Selecting God Parents

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Here's one I'm trying to deal with. I am a practicing Catholic, and my wife is currently in RCIA herself. We recently were blessed with the arrival of our first child, and of course want him baptized in the Catholic faith. However, out of all our friends and family, we are the only practicing Catholics. Knowing that a God parent must be a catholic of good standing who has participated in the sacraments, how do we select a God parent? We have two in mind that we have spoken with, and they have agreed to ensure the child is raised in the faith though they are not Catholics themselves.

In essence, we are faced with the delemma of either having people we do not know or trust standing as God parents for our child, or waiting for his baptism until some point later in life?

What is one to do in this situation?

-- Shaun Haley (SPH_91199@hotmail.com), April 30, 2003

Answers

Shaun,

Why not ask the person who will be sponsoring your wife when she is initiated into the Church to be Godparent to your son too?

God bless

-- Sara (sara_catholic_forum@yahoo.co.uk), April 30, 2003.


Sorry, I misspoke during my original question. Though my wife is signed up for the next cycle of RCIA, she has not yet begun the process and does not yet have a sponsor assigned. This is another issue unto itself. We have just recently moved, and all if this is taking place in a new parish, and though active, my wife and I have not met other parishoners we are comfortable with to serve as either god parent or sponor. Just a little problem we face being the only practicing Catholics in a circle of friends and family that are not Catholic.

-- Shaun Haley (SPH_91199@hotmail.com), April 30, 2003.

Shaun,

Here is an extract from an old posting on the forum regarding Godparents. Hopefully this will help you.

(From the Code of Canon Law, with some comments by John Gecik, one of the people who regularly contribute to this site)

Can. 872 In so far as possible, a person being baptised is to be assigned a sponsor. In the case of an adult baptism, the sponsor's role is to assist the person in christian initiation. In the case of an infant baptism, the role is together with the parents to present the child for baptism, and to help it to live a christian life befitting the baptised and faithfully to fulfil the duties inherent in baptism.

Can. 873 One sponsor, male or female, is sufficient; but there may be two, one of each sex. [This means that there cannot be two of the same sex, and there cannot be more than two sponsors. The only possibilities are (1) no sponsor, (2) one sponsor, or (3) one sponsor of each sex. JFG]

Can. 874 B'1 To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must: 1B0 be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it; 2B0 be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made; 3B0 be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken; 4B0 not labour under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared; 5B0 not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptised. B'2 A baptised person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a Catholic sponsor, but then simply as a witness to the baptism [not referred to as a sponsor/godparent JFG].

Shaun, If you would like to read the whole 'thread' on this, then go to the following URL:

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=0042uj

Hopefully this should help you.

-- Sara (sara_catholic_forum@yahoo.co.uk), April 30, 2003.


Shaun,

I was my fiancees sponsor while she went through the RCIA, so you could likewise be your wifes sponsor. Well, that at least takes care of her. I'm not sure how I would handle the child though.

Hmmm. Well, you could start a huge campaign to evangelize your family!-). Nah, don't sweat too much about it, Shaun. Pray about it, and watch. God will bless you for your efforts.

In Christ.

-- Jake Huether (jake_huether@yahoo.com), April 30, 2003.


Discuss the situation with your priest and the RCIA team and I'm sure they can help you. In our RCIA, it isn't uncommon for someone with an interest in the church to be paired with someone they might not be familiar with. If the RCIA team knows you and your interests, they usually have ideas of people who would make a good sponsor . . . for your wife. It usually works out quite well and during the course of the year, you'll probably strike up a very good and meaningful relationship, assuming of course that the person chosen is willing to attend class and the rites with you.

As for your child, follow it up with the Priest and those in your parish and I'm sure God will provide in a very special way. It is quite possible to have two sponsors, one from your family, who is not catholic and one from the church.

-- Leon (vol@weblink2000.net), April 30, 2003.



