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K.M. wrote:

Hi, guys —

We had our child baptized last year and at that time we were under family pressure to have certain people be named godparents. There is one person we would have loved to have been a godparent but family members said, No, he's too old.

He is a wonderful influence in our child's life and we would love to add him to the godparent's list but we were not sure whether this could be done or not.

I would really appreciate your answer. Our family situation is a very difficult one and we didn't want arguments or backlash from them. We would love to add someone else but we don't know if this is possible.

Kindest regards,


  { Is age a factor and since we were under pressure, can we add a better godparent to the registry? }

Mike replied:

Dear K.M.,

The Church does not maintain a godparent list. I personally think it is a good idea to list a few other models that the baptized can have as a witness but all the Church records is:

  • The name of one faithful baptized male Catholic, and
  • The name of one faithful baptized female Catholic.

We have received many questions in this area from people who have been chosen to be godparents but have not turned out to be good examples for the child. In these situations, we would encourage the parents to ask others to be non-official godparents for the child as well.

That said, what Fr. Jonathan has to say on this issue below still may help your situation. I don't believe there is any age limit on being a godparent, so the he’s too old argument doesn't wash.

This is what Canon Law says on the whole issue:

Chapter IV.


Canon 872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.

Canon 873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.

Canon 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

°1 be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

°2 have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

°3 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;

°4 not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

°5 not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.

I hope this helps,


Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi, Mike —

There was a ruling by Rome dealing with K.M.'s question.

In 1984, the Congregation for Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments Issued a ruling
[Prot. No. 1031/84, October 20, 1984] stating,

"If a sponsor dies or the parents are angry with the sponsor, the parents may request that the names of substitute godparents be added to the baptismal records. It is evident that it is impossible to replace a sponsor, who was physically present at the time of baptism for the presentation of the candidate or was present through a proxy. However, another person can be named to fulfill the duties of the sponsor. This may be done by the diocesan bishop, if he judges it opportune."

Others have interpreted based on this that

"It seems reasonable that this could also be done by the pastor. However, the names of the sponsors at the baptism must not be removed from the baptismal register."

I would argue, based on this reference, that they might actually be able to do what they asked; namely, add to the record for the peace of their family but I am not saying this definitively.

Fr. Jonathan

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