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Rich wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question about Baptism. Let me first give you some background information.

Me and my wife are both Catholic. We have not married within the Catholic Church. It is our first marriage and we have a newborn baby.

We are in the process of getting our son baptized. I would like my sister and brother-in-law to be the sponsor for his Baptism. They are both Catholic but are not married within the Catholic Church.

I am confused on the nature of the Church and the surrounding Catholic parishes in my area regarding the requirements for being a Baptism sponsor or a Godparent.

Four Catholic parishes within 45 minutes of where we live have different requirements.

The one closest to our home, which we are registered parishioners at and would like to baptize our son, is telling us that the sponsors cannot baptize unless they are married within the Church.

This same church 2 years ago, allowed myself to be a sponsor for a Baptism while I was not married in the Church. They had no answer for why I was allowed to be a sponsor, yet I am the godparent of the child and the process and screening was supposedly the same.

A Catholic Church 30 minutes away, will allow my sister and brother-in-law to sponsor the child.

One church states that the sponsors must be married with the blessings of the Church to qualify and the other parish stated that it does not recognize the marriage and therefore no marriage exists and the two can sponsor the child in Baptism.

  • Why do we have inconsistencies between Catholic Churches an hour or so apart and which parish is correct?
  • What are the standard practices?
  • Should I go to the pastor of my local church and argue for the sponsors?


  { Why do we have inconsistencies between parishes on who can be Godparents for Baptism? }

Mike replied:

Hi Rich,

Ideally, there should not be inconsistencies between Catholic parishes about what is allowed or not allowed as far as the qualifications for Godparents.

This is what Canon Law says:

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.

You should strive to pick the best Catholic example and role model in faith for your new child. You and your wife are still the primary educators of your child but the sponsor plays an important part in being:

  • there, if the parents need advice or help
  • there, always pray for the child, and
  • there, as a good friend and role model which hopefully you can build a solid long-lasting friendship with.

If there are no good choices for you at the parish, talk to your pastor and ask him if there is a faithful Catholic who would sponsor your child.

Recent, Pope Francis also allowed an option to add additional names to the Baptism Certificate in case the first choices were very poor ones for some reason.

I sense the inconsistencies you are receiving from various parishes are based on the recognition or lack of recognition of your marriage and that of your sister's and brother-in-law's in the Church.

For that reason, strive to get your marriage recognized by the Church first.

I hope this helps,


Fr. Jonathan replied:

Fine Answer Mike.

Fr. Jonathan

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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