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Deborah Tims wrote:

Hi, guys —

My daughter is being confirmed this year. My ex husband and myself have been separated for the last three years. He is now in another relationship and my daughter has asked his father's new girlfriend to be her sponsor. I have never met this person. My ex does not believe in the Catholic faith nor has ever been interested in converting. We were married for 14 years. It took six years for my daughter to be baptized and now that his new girlfriend is a Catholic, they have gone behind my back and my daughter has asked this person to be her sponsor. I was not included in this at all.

My daughter's father lives interstate, so when the time came to let her father know what date he would be available to come over, as there were three days to choose from, my daughter already informed me they had picked the date and her sponsor. I am really hurt by this.

This is not right. Is there is something I can do?

Deborah

  { Can my ex-husband's new girlfriend be a sponsor for my daughter? }

Mary Ann replied:

Deborah,

You must feel sad and betrayed, but your daughter's treatment of you must be considered apart from the fact of who her sponsor is. In any case, it is hurtful to you, and I am sorry for that.

As for the sponsor, canon law requires that the Confirmation sponsor be a Catholic who has himself or herself been confirmed "and leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken." If your husband's girlfriend is a practicing confirmed Catholic, she qualifies on that score. If she is living with your husband, then she is living in an objective state of sin, and therefore would not be an appropriate sponsor, and would in addition be a source of scandal to others. If the marriage is not annulled, and she is sleeping with him or living with him, she is committing (objectively) adultery and fornication, and so is not living a life in harmony with the faith. Even dating a married man would be a source of scandal. There are many ways that she is an unsuitable sponsor.

It is sad that you were not included in this. She may have chosen the girlfriend as a way of choosing her dad (because sponsors are traditionally of the same sex as the confirmand). If she had asked you, you could have explained to her that you are glad she wants to honor her father, and that you do want them to have a close relationship, but that there are serious considerations to choosing the sponsor. It would have been a teachable moment (something that should have been also done in her preparation classes). As it is, she has hurt you unnecessarily by going behind your back and by picking someone whose presence will make the celebration a source of pain for you, while taking the focus off of the Confirmation itself.

What you can do: First, go to your pastor (who usually would be asking for a baptismal certificate and a letter from her pastor testifying to her Catholic life and practice). Tell him the story (without the personal hurt part — that is separate) and ask him what is the best way to proceed.

Perhaps the request for the letter
perhaps by talking to your husband discreetly
perhaps by your daughter taking this up with her father (after the pastor talks with her).

After all, she is going to be an adult in the faith, so it is time for her to stand up for the faith.
As the child of a broken marriage, often the desire to make peace and keep in contact overwhelms all other considerations. And, if it's any comfort, it's often the absent parent who gets the benefit of the doubt, and the on-hand parent who gets the grief. That's normal.

God bless these next few days for you!

Mary Ann

Paul replied:

Dear Deborah,


Canon Law #874 § 3 states:

(A sponsor must) be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on. [From the Vatican web site]

The phrase I bolded above would not include someone who is living (in sin) with someone he or she is not married to. And if your marriage was valid and there has been no annulment, this would also include the public sin of adultery. I would speak to your child's pastor about this to get his advice. If he gives you no satisfaction it might be appropriate to then contact the local bishop.

It sounds like a painful situation for you. If you are able to clear this up with your daughter before doing the above, that would be ideal.

Paul

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