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Anthony Clark wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am 27-year-old, married man. I am having a problem with my wife's brother.

He is unmarried, 22, with a 4-year-old, and another on the way in April. For his next child he is going to bestow my wife as Godmother. I have a problem with this or I just need a priest.

He isn't committed to this woman nor does he have any plans, that I know of, to marry this woman. He has made comments about marriage to my wife that disturb me.

Religion is very important to me and I am trying my best to live by values higher than myself.

  • Is this right?
  • Should she, or can she, except the role as Godmother and commit to keeping this child aligned with their faith when the father is not committed to anything but himself?

My wife thinks she can influence the child. Somehow she thinks her brother won't override what she says. This issue is always on my mind. I just need some clarity. Everyone acts like nothing is wrong.

I don't think she should accept this role but instead should tell her brother to get serious and get married.

I have expressed this concern to my wife and she is undecided.

Anthony Clark

  { Should my wife be the Godmother when my brother-in-law is not committed to the faith? }

Bob replied:

Anthony,

This is clearly a judgment call and not a moral issue, so, I would suggest you and your wife talk it through. You make strong points, but keep in mind that you will likely not have any influence over your brother-in-law, so I wouldn't use this issue as leverage. By virtue of the Godparent role however, you may be able to immensely influence the child.

My mother became a life long practicing Catholic because of her Godmother, despite the negative influences of her family and especially her mom, who shunned Catholicism. While my mom's father had been Catholic, her mom did not practice at all when she died and left the children void of religion. My grandmom had been Baptist and only agreed to become Catholic for her husband. My mom handed the faith to me, thanks be to God.

So the Godparent role can have a great impact, despite a parent's negativity [and/or] lack of zeal for the faith.

I would personally be in favor of encouraging your wife to accept this role, but you know the dynamics of your own family better. I'm sure you and your wife can work it through.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi Anthony,

I just want to pitch in my two cents.

If it's your brother-in-law's wish that your wife be his next child's Godmother, there is an assumption that your brother-in-law wants the child to be raised as a Catholic. You should make him aware that the Church cannot baptize a child unless there is a good hope they will be raised Catholic.

This is obvious to some but not to all.

If the Church didn't require this, She could allow new members to raise their children as atheists which wouldn't make much sense. To bring this point home, as part of the Baptismal ceremony the catechumen or the godparent is asked: What do you ask of God's Church?

The response is: Faith!

Besides working it out with your wife, you may want to get some council from a local, faithful priest seeing we can't know all the nuances of your situation.

Finally, it's important to remember the role of the Godparent. It is not to be the parent but to support the parents when spiritual help and prayers are needed and requested.

I wish you the best of luck. You and your family will be in our prayers.

Mike

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