Question: My best friend is Lutheran and is a good Christian. I would like her to be my child’s sponsor, but I’m wondering, does she have to be a practicing Catholic?
Answer: The practice of two godparents for an infant’s baptism goes back to the time when church law and civil law were one and the same in Europe. If anything did happen to the parents, the custody and well-being of the child became the responsibility of the godparents. Adult baptism required that one have a sponsor from the church who would act as a guide or mentor, in bringing the person to faith.
Today, being a godparent has no legal implications. It is a spiritual matter. But at least one of the godparents must be a practicing Catholic. The other is called a Christian witness. This distinction recognizes the difference between faith and religion. A Christian can be a witness because of their relationship to God (faith), but the Catholic is a mentor in the practice of the religion.
In any event, it is vital that parents give serious consideration to the people they choose to be a child’s godparents. That choice should be based on practice of faith, solid moral character, and ability to give good example. Too often the choice is left to whose turn it is in the family, or to friends that parents wish to honor or acknowledge in some way. Your choice of godparents is the first lesson of faith you teach your child. Make it count!
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