The role of godparent is an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church. Stemming from the earliest years of Christianity when Christians were persecuted, the godparent would stand up with an adult coming into Christianity and attest to the strength of their faith. This godparent would also participate in the active formation of the newly baptized Christian. As Christianity developed and grew over the centuries, so did the requirements of being a godparent. In today’s Church, the following requirements need to be met in order for a Catholic to be a godparent:
- Be at least 16 years old and have already received all of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)
- Be a faithful Catholic that attends weekly Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation
- Be living in full agreement with the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Catholic Church
- Cannot have been married outside the Church, or be cohabitating outside the Sacrament of Marriage, since these lifestyles are irregular
- Cannot be a parent of the one seeking baptism
It is important to remember that the role of a godparent is not simply an honorary title given in an empty ritual. There is a real responsibility that a godparent has to encourage the child or adult to grow in their faith in which they are baptized. For this reason, parents are encouraged to choose a person who is an exemplar of the Catholic faith, someone who will be actively involved in the newly Baptized life.
For the direct site to the Code of Canon Law about godparents, click here.