From a reader…
I’m from Indonesia. So glad to read your postings.. all of them
really strengthen my Catholic faith…
My question regarding: can parents (which is my wife and me) change our daughter (now almost 2 years old)’s Godmother? The response of this question actually can be found around internet, for example by Deacon Greg Kandra and by Father Christopher House, S.T.L., J.C.L., from Diocese of Springfield.
But I want to ask how if we replace with my other best friend which I know very well has a good faith life, also a catechist and also attended in the ceremony?
My daughter was baptized almost 2 years ago on 9 Nov 2019. We chose my wife’s best friend as a Godmother. But as the time goes, her life doesn’t show as a good standing Catholic. I especially, as father, worry if this will have any effect to my daughter’s spiritual life, since according to one answers in the internet, godparents “ were the historical witnesses to the baptism and entered into a permanent spiritual relationship with the baptized.”
Is this true Father? There is a permanent spiritual relation?
That’s my concern about my daughter’s faith.
Firstly, I’m glad this blog is of help. It’s nice to know that I can reach from my desk to yours across the world.
Secondly, Rev. Mr. Kandra and Fr. House are reliable. You don’t have strong occasion to doubt them. Of course their answer was “No”, you cannot change your children’s godparents.
So, the short answer is: “No.”
Then, you ask, “But….”
The longer answer comes next: “Noooooooooo.”
The Code of Canon Law can. 872 says:
“In so far as possible, a person being baptized 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 live a Christian life befitting the baptized and faithfully to fulfill the duties inherent in baptism.”
“Assist the person in Christian initiation…” When does that end? In a sense, after a short period of catechism, etc. In reality, it doesn’t end until we draw our last breath.
“Help it live a Christian life…” So long as life goes on, this relationship and the obligation endures.
It is alarming how many parents ask friends to be godparents even though those friends don’t show any evidence of practicing their faith. It’s a kind of reward or a token of affection. They really should consider the spiritual good of the child, not the fleeing moment of bonomie.
The role of godparents or sponsors is manifold.
Initially, they are the official witnesses to the baptism. Their names are entered into the parish register. This record cannot be changed. The baptism is a matter of record.
Also, there is the spiritual relationship. During the rite of baptism, the godparents speak in the person of an infant who cannot speak for himself. They answer the questions put to the infant during the rite.
Godparents enter into an important spiritual relationship with the newly baptized. They are to help in the spiritual development of the new Christian, whether the newly baptized is a child or an adult.
If you choose wrongly, not having considered the longer term, or if the people you chose swerve into a life that doesn’t jive with their spiritual role, both you as parents and even the godchild or god children have an obligation to help those errant sponsors, godparents, straighten things out.
The relationship is not one way.
If it becomes clear to parents that the godparents they chose for children aren’t working out in the Christian role for which they are to fulfill, it is a good idea to find others to help pick up the slack. However, the fact of being godparents cannot be changed.
So, a couple questions for the sake of those who are reading this.
Do you know the date of your baptism? After all, that’s a pretty important day. Coming into the light of this world as a little heathen dominated by the “Prince of this world” is one thing and being baptized into the mystical Person of Christ, becoming a member of the Church, risen from sin and made a child of God is another.
Do you know who your godparents are or were? If they, one or both, are alive, what’s up with them? Have you had a relationship with them? Is it too late? Are you concerned for their souls?