Can I sponsor someone I am pretty sure is not in a state of grace?

Short story: Just found out a kid I have known her whole life is to be confirmed this wekend (I thought it was later!). I am as sure as one can be about another that she is not in a state of grace. Would I be committing sacrilege to sponsor her on Sunday if I can’t convince her to go to confession?

Tell me if you need more details, e.g. why I think she’s not in a state of grace.

Well since neither you nor I nor anyone else here has heard this person’s confession we can’t be sure. You can however as a sponsor do your duty and remind her she must be in the state of sanctifying grace to receive Confirmation or Communion and offer to go with her to confession since you yourself feel it would be a good opportunity for you to go as preparation for your role.

I’m wondering why, as her sponsor, you weren’t more up on the date and involved in her preparation. But that aside, offer to go with her to confession ahead of her confirmation since it’s a good idea for you to both go, but do remember that we never (unless we are the confessor) can say what the condition of someone else’s soul is.

Unless she tells you or you are with her 24/7 for the next week, you will never know what state her soul is in at confirmation. You can respectfully ask her if she needs a ride to the church or rectory for confession.

Otherwise you’ll need to take it on faith.

You can also ask her, “Jenny, are you in a state of grace? I need to know before I sponsor you for this.” As her sponsor you take a role in her faith formation, and if you’re too indirect and uncomfortable to discuss the subject with her, you’re probably not the best choice for a sponsor. Sorry to put it that way, but I’m worried that your question and the responses in this thread set up a false dichotomy between (a) “You must go with your intuition! Obey how you feel!”, and (b) “Only God can know what’s in this poor child’s heart, you monster!”

Thanks, people.

Just so you know, I was not kept informed of anything going on in her immediate formation. We had some miscommunication because she was really wanting her godmother to sponsor her, but she lives across the country, and only really settled that she couldn’t be here a couple of days ago. I had agreed to be the sponsor a few months ago, but never heard anything else about anything I needed to attend, even if I ended up being a proxy.

And Mark, I am on the way to her house in the next few minutes to talk to her about going to confession with me on Saturday.


Canon Law says about sponsors:

Can. 892 Insofar as possible, there is to be a sponsor for the person to be confirmed; the sponsor is to take care that the confirmed person behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament.

It is your obligated duty to make sure 1) that the confirmand knows the faith and 2) that the confirmand is living the faith. If you knowingly and willingly acknowledge a person worthy in both regards while knowing that either or both are deficient, in my mind you have committed a sacrilege by perjuring yourself before God.

Now, certainly one cannot absolutely know the heart of another, but neither does that mean where lacking in common sense. If you suspect sinful behavior, such as living with a boyfriend or girlfriend, then it is your duty as a sponsor to confront the behavior and make sure the confirmand knows the Catholic moral teachings in that regard. Use tact if needed (or be blunt if you think it needed).

Once more, as this person’s sponsor, you have been placed in a role of spiritual guidance and you must not let any awkwardness, discomfort, or fear of being called names (like a judger :rolleyes:) deter you from safeguarding this person’s soul. You will have failed in your sacred duty if you let this person dance on the road to hell without putting up a fight.

One final thought, if when all is said and done you feel that this person is not living the faith, you should resign from being the sponsor (since declaring the candidate worthy would be a fraud). You would then discuss it with the priest and whoever else should be involved (maybe the RCIA director?). Ultimately, they may decide that the confirmation will go on no matter what, but they can’t force you to participate against what your well-formed conscience tells you to do.

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