Hello. My wife and I are trying to figure out godparents for our first child come November. She would like her brother to be a witness.He is a non-catholic, non-practicing Christian who believes in God. Is this a problem if he doesnt even attend church at all? How important is a witness? Does a witness play a key role? I know we need one good, practicing Catholic to be a Godparent. Is it even possible to have 2 Catholic godparents and 1 witness? We really do not know and just wanted to some input. Thanks a lot.
from what i know, its either 2 godparents, one of each gender
one godparent from any gender, and one Christian witness from any gender
if you want more, then you’ll have to ask the priest. certain cultures would have more than 2 godparents but it would be more ceremonial and they won’t be part of the official documentation of the Church
There is a huge difference between Godparents and Christian witnesses. The role of Godparents is to assist the parents in raising the child in the faith, and for that reason, Godparents can only be practicing Catholics (alternately one practicing Orthodox can be a Godparent along with one Catholic)–since one can’t give what he doesn’t have, namely the Catholic faith. Since they are “little parents” (the Latin word patrini means literally that) they must be one man and one woman.
On the other hand, a Christian witness is there for one reason and one reason only: that is, to verify the fact that a baptism happened if the records should ever be lost. That’s why the word “witness” is used, because the person can be called upon to “witness/testify” to the baptism should the need arise. If there is such a need, the Godparents might also be witnesses.
If you can’t find a second qualified Catholic to be Godparent, you can also have 1 witness, but you can’t have 2 Godparents and 1 witness. I always strongly caution parents against having a witness at the baptism because this deprives the child of the spiritual benefits of having 2 Godparents who assist the parents. Every effort should be made to have 2 proper Godparents.
We had one godparent (hubby’s sister, Catholic) and one Christian Witness (hubby’s BF). What a blessing, the BF is more involved in our daughter’s faith life than the actual godparent. The only thing I would go back and change, is choosing the sister.