I have a two part question. Basically, my cousin has asked a friend to be the Godmother of her baby. The friend she has selected was raised Catholic, but, as far as I can tell, rejects church teachings. I believe that she is the kind of person who has a sort of “spiritual but not religious” belief system. This is very troubling to me, and I honestly feel hurt. I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but we are family, and I thought we were close. I am a practicing catholic. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it if she had chosen another family member, who is also catholic. But I find it hurtful that it the place of selecting her own family or a particularly devout friend, she has chosen a person whom I certainly would not trust to take on a role of spiritual leadership with any child. I feel like I have been relegated to a less important status in her life. I’m just sort of disgusted about the whole thing. I guess my question is, should I say something to her, and am I wrong for taking it personally when really it is not about me?
Would you say something to a relative who has selected a person who rejects the church's teachings as a Godmother?
If you say something, the message that will probably come across is “you should have chosen me instead” and it will be all about you.
It doesn’t sound like the potential godmother is the best choice. Unfortunately, it seems to be common that godparents are chosen more as a social honor than as a serious choice of people who are role models of what it means to be Catholic.
But you might consider this. Since you are a family member you will be around this child anyway. You can show her what it means to be Catholic and what it means to take your faith seriously. There’s nothing to prevent you from talking with the child, giving Catholic gifts, taking her to Mass, taking an interest in her religious formation and education, etc. In other words, you can act like a godmother even if you don’t have the title.
I found this website to add to the discussions.
Godparent Selection FAQ
What are the roles of godparents?
Catholic godparents serve two important functions:
They represent the larger Catholic Church community. They, along with the priest and the parents, welcome the child to the community and signify that welcome by marking the child with the sign of the cross. As community, they are obliged to protect this newest member, guiding, advising, and nurturing the child as he or she progresses in the understanding of faith.
They pledge to continually support the parents so that they can successfully train the child in the practice of the Catholic faith. They pledge an allegiance to the parents to bolster them in times of discouragement and to celebrate with them in times of joy. Godparents need to be actively involved in the Catholic tradition because they serve as models and guides to the child and the parents.
Who can be a godparent?
According to the Canon Law #874, godparents must:
1· have received the three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation)
2· they must be at least 16 years old
3· they must live a life in harmony with the faith (they should be registered in a parish and be attending Mass every week with regular reception of the Eucharist)
4· they must fully understand what they are undertaking
The Canon also lists two restrictions:
- There is to be only one male or one female or one of each. This means that you may have either ONE Godmother or ONE Godfather OR you may choose to have both a Godmother and a Godfather but not two of the same sex.
- They cannot be the father or the mother of the one being Baptized.
If you have someone in mind that is Catholic but does not meet the above requirements they would be unable to be a Godparent for your child.
What is a Christian Witness?
Technically, a non-Catholic may not serve as “godparent.” However, a baptized non-Catholic Christian may serve as a “Christian Witness” to the baptism along with a Catholic godparent.
The canon is brief but specific when it comes to the Christian Witness:
1· This is someone who is a NON-Catholic Christian
2· They must be at least 16 years old
3· They must have been baptized and live a life in harmony with the faith. (#874) It is clear that a person who has not been initiated as a Christian cannot appropriately fulfill such responsibilities as testifying to the community and undertaking the role of assisting in Catholic upbringing. They must have a ‘convinced faith in Christ’
4· They must fully understand what they are undertaking
If any these requirements for Catholic Godparents or Christian Witnesses present a problem, please contact the parish office at 888-2770 to discuss the matter.
God bless you on your journey toward Baptism for your child!
Thanks for the advise. You're right. It would be much better to not say anything and simply try to serve as a Catholic role model. It's important to focus on the big picture and put my personal feelings of hurt aside. Thanks once again.
The same thing happened to me. My wife asked several of her cousins who were lapsed Catholics to be Godparents.
However, I dealt with this by asking a faithful Catholic also to be Godparent. However, if you suggest she have another Godparent you shouldn’t seem jealous. You could always suggest she ask another specific person besides yourself who is a faithful Catholic.