Baptism - godparents: 2 women?

Hi Everyone,

A few months ago, I witnessed a baptism of a newborn at my church and I noticed that the two godparents of the little baby were two women. I thought that the two godparents must be a man and woman or just be one godparent (male or female) at minimum according to Canon Law. When I saw this, I felt like something was off, but I’m not 100% sure what the Catholic Church teaches about 2 women as godparents to the Child. Does anyone know what the Church teaches and are there any resources I can refer to? Thank you!

You are correct. If there are two sponsors, it is one of each sex.

It is possible that one of the women was standing in for the godfather, who could not be there.

One may have been listed as the “official” Godmother and the other not listed, or she may have been a proxy for a Godfather who could not travel for the Baptism.

My oldest son has 3 Godparents, 2 women and 1 man. On the official listing, 2 were listed, but everyone in the family understands all 3 are the Godparents.

All 3 stood up during the baptism.

The problem is that the Canon is worded in a way that it can be made to say that two female or two male Godparents are ok. I personally believe the intent was one of either gender or one of each gender.

No one has three Godparents! You may think your son has three, five or ten but he only has two, one Godfather and one Godmother.

As I stated, on the “official” documentation, 2 are listed. In real life, he knows he has 3. All 3 act as his Godparents.

Oh, and wanted to add:

His confirmation sponsor was yet a 4th person! None of his Godparents were able to act as his Confirmation sponsor, since at our church, the sponsors are required to attend classes and/or activities at least once a month with the candidate. Since all 3 Godparents live a significant distance away, another young woman (the daughter of one of our other son’s Godparents) successfully fulfilled that role and was his Confirmation Sponsor! :thumbsup:

Proxies are allowed. Proxies are not sponsors (Godparents) they perform the ceremony duty while the actual sponsor (godparent) assumes the actual duty. As mention this is common when the real sponsor cannot attend the ceremony. It is not possible to have 2 men or 2 women as actual sponsors (godparents). One qualified woman, or one qualified man, or both one qualified woman and one qualified man. One thing that can cause confusion is a non catholic witness is also allowed so you could see a man sponsor, and his wife as a witness, and a female sponsor all at once.

He has two Godparents and others who act like Godparents and he has a Confirmation Sponsor.

Ok, call it whatever you want. Their behavior is all the same. As far as everyone involved in our situation is concerned, he has 3 Godparents and a Sponsor. :shrug: We make NO DISTINCTION to anyone involved as to who has “officially signed” and who has not. In fact, I do not even remember who did not sign. Makes completely NO DIFFERENCE in the real world!

How can this be misinterpreted?

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

In the case in the OP it may well have been a sponsor and a Christian witness. There is no requirement in Canon Law that the CW be of a different gender.

I’ve found that it’s often the case that those in mixed marriages ask for multiple godparents. It’s due to the practice in some of the non-Catholic churches. For example, in the Anglican Church Rite a girl gets 2 godmothers and 1 godfather and a boy gets 2 godfathers and 1 godmother.

Our pastor has told us to ignore the number limit: as long as there is one valid godparent whose name can be entered in the register we are to allow anyone else the parents want to name “godparents”. In his culture it’s often the case that a child has as many as 10 “godparents” and he has no wish to get into disputes over this. We still quote canon law in the preparation we do with the parents but sometimes they just don’t care what canon law says and want what they want.

I’ve run into entries in the baptismal register that show three sponsors and since all three had signed the register it’s obvious that none were proxies. That later created hard feelings when, before our present pastor, we insisted on following canon law for the baptism of the niece of one of the people with 3 sponsors.

I would hope the Church made that distinction for you, which should be visible on the sacramental document; otherwise the sacrament could be held illicit which benefits no one. Please help the OP understand that sacraments need to be valid and licit. It is great other wish to assist your children.

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Except that you keep insisting that the square peg fit into the round hole. It’s you how keep calling it what it in reality is not.

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:rolleyes: Ok, whatever, Rich. I would love to know what difference a signature on some piece of paper makes on behavior! I am sure God does not care who signed and who did not, but rather how they all fulfilled the promises they ALL made to ensure the baby grew into a faithful Catholic.

Some people are far too concerned with dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. They tend to forget the content of the book.:wink:

Just as some people are far too concerned with outward posture…Somehow I think God is far more concerned with the position of our HEARTS than the position of our KNEES.:thumbsup: Likewise, He is more concerned with people’s intentions rather than the “legalism”. Remember what Jesus thought of “legalism”? :wink:

I’m not trying to be mean or nasty, but firm. You are trying to insist that the Church conform to how you believe things should be. It don’t work that way, the I’s and Ts’ matter, even if just for clarity. The Church is correct on many other matters, [edited]

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It’s not about legalism.

