Co-habiting godfather

Our priest has recently refused to permit a man to be godfather to a baby on the specific grounds that he is co-habiting with the woman to whom he is engaged. He has explained his decision by saying that the scandalous example of his life prevents him from carrying out the duties of a godparent. Other priests disagree and have offered to do the baptism in their parishes with this man acting as godfather.

Where pastors disagree among themselves it is difficult for people to see what is right and wrong. Can someone please give me a clear answer to this question: under ordinary circumstances can a Catholic co-habitee act as godparent at a Catholic baptism?

Thanks to any who can help.

SeanOB

Priest A is correct:

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.

Priest B is ignoring Church teaching on the role of a sponsor and canon law on who may be a sponor.

I realize this is a tricky situation. For many people the godfather is strictly a nominal title to show honour to the person as a respected friend or member of the family. The religious aspect of it is largely ignored by most just like with confirmation sponsors. I can understand a priest that truly believes in the word of the law and tradition to have objections but culturally nobody really cares about godparents and confirmation sponsors and it really is for show that people even do it. In fact, in many cases the child rarely if ever sees the godparent and has little to no personal relationship or even contact with the godparent. I would welcome a renewed sense of duty toward these things but the reality is that frankly godparents are a joke these days.

[quote="SeanOB, post:1, topic:183118"]
Where pastors disagree among themselves it is difficult for people to see what is right and wrong.

[/quote]

1ke has given you a great answer. I would just add that what you describe here (what I quoted) is a textbook case of scandal.

Japhy:

We wouldn’t allow this situation in the TAC either. My Primate recently reminded me that we’ve lost quite a few people as Martyrs to the Faith, and that Godparents were to take over and raise the children (including teaching them the Faith) in the event the parents became Martyrs for Christ or died in some other fashion, leaving the orphaned child without a mother or a father.

Since that is what Godparents need to be able to do, and the role is NOT only ceremonial, it then becomes obvious the “Godparent” the OP described is NO Godparent at all. He’s in no position to bring the kids up in the Faith in the event of the death of their parents.

That’s not a statement about “his inner character”, that’s a statement bout his publicly sinful lifestyle. The paster who decided to allow him to act as a Godfather not only did him no favor, he did the child a disservice.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

[quote="SeanOB, post:1, topic:183118"]
Our priest has recently refused to permit a man to be godfather to a baby on the specific grounds that he is co-habiting with the woman to whom he is engaged. He has explained his decision by saying that the scandalous example of his life prevents him from carrying out the duties of a godparent. Other priests disagree and have offered to do the baptism in their parishes with this man acting as godfather.

Where pastors disagree among themselves it is difficult for people to see what is right and wrong. Can someone please give me a clear answer to this question: under ordinary circumstances can a Catholic co-habitee act as godparent at a Catholic baptism?

Thanks to any who can help.

SeanOB

[/quote]

No

[quote="SeanOB, post:1, topic:183118"]
Our priest has recently refused to permit a man to be godfather to a baby on the specific grounds that he is co-habiting with the woman to whom he is engaged. He has explained his decision by saying that the scandalous example of his life prevents him from carrying out the duties of a godparent. Other priests disagree and have offered to do the baptism in their parishes with this man acting as godfather.

Where pastors disagree among themselves it is difficult for people to see what is right and wrong. Can someone please give me a clear answer to this question: under ordinary circumstances can a Catholic co-habitee act as godparent at a Catholic baptism?

Thanks to any who can help.

SeanOB

[/quote]

the pastor is of course correct and I assume his communication to those involved was done privately and pastorally, and only because they chose to publish the circumstances has it become more widely known. yes the other pastors may be guilty of promoting scandal, but since we have no first hand knowledge of what they have been told, charitably we will withhold judgment. My bet is the second church the priest actually has no knowledge, it was handled by a secretary who simply accepted the information provided. In this diocese we are not allowed to ask for proof of marriage in the church or any other conditions, but are instructed to take the prospective godparents' word on these things.

Thank you, 1ke and all who have answered. That is the information I needed. At least I can help alleviate some of the scandal within my own conversational circle by quoting the Code.

Responding to some of the comments and issues raised, the family has indeed "been talking" and so the story is doing the rounds. More disturbingly, it wasn't simply one other priest, but an unspecified number (of unnamed priests) both within and outside the diocese who have offered the contrary opinions. Finally, the parents concerned refused an offer from the pastor to refer the matter to the bishop's office, preferring to rely on the opinion which suited them. They are now going ahead with the baptism in another parish having been told that "this is their right" which opens up another set of questions.

Repeated thanks, folks. I like it here, I like the clear thinking; I might hang around. :)

[quote="puzzleannie, post:7, topic:183118"]
the pastor is of course correct and I assume his communication to those involved was done privately and pastorally, and only because they chose to publish the circumstances has it become more widely known. yes the other pastors may be guilty of promoting scandal, but since we have no first hand knowledge of what they have been told, charitably we will withhold judgment. My bet is the second church the priest actually has no knowledge, it was handled by a secretary who simply accepted the information provided. In this diocese we are not allowed to ask for proof of marriage in the church or any other conditions, but are instructed to take the prospective godparents' word on these things.

[/quote]

You know, you keep making these comments about secretaries that are not very charitable.
Some of us have a brain and do the things our bosses (the Pastor & the other priests) have told us to do.

I'm also on the baptismal prep team and my pastor would never support me if I even suggested that a co-habiting 'sponsor' should not be used. At a recent baptism the godparents were a divorced couple who are both now living with someone else and, since they couldn't stand to be within 3 feet of each other, the Godmother sat with her lover. Pastor was well aware as were most of the PIPs.

[quote="Traditional_Ang, post:5, topic:183118"]

We wouldn't allow this situation in the TAC either. My Primate recently reminded me that we've lost quite a few people as Martyrs to the Faith, and that Godparents were to take over and raise the children (including teaching them the Faith) in the event the parents became Martyrs for Christ or died in some other fashion, leaving the orphaned child without a mother or a father.

Since that is what Godparents need to be able to do, and the role is NOT only ceremonial, it then becomes obvious the "Godparent" the OP described is NO Godparent at all. He's in no position to bring the kids up in the Faith in the event of the death of their parents.

[/quote]

Godparents have no legal right or obligation to "raise" their godchildren should their parents die. This is a persistent myth.

Canonically it is not the role of godparents.

It is also not a legal status recognized by the state. Whomever the parents wish to assume guardianship must be specified in legal documents such as a will or guardianship papers.

[quote="SeanOB, post:8, topic:183118"]
. . Finally, the parents concerned refused an offer from the pastor to refer the matter to the bishop's office, preferring to rely on the opinion which suited them. They are now going ahead with the baptism in another parish having been told that "this is their right" which opens up another set of questions. . . .

[/quote]

There is a canon law for that too.

Can. 857 §1. Apart from a case of necessity, the proper place of baptism is a church or oratory.
§2. As a rule an adult is to be baptized in his or her parish church and an infant in the parish church of the parents unless a just cause suggests otherwise.

**

And the Bishop just ignored you when you informed him that these things were going on?

I would go further and question the parents of the child as to whether they know what baptism is all about. Doesn’t sound like they have a clue.

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