Can a Catholic be a Godparent to a protestant Child?

My friend who is protestant just had a baby and she has asked me to be her Godmother. I have no objections to this but I was wondering if I am “allowed” to by my own church.

Normally a godparent is expected to help raise the child in the true Faith. A Catholic believes that is Catholicism. Would that understanding be acceptable to your friend?

Alternatively, as a protestant she may view a godparent as one who will assist in raising the child in her faith. Would that be acceptable to you?

I am the godparent of my protestant friend’s newborn daughter, and we had talked about this prior to the baptism.

My friend told me that it was important that her child grows up believing in God, Christ and the Spirit. She accepts my Catholism, and has no problem that I sometimes take her seven-year-old son to mass with me and teach him about my own beliefs and about the Church. My friend was my witness at my wedding in the Catholic Church.

Its an arrangment that works well for us; the children benefit from learning about not one, but two ways of Christian thinking. They may not chose to be Catholic, but I’m okay with that. At least they will grow up with a positive, loving and strong image of the Church, instead of the negative image portayed in the media.

I suggest you pray about this matter, and discuss your expectations with your friend. I am a firm believer in exposing children to not only our own faith, but ensuring they have an understanding of the faiths around them. This could be an excellent opportunity to share your faith not only with the child, but with your friend as well.

Blessings.

Hit, I’m pretty certain this is NOT allowed by the Church! You can’t, in good conscience, promise to help guide a child into a FALSE FAITH, the Protestant faith. Even though Protestantism has much truth, it is still truth mixed with error and that is dangerous. Shame on you.

[quote=Elliegirl]My friend who is protestant just had a baby and she has asked me to be her Godmother. I have no objections to this but I was wondering if I am “allowed” to by my own church.
[/quote]

No.

That is the answer of the Church. But it also make no sense to do so.

Could someone who answered “no” also cite from the code of canon law or an authoritative Church legal text?

I am at a loss to find such a reference off the top of my head.

Thanks.

The reason we have godparents in the Catholic church is that godparents represent the church in the faith that we profess to believe. That’s why Godparents are expected to be a confirmed practicing Catholic & at least 16 yrs. old, They do not represent the parents. They represent the church! How then can a Catholic represent the Protestant faith if they are not Protestant? If the Protestant parents wish to have the Catholic parents as legal guardians in the even of the person or persons death when their children are minors, then that is a whole different story. That requires a legal document such as a will declaring that is your intention. That is not done, just because they are the child’s designated godparents. Since we do baptismal prep, I think this is a very common notion of our baptised unbelieving, non-practicing parents who come to have their child baptized.

[quote=cameron_lansing]Could someone who answered “no” also cite from the code of canon law or an authoritative Church legal text?

I am at a loss to find such a reference off the top of my head.

Thanks.
[/quote]

Hi Deacon,

You will find this in the documents of Vatican II on Ecumenism #57. It is the reverse of our Canon Law allowing non-Catholic Christians to be a Witnesses to the Baptism of a Catholic, but not a Godparent.

I was asking for a citation from the code of canon law or an authoritative Church legal text that prevents a Catholic from serving as a god parent in the baptism of a Protestant. I will ask for this again from those who say no. I am not sure one was provided, and I am still at a loss to find the source of the position.

I think it is incumbent on all of us who give response in this sensitive matter to locate the documentation behind our responses. Hence my request is placed a second time.

Br Rich SFO: You will find this in the documents of Vatican II on Ecumenism #57.

Brother Rich, I have a copy of Unitatis redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism, and I cannot find a paragraph or number 57. Can you aid in this?

Stbruno: The reason we have godparents in the Catholic church is that godparents represent the church in the faith that we profess to believe. That’s why Godparents are expected to be a confirmed practicing Catholic & at least 16 yrs. old, They do not represent the parents. They represent the church!

Yes, and remember the other requirement of canon 874- they are not under any Church sanction.

Generally there is truth in this, but what do the Rites actually say? Paragraph 7 of the General Introduction says “in the actual celebration, the people of God (represented not only by the parents, godparents and relatives, but also, as far as possible, by friends, by neighbors, and some members of the local church) should take an active part.” The term “people of God” is used here and not “the Church.” Vatican II has already distinguished between those terms in a technical way.

