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Anonymous Meg wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a bit of a situation and I am not sure how to go about any of it. Sadly, my husband is committing adultery. He has left not only myself for this other woman but our young son as well.

Here is where this problem gets complicated.

The woman that he left us for is my son's godmother. I don't know what to do as my husband is in the military and we were told we could have our child's godparents listed by proxy because they weren't able to make it across the country for the last minute Baptism before my husband deployed.

I have the certificate, yet what the two of them are doing sets such a horrible example for my son and is not the way I want him taught the Catholic faith as their lives are full of adultery, lies and deception. They both decided that she is no longer his godmother.

I wasn't sure if I would be able to find out about doing a certificate that shows a change, like a keepsake. Even if it's not technically official, I ask because she never actually witnessed the Baptism, but I have a friend who was a witness and would be a wonderful spiritual guide for my son. She has said she would love to step up to the plate and do this for the two of us.

  • Is any of this possible?

Meg

  { Can I change Godparents from one listed by proxy to one who really witnessed the Baptism? }

Bob replied:

Meg,

  • Why don't you go to the parish where the Baptism was performed, explain the situation, and see if they can give you something?

If not, at least have your child recognize the other person who witnessed the baptism as his godparent. It may not be official, but in practical terms, it would be better.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Meg,

The person who stood up as the sponsor (whether personally or through a proxy) is the sponsor in the book for all time. It cannot be changed as it is a historical record.

That being said, the Register speaks of them as Sponsor and not as Godmother or Godfather. These are spiritual terms and not canonical terms. Therefore, although you can have only one male sponsor and one female sponsor, canon law is silent on who is called a Godparent.

The Congregation for Worship studied this question and concluded that, although a priest cannot subtract a name from the record (i.e. the sponsor), the priest could add someone’s name to the notes in the record.

Therefore, the best your priest can do for you is add another name of someone to the record, however, the priest cannot issue a new Baptism Certificate with a different name.

Most churches should have another form of Baptism Certificate that lists only the Church, the name, and the date of Baptism. You could ask for one of those to keep in your files.

I hope that is helpful.

Fr. Jonathan

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