Good suggestions, Leon.
By the way, in the example in your last sentence, there would be one "sponsor" (the Catholic) and one "Christian witness" (the non-Catholic), as mentioned at the end of the Canon Law passage that Sara quoted above.
JFG

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), May 01, 2003.

Hi shaun,

I am not long married and we are also expecting our first child. I found your site by mistake because we are also starting to think about the possibility of God parents.

To me, its not important that someone i know goes to church twice a week, or even says all the right Godly things, or has even been involved in the church for the last 30 years. Its very important to myself and my wife that who ever we chose as a God father or God mother, is commited to Jesus from the heart!! Here is a true saying: Going to church or being involved in the church or following traditions, means absolutly nothing, if we are not living the Christian life by following Jesus everyday!!

I have never voted. The reason: I was just not encouraged as a child the importance of voting. I am 25 and its only in the last few months that i have begun to think about it. The truth is i never voted this year, and friends challenged me to vote as it was my right. I never voted because i didn't know enough about the parties. yes i will try to be better prepared for next time, but i dont feel guilty.

The point i'm trying to make: Sometimes we do things because everyone seems to do it, or it seems the right thing to do. I.e. getting the child baptised or if you are catholic making communion.

Shaun i am just challenging you, because we all look at things different. Why do you want your child to have God parents? Is it tradition or is it to have God fearing men and women whole heartedly commited to the well being of your children and whole heartedly commited to Jesus Christ?

It would be interested to hear your viw on these matters?

Thanx for taking the time to listen to me.

P.S

A few facts about myself: Age: 25. home town: Perth, Scotland. Married: 6 months. Occupation: Youth worker for Perth & District YMCA. Birth place: Glasgow, where i spent the first 18 years of my life.

-- John Mclean (john@ymcaperth.com), May 08, 2003.


Hello, John Mclean.
You are not a Catholic, are you?
Perhaps you don't realize that this discussion thread is part of a Catholic forum?
Shaun is a Catholic who knows his obligation to obey the Code of Canon Law, which states the following:
Canon 874
--- 1 To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:
------ 1 be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it; ------ 2 be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;
------ 3 be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;
------ 4 not labor under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;
------ 5 not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptized.

In other words, John M, Shaun cannot use the following advice of yours as a "rule" for selecting sponsors for his child:
"To me, its not important that someone i know goes to church twice a week, or even says all the right Godly things, or has even been involved in the church for the last 30 years. Its very important to myself and my wife that who ever we chose as a God father or God mother, is commited to Jesus from the heart!

God bless you.
John

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), May 08, 2003.


Dear John,

You state: "Here is a true saying: Going to church or being involved in the church or following traditions, means absolutely nothing, if we are not living the Christian life by following Jesus everyday!! "

I couldn't agree more!

Here is another true saying: "One who does not go to Church (Heb 10:45), get involved in the Church (1 Cor 12:28; Col 1:24; 1 Tim 3:15), and hold fast to the traditions we have received, whether by word of mouth or by written letter (1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thes 2:15) is not living the Christian life, and is not following Jesus every day!

-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), May 08, 2003.


Thanks for your response, and I do have to say that in a lot of ways I do agree with you. Being a christian for me does not necessarily entail going to church every week, etc. Howevever, as a Catholic, I am a firm believer in the community of the eucharist, and most of the tenets set forth by our Church. On this issue of godparents, I understand the Church's requirement that a child presented for baptism be sponsored by a practicing member of the church. Really it makes sense as the promise of a sponsor is to assist the parents in raising the child in conformance with the Church's theology and doctrine. Who else can really make that promise other than a practicing Catholic?

On the converse side, I also don't want to select a sponsor just because he/she conforms with some criteria established by the Church. I want my child's godparents to be involved in his upbrining, someone who is going to take an active interest in his development as a spiritual being. Just having some random sponsor assigned doesn't guarantee the above is going to happen. Of course, another problem is general family politics, etc. Because of Church doctrine, I can't select my brother and sister-in-law as sponsors, which could lead to hurt feelings, etc.

