Q: Thank you Paul for your helpful comments, yet again. A couple of questions please:
- There is a growing tendency I suspect for families to ask for more than two godparents and one sponsor to be present for baptism/confirmation. Kindly confirm the number of godparents/sponsors permitted with references to church documents.
- I sense there may be a growing tendency for ‘cultural Catholics’ to want family members/friends to be given a place of honour during the conferral of sacraments, even if the people chosen for these roles are not practicing Catholics or Catholics at all. Help please with the valid and pastoral solution. This matter is somewhat controversial in the parish at present.
I wish you every blessing Paul and your parish for Holy Week. Thank you for the wonderful ministry you extend to the world.
Prayerful best wishes
A: I cite the pertinent legislation in the newly revised edition of my book, Your Child’s Baptism.
- Canon 873 allows only one godfather and one godmother.
- Canon 874 §2 allows one of them to be replaced with a non-Catholic Christian witness.
Although the rite of confirmation refers to a sponsor, you could probably argue in favor of two being permitted because of canon 873.
If I receive a request for more than two godparents, I’ll explain the rules. If it seems to present a pastoral problem, I may allow more than two people to stand up with the family during the ceremony and answer the godparent questions, but I explain to the parents that the baptismal record in the church office has to maintain the names of no more than two godparents, and that the certificate, which is a canonical document, will reflect only those names.
A blessed Holy Week to you and thanks for your kind words about my work.