What the law actually says is that the sponsors present the baptizandus. Canon 872: “Insofar as possible one to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who is to assist an adult in Christian initiation, or, together with the parents, to present an infant at the baptism, and who will help the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it.”

However, we find help in the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 25 March 1993).

“98. It is the Catholic understanding that godparents, in a liturgical and canonical sense, should themselves be members of the Church or ecclesial Community in which the baptism is being celebrated. They do not merely undertake a responsibility for the Christian education of the person being baptized (or confirmed) as a relation or friend; they are also there as representatives of a community of faith, standing as guarantees of the candidate’s faith and desire for ecclesial communion.

“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.

“b) Because of the close communion between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, it is permissible for a just cause for an Eastern faithful to act as godparent; together with a Catholic godparent, at the baptism of a Catholic infant or adult, so long as there is provision for the Catholic education of the person being baptized, and it is clear that the godparent is a suitable one.

“A Catholic is not forbidden to stand as godparent in an Eastern Orthodox Church, if he/she is so invited. In this case, the duty of providing for the Christian education binds in the first place the godparent who belongs to the Church in which the child is baptized.”

How would you understand paragraph 98 a? What might be said to those dioceses in which the diocesan bishop has determined that Church law permits the practice? Is this a burden which is strictly necessary? (“This journey toward the necessary and sufficient visible unity, in the communion of the one Church willed by Christ, continues to require patient and courageous efforts. In this process, one must not impose any burden beyond that which is strictly necessary [cf. Acts 15:28].” Ut unum sint [John Paul II, 25 1995, n. 78].)

I’m interesting in how people would think this out after identifying the law of the Church. Is is permitted? is the question. Whether it is prudent in general or in a particular situation would be a different question.

The instruction, Ad Totam Ecclesiam, 1967, or Ecumenical Directory, was not, of course, a Vatican II document. In 1993, a new Ecumenical Directory was issued which superceded the 1967 instruction. That was the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 25 March 1993) which I cited.

As Brother Rich points out correctly, the newer directory maintains the prior norms in this regard.

Then perhaps the paths of inquiry become clearer

a) if this represents universal ecclesiastical law (as an instruction bearing legal weight), canon 87 permits the diocesan bishop to dispense from its observance under the conditions of that canon. The inquirer may wish to contact her diocesan bishop and see if he might grant the dispensation (he may or may not, of course.)

b) that if the Catholic is not being asked to fulfill a function analogous to that of Christian godparent in the sense of being a surrogate spiritual parent, despite the title that the other ecclesial community attaches to this, “because of ties of blood or friendship” the person may do so. The instruction does not attach the condition of necessity.

This continues to raise the question c) how you respond to a diocesan bishop who has determined that a Catholic is pemitted to be a godparent for a valid non Catholic baptism? and perhaps

d) what is the correct interpretation of the Directory? ( A Catholic may do the same for a person being baptized in another ecclesial Community. ) Witness only or even godparent? I only ask this because the laws of the other communities may not distinguish the two and view the role with less precision than we do. Certainly if the Catholic takes on an obligation to raise the child in a non Catholic faith, other issues would be drawn in.

In my opinion (which bears no weight what-so-ever):

The Bishop could determine this for the faithful under his authority. However IMO he risks promoting confusion and false sense of Ecumenism.

d) Again IMO Only as a Christian Witness without the Bishops specific permission. It would be the responsibility of the person seeking to fill this position/function in the non-Catholic community to make their understanding clear.

When it comes to Ecumenism we must be careful as Cardinal Arinze has said; We do not put Catholicism on sale! We do not discount things 10, 20 or 50 % in the hope someone will buy!

All our actions and words need to precisley state what we believe. Non-Catholic Christians are separated from the Catholic Church. Most non-Catholic Christians did not remove themselves from Catholic unity (some did) but most have never known the truth of the Catholic Faith. But the real fact is they are not fully united with us and therefore cannot share Sacramental rites with us except in certain specific circumstances.

In my opinion (which bears no weight what-so-ever):

Nevertheless, a solid analysis, well reasoned on the basis of principles and also documented for the benefit of readers.

Hi, new member here.
I have been giving this some thought and as all Christians “believe in one baptism for the remission of sin” from the creed, and if like me, a person who was baptised Protestant, does not get rebaptised when converting to the Catholic Church, why are people being so negative. Isn’t there also a working towards the universal Christian church? Why should there be a problem? :confused:

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