In any case, I think we have worked out a solution. A very close friend of mine has agreed to be my child's sponsor/godparent. She is a devout Catholic--actually she was my sponsor during confirmation, and we went through our conversion together late in our college life. With the permission of my pastor, my brother and sister-in-law will still be able to stand as witnesses, i.e., we'll be able to still call them "godparents" as that is not a formal designation by the church. So we'll have one true "sponsor" and two "godparents".

Anyway, thanks for your response, and I hoped mine helped you somewhat. I know that the formal teachings/rituals of the church can be a deterrent to those who would otherwise find comfort/solice within its community. However, for me the rituals/structures are a connection with the past and the foundations with what I believe to be the true Church of Christ: and in particular, the ritual of baptism is the historical method by which we Catholics receive the benefits of the holy spirit, and I will not deny my child that benefit simply because we've got a problem with selecting a sponsor.

Prayerfully yours,

Shaun

-- Shaun Haley (SPH_91199@hotmail.com), May 08, 2003.



Jmj
Hello, Shaun, and thanks for writing again.

You twice alluded to something that I found troubling. If you would like to discuss it further, please feel free. I think that it may be something very important to your spiritual welfare and that of the rest of your family, so I encourage you to talk through it with us or with your pastor. Here's what I mean -- quotations from you with my emphasis added ...

1. "I am a firm believer in the community of the eucharist, and most of the tenets set forth by our Church."

2. "I know that the formal teachings ... of the church can be a deterrent to those who would otherwise find comfort/solace within its community."

Shaun, Our Lord desires (I should say, requires) us to believe all "of the tenets set forth by our Church," rather than "some." Believing all that the Church teaches (because we know that the Holy Spirit will keep her from erring) can help us to have such great peace that a formal teaching of the Church would never "be a deterrent" to us, but in fact a "comfort/solace."

You are welcome to mention those "tenets"/"formal teachings" to which you have not yet given your assent or submission, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us that we must give. Maybe we (or your pastor) can help you over these "humps in the road." It would be for the good of your baby. [Congratulations, by the way!]

God bless you.
John

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), May 08, 2003.


John:

In order to alleviate your concerns as to my spiritual well-being, let me assure you that I believe you misunderstood my comments in the previous posting:

1.) Formal Teaching as a Deterrent: This comment was not related to myself, but to other individuals (such as the person I was responding to) that often disregard Church teachings as too authoritarian, anachronistic, etc. Particularly, I was thinking of my own mother, who was raised Catholic but no longer practices as she cannot reconcile herself with certain church doctrines (such as the no- contraception/no abortion stance).

2.) When I said I "believe" in "most" of the Church's teachings, that might have been true, but it does not necessarily have the effect on myself that you think it may. I sometimes look at Church doctrine from both an intellectual standpoint and a faith-based standpoint. While I may not be able to reconcile a particular point intellectually (i.e., believe), I, like you, have the faith that the Holy spirit is guiding the Church in the correct direction, and therefore adhere to all of the Church's teachings. Just because it comes down from Church authorities does not mean that I won't challenge it critically in my own thought process.

I hope this may alleviate any concerns you may have, which, by the way, are greatly appreciated.

Shaun

-- Shaun Haley (SPH_91199@hotmail.com), May 09, 2003.


Thank you very much, Shaun, for your gracious and illuminating reply.
John

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), May 09, 2003.

I find it odd, when it comes to practicing and enforcing cannon law

The church, which contains a hidden gay community protects themselves and do not hold themselves accountable to its law.

given the 100 gay priest and 100's of child molestation cases

-- my comment (justathought@yahoo.com), May 14, 2003.


"The Church" does not sin. The Church teaches the truth. But individual members of the Church are all sinners, which means each of them sometimes acts in opposition to the truth taught by the Church.

