God Parents

I’ve been recently asked by my brother to be the godfather to his child, as well as my wife to be the godmother. Both my wife and I are Catholic (baptized & confirmed). The problem is that my wife and I had a civil marriage. Partly because my wife was married once prior in a Catholic church but has since been divorced legally, but not getting an annulment. Can we be godparents, or can one of us be godparents while the other just a witness? Your help to my dilemma is greatly appreciated.

here is the actual laws :

*SPONSORS

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*

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Thank you for your reply, but I’m still not 100% clear on if the fact that my wife and I have not been married in a catholic church would go against condition #3 or 4 of your reply.

Many of the precepts such as these are open to local interpretation. Godparents do not need to be married to each other. There is no mention of amounts or levels of sin. You need to be able to help the parents bring the child up in the Catholic Church.

Plain English:

This is not open to local interpretation. A godparent must be a practicing, Confirmed Catholic. If married, he/she must be married in the Catholic Church. Such as described by the OP, they cannot be godparents until their circumstance has been corrected.

As a pastoral comment to the OP: Please, please, please go see a priest or deacon regarding a Decree of Nullity so you can be married in the Catholic Church. If you are living as husband and wife without the Sacrament of Marriage, you should abstain from receiving the Eucharist until you seek proper counsel for your circumstance.

In my position at my parish, I see on a very frequent basis parents of CCE children who come to me about this sort of thing. In many cases, the parents did not properly understand that not being married in the church meant they were not in communion with the church. They often feel as though their situation is hopeless and that getting an annulment is impossible. Even worse, most have preconceived notions about the process that are entirely false. Hence, they have not sought it out.

Many are surprised to find that their situation is not hopeless. Indeed, for God, nothing is hopeless. There is always a path back to the church for those who seek it. You will be in my prayers.

Thank you once again for your reply. I’ll speak to our pastor and consult with him on the matter, and work to get my dilemma fixed so that in good continence my wife and I are not living a life hypocritical to our faith.

Sorry, no. It appears that neither of you may currently serve as Godparents since you do not meet the requirements for sponsors as outlined in the Code of Canon Law excerpted below.

"CHAPTER IV.

SPONSORS

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.

Link: vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2Y.HTM

Leading a life in harmony with the faith means that a Catholic must be in a valid marriage and be a practicing Catholic. Perhaps your wife can seek a Decree of Nullity regarding the first marriage? Then, if she receives it, you can then have your marriage convalidated so you both can return to the sacraments and faith?

I should have read further in the thread before posting. The above is very good advice.

This is incorrect.

OP, here is another thread that may help answer your questions.

Qualifications for God Parents
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=258520

One more thread:

Godparents
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=476000

What if person looking to be a godparent was divorced in a civil court(no annulment, or has not self proclaimed them selves as being celibate…meaning they are dating other people/not remarried.

Does this person too fall into the category of Can rule #3?, and would not being allowed to be a godparent?

They reason why I’m asking is that I have a friend who was able to be a godparent even though he fit the description I detailed earlier… So I’m assuming there is a difference.

A divorced Catholic who practices his/her faith and lives a life in keeping with the faith may serve as a Godparent. He/she does not need to have a Decree of Nullity to serve as Godparent.

The person you describe does not fit the criteria for living a life of faith if he is dating without having received a Decree of Nullity since that is adulterous behavior in the eyes of the Church.

See Q & A from Michelle Arnold on the topic:

"Q:“ Can divorced individuals become godparents or sponsors for baptism and confirmation?

”A: If the person in question is living a life in keeping with the Church’s expectations for someone in that situation, yes.

On the other hand, if the person does not have a Church annulment and is in a romantic relationship or has attempted remarriage outside the Church, then that person is not living "a life of faith that befits the role to be undertaken ," as required by canon law (CIC 874), and so another candidate for the role should be chosen."

Source link: catholic.com/thisrock/quickquestions/keyword/divorce/page2

(3rd Q&A down from top of page.)

Here are a couple of good articles regarding qualifications and the role of Godparents.

Qualifications for Godparents and confirmation sponsors
catholicsentinel.org/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=35&ArticleID=8821

The Role of Godparents
catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0233.html

A Q&A from EWTN that is relevant to this thread.

"Sacramental marriage after 6 years of legal marriage questions
Question from on 05-06-2008:

my husb and i have been legally married for over 6 years. we werent marr. in the catholic church due to an annulment that my husband needed. it was granted and we moved on as practicing catholics, having both children baptised. We planned on having the marr blessed, but didnt define a time frame until my sister had her 1st child and asked us to be the godparents.1)what is the church’s position on SACRAMENTAL MARRIAGE? 2)we have all the documents nec. to have a small ceremony, why do some churches say we have to repeat the processes of preperation that we did back 6 years ago? 3)based on cannon law, what constitutes the sacrament of marriage? 4)Is there another way, based on church law, that we can named godparents NOW so the baby can be baptised, as we are PREPARING our sacramental marriage ?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 05-19-2008:

Your current civil marriage is not only not a sacrament, it is also INVALID in the eyes of God and his Church.
If your husband received a declaration of nullity for his prior marriage and you are now both free to marry, you should marry as soon as possible for the sake of your soul. Right now, you are not free to receive the sacraments until after going to confession and having your marriage convalidated since you are living in an objective state of grave sin. I am not sure why you are more worried about being godparents than you are about getting your marriage convalidated.

Any valid marriage between two baptized persons is a sacrament.

In terms of the convalidation ceremony, all that is required is the presence of an authorized priest or deacon and two witnesses.

The exact preparation requirements is left to the determination of your parish priest. Usually a priest will take into account the stability of a civil bond in determining the amount of preparation that is required. "

Source link: ewtn.com/vexperts/showresult.asp?RecNum=540192&record_bookmark=29&Forums=0&Experts=0&Days=2009&Author=&Keyword=godparents&pgnu=1&groupnum=0&ORDER_BY_TXT=ORDER+BY+ReplyDate+DESC&start_at=

You are correct. I should not have said open. But they are interpreted differently on the local level. When a large parish sends out a notice of eligibility for a godparent or sponsor they do not verify if they are practicing or if they have completed all of their sacraments. This is very unfortunate.

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