Is it hypocritical for couples to marry in the Church and then neglect to practice their religion?
What about couples who get married in their church, but never return to it until their first child's baptism? Is that hypocrisy?
Faith has degrees and is hard to appraise.
Some couples get married with very little knowledge of their religion. They request a Church wedding without really understanding the Sacrament of Matrimony, nor their duties as baptized persons.
Doctrinal as well as spiritual preparation is necessary to grasp the importance, the value and the consequences of Christian Matrimony. This calls for adequate formation by means of a marriage preparation course, Catholic sessions for engaged couples, etc.
Some young couples, whose religious instruction has not been completed, do not quite realize that Christian Matrimony implies living faith. Because of that, they tend to neglect religious practice and not to go back to their church until their first-born is to be baptized. That is most unfortunate. Their faith remains stunted. Their Christian life is not all what it is meant to be. They do not attend religious meetings with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They overlook the treasures of the Eucharist, Sunday Mass or the encounter with the Lord in His solemn prayer.
It does not necessarily follow that they are hypocrites. But their faith must be enlightened, guided and lived!
Many young couples however have enough faith to request baptism for their children even though they do not demonstrate their faith by what is called religious practice. I cannot say that their faith is strong and in good shape, but it is there and no one has the right to belittle or underrate it.
It is often, so to speak, an infantile faith, the faith of one's childhood that has not matured, whereas human knowledge naturally did. It is a source of embarrassment to those who have outgrown their faith.
Many young couples do believe and show their faith through wishing baptism for their children and later the first confession, the first communion and confirmation.
In other cases, it may happen that some couples have practically no faith at all and yet have their children baptized to please the grandparents, or so that their children may qualify to attend a Catholic school, etc.
Church pastors, bishops and priests, realize that society has changed, that it is not as Christian as it used to be, that it has, for that matter, slipped back into paganism. Since they are responsible for the administration of sacraments, they mean for all the sacraments to be received with a minimum of qualification. This is the reason for the pastoral attitude about baptism.
Priests want to make sure that the child's parents understand their Christian duties. Through baptism, a person becomes a child of God and a member of the Church.
We are "baptized into one body, in one Spirit" (1 Co 12: 13). Do the parents and godparents understand their duty to help the baptized child grow in faith and lead a Catholic life?
It is often out of mere ignorance that some couples do not come to church except for their marriage and their children's baptism. It rarely is hypocrisy! It is rather due to weak faith, which saddens the priest who loves them!