"The Church" defines canon law. The Church does not act either in opposition to, or in conformity with canon law. Individual members do, and some of them make bad decisions.

"The Church" does not hide sin within its ranks. But members of The Church, including high-ranking members, sometimes do, in direct violation of the truth The Church teaches.

The Church is now taking stronger steps to ensure that its members, particularly those in specific roles of public service, adhere to its teachings and policies, for the good of all.

-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), May 14, 2003.



The Members of the church are the church!!Church is not a building but a body, and unfortuanatly some church's (men and women -men who are teaching) don't walk in truth, and there for don't teach truth. I remeber a quote David Wilkerson, the New York minister responsible for starting teen challenge said only a matter of weeks ago, and it was "if we are not walking with God, the first thing we loose is our decernment" Jesus says, will the son of man find faith on the earth when he returns?? That should cause us to follow him with fear, not that we shouold live in fear.

No church is perfect, and please forgive me for sounding arrogant, because niether am I, but it's all about following Jesus. Nothing else matters, if our life is not right with him, then we have no hope. "we can do nothing without Jesus". Are you living for yourselves or are you living for Jesus Christ??

In terms of the Catholic church, I know some very good people who are catholics and I have some friends who are as well. Infact my father is a catholic. he's not practicing, but he was brought up as one. It has some admiral things that charachterise it, but it's empty.

The idolitry of Mary! The sin and hipocritcal life style that surrounds it. It's waterd down teaching. It's teaching, is all wrong.

Missed the boat. And how hard it is to convince those who are involved of their bilndness!! Jesus said "Some will say Lord Lord, and he will say i never knew you!"

Whats the point in teaching 99% truth? If it's not all truth then it's not truth. The catholic church, isn't even near 99%.

Have you ever noticed that it was the religious people Jesus was hated by? It was them that he could'nt get through to. The none religious embraced him.

This is not a dig at any one hear, i dont hate catholics, what ever a catholic is, i'm not interested inplaying word games, i'm just interested in tyhe truth!!

Aren't you guys sick of the rubbish? Aren't yoyu's fed up with the way you's are living?? If you don't know Jesus Christ you are lost. You won't find him in the catholic church, as he left there a long time ago, Why? Because he wont share his glory with any other idole. He wont be mixed with lies of purgatory and Mary worship.

Revelation, when he talks to the churchs, he says " i will spew you out of my mouth"

I am not the perfect Christian, i need to give Jesus my whole life. I am no better than any one else on the facxe of the earth, but i do beileive in God, Heven Hell.

John said repent and be baptised everyone of you.

Chrstian, follower of Christ!!!

Are you living for him?

Are you following him?

Are you picking up your cross and dying to self?

MAke your mind up you are or you are not, but don't mess about, don't play games, whats the point??????

-- John Mclean (john@ymcaperth.com), June 20, 2003.


Jmj
Hello, John M.

Where did you get your info about Catholics and Catholicism?
It is horrendously inaccurate. When you do learn the facts about our beliefs and practices, you will be embarrassed about having boldly lashed out at us and our Church with your silly mistakes.

Just one example of several that could be given ...
You wrote: "You won't find [Jesus Christ] in the catholic church, as he left there a long time ago ...".

Even without being trained by a reliable Catholic source, John M., you should have figured out how idiotic that statement is. Jesus would never "leave" the "Catholic Church," because he promised to be with her always, until the end of the world. It was the only Church that He founded. [By contrast, you belong to something founded by an error-prone man.] Not only has Jesus not "left" the Catholic Church, but he is in the Church in a manner par excellence -- in the Holy Eucharist -- his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity -- which Catholics receive and which you have never yet received (though your poor lost Dad has).

God bless you.
John

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), June 20, 2003.


Dear John,

"The Members of the church are the church!! Church is not a building but a body, and unfortuanatly some church's (men and women -men who are teaching) don't walk in truth, and therefore don't teach truth"

A: So far, so good - all of the above is certainly true and accurate.

