From a reader…
I am an American living in Europe, and I was baptized and confirmed by a priest (not the bishop) in the Roman Catholic Church at Easter in 2009 (at the age of 35) in the Czech Republic. In the months leading up to the baptism, I went through the various rites of preparation as a catechumen. I asked a man in our parish to be my godfather, and he agreed. But during the time of preparation he moved away to another continent on business, about four months before the baptism. He was not able to return in the meantime, so his wife stood in for him during the various rites and at the baptism itself. My cousin is my godmother (and was present for the baptism), and therefore the man’s wife cannot be my godmother. I think that the wife may have written the man’s name into the church’s baptism registry and signed for him.
I have read conflicting information about whether a sponsor must be physically present for the baptism, and therefore I am not certain if I really have a godfather. What do you think?
The current Code of Canon Law is silent on the topic of godparents serving by proxy, though it does provide norms for marriage by proxy (can. 1105).
The prevailing opinion is that, since proxies for godparents have a longstanding tradition, and the current law, while not speaking of proxies does not forbid them, the practice remains a licit practice. The only requirement for a proxy is that said proxy clearly represent the intention of the person for whom he or she is representing.
Therefore yes, you have a godfather, the man from your parish who agreed to serve in that capacity.
There may be some who disagree, and who point to the silence of the Code on the matter as somehow invalidating that practice. To them should be pointed out the complete and absolute silence of the Code on the subject of the necessity of gin in a true martini.