Godparent to a non Catholic

Question from Molly F. on 10/28/2007:

Is it okay to be a Godparent for a non Catholic baby? I was asked by a friend to be the Godmother of her baby and she is Luthern. I thought it was okay but now as I have doen more research, it doesn't seem the case. What does the Church teach?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/2/2007:

The Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity permits Catholics to serve as a Christian witness in such a situation.

I assume that the Lutheran is someone separated from full communion with the Catholic Church in good faith and not someone who is a former Catholic.

1 comment:

  1. Rev. Gantley,

    Given your licentiate in canon law, I am troubled by the information you posted. I'm troubled because you seem to take liberty with the words "sponsor" and "witness". Words have meaning, this is especially important when speaking of Our Lord and Our Faith. Honestly there seems to be a general absence of intellectual rigor, consistency and logic in the priesthood of the United States Catholic Church. An almost, "well you know what I mean" level of theological reverence toward reason, the Canon, the Magisterium, and Our Holy See.

    First, the Canon 874 is clear regarding a distinction between a "witness" and a "sponsor" (i.e. Godparent), a link and Canon 874 are below. Furthermore it makes clear that a non-Catholic can not be a "sponsor" of a child being Baptized into the Catholic faith; they can however be a witness, but only if the other sponsor is a Catholic.

    Second, though the Canon and Catechism both use the terms "sponsor" and "Christian life". The Principles and Norms on Ecumenism seems to prefer "godparent". The language found in the Principles and Norms on Ecumenism strike me as very much akin to liberals calling abortion a "choice"; change the words so one does not have to face the emotions of a hard question. Too often, like politicians, I hear priests using "new" words rather than the words chosen and used in Catholic teaching. Priests seem to now look for the emotionally easy and comfortable words to "answer" emotionally difficult theologic questions.

    Rev. it would seem your response should have made it clear that there is a difference between being a sponsor and witness to a Baptism. And that if one were to become the child's sponsor then one would be obligated to teach and foster in the child the teachings of our Catholic faith."

    Honestly, ever since Vatican II instituted the vernacular Mass, and the priest turned to face the parishioners, it seems priests are more concerned with being "popular" than obedient and true to Christ's bride the Church (One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic) and Our Lord's chosen Holy See.

    J Decker

    Code of Canon

    Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_25031993_principles-and-norms-on-ecumenism_en.html)

    a) However, based on the common baptism and because of ties of blood or friendship, a baptized person who belongs to another ecclesial Community may be admitted as a witness to the baptism, but only together with a Catholic godparent. A Catholic may do the same for a person being baptized in another ecclesial Community.

    Canon 874 allows a baptized non-Catholic to be a Christian witness, not a sponsor

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

    CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2K.HTM)

    Can. 773 It is a proper and grave duty especially of pastors of souls to take care of the catechesis of the Christian people so that the living faith of the faithful becomes manifest and active through doctrinal instruction and the experience of Christian life.

    Can. 774 §1. Under the direction of legitimate ecclesiastical authority, solicitude for catechesis belongs to all members of the Church according to each one’s role.

    §2. Parents above others are obliged to form their children by word and example in faith and in the practice of Christian life; sponsors and those who take the place of parents are bound by an equal obligation.