FACT CHECK – Viral Post Misstates Information About Catholic Rite For Stillborn Babies

An image shared on Facebook claims the Catholic Church will not baptize or hold funeral masses for stillborn children because they “never took a breath.”

Facebook postVerdict: Misleading

While a stillborn baby cannot be baptized in the Catholic Church, they can receive a funeral mass, according to church officials.

Fact Check:

The image shows what appears to be a photo of the inside of a church along with text that claims the Catholic Church will not baptize or allow a funeral mass for a stillborn child since “the baby never took a breath.”

“Tell me again how the Catholic Church believes life begins at conception,” reads the image’s final line of text. (RELATED: No, This Sculpture Was Not Made By A Father Whose Wife And Unborn Child Were Killed By A Drunk Driver)

This claim is partially false. Although the Catholic Church doesn’t baptize the dead, Cathy Caridi claims that the church will offer funeral mass for stillborn children. Mike Hayes, the director of young adult ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland, writes on his website Busted Halo that “Indeed, you can and should have a funeral for your child and any miscarried baby can have a Catholic funeral.”

Patricia Zapor, the media director for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, said the claim about the church not allowing funeral masses for stillborn babies was “in short…not true,” in an email to Check Your Fact. According to an archdiocese publication, a miscarried baby’s funeral mass may be conducted with the consent of their parents.

The Catholic Church’s catechism says an embryo “should be treated as a person from conception,” describing every human life as sacred from that moment “until death.” Unbaptized children are commemorated with different church funeral rites and prayers than those who received baptism, according to the Boston Archdiocese.

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