By Larry Ray Hafley
“CHICAGO (UPI)-Proclaiming bawling babies the greatest obstacle to the people of God since the barbarians, a Roman Catholic priest has launched a `Ban the Babies’ movement. The Rev. Frank E. Fortkamp, who proclaims himself the `founding Father of the Ban the Babies Movement,’ calls for `an ecclesiastical directive from the highest authority’ to bar babies from the Mass.
“The Pennsylvania priest says the constant crying from infant church-goers makes it impossible for him or any other preacher to get their messages across from the pulpit. `It’s unfair competition. Masochistic as most of them are anyway, most congregations are far more enraptured with yelping youngsters than preachers,’ Fortkamp writes in the August edition of U. S. Catholic.
“The only way to get God’s word to the people is to get the little people out of earshot by order of the highest available Church authority, he says. `Yes, I plead, Ban the Babies! And not just to that artificial wasteland the ‘cry room’ where their collective din shivers the soundproof glass. No! Ban the babies from church altogether,’ writes Fortkamp.
“‘Give me liturgy or give me death! There’s no need to give death to liturgy at the merciless hand of infantile cacophony. Surely a church so boastful of its decade of progress toward reform will soon get its priorities in line.’
“Fortkamp’s article is entitled: `Don’t trust anyone under thirty months’ ” (Chattanooga News-Free Press, August 2, 1974, p. 2).
You probably think I am going to pounce on the “Rev. Frank E. Fortkamp” with every key in my typewriter. If so, you are wrong. As a matter of fact, I would be happy to assist priest Fortkamp. His movement, if successful, will keep all “yelping youngsters” under 30 months out of Catholic Church services. It will, therefore, prevent many Catholic mothers from attending Catholic Churches for 2.’/z years. And, brother, anything that keeps parents and innocent babies from the clutches of Catholic Churches, I will heartily endorse and encourage! Do I hear an “Amen?”
Besides, after compulsory absentia bans the babies and prohibits the parents from attending for, such an extended period, how many will crank up and start going when the child is past 30 months? Not many, but if any do begin to attend, the problem will be magnified and intensified. Ask any parent who ever waited until the baby was 2 1/2 years old before taking him to his first church service. The “infantile cacophony” is nothing to be compared to the behavior of an untrained 2 1/2 year old church-goer. When the Catholic sees the difficulty of trying to tame a youngster who has had no experience in going to services, he will likely become disgusted and quit the Catholic Church. Hallelujah!
What does the “Pennsylvania priest” propose to do when “bawling babies” are presented to him for “baptism?” Would he call for “an ecclesiastical directive from the highest authority” to terminate the sprinkling of infants? Why not? After all, their squalling might shiver the baptismal font-horrors! Can we imagine that infants will be kissed, “blessed,” dabbed with water, and then kicked out of the church for 30 months? Would this be a form of earthly purgatory?
Catholicism wrests Mark 10:14, as do Protestant sprinkler systems, to prove infant baptism-” Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.” Well, how would Mr. Fortkamp answer this passage if it were pressed upon him against his proposal? I would caress my forehead, punch my chest twice, and turn my collar backwards to hear his answer.
Speaking of an “artificial wasteland” and “the greatest obstacle to the people of God since the barbarians,” the Roman Catholic Church is again disgraced from within. Will Mr. Fortkamp be disciplined? Not on your life-he will be applauded. Oh, the Pope may not approve his movement, but neither will he publicly censure it as the preposterous proposal of a man who is of the neuter gender, spiritually speaking.
If Fortkamp’s liturgy is exemplified and typified by his “Ban the Babies” nonsense, then adults ought to cry while he speaks. He ought to be put “out of earshot by order of the highest available Church authority,” but he will not be and perhaps it is just as well. Maybe some thinking soul will be sickened and repulsed by such degenerate tripe and turn in obedience to the New Testament “movement,” which says “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Stranger things have happened.
Truth Magazine XIX: 49, p. 770
October 23, 1975