Ireland declares war on Utah

Well, not quite, but I couldn’t help noticing this story in the Telegraph. The gist of it is that the Irish Catholic, a publication I really should look at more often, has been doing some drum-beating around the issue of parish records deposited in the National Library of Ireland. The fear is that intrepid Mormons could use these records to identify their Catholic ancestors and arrange posthumous baptisms.

This has me a little puzzled. All right, it is plausible that the parish records in the NLI might be so used. LDS researchers have been assiduous in using all kinds of public records to trace family trees. On the other hand, you would have to be the deceased ancestor of an actually existing Mormon to qualify for the procedure. As far as I’m aware, the LDS Church is not in the habit of trawling through archives and arranging proxy baptisms for just random punters.

There’s also a little theological issue. Posthumous baptism by proxy is a well-established if little understood LDS practice, and I can understand how individual Catholics might be upset at the thought of it happening to their ancestors. But does institutional Catholicism recognise the procedure, and afford it any significance? Any answers would be most welcome.