The Role of the Sponsor or Godparent
It is an ancient custom in the Church that no one enters Baptism without a godparent, a member of the Christian community who will assist him at least in the final preparation for baptism and after baptism will help him persevere in the faith and in his life as a Christian.
In the Baptism of children too, the godparent should be present to be added spiritually to the immediate family of the one to be Baptized and to represent Mother Church. As occasion offers, he will be ready to help the parents bring up their child to profess the faith and to show this by living it.
At least in the final rites of the catechumenate and in the actual celebration of Baptism, the godparent is present to testify to the faith of the adult candidate or, together with the parents, to profess the Church’s faith, in which the child is being Baptized.
Pastors of souls should therefore see to it that the godparent, chosen by the catechumen or by the family, is qualified to carry out his proper liturgical functions as specified in above.
The Godparent needs to:
- Be mature enough to undertake this responsibility, at least 16 years old.
- Have received the three sacraments of initiation, Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist;
- Be a member of the Catholic Church, canonically free to carry out this office.
- If Married, the sponsor(s) must have received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Catholic Church, and have not entered a civil marriage or a non-Catholic ceremony.
- Not be the parent of the one Baptized.
- Have some preparation for their role (Baptism preparations class.)
Some Questions and Answers:
Can an unbaptized person be a godparent?
No. Because the sponsor or Christian witness renews the promises made at their own baptism, an unbaptized person cannot be permitted to be the godparent.
Can the godparents be changed at a later date?
No. Although other changes can be authorized for the baptismal register, this one is not permitted.
Can there be a proxy for the godparent?
Yes. Proxies for the godparents are acceptable when the sponsors cannot be physically present on the day of the baptism. The name of the designated sponsor is entered in the register. The name of the proxy is entered under the name of the sponsor with the remark proxy.
Can a catechumen be a sponsor?
No. Those who are unbaptized may not sponsor a person into the Catholic Church.
Must there be two sponsors?
There may be ONE or TWO sponsors. When there are TWO sponsors, one is male (godfather) and the other female (godmother).