From a reader…
I have a baby due in a few weeks and it is, of course, my responsibility to baptize him promptly in the Catholic Church . I have attended the required class and paid the fee at my parish; however, I honestly have no one I can ask to serve as a Godparent. My friends and family live across the country and I hardly know anyone in my new area. I don’t want to delay baptism until I can travel home (several months after birth). My parish is holding firm to this “preference”. Must there be a Godparent? Thanks for your wisdom and guidance!
Canon 872 says that there should be a sponsor “insofar as possible” (quantum fieri potest). This means that a sponsor isn’t required for the validity of the sacrament. Nevertheless, it is important to have at least one. Can. 873 makes provision for two, but no more than that. It also says that if there are two, there must be one male and one female.
Anecdotally, it seems that, as families get smaller, as folks move more frequently, and as fewer people actually practice their faith, it is getting more difficult to find good godparents.
It could be useful for parishes to provide a roster of good, faithful, committed Catholic parishioners willing to serve as godparents for those, like our interlocutor, who are in a bind. Perhaps could be a good apostolate for some lay people to start up, a Confraternity St. John the Baptist for Baptismal and Confirmation Sponsors.
St. John the Baptist, by the way, is the patron saint of godparents, not St. Vito of Corleone. Although, there is potential in being able to run your finger down the roster of willing parishioners and saying “I’ll give you a Sponsor you can’t refuse.”