Sponsor at Baptism

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: A deacon was asked to be sponsor at Baptism. I wonder if he can do so if he is the minister of the baptism?

I heard two views on this, and so I ask for some clarity.

One answer said he CAN be a sponsor provided he is not the minister of the baptism.Another answer I heard said that when a deacon (or priest) is the officiant and the sponsor, he designates a proxy for the godparent during the rite of baptism.So…which is the “good answer?”

Moreover, another question…If someone is a catechumen, can he have one sponsor for baptism and another sponsor for confirmation – when the three sacraments of initiation are taking place “at the same time?”

I  believe a candidate (baptized non-catholic) can have one sponsor for their POF and another sponsor for their confirmation…but not sure about a catechumen.

Thank you and Blessings


A: Let me review the terms, which you are using correctly, but just for clarity: The RCIA distinguishes between a sponsor and a godparent, the sponsor active in the early stages of formation in the period of the catechumenate (10), and the godparent who steps in from the Rite of Election on (11). The Order of Confirmation and even the Rite of Reception of a Baptized Christian into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church both speak of “sponsors” not of “godparents” because that latter term is associated with the act of baptism. The common English translations of the Code of Canon Law, however, use “sponsor” whey they mean the person that the liturgical books identify as a “godparent” – the Latin word can swing both ways.

I know of no regulations pertaining to the question of a deacon being a sponsor at baptism. The canonical requirements for sponsorship, however, do not exclude a deacon or the minister of baptism (874 §1). So I’m, presuming it is possible. If he is the only godparent, then perhaps it does make sense for a proxy to step in so that he doesn’t answer his own question at the beginning of the rite. But again, I don’t know of any rules.
Regarding separate persons for baptismal godparent and confirmation sponsor, again I don’t see anything explicit, except that RCIA 11 speaks about the godparents who accompany the catechumen through the rites of election and beyond. For what it’s worth, in Latin, this same paragraph speaks of “the godparent” in the singular, not in the plural. So it reads, “A godparent … accompanies the candidate [meaning the catechumen]… at the celebration of the Sacraments.” To me, the RCIA envisions that it’s the same godparent for both ceremonies. Even in the case of the baptism of an infant, the Order of Confirmation says it is desirable for the baptismal godparent to serve again as the confirmation sponsor (5).

Your question about using two different people is, “Can it be done?” I guess someone could argue yes, but my question is, “Is this a good idea?” And I would answer no. We expect a lot of the godparent/sponsor.

In a similar way, for the Rite of Reception of a baptized candidate, RCIA 483 and 494 speak of a sponsor. In the first instance, one or even two sponsors for the rite of reception, and then the sponsor’s role at confirmation. I really think the intent of the liturgy is that the confirmation sponsor in 494 is the same sponsor in 483. Could it be a different sponsor? Goodness, I guess. But is this a good idea? Really, no. The sponsor is taking on a serious, personal role of guiding this person in the ways of the faith long after the ceremony concludes.