I am going through RCIA and we recently had the Rite of Election. My priest asked me if I had chosen Godparents and I said that I was going to have my husband as my sponsor. Now I am not baptised. My priest said that since my husband and I are already joined in marriage I am unable to have him as a Godparent. He can be my sponsor for Confirmation, but not Baptism. I guess he was asking me because I needed to have my Godparent sign the Book of Elect. So anyway, I chose a cousin of mine for my Godmother and her mother for my other Godmother. (I have two Godparents, both female.) OK - so about a week after the Rite of Election, I told my RCIA leader about this and he said that he never heard of such a thing that a spouse could not be a Godparent to a catechumen. My priest spoke of the covenant that is shared between a husband and wife and then spoke of the covenant between a Godparent and the Baptised person and how a husband or wife cannot be the Godparent as well. I guess I am confused on this… which is accurate? Could my husband have been my Godparent? I am just curious. I cannot seem to find an answer.
Here’s the relevant section of Canon Law. It doesn’t address wives and husbands directly, but it specifically states that you may only have one Godfather, one Godmother, or one of each. So if you go through with the baptism as planned, I assume that only one of the women chosen will actually be your Godmother, even if both take part in the ceremony (which they shouldn’t do).
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.
I’m in RCIA and we were told by our priest that a spouse is acceptable for a sponsor/godparent.
In fact, because of the circumstances…I may actually use my Fiance as my sponsor because he is receiving all of his sacraments in one shot on the Easter Vigil while I have to wait until May 14th to be confirmed. Technically he will be a qualified and practicing Catholic before me. Oh well.
I’m planning on confirming my circumstances with my Priest this week.
Godparent. A spouse is your peer!
The 1917 Code of Canon Law specifically forbid marriage between a godparent and a godchild. The 1983 Code has no such rule and many a person has been sponsor for a spouse in the past 35 years.
It may not always be wise to have a spouse as an RCIA sponsor because there needs to be a certain objectivity in the role. In fact, in many parishes it’s specifically discouraged. But once it comes to the Rite of Election and the actual sacraments there is no reason a spouse cannot step into the role of baptismal sponsor.
If you have two sponsors, they must be of opposite sexes. You cannot have two “godmothers”.
The priest is incorrect regarding your husband being your sponsor, per the 1983 code of canon law (posted above).
Sit down with your RCIA sponsor (and a copy of the requirements for a sponsor) and pick who YOU want as sponsor.
BTW, the requirements for Confirmation sponsor and Baptismal sponsor are exactly the same.
the proper title is sponsor. Not godparent.
For a catechumen, there is a sponsor up until the Rite of Election. At the Rite of Election they either get someone new who becomes their godparent or the person who previously was the sponsor now becomes the godparent.
From the RCIA text:
- Before the rite of election godparents are chosen by the catechumens; the choice should be made with the consent of the priest, and the persons chosen should, as far as possible, be approved for their role by the local community (see RCIA no. 11). In the rite of election the godparents exercise their ministry publicly for the first time. They are called by name at the beginning of the rite to come forward with the catechumens (RCIA 130); they give testimony on behalf of the catechumens before the community (RCIA 131); they may also write their names along with the catechumens in the book of the elect (RCIA 132).
And for the OP, note the part about “the choice should be made with the consent of the priest.”
Hmm, I’ve never noticed that the term “godparent” is used in the Rite book. It is not a canonical term. It is not found in canon law.
A Godparent has a very particular cultural role, above and beyond that of a sponsor. A spouse could fulfill the minimum for a sacramental sponsor, and fulfill that role that quite well.
However, a spouse can’t fill special the role of “Godparent”. Its a largely symbolic role, but we shouldn’t dilute our cultural symbols that don’t harm the faith.
The laity use the term ‘godparent’, the Church uses the term “sponsor”. It’s the same thing. The role of the sponsor is defined by Canon Law and there is nothing ‘parental’ about it as it pertains to an adult.
As for the Rite, it uses the term ‘godparent’ to differentiate between the sponsor who accompanies the catechumen until the rite of election from the sponsor that accompanies him/her at the Rite of Election and onward (they can be one and the same). It’s easier to use the term ‘godparent’ since culturally that’s what people know. I checked Canon Law in various languages and only English seems to use another word for ‘sponsor’ in everyday parlance.
They are probably counting one of the “godmothers” as the sponsor and the other as a witness.