Godparent to Anglican baby?

My friend has asked me to be a godparent to her baby. My friend is Anglican, her husband is Catholic, but they attend an Anglican church.

I’m honoured to be asked, but feel a little uncomfortable.

Is it permissible for a Catholic to be a godparent to a non-Catholic?

Welcome to the forums. The short answer is, no a Catholic should not serve as a godparent at a non-Catholic baptism.

The slightly longer answer is that a Catholic can serve a similar function by being a “Christian witness” at the baptism of a non-Catholic. The Catholic Church does not allow non-Catholics to serve as godparents at a Catholic baptism, but does allow one Catholic godparent and one non-Catholic “Christian witness.” Catholics are permitted to fulfill a similar function in a non-Catholic baptism. The difficulty is that most non-Catholic denominations do not make a distinction like this, so talking with them about being a “Christian Witness” rather than a godparent is likely to elicit some quizzical looks and possible confusion from the parents and/or pastor.

No, a Catholic is not permitted be be a “Godparent” for a non-Catholic child. In addition you have the problem of the Catholic not having their child Baptized in the Catholic Church, and not attending or practicing their Catholic faith.

The answer is No…as a God Parent…furthermore, as a Catholic, when we take on the responsiblity as being a God Parent, we promise to raise the child in the faith (Catholicism) if something were to happen to one or both of the parents and render them incapable of doing so…since they are bringing this child up as a non-Catholic…I would say no…you may not.

The role of a godparent is not honorary, it’s a role of one who represents the church of which the child is going to be baptized into. A godparent is not a guardian in the event something happens to the parents.That must be laid out in a legal document naming a person a legal guardian, Rather a godparent is one who sees that the child is fully raised and formed in the faith. So in good faith, how can a Catholic see that a child is being raised as an Anglican when that faith is separate from the Catholic faith?

Likewise, Anglicans cannot be godparents for Catholic infants, just Christian witnesses.


Thanks for the responses.

Has anyone got a reference in canon law or the catechism?

I would be interested in knowing where it says one can not be a godparent to a non-catholic baby. It is possible to for non-catholics to be a godparent to a catholic baby. I know this because my friend’s baby was baptized two weeks ago and they said that only one of the godparents had to be catholic.

A baby needs only one godparent and that person must be Catholic. If the parents wish, they may choose someone else to be a Christian witness. That person may be any baptized Christian.

Here are the relevant sections of canon law source]:

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.

The problem here is that nobody used the proper terminology.
Only the Catholic is a godparent/sponsor since you can’t sponsor someone into a club/church/organization to which you don’t belong.

Unfortunately, ever since we have been allowed to have a Christian witness the term “non-Catholic godparent” has erroneously been applied to that person. Priests are as much to blame for this as anyone since they often didn’t/don’t bother to even explain the difference (I know, my youngest has a Christian witness instead of a godfather but I didn’t find out that difference until years later. It was never mentioned at the time.) I’ve even known one to not bother asking the religion of the godparents at all and having 2 non-Catholics as ‘godparents’. Parents will often argue that “Of course the non-Catholic is a godparent, see, it’s there on the certificate.” In all my dealings with certificates I’ve only come across one parish that neither records the non-Catholic’s name in the register nor includes it on the certificate.

In practice though, no matter how much you tell the parents that the non-Catholic is NOT a godparent (and believe me, when I do baptismal preparation they hear it said), they will still refer to and consider him/her as a godparent.

That makes perfect sense. I even asked my friend and she didn’t even know what a Christian Witness was. She said that only ONE of the two needed to be a Catholic. She’s a convert and is usually knows more about things like this too. She studies tihngs a lot. :smiley:

OK, I’ve been directed to a very useful website:

The 1993 Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Directory on Ecumenism) explains:

It is the Catholic understanding that godparents, in a liturgical and canonical sense, should themselves be members of the Church or ecclesial Community in which the baptism is being celebrated. They do not merely undertake a responsibility for the Christian education of the person being baptized (or confirmed) as a relation or friend; they are also there as representatives of a community of faith, standing as guarantees of the candidate’s faith and desire for ecclesial communion. (no. 98)

Without clicking the site just yet, I would take this to mean that I could be a Godparent to my best friend’s (Catholic) son and she to mine (I’m not Catholic). Which, by the way, is what my friend thinks.

How does one know off hand that they shouldn’t be a Godparent to a non Catholic child? I mean, it’s really not something that one would inherently know, or is it?:confused:

I knew I should have clicked on the site first!:o

precisely, the child had one godparent, the other person, if baptized, participated as a Christian witness–not the same thing, not the same role

also as casual observer to a baptism we do not know all the circs

As I’ve said, often the parents are not informed of the difference. We’ve done a very poor job of catechizing our PIP about this and it has sometimes resulted in difficulties.

One memorable case in our parish was the couple (a mixed-marriage of a Catholic dad, non-Catholic mom) who were extremely upset to be told they needed a Catholic godparent since neither of their first child’s godparents were Catholics. IIRC, one wouldn’t even have qualified as a Christian witness. Their preparation, by the priest, had involved nothing more than handing them a video to watch at home and he hadn’t asked any of the obvious questions. They left in a huff, convinced that Sister was being unreasonable and had probably pulled this ‘rule’ out of her hat. While dad continued to attend Mass with the kids, they didn’t return for this child’s Baptism until 4 years later, just after I’d put a question and answer segment on Baptism in two consecutive bulletins. The second segment dealt with whys and wherefores of godparents – the very next day the dad came to the office to request that Joey be baptized.

Well, what I mean is that my friend and her husband had no idea that I couldn’t be a godparent. The only thing they were told was that one person had to be Catholic. As a previous poster said, many certificates would still put my as a godparent. So, how would anyone know, given what they were told and what the certificate says, who is REALLY a godparent. Given all the confusion, it makes one wonder how many people think someone is a godparent and in reality they are not. Then again, what would cause someone to know they weren’t.

Does this make any sense?

This all suggests to me that the decision to allow “Christian witnesses” is a poor one, because the distinction is lost and much confusion results.

I agree! No matter what you do it should be explicitly clear!! Both ways! She had no idea that she couldn’t be a godparent to my sons. It would never have occurred to her to ask permission either.

Your friend however could be a “Christian witness” at your child’s baptism, just as you could be at her child’s baptism. The problem is that most denominations don’t have a “category” like that.

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