3 "Godmothers"

I was told by my favorite catholic priest that there are only 2 Godparents. One Godmother, one Godfather.
I went to a private Baptism, and the Priest had 3 Godmothers and one Godfather.
Maybe I am not understanding the rules on Baptism.
Have they been updated?

two godparents, one from each gender
or one godparent of any gender, and one Christian witness (any baptized non-Catholic) of any gender (since they’re not really a godparent but a witness to the baptism)

now, in the Philippines godparents can be like over a dozen, literally. but the way it works to accommodate this local custom is that there is still one pair of godparents (in this case called the primary) and a whole bunch of secondary godparents who are part of the Baptismal Rite, but their names aren’t included in Church records. its just the way how the culture is

what you may have seen is the same case. the two extra women may be secondary sponsors who takes part in the Rites, but are not the registered godparents

That could be. The parents were from Peru though, not the Philippines. I just wondered if it was a new trend, but now I understand that it may be that they enjoyed the rite in a way, but were not the ones in the church records named.

Thank you for understanding this situation. I was very confused.:o

Peru and the Philippines were both colonized by Spain, so traditions will be very, very similar
its and old tradition in the Philippines and i suspect the same for Peru as the practice originated from the time of the Spaniards. with today’s immigration patterns, this practice is introduced to North America

when i was going to have my son baptized, our priest who was Canadian was aware of this and told me that he needed to meet with the godparents before the baptism, but only the primary godparents. any other extra godparents doesn’t need to attend the meeting nor will their names appear on the certificate.

We often run into situations where previous priests weren’t familiar with the rules (as unbelievable as that is) and allowed multiple godparents, all of whom are listed in the register. Sometimes if there are only two of each you assume that one set was proxy for the other but when all four or five have actually signed the register you know that that is not the case.

It can be a little touchy when you’re dealing with children where one of the parents is from a denomination which allows multiple godparents (Anglican children have three godparents – girls have two godmothers and boys have two godfathers) but things are usually taken OK. What is really difficult is explaining that members of the Salvation Army and many Pentecostals cannot be “Christian Witnesses”.

The parish “next door” (~600 Km away) doesn’t even register the name of the Christian witness and the name doesn’t appear on the certificate. In our registers such a distinction has never been made.

there is no such thing as a private baptism. The child may have been baptized at a time when no other children were being presented but it was not private, it is a public liturgy of the Church. If you don’t know for a fact that 3 women and one man were entered in the sacramental records as godparents, don’t assume so. Simply assume the priest allowed these individuals to be present as Christian witnesses. and no the rules have not change, but the priest is not obligated to explain to everyone present how he has chosen to handle pastoral challenges in individual cases.

Several of our children had “proxy” Godparents as the real Godparents were 3000 miles away on the east coast. Th rest of the kids had close-by west coast Godparents. The ones on the east coast turned out to be more faithful than the close-by ones. Go figure!

can you proxy for the opposite gender? i always thought the proxy should be of the same gender. i could be wrong

There cannot be more than two sponsors for someone being baptised no matter what country the baptism takes place in.
Also they must be Catholic and in a state of grace at the time of the baptism.

Canon Law:


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.

Can. 874 §1 To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:

1° be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;

2° be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;

3° be a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;

4° not labour under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;

5° not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptised.

§2 A baptised person who belongs to a non-catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the baptism.

Canon 873 states that only one male or one female sponsor or one of each sex is to be employed. The law is of ecclesiastical origin and not constitutive of the notion of sponsor itself, since that is presented in canon 872.

Thus, the diocesan bishop can dispense from the limit of two godparents by virtue of canon 87§1. Whether he would in a particular case is another question.

There is no requirement in law that a proxy be of the same sex as the godparent. In fact, there is little, if anything, in the way of any requirement regarding who can be a proxy.

There is no requirement, except perhaps a moral one, that a godparent be in a state of grace. That pertains to the internal forum. The canon regards the external forum.

It seems that two Godparents is a custom in some countries but not a requirement. I’ve been discussing these things with a priest because I’m expecting a baby and my husband and I want to have it baptised this summer. He said that one Godparent is required and it doesn’t matter if they are the same sex as the baby. We are going to have a proxy because the godmother won’t be able to be physically present. The Godmother must fulfill certain requirements, but the proxy doesn’t (but has to be Catholic).

When it comes to recording things in the Baptism records, there can be either one sponsor or two with one of each gender.
HOWEVER, whoever else the family chooses to call “godparents” in addition to the 1 or 2 “official” ones is a social custom and priests normally won’t interfer with that.
I occasionally run across this problem with people from different cultures. I just tell them that the baptismal register only has room for 2 names but that they’re free to call anyone else a godparent if they so choose.

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