“Ask a Priest: Could My Gay Sister Be a Godmother?”

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Q: We are in the process of discerning a godmother for my daughter. I would love to have my sister be godmother, but she is living in a same-sex relationship with her girlfriend who is divorced. I would love any advice you might have regarding the Catholic Church’s views. – S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: A godparent is someone who helps a child grow in the faith, especially by example.

If your sister is in a same-sex relationship, she is living in a situation that is objectively and blatantly against Church teaching. As such, she would not be allowed to be a godparent (or sponsor).

Canon law (that is, Church law) in No. 874 §1 says: “To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must: […]  3. be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on …”

Notice that phrase “leads a life of faith.” This doesn’t imply that a person has to be a saint. But it does mean that a person should be making an honest effort to live the demands of the Gospel and the precepts of the Church.

Being a godparent might not have the same urgency that it had in the past, when lifespans were shorter and families tended to live closer together. But nor is it a mere social custom. It implies a serious responsibility to step in and help a child grow in the faith, especially if something happens to the parents.

A person who is openly living a life in contradiction to Church teaching on sexuality and marriage would do well to excuse herself from consideration to be a sponsor at a baptism.

In the meantime, it might be good to pray for your sister’s conversion. And look for another godparent.

This might be a good moment to go deeper in the faith yourself. The Church’s teaching on sexuality is based on God’s plan for marriage. That is among the teachings you will need to impart to your daughter as she grows in the faith. You might want to start looking into the theology of the body.

With God’s grace, your sister will have changed her ways before your daughter is old enough to sense her aunt’s unusual relationship.

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  1. I found Fr.’s answer to be sincere and loving from his perspective. The questioner asked about a person being a role model in relation to a particular faith and he answered truthfully with an explanation. He then went beyond to offer loving advice.
    He did not counsel shunning or another negative action against the person. Just as a Muslim might say he will pray for my conversion to his faith so that my lifestyle would change to one he believes is more likely to be for my long-term benefit, so too did Fr. do that here. And a Muslim would naturally prefer my lifestyle be more in line with his before his children were old enough to be aware of the bigger differences. I would not be offended by the Muslim’s act, though I would likely pray for his conversion instead.
    If we all prayed more for one another and expressed that we were doing so, perhaps God would more quickly bring more people into a unity of understanding that is His Truth.

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