Sometimes people forget that the Church puts laws in place for the good of souls–that’s the motivation behind all these laws and norms. The Church’s laws do not exist for their own sake. Simply because people do not see or understand the reason behind the law, that does not take away from the fact that the Church does see it, and the Church (as a whole) understands things much than we individual persons.

Merely because someone either does not understand why the law is there, or in some cases refuses to acknowlege it, does not mean that it’s any different, nor that the reasoning behind the law is any less legitimate. It certainly does not mean that it is somehow better or even a “good thing” to disregard the laws.

And before you go too far with the “what would Jesus do?” argument, remember that Christ never criticed people for faithfully following God’s laws. Instead, He criticized the pharisees for their lack of fidelity to the law, by taking God’s laws and changing them to suit themselves.

The Church defines Godparents/sponsors, as well as defines who they may be. If a sacramental certificate or a sacramental record is in-error, that doesn’t change the fact that only the Church gets to determine who and what constitutes Godparents–it only means that whoever prepared the parents failed to explain the Church’s norms for Godparents, and failed to exercise due dilligence in properly recording the sponsors in the official record.

It may not seem like such a big deal, but put into context, if someone later were to question the baptisms performed by that particular priest, and noticed a pattern of improperly designating and recording Godparents, this has the potential to call into question other baptisms performed by that same priest–and that could cause a lot of inconvenience, pain, and doubt for a lot of people. After all, if his baptisms are later questioned for some other reason (for example, failing to use the Trinitarian formula), then laxity in Godparents only serves to contribute to the doubt/questions about other aspects of the Sacrament–because the record itself is objective proof that the priest had decided to make his own changes to the rite.

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Sorry but that’s a bit of strech there. Its common practice to have 2 official Godparents and then some unofficial Godparents. Only 2 go in the sacramental book and on the certificate but the rest are socially and culturally considered Godparents.
If the priest decides on his own to put more than 2 Godparents in the sacramental records it can’t be used to invalidate the baptism since Godparents aren’t even required for validity.
But in the case presented here, there appears to only be 2 official Godparents so the priest followed canonical norms. My diocese, as well as other dioceses where I know priests, explicitly tells priests to tell such couples that only 2 can be official but not to object to others.

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In a certain sense (in fact, in a very important sense) everyone present, the entire parish, and the whole family are all “sponsors” of the newly-baptised. No doubt. But Godparents have to be either one, or one of each gender. (yes, Godparent and sponsor are synonymous, but in the first sentence, I’m using the word sponsor in a very general way)

I did mis-read the part about who is recorded on the certificate, though. In any case, if such a thing were to happen, while it would not make the baptism invalid, it would have the potential to cause some problems in the future.

I think I understand where you are coming from - you feel it is all semantics, and as far as behaviour goes, it is. But there is also the “technical”, “legitimate” or “actual” side to this issue.
“In the real world” your son has 2 actual Godparents. But yes, you are entirely justified to acknowledge that functionally your son has 3. Three persons behave as his spiritual guardians and all 3 of them have your express blessing to do so. How incredibly wonderful for your son. The functional part of it is very important.
But it does not negate the actual part.

I am in agreement with you - those persons acting in an appropriate manner who behave as his spiritual anchors – their behaviour is the critical issue, whether they bear the legitimate title or not. So if your son has 3 prayer warriors all watching over his spiritual growth (and a sponsor as well!), then he is very blessed indeed. :thumbsup: They may all behave equally on his behalf. It does not change the reality that in the real world, on the real and legitimate document bearing witnessed signatures, that he has 2 actual godparents.

Please do not take offense or be on the defensive - No one is trying to imply that the 3 cannot or do not function equally in guiding your son. We merely suggest that your insistence that he has 3 is a matter of functionality, not actuality.

Peace and God Bless,

You know, Rich, I have lost any and all respect I had for you with that statement. You do not know me. You made a very poor assumption and made a bonehead generalized statement.

What are my views on sexual morality?
What are my views on birth control?
What are my views on homosexuality?
What are my views on priesthood?
What are my views on celibacy?
What are my views on divorce and remarriage?

I can tell you in no uncertain terms I think the “religious” priests ought to keep their pants zipped and away from little boys! I think active homosexual priests are horrible (and yes, I know of several). I think priestly celibacy applies to priests staying away from kids and other males.

I have also lost much respect for many “religious” people because many of them are NOT very loving, welcoming, or forgiving in real life in my personal experience. I find many of them to be the biggest hyprocrits. You are certainly not helping my perception!

You are not all “holy men”.