Baptism Participants


Hi all,

Can non-confirmed Catholics stand up at a baptism ceremony as a sort of ceremonial “witness” in addition to the godparent?

In Christ,





Can. 874 §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.

If a baptised non-Catholic can be a Christian witness surely a baptised (but not yet confirmed) Catholic must also be able to be a witness (albeit not a sponsor)??


That is not what the law says. A qualified Catholic can be a sponsor. An unqualified Catholic can attend the baptism. He/she cannot act as a non-Catholic witness because he/she is not a non-Catholic.

For a Catholic it would be sponsor or simply witness in the congregation.


There is actually no requirement that the un-Confirmed Catholic witness the event apart from the family. Such a Catholic, for example, could stand next to the Sponsor throughout the process.


That was not the question asked. As many people as the priest allows can stand near the baptismal font during the baptism. I’ve seen entire families, 10 or so people.

However, they are neither sponsors nor the non-Catholic Christian witness together with a sponsor, i.e. they do not respond when addressed by the priest such as lighting the candle, etc. They would not be listed in the sacramental record.


Where does state that a baptised but not yet confirmed catholic cannot be a Christian witness.


You quoted the law yourself. It says by exclusion, that a Catholic cannot be a witness. Instead, a “witness” to a baptism, has to be a non-Catholic from an ecclesial community. That is how law works, if a law specifies the who, you cannot substitute someone else. This cannon, by using the phrase “baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community,” specifically defined the type of person who can be a witness at a baptism. No one else qualifies, and by definition a person baptized into the Catholic faith, is not a non-Catholic.


So you are saying that because a baptised but not yet confirmed Catholic is not specifically mentioned then it means they are excluded.
Where in Canon law does it state the “by exclusion” rule?


That is how law works. :shrug: If the law specifically defines the person who can fulfill a role you cannot substitute someone else. Otherwise there would be some very large problems, other places where specific people are defined for specific roles: like in cannon law where it says that a validly ordained priest can confect the Eucharist (CCC #900), you cannot substitute just anyone. Or who can received the Eucharist (CCC #912) only baptized persons not prohibited by law.

So too this law, a Christian Witnesses, has been defined as a non-Catholic. You cannot substitute a Catholic, because they do not meet the definition of a Christian Witness.


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