Number of godparents

Hello, I am new here and have a question about godparents. We are practicing Catholics and my brother is married to a woman who is a Methodist. They are planning to baptize their second child as Roman Catholic and are discussing godparents. For their first child, they chose my husband as godfather and my sister-in-law’s sister as a Christian witness. Now, they have said they want to have all three of us - me,my husband and my sister-in-law’s sister- as godparents. My brother said “You can have as many godparents as you want.” Besides being slightly offended (I don’t know why I need a “backup” !), I say you cannot; my understanding is that one is required, two are permissible as long as they are of the opposite sex. I see a big family argument brewing here and want to try to nip it in the bud. Can anyone shed some light on this, please?

The Church will register at least 1, but no more than 2 names. If not a single Godparent, then 2 Godparents ( a God Father and a God Mother); or in the case of one party being not Catholic, that of a God Parent and a Witness.

A family might choose to have an additional person called a God Father", but it would be totally ‘unofficial’ and weither or not they would be allowed to participate in the offical functions of the God Parent would be entirely up to the Priest or Deacon officiating.

Discuss this with the Priest or Deacon who will be doing the Baptism and get their (name removed by moderator)ut. If they say ‘No’ thats that.

In any case only 2 persons will be registered with the Church and will officially have a role in the Baptism.

My third daughter has four Godparents listed on her baptismal certificate. The two we chose were unable to attend the baptism as we chose a date knowing it wouldn’t work for them. We were moving and wanted to have number three baptised in the same church as the first two. My RCIA teachers, both women, were chosen as stand ins. After the baptism I called the parish and asked them to show all four as her Godparents. According to them, that was okay.

You are correct. Canon Law requires for rite of Baptism at least one practicing Catholic of either gender, a second practicing Catholic of the opposite gender can also be chosen. There cannot be two Godfather or two Godmothers. Only one Godfather and/or one Godmother. (Christian witness not addressed)

What you describe is acceptable, proxy Godparents. They are noted in the Baptismal register. However the parish should not have noted them as Godparents on the Baptismal certificate. Whoever did this simply did not understand the Canon Law as it applies to Baptism.

Thank you to all who replied. My sister-in-law (who is not Catholic) will not change her mind, according to my brother. He said she spoke with the priest and he said it was fine. Since my husband and I have not been “formally” asked to be godparents at this point, we aren’t going to debate it with them now. I guess I am just annoyed that a non-Catholic is trying to impose her ideas on a Catholic Sacrament.

From my own experience, I am Godmother to three children (my sister, and two cousins) and shared responsibility with a Godfather on each occasion. The rules were given us quite simply when I was 11 years old and my baby sister was born. My parents wanted my older brother and I as God parents and enquired into whether it was permissable. The rules were simple:

  1. Either 1 or 2 practising Catholics (if 2 preferably 1 of each sex)
  2. Must have been Confirmed (making me eligible by a few months)
  3. Must be prepared to support the child’s Catholic faith

Point 3 is especially important if parents are non Catholic. They have to relinquish spiritual parenting to Godparent where practicable as God parent is responsible for the child’s spiritual upbringing. Once the child has been confirmed, the responsibilities are much less, although I have been sponsor to 1 of my God children, enhancing the responsibilities at that time. If the parents do not ask you to be Godparents, then what you do about the situation is up to you but if you are offered the position, the Church expects you to make them aware of point 3 and how you wish to fulfill this role.

Can. 872 In so far as possible, a person being baptised is to be assigned a sponsor. In the case of an adult baptism, the sponsor’s role is to assist the person in christian initiation. In the case of an infant baptism, the role is together with the parents to present the child for baptism, and to help it to live a christian life befitting the baptised and faithfully to fulfil the duties inherent in baptism.

Can. 873 One sponsor, male or female, is sufficient; but there may be two, one of each sex.