From a reader:
A childhood friend of mine formerly a catholic “converted” to an Eastern Orthodox Church to get married. Now they are expecting their first child and have asked me to stand as sponsor for their child in their Eastern Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Antioch). I am firmly committed to my catholic faith and will never deny it. I wonder if it is permitted for me as a catholic to be the baby´s sponsor in the Eastern Orthodox Church?
I personally think is possible by virtue of what number 98 of The directory for the application of principles and norms on ecumenism of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity says:
“A Catholic is not forbidden to stand as godparent in an Eastern Orthodox Church, if he she is so invited.”
I am very sad and worried because I am a really close friend of him and he greatly appreciates me, at the moment I told him I was not sure if this was possible we both reacted very sadly.
Life is replete with choices we must make that make other people who have done something wrong feel sad.
While it is possible, as you indicate, a Catholic can stand as a godparent, your friend is a schismatic (cf. can. 751).
Under ordinary circumstances, there would be no problem for you, a Catholic, to serving as a sponsor at an Eastern Orthodox baptism.
In this case, since one of the parents is a Catholics in a state of schism, sponsoring their child’s baptism into the Orthodox Church would be tantamount to condoning the act of schism.
I suggest that you politely decline the honor they have offered. Perhaps you could find a legitimate activity* as an excuse. Try something like
“Sorry, friend, but we’ve already volunteered to help the priest at our parish rebuild the altar rail that day!”
“Too bad, we are taking Sr. Trixie for a wimple-fitting. She decided to try Catholicism for a change.”
“I think that, for our sins, we are supposed to take the altar boys Chuck-E-Cheese.”
Otherwise, to split the baby as it were, you could still attend the baptism. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Would refusing to attend shut the door at a possible future reconciliation of the Catholic parent with the Catholic Church? Would attending send a signal to your friend and his family that you tacitly approve the schism?
Whether you attend or not, send a gift. A good idea might be a medal or icon of the child’s baptismal patron (blessed by a Catholic priest after you buy it).
In the meantime, pray for the currently cuddly little heathen, soon to be a cuddly little Christian… and their schismatic parents.
And pray for an end to our sad separation.
* Because some less than close-reading readers assumed that I recommended lying to get out of the baptism – I did NOT – I want to make a clarification. I wrote “find a legitimate activity as an excuse”. A legitimate activity. Not some fiction or other. Find something else that is legitimate to do at that time.