Dear 100 Hour Board,
The recent decision by the Vatican to restrict access to their ancestral records so as to prevent LDS people from baptizing for the dead in the Temple brings to mind a question. Before I ask, I wish to add a similar "decison" made in 1995 when some people of Jewish ancestry got all up in arms about Holocaust victims havng their work done.
My question is this: since the Jews and Catholics don't believe it is a valid ordinance, what is the problem? Aren't they, in effect, denying others of the opportunity to progress in the spirit world? Also, what business is it of people like Helen Radkey if the Church really DID baptize people by proxy that diede in the Holocaust? Does the fact that we stopped the practice and removed the names somehow invalidate the ordinance? My only reason for questioning the Church's decision is tha if we make special accomodations for one group, what's to say that we won't have to do it in the future for others? It comes down really to whether or not we really have the authority to perform those ordinances. If we don't, as most of the world believes, then let us alone because it won't matter anyhow. If we really DO have the authority, then it does matter but those who are having their work done are free to choose and it is between them and the Lord to decide if they want it or not, NOT some person on earth who disagrees and thinks we don't have the authority from GOD to do so. Sorry for being long-winded there - again my question is simply this:
1. Why does it matter to the world what we as a Church do for the salvation of he dead?
- Me, Myself, and I
Dear Me, Myself, and I,
I think these people feel offended because, in their view, it looks like we're implying that members of their faith aren't "good enough" to get into heaven without our help. Now, of course this isn't what we are implying at all; we believe that many of the people for whom we perform ordinance work were wonderful, righteous people. However, we still believe that ordinances are necessary for everyone no matter how righteous they are, and thus are eager to help these people should they accept the gospel in the spirit world. Now, to someone who doesn't believe in these ordinances, the practice of vicarious ordinances may seem very strange, and they may be unwilling to have the names of members of their faith connected with it in any way. Especially if they believe that their salvation is secure anyway.
Remember, the Church places great importance on respect for others' beliefs (think the eleventh Article of Faith). We don't want to offend people and enter into any sort of theological debate with them. Hence the decision to suspend vicarious baptisms for certain people for the time being. Now, this decision in no way negates the importance of ordinances, whether living or vicarious. We believe that the bulk of vicarious temple work will be performed during the Millennium, so I imagine we'll just wait until then to do work for these people. Don't worry. As President Hinckley would say, "Things will work out."
Jews have been persecuted and harrassed by Christians in the name of religion for millennia, especially during the Holocaust, when some Jewish children were taken from their families and baptized Catholic. Because of this, I think it's fairly understandable that Jews would be sensitive about having members of their faith baptized for the dead.
I'm at more of a loss to understand the motivations of the Catholic Church. Yes, they are presumably acting so as to restrict baptisms for the dead, but they're going even farther by cutting off all access to those records. Ironically, such actions will probably serve to hurt Catholics who wish to engage in genealogical research, since our church has the largest genealogical library in the world, and we make such information freely available. As Hermia said, we certainly believe that God will provide a way for His work to go forth, regardless of the political stances adopted by various institutions, but it's sad to see this current development.
Dear Me ~
Also, for the record, many of the parishes have been denying us access for years. Other parishes have begged us to come digitize their records. (They're old and rotting, and the Church is willing to preserve them on microfilm forever for free.) Also, the Pope has not forbidden parishes from giving the Genealogical Society of Utah access to the records, but rather they have asked that the parishes not do so. There's a difference. The parishes still have the autonomy to do what they want, but they have been requested to not give access to us. Thus, most of them won't give access anymore. Also, because the Church respects the wishes of other churches, it's quite possible that even if the parish would allow it, we won't even ask for permission.
Let it also be noted that we have already microfilmed a great number of the parish records. It's not like we're suddenly without all of the parish records that have ever existed.
~ Dragon Lady