ contrary to the constant jurisprudence of the high courts in matters of infringement of the right to privacy.”  Bishop Stanislas Lalanne, bishop of Coutances and Avranches, has decided to file for an appeal.  Indeed, it is clearly stated in the diocese's letter that, “baptism constitutes a public event (…).  It is an act that has taken place, it is part of history, it cannot therefore be erased.”  The ceremony of baptism cannot be declared “never to have existed.”

While waiting for the decision of the Appeals Court, the diocese is not obliged to apply the decision of the Norman judges. (sources: apic/coutances.catholique/ouest-france – DICI#244, Nov 11, 2011)