Interesting question. I cannot see that this is addressed by canon law.
Can. 892 As far as possible the person to be confirmed is to have a sponsor. The sponsor’s function is to take care that the person confirmed behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the duties inherent in this sacrament.
Can. 893 §1 A person who would undertake the office of sponsor must fulfill the conditions mentioned in can. 874.
§2 It is desirable that the sponsor chosen be the one who undertook this role at baptism.
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.
Our pastor does not permit it.
He says the whole idea is to have another person discussing the faith and offering objective encouragement in the faith. So many people say they were forced into Catholicism by their parents. If people feel like other adults are also convicted in the teachings of the Church, they are more likely to take the Sacrament more seriously.
No clue if it’s a universal thing. Only saying what is advanced here.
No doubt the ones who believe Confirmation is wrongly ordered will chime in.
That was under the old 1917 Code of Canon Law. It changed in 1983.
There’s no actual, canonical prohibition against a child sponsoring a parent. However, it’s generally not a good idea. It doesn’t make much sense to reverse these roles and have one person acting as Godparent for his own natural parent.
The pastor has the authority to accept/reject potential sponsors. I can imagine a scenario where it might be possible, but generally it’s not appropriate.
My 26 year old niece was my sisters sponsor last year. They had permission from the pastor because the director of the Confirmation Class did not realize that the rule had been lifted. It was truly a blessing for both of my loved ones.
When my grandfather, in the early 1900’s, became Catholic, my mother and her brother were his godparents. Later.my uncle enjoyed confusing people by commenting that he had just been to his godchild’s 50’th wedding anniversary.
I would say probably no. However, one of my parents stood in at my confirmation by proxy, representing the person who was my sponsor but got delayed because of travel. But I would guess no as they are immediate family.
When I was confirmed in the mid-40’s there was one male sponsor for all the boys and one female for all the girls. It happened that my grandfather was sponsor for the boys that year; so he was my sponsor.
We only had two altar boys in the parish, and we were both confirmed that year. The first, and only, time I ever served mass for a bishop. That was the first time I had ever seen a Monseigneur or a Bishop.
My understanding is that this is not recommended due to the nature of the sponsor role. The sponsor, ideally, should be someone who can direct the spiritual upbringing/education of the candidate. For example, in Baptism the role of a godparent is to assist the parents in providing for the child’s spiritual upbringing. When my siblings were confirmed, the bishop told the sponsors that it was their job to keep an eye on the spiritual development of the candidates and to pull them aside for a private talk if something came up. Realistically, I don’t think this dynamic would work very well between a parent and a child. That said, again, I do not profess to be an expert in this area so there is a chance that I could well be mistaken.
That was also the practice in my childhood parish. I have no memory of a sponsor at Confirmation so I suspect there was one woman standing there who seemed to ‘belong’ as far as my 7 year old self was concerned.
Correction. I’m not sure that it even was in the 1917 Code. There were laws about affinity (a relationship that arises from being a sponsor) that prevented marriage. Such questions pop up here on CAF fairly regularly. I’m not sure that the old code addressed this specific issue.
In any case, there’s still no such prohibition in the 1983 Code.