God parent for child of non-practising parents

I’ve been asked to be Godfather for my brother’s child. The couple are married but do not practise the faith.

I feel conflicted. On the one hand, I cold exert some small influence as the child grows up, perhaps giving him books and so on, but on the other, I am not sure I should do it.

Can anyone give me advice on what I should do and the reasons for doing it?

I would elect to accept. If you decline, it might send a negative message to your brother and his wife. Also, who would they choose as a second choice? Mathmatical odds dictate that probably they would NOT take the faith as serious as you seem to.

My 2 cents.

If it would give you the opportunity to help bring the child to the faith and help bring your brother back to the Church then you have been given an incredible opportunity. I think it would be a good thing to accept.

Due to your strong faith it maybe the reason you were chosen! I would accept the honor and have a strong presence in the child’s life and a guiding hand in their faith life. Enjoy the blessings this role will bring you!!!

I would do it, because you might be the only Christian influence in the child’s life if his parents are not practicing the faith. It would also give you an excuse to give faith-related gifts and do Church activities with the child as he grows without angering the parents.

I wouldn’t do it. Personally, I woule feel it is an insult on my faith to only be wanted when something is needed from me. If the parents die, you then have a moral responisibility to ensure the child is brought up in the faith how can you take a grieving child and throw beliefs on them they never heard of

My 2 cents

Thanks for the advice people. I think I will do it, although my mother asked me if I was going to do it as if she thought it might be reasonable for me to decline. I think if I did decline it would cause great offence, but that can’t be the criteria because Our Lord didn’t worry about creating offence if the truth was at stake. If I don’t do it, somebody else will, and they will not have the faith that I have. Therefore, I may be one of the few people to have any input in the child’s life in a positive way regarding the faith. I think I will do it…

Even if a child is not really brought up in the faith, a few good books may have a positive impact later. I say may have, because as we know books alone are rarely enough.

Do it on condition. The issue here isn’t the kid, but the parents. By taking on godparent status, now you gotta work on them. Sit them down and tell them you are honored and would love to be a godparent, but you take that role very seriously, which means: ensuring he’s getting to mass, religious ed, sacramental prep, etc. They can opt out at this point, if they don’t, well, then you have the permission, and now obligation to GOD as your reasoning for making sure it happens.

I was on the other side of this mirror. I was made a godparent to a Catholic infant even though I was (and am) a pagan and Catholic apostate. How did that happen? The only answer I can offer is well-meaning confusion and slack procedures at a parish. My commitment was to do my utmost to raise the kid according to his family’s wishes in the unlikely event it came to that. Even that would not be easy to discern as they are themselves only nominal Catholics.

I honestly think a lot of this kind of mess comes about because of the Church’s understanding of what makes one a Catholic. I’m told all the time here that baptism makes one a Catholic forever whether you want it or not. This is the other edge of that blade. You have generations of people for whom Catholic identity is just something that goes with nationality and social convention, not any real belief in what it stands for. Baptisms are sort of a rite of passage and a family event people expect to be held even if no one in attendance really practices the faith. That all seems very weird to me, and sad. I get a lot of grief from many on this forum for my own personal faith choices, but at least I try to walk my walk and not be a “nominal” anything.

I am a Godparent to my sister’s 2 kids as they received all 3 sacraments at Easter Vigil nearly 3 years ago. My aunt and uncle were chosen as well for the roles… all of us because of our faith & commitment.

Their father isn’t a Catholic, and their mother is a Catholic but does not practice her faith & seldom attends Mass unless its for a funeral, wedding or other family event. The parents are divorced. They both agreed ahead of time to have their kids raised with some form of religion.

I am sure I was chosen as I do my best to be a good example to the children, and I did it for the children who need guidance too.

Do it. Be a good influence in the childs life whenever you can be. And in the lives of your relatives.


My brother rejected my pre-conditions. I don’t think he is best pleased.

The issue now is: Do I accept to be Godfather for a child I am not confident will be brought up in the Catholic faith?


I need to give an answer asap.

Excellent. I wanted to say this as well. You should be honest and let them know you are serious about this. If they have a problem with a Godparent that will do what the job requires than they can seek someone alse. I hope they won’t because you could be such a good influence on the child’s life. Sometimes it is the little things that plant the seed of faith.

Please see the post above yours.

My brother rejected my pre-conditions and resented it. So now my choice is - do it or don’t do it. He says I can’t be dictating how they raise their son. I am not confident he will be brought up in the faith. It saddens me, but there is nothing I can do about that. The question now is, do I accept to be Godfather or not?

What do I do? Say Yes, and do my best to be a good Christian influence, or say, sorry, I can’t do it?

I’d say “Sorry, I can’t do it”. I’m really confused on why he is even having his child baptized if he and his wife are not believers. Plus I think you ought to show them that you stand for your faith and beliefs.

I’m sure you will still have a presence in your nephew’s/niece’s life and you will have the opportunity to show them the faith. But if the parents won’t take the role as godparent seriously, especially out of respect of your faith, then what is the point of going through the Sacrament?

To my mind, there’s nothing complicated about the decision at all. He wants a Godparent who will take the role in a purely ceremonial and nominal fashion. He’s not looking for a missionary or a co-parent, and your conscience won’t allow you to be a nominal Christian in a role that you and Church teaching assign a great weight to. If you take the job, you’re either going to be tormented for life about not doing enough or you’re going to alienate your brother and his family. By NOT being a godparent, you’re not precluded from being a Christian influence in any way. Presumably you’ll see the boy in the ordinary course of things, and if you don’t make a pest of yourself, you’ll have ample opportunity to model your beliefs, and in time, probably get into more mature discussions with him about it.

Is this the Catholic Answer, so to speak?

Is there a single Catholic position on this issue of whether or not to accept the role depending on the status of the parents?

It grieves me so much to see a poor child brought into this world, baptised into the Church, only to be denied an authentic experience of the faith growing up, for which he will be angry and hurt about later. Thus jeopardising his salvation.

I have to balance up the two things: my not doing it (and the hurt and offense caused to the parents), versus my doing it with any positive faith aspects through my contact with the child. This is a very sensitive issue and if I do not accept it, there will be familial fallout… It may not be pretty.

So far as I know, there’s nothing in doctrine which either requires or authorizes you as a godparent to assert parental duties over a child while his or her parents still live. You’re there as a backup, so to speak, and to model your faith in a way not so very different than you would supposed to be doing as “just” an uncle. Ducking the role of godparent isn’t going to make you feel any less obligated to steer the kids toward the faith in some capacity, is it? Conversely, signing on as godparent isn’t going to special powers, or (so far as I know), impose any obligation to undermine the parent’s wishes.

This is Ireland - most parents get the kids baptised, even if they do not believe in the Catholic faith themselves. It’s a cultural thing.

What would you do in my circumstances Ken? This issue has already caused a row in my house this evening. I need to make a decision one way or the other.

I am conflicted between being a pawn in a cultural baptism versus the possibility that my acceptance of the role might do some more good than my simply being an uncle to the boy.


I would still maybe be inclined to accept. Then I would pray. My husband was brought up Catholic but almost never saw his Godfather, because he was a priest/friar. But my dh always said that even though he didn’t get to see his Godfather he probably got the most prayers, and they made a positive difference in his life.

Oh and religious gifts are your friend.:wink:

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