The subject says it all. Can priests be godparents?
No, I don’t believe so. As I recall, any cleric in Major Orders may not be a godfather. OTOH, I believe he may function as a proxy (stand-in) for a layman who is unable to be present (e.g. someone on military deployment).
Here’s the rules for sponsors (godparents) in canon law. I don’t see any exclusion for priests.
Can. 872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.
Can. 873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.
Can. 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:
1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;
2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;
3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;
4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;
5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.
§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.
No, the disqualifications from service as sponsor that were in the previous Code and affected religious, those in sacred orders, spouses of candidates, etc. have been suppressed. A priest may now become a sponsor if he’s requested to do so as may religious Sisters and Brothers and the wives or husbands of converts (or confirmands).
So you have a “yes” and a “no”. I’ll break the tie.
Yes, they can!
At least, my good friends had a priest as the godfather of their child born last Fall.
Note what Canon Law says on the requirements of sponsors (i.e. godparents): Canons 872-874
Rather, note what Canon Law does not say. It does not say that being ordained is an impediment to being a sponsor.
Just as a point of interest (or if you wish, as a point of unnecessary pedantry!) there is no longer a state of ‘major orders’ in the Latin Church, or indeed of ‘minor orders’. This was declared in Pope Paul VI’s 1972 motu proprio MINISTERIA QUAEDAM. See:
In this document the number of minor orders was reduced and from this point on such offices were referred to as ministries rather than orders.
Thus it is that the 1983 Code of Canon Law clarifies that only deacons, priests and bishops are in holy orders, and that the former states referred to as minor orders have been superceded by the ministries of lector and acolyte. See canon 230:
*Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.
Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.
§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.*
Since this doesn’t really impinge on the OP, I apologise if people feel that their time has been wasted.
But if you’re older than, say, 40, you may recall the time when Canon Law didn’t allow priests, religious Brothers and Sisters to be godparents You also couldn’t neither be a godparent to your spouse should he/she convert, nor could you ever marry your godparent (my godfather was only 10 years older than me) because of a ‘spiritual relationship’. Those Canons were suppressed with the promulgation of the 1983 Code,
I think those restrictions may still exist in the Eastern sui juris churches.
Interesting. Yes, my memory does not go back further than the 1983 Code. :o I guess that’s why this question still gets asked and why there are conflicting responses. Good to know!
From the Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches.
- For a person to fulfill validly the role of a sponsor it is necessary that he or she:
INDENT be initiated with the three sacraments of baptism, chrismation with holy myron and the Eucharist;
(2) belong to the Catholic Church, with due regard for 3;
(3) have the intention of carrying out the responsibility of sponsor;
(4) be designated by the person to be baptized or the parents or guardians, or, if there are not any, by the minister;
(5) not be a father, mother or spouse of the person to be baptized;
(6) not be bound by excommunication, even a minor one, suspension, deposition or deprived of the right of acting in the function of a sponsor.
- To assume licitly the role of sponsor, in addition to what is required, the sponsor should be of the age required by particular law and lead a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken.
- For a just cause, it is permitted to admit the Christian faithful of another Eastern non-Catholic Church to the function of a sponsor, but always at the same time with a Catholic sponsor.
[/INDENT]So according to this, parents and spouses can not be godparents, it does not disallow clergy unless that clergy is a parent or spouse of the one receiving the Sacraments which can happen in the East.
My niece’s godparents are her aunt and uncle… a nun and a priest!
Thanks - Joe K.