Godparent Rights

In the U.S., do godparents have any legal rights to the upbringing of his/her godchild? I remember signing a piece of paper about being the godfather. Does that paper have any legal weight, or is it merely for Church affairs.

I’m asking because my sister is married to a nominal Christian who is not a very good example for his kids. He is a hypocrite, rarely takes care of the kids, always complains about other people and makes fun of people in front of the kids.

Do I have a right and duty to say something to him when he is being a bad example to his kids?


Being a godparent doesn’t give you any “legal” rights to interfere in your godchild’s upbringing.

It does give you the “moral” right to speak up when his moral upbringing is not what it should be. Don’t expect to be thanked when you do so.

Well having a legal right and a moral right are different. Legally, no you have no rights. Most likely what you signed was the baptismal certificate or something along those lines for the church. Morally is different. In an ideal world you would point out the error, he would be enlightened and change. But if he is a brute and egocentric, he’s probably going to get defensive and punish you by not allowing you to see the godchild. I’d say stay quiet, be a good example for your godchild, be as involved as the parents allow you (take to church if you can or teach them to pray) and then pray, pray, pray!

It is great that you are so concerned and take your role as godparent seriously!

Perhaps better would be your right and duty to be a good example to his kids.

The baptismal certificate you signed is not a legal document outside of the church.
If the parents are not taking the children to Mass, offer to do so, I would suggest doing it in a way that the parents see it as a break. Say something like "Seems like you two need time to yourselves, how about I take the kids Sunday morning. We can go to Mass and I can feed them breakfast."
That is if they live close enough to you to do that.

This is a wonderful idea. Another idea is to offer to take the children to a Saturday vigil mass and then out to dinner–giving the parents some time for a “date” night. Again, if they live close enough and you feel they would be open to something like this.

Godfather aside, I’d say you and your father should say something to him as brother, uncle, and father. He shouldn’t be treating your sister or their children that way and your sister needs some guys in her life who will stand up for her since her husband isn’t doing it.

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