When did we start the practice of having godparents? Are they required? Why?


When did we start the practice of having godparents? Are they required? Why? I feel they’re unnecessary for the child’s own parents can bring him up in the faith.


I don’t know when this was started, but I still see it as beneficial. Godparents can help a child if something happens to the parents. Also, they add a demention (sp?) that would add to the child’s faith formation.


I know that having sponsors was so that people could know the candidate was not a Roman spy since they were sponsored by an current Catholic. Though that doesn’t quite explain godparents as if a baby is being baptised it can’t be a spy, so not sure whether it grew out of the practice of sponsors or whether it was a separate development


Sponsors are persons other than the catechumen who can vouch for that person’s character and readiness for baptism. A sponsor also is a resource for the catechumen to answer questions and as a witness regarding how to conduct oneself as a Catholic.

In the case of infants, the sponsor vouches for the parents’ character and readiness to undertake the responsibility of raising the child in the faith as well as assisting them in doing so and being an example of the practice of the Faith to the child.

Sponsors have been a requirement since the first century.

Yes, a sponsor is required. As to why, see above.

You do not properly understand the role of a sponsor if you believe them to be unnecessary. And, in the final analysis, it is not your call. The Church deems them necessary.


Interestingly enough, the tradition of God parents actually began as a result of persecutions.

In the early centuries of the Church, worship and membership was often in secret because of serious Roman and Jewish persecution. In some cases, pagans would pretend to convert for the purpose of spying, getting names and then having the people arrested.

To combat this, what we now call the RCIA began. Catechumans would be observed and evaluated by a very few number of individuals. Their contact with other members was very limited and, the sponsor, or God parent was there not just to teach, but to ensure this person was truly converting and was not a spy. If the person did turn out to be a spy, it was usually only the God parent that was revealed to authorities.

So in the early days of the Church, when the persecutions were at their worst, being a God parent was very dangerous.


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