"I remeber a quote David Wilkerson, the New York minister responsible for starting teen challenge said only a matter of weeks ago, and it was "if we are not walking with God, the first thing we loose is our decernment"

A: Protestantism is the most obvious example of this. When men leave the Church God has founded for them, and set up manmade churches of their own, they are noi longer walking with God. The result is such an overwhelming lack of discernment that ten of them can look at a single verse of scripture and build ten different theologies out of it, resulting in ten conflicting denominations.

"No church is perfect, and please forgive me for sounding arrogant, because niether am I, but it's all about following Jesus"

A: That's true. No church is perfect, because all churches are made up of imperfect human beings. However, the doctrine of Christ's own Church IS perfect, even though imperfect individuals may teach it and live it imperfectly. The doctrine of manmade churches however, is as imperfect as its members, since it is the product of its members. The human members of such chrches build doctrine out of theit own personal interpretations of scripture. The interpretations are as faulty as the interpreters, and the doctrine is therefore as faulty as the interpretations.

"It has some admiral things that charachterise it, but it's empty"

A: Oh how blind you are! Our Blessed Savior mourned for you when He said "you will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing but will not perceive"! In the Church Jesus founded is the fullness of truth, the fullness of grace, and the true presence of the risen Lord. In watered-down, simplistic denominational religion is partial truth (which part depends on which denomination), limited grace, and a mere shadow of God's presence. Jesus spoke so powerfully against the idea of denominations ..."For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires". How can you place your faith in a manmade tradition which is so obviously filled with untruth? You claim that the Catholic Church is filled with untruth. But the only "evidence" you offer is that the 2,000 year old unchanging doctrine of the Church conflicts with your mosern personal interpretations of the Bible. That is no evidence at all. I say your tradition is filled with untruth. As evidence, I offer the fact that every denomination conflicts doctrinally with every other denomination, and genuine truth cannot conflict with genuine truth. Think about it.

"The idolitry of Mary!"

A: There is no idolatry in the Catholic Church. Such a statement is founded in pure ignorance. Idolatry means the WORSHIP of someone or something other than the One True God. Catholics worship God alone, and Him alone do we serve.

"The sin and hipocritcal life style that surrounds it"

A: My gosh! You have found a church whose members are free of sin and hypocrisy?? Where is this church? Tell me quickly, so that I might keep far away from it. It cannot be the Church of Jesus Christ, for Jesus said that His Church would include both the just and the unjust, who would not be separated until the last day. "Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn." (Matthew 13:30)

"It's waterd down teaching. It's teaching, is all wrong"

A: Again, this makes no sense at all. It is ignorance of the facts. FACT: The teaching of the Catholic Church never changes. It has been pure and constant for 2,000 years, since the Apostles received it from Jesus Himself. FACT: The Catholic Church compiled the Bible, putting between its covers ONLY those writings which faithfully presented its own God-given teaching. FACT: The Protestant tradition has resulted in nothing but constant conflict, division, and doctrinal contradiction for 450 years, in direct violation of the words of Jesus Christ - "that they may all be ONE; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be ONE in Us" (John 17:21) The conflict in teaching among the thousands of manmade sects PROVES beyond any doubt that their teaching is WRONG. You are a member of a tradition where Baptists reject Lutheran teaching, Lutherans reject Methodist teaching, Methodists reject Pentecostal teaching, Pentecostals reject Presbyterian teaching, Presbyterians reject Congregationalist teaching, and on and on and on it goes - and from that foundation of sifting sand, you think you have the authority to question the teaching of the original Christian Church, the ROCK?

