Can a Jew be a Catholic godfather?

I just got done watching Gene Simmons’ show “Family Jewels.” He was asked to be a godfather at the baptism of a baby boy. Gene being Jewish and not a member of the Catholic Church would not be allowed to be the child’s godfather. A little off-camera heart-to-heart with Gene and the priest, and the priest says it’s okay for Gene to be the godfather. I think that puts out very misleading information about the Catholic Church. The woman chosen to be godmother, on the other hand, was Catholic and therefore could be the godmother, making the baptism valid. Wouldn’t Gene Simmons just be known as sponsor and not godfather? Am I wrong about all this?

You are incorrect in assuming that Catholic godparents “[make] the baptism valid.” The validity of the baptism does not depend on the Catholic status of the godparents (or of the parents for that matter). Assuming the baptism was done correctly, the baby’s baptism was valid.

You are correct though that a non-Christian cannot be godparent to a Catholic child. The responsibilities of godparenthood include assisting the parents in the child’s Catholic education, something that cannot be asked of a non-Christian. Unfortunately, too many people see baptism as a cultural baby-welcoming party, and not as a solemn rite of Christian initiation; so they choose godparents based on who they like or who they want to honor, rather than on which Catholic they know is best suited to the task.

I did not watch the television episode you did, so I don’t know why the priest allowed Mr. Simmons to be this child’s godfather. I can only assume he allowed himself to have his better judgment overridden by pressure from the parents who wanted to honor a celebrity friend and by the presumably-unexpected spotlights from a “reality-TV” show. Even so, he should have kindly explained to the parents and to Mr. Simmons the Church’s position and not given in to any undue pressure.

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