In most cases, you must be a confirmed Catholic in order to be a godparent for a Catholic baptism. The Catholic Church has specific requirements for godparents that include being a fully initiated member of the Catholic faith. This generally means you must have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion. However, there can be exceptions in certain situations if you meet the other requirements to be a godparent. Discuss your particular situation with your parish priest.
What is a Godparent
A godparent, also known as a sponsor, is an important role in the Catholic faith. When an infant or child is baptized into the Church, the godparent makes a commitment to be involved in the spiritual development of the child. They promise to encourage and support the child in growing in the Catholic faith.
Being a godparent is an honor and a responsibility. Godparents represent the wider Church community and make a commitment to pray for their godchild, set an example of Catholic living, and make sure the child is educated in the faith. This lifelong commitment is made during the baptism ceremony.
Role of Godparents
Godparents have several spiritual duties:
- Present the child for baptism and read the profession of faith
- Accept the responsibility to help the parents raise the child in the Catholic faith
- Set an example of faith for the godchild through their own lived faith and virtues
- Make sure the child is educated in the Catholic faith and receives the other sacraments
- Pray for their godchild and keep a spiritual bond as the godchild grows
- Encourage the godchild in their practice of the faith
So godparents do not just have a role on the day of baptism – they make a lifelong commitment to the spiritual life of their godchild.
Parents choose the godparents for their child. This is an important decision because godparents become part of the child’s spiritual family. Godparents should be faithful Catholics who will be good role models and be involved in the child’s life.
Ideal qualities for godparents include:
- Active in their Catholic faith and parish
- Attend Mass regularly and have a prayer life
- Have received the sacraments, including Confirmation
- Live according to Church teaching in their lifestyle and values
- Have an established relationship with the family
- Be committed to the spiritual development of the child
Parents may choose relatives, such as grandparents, or close friends to fulfill this role. It is common to choose a godfather and godmother.
Requirements to be a Godparent
The Catholic Church has some minimum requirements for someone to serve as a godparent. These requirements ensure the person is prepared for the responsibility of helping raise a child in the faith.
The godparent must be:
- At least 16 years old
- A fully initiated Catholic who has received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion
- Leading a life of faith befitting the role – attending Mass regularly, confessed any mortal sins, in good standing with the Church
- Not bound by any Church penalty or censure
These requirements show the Church sees godparents as needing mature faith, practice of the faith, and good spiritual standing to carry out their duties.
Because Confirmation completes the process of initiation into the Church, most parishes require godparents to have received this sacrament.
Confirmation strengthens faith and gifts of the Holy Spirit to live out the faith. So it is considered important preparation for the godparent role.
Some dioceses may be more lenient if the person is otherwise qualified. But in general, Confirmation is expected.
The Church allows for one Christian witness who is not Catholic to serve as a godparent, as long as there is one Catholic godparent. They must be an active, baptized member of their Christian denomination.
Non-Catholic godparents must meet the other requirements – be at least 16, have permission from their church, and lead a Christian life. They do not take on the full spiritual responsibilities of a Catholic godparent.
Being a Godparent Without Confirmation
Can you still be a godparent without receiving the sacrament of Confirmation? Here are some considerations:
- Confirmation is nearly universally required, though some parishes allow exceptions
- If you were baptized Catholic but did not complete Confirmation, you may need to receive it before becoming a godparent
- If over 18, participate in Confirmation preparation at your parish to receive the sacrament
- If under 18, see if you can receive Confirmation before the baptism
- Without Confirmation, you cannot fulfill the role of Catholic godparent, only Christian witness
- Speak to the parish priest about your situation to see if an exception is possible
While uncommon, there are some cases where an exception might be made:
- You are under 18 but fulfill all other requirements, making a sincere effort to receive Confirmation
- You were baptized Catholic and well-catechized but missed Confirmation due to unusual circumstances
- You are the candidate’s grandparent or relative and demonstrate all other qualifications
If you desire to be a godparent but have not been confirmed, have a frank discussion with your parish priest. Share why Confirmation was missed and your willingness to receive it. If it is your own child’s baptism, this adds more reason they may make an exception. But in general, Confirmation is required to be a godparent.
Options if Confirmation is Not Possible
If you cannot receive Confirmation in time, there are some other options:
- Serve as an official Christian witness instead of godparent
- Participate in the ceremony, but have someone else fill the official role
- Consider yourself a mentor and support the child’s faith without the title
While you may not meet the requirements for godparent, you can still be involved in the child’s life and faith. Talk to the parents about how you can participate in other meaningful ways.
Responsibilities Without Confirmation
If allowed to be a godparent without Confirmation, you take on the full duties of the role. These include:
- Presenting the child for baptism
- Making the profession of faith on behalf of the child
- Accepting responsibility to help raise the child Catholic
- Guiding the child spiritually through ongoing involvement
- Setting an example of Catholic faith
- Making sure the child receives the other sacraments
- Praying for the spiritual well-being of your godchild
You commit to helping the parents raise the child in the practice of the Catholic faith. While it is preferred you are confirmed, if an exception is made, you fully assume these spiritual obligations. Make an effort to learn more about Catholic teaching and spend time with your godchild discussing faith.
In summary, Confirmation is a requirement to be a godparent in the Catholic Church since it makes you a full member of the faith. Ideally a godparent is a confirmed Catholic who can take on the responsibility of guiding a child’s spiritual development. However, exceptions are sometimes made for specific situations if you meet the other requirements. Talk to your parish priest if you hope to be a godparent without confirmation to see if an exception is possible. Make every effort to receive Confirmation and commit to fulfilling the duties of this important role in the child’s life.