Godparents as a requirement to Baptism

I apologize if this question has been answered elsewhere, but my search did not reveal anything specific in terms of answering my question. If I did not search diligently enough, please direct me to the best available post!

Although marriage is still a little ways off, my girlfriend of several years and I have been talking more and more about marriage. The tricky thing is that I am Catholic and she is not (although she is a Christian). We have already discussed having a Catholic wedding and raising the kids Catholic. However, one issue that she continues to bring up is that her brothers (again, non-Catholic Christians) would not be able to be the godparents of any future children.

I explained the purpose of why godparents are included in the Baptism, but that only delayed the topic being brought up again. I was just kind of spinning my wheels at that point, but I said I would try and find out more information.

My main question is: Can parents select only one person to be a godparent on a Baptismal certificate, or is it a requirement to have both a godmother and godfather?

Also, if any has additional information that could be of assistance, I would greatly appreciate it. God bless you all!

You need at least one Catholic in good standing (i.e. confirmed) to be a godparent and the other would be considered a witness. So your girlfriend’s siblings can still be included on the day of baptism in an honorable way. My daughter’s godfather is my husband’s best friend who is not Catholic, but he’s actually more involved in DD’s life and Catholic formation than my own SIL who is a practicing Catholic. I’m hoping we’re planting little seeds and he’ll eventually convert.

One Godparent is all that is required, and they must be a practicing (and Confirmed) Catholic. Another person of the opposite sex can be a Godparent, too, if Catholic and Confirmed, or a “Christian Witness” is I think the term often used if not.

Only one Godparent is required, of either gender.

You mention the “she is a Christian” The question is is she a Validly Baptized Christian?

Canon Law:


Can. 872 In so far as possible, a person being baptised is to be assigned a sponsor. In the case of an adult baptism, the sponsor’s role is to assist the person in christian initiation. In the case of an infant baptism, the role is together with the parents to present the child for baptism, and to help it to live a christian life befitting the baptised and faithfully to fulfil the duties inherent in baptism.

Can. 873 One sponsor, male or female, is sufficient; but there may be two, one of each sex.

Can. 874 §1 To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:

1° be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;

2° be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;

3° be a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;

4° not labour under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;

5° not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptised.

§2 A baptised person who belongs to a non-catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the baptism.

Thank you all very much for your responses! They have been more helpful than I could ever imagine–I’m very excited to be able to talk about this with my girlfriend and provide such thorough information.

And, to answer Br. Rich, SFO’s question, yes, she is a validly baptized Christian.

Thank you again for all of your help, and God bless you all!

In some parishes the Christian Witness’s name is not entered in the baptismal register nor included on the Certificate of Baptism.

In other parishes you can’t tell by looking at the register whether or not the recorded sponsors (the Church’s name for godparents) are Catholics or Christian witnesses.

I’m aware of instances, in my own parish, when neither of the recorded sponsors was Catholic. The pastor at the time failed to ask an important question or provide important information regarding the requirements. That came back to bite us a few years later when the parents requested baptism for another child and were incensed to hear that they ‘now’ needed a Catholic sponsor when that hadn’t been the case before. No amount of explaining the original mistake could smooth those waters.

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