"Whats the point in teaching 99% truth? If it's not all truth then it's not truth. The catholic church, isn't even near 99%"

A: So tell me, which one of the 30,000 CONFLICTING manmade denominations and "independent churches" is the ONE which has 100% truth? Obviously not all of them. And since they ALL use exactly the same process to come up with their various versions of "Christian" teaching, there is no reason to think that ANY one of them has any more truth than any other. The Catholic Church on the other hand, has the direct promise of Jesus Christ - "when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into ALL TRUTH" (John 16:13). If the Catholic Church does not have the fullness of truth, either Jesus was a liar, or the Holy Spirit was a failure.

"Have you ever noticed that it was the religious people Jesus was hated by? It was them that he could'nt get through to. The none religious embraced him"

A: In fact, virtually everyone at the time was deeply religious - immersed in either Judaism or Paganism. Following Jesus didn't mean becoming irreligious. It meant turning from false religion and reliance on religious practices as the means of salvation, to the pure and undefiled religion Jesus was presenting - "pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father" (James 1:7). Religion is the physical methodology through which we give life to our beliefs. If you believe you should worship God, you have faith. If you actually worship Him, you have religion. And if you have faith, but do nothing with it, that is reject religious practice, then you have empty, unsaving faith, as the Bible tells us.

"If you don't know Jesus Christ you are lost. You won't find him in the catholic church, as he left there a long time ago"

A: Again, you accuse Our Blessed Lord and Savior of being a liar. He promised "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20) He made this promise to the Church - the Church that existed when He made the promise - not thousands of manmade churches that would be founded 1,500 to 2,000 years later.

"I am not the perfect Christian, i need to give Jesus my whole life. I am no better than any one else on the facxe of the earth, but i do beileive in God, Heven Hell"

A: Well that's encouraging. At least your own little fragment of Protestantism hasn't rejected those three elements of Catholic truth. Some denominations have rejected hell. But the Christian truths your little fragment has rejected are just as essential as the ones you mentioned, if you are to have the fullness of truth. That fullness awaits you in the one and only place Jesus placed it - in the Church He founded, which is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). Come and see.

-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 20, 2003.


Just read JM's post, and I'm touched. His Christian values are typical of so many fine, hard-working and humble Christians-- those non-Catholic Americans like Ronald Reagan, and many old-time giants of industry. You have to admire them.

He reflects an old-timers' honestly held prejudices against Catholics. The acquisition from father to son, mother to daughter, all of the 18th and 19th century Anglo- American protestant work ethic (yup.)

The pioneers had little time for long contemplations on the faith. Particularly of a Latin-and-Ritual kind. Either they took the Bible for a while in the evenings, for a homespun religious experience before going to bed. Had to be up with the chickens next day and work like crazy. Or, what little they really ''knew'' about Catholicism was a grass-roots protestant bias picked up from their Preacher Man. Not exactly impartial in Grandpa's day. Catholics were greasers or wops or pollocks. No self-respecting Bible Christian had truck with no man who wore skirts. This might be John M's version of the Catholic faith. His Bible's good enough; he's an American! Was I getting warm, John?

If John's now a thinking adult, and has some degree of true spirituality, he can grow out of that starved, hard-scrabble conviction. He could become a mystical soul; and love God as Catholics all love Him. Like the saints loved Him. Love Jesus truly, in the faith; as the apostles loved Him, enough to lay down their lives.

John M has never been close to loving Jesus as the Catholic Church teaches us to. The closest he's come is in the pages of the Bible. It's uplifting, yes. It's better than nothing. But if only you millions of non-Catholics could experience what love for Jesus can truly feel like! You would all rush back to His Holy Church.

-- eugene c. chavez (loschavez@pacbell.net), June 20, 2003.


to: eugene c. chavez Hi Eugene, You observed that Protestants do not know (or cannot, or will never know?) the depth of love possible for Jesus, as do the Catholics. Did I understand you correctly? If so, would you be so kind to explain this to me? Also, is this your viewpoint or is this an accepted belief of the Cathholic Church?

Thanks, S. Duval

-- Sandra Duval (sdllctemp@yahoo.com), April 04, 2004.


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