ASK FATHER: Is it okay to have an Armenian Apostolic member as godparent for a Catholic?

From a reader…

A friend who was baptized, confirmed and received Holy Communion as an infant in the Armenian Apostolic Church regularly assists and receives Holy Communion at Mass, in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite.

She has been asked to be the godmother for a Catholic baby, and a protestant friend is wanted as a “witness” in lieu of a godfather.

(This may be less than ideal. Nevertheless, she might be one of the only people in the parents’ life who goes to Mass regularly.)

Nevertheless, can one seek a dispensation, or is there some provision that would allow for such an arrangement?

This requires a dispensation.

According to the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism 98, a member of an Orthodox or Oriental Church may serve as a godparent, but only if there is a Catholic godparent of the opposite sex.  A dispensation from this norm should be sought.

As a friend, I would ask this Armenian Apostolic woman why, if she regularly assists at the Catholic Mass and receives Holy Communion (which she is able to do because of can. 844), does she not take the plunge and become an Armenian Catholic?

Perhaps she would be moved by an invitation.

Never underestimate the power of an invitation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ivan says:

    Nice remark about the invitation, Father. And it just so happens that today I watched a part of your appearance on EWTN’s The Journey Home Program.

  2. TWF says:

    As a general note, its important to remember a few things if this woman DID become Catholic:
    1) As a confirmed Armenian Apostolic Christian, she would simply be received into the Catholic Church by a simple confession of faith. Obviously her confirmation cannot be repeated.
    2) She would automatically be ascribed to the Armenian Catholic Church even if she was received by a Latin priest. She would be welcome to continue to assist at Roman Rite masses, but she would be bound by the obligations (holy days, fasting, etc) of the Armenian Church. I could be wrong, but I believe Rome would have to get directly involved if she wished to be canonically ascribed to the Latin Church. (It is much easier for a Latin to transfer to an Eastern Church than it is for an Eastern Catholic to transfer to the Latin Church).

  3. gheg says:

    Attitudes toward church membership tend to be a bit more relaxed among Eastern Christians. I have known of Eastern Orthodox who regularly attend Catholic churches and receive Holy Communion without formally converting. Sometime they will continue to go to their ancestral church for special occasions, but they raise their children as Catholics and more or less drift into membership in the Catholic Church.

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