“Ask a Priest: May I Stand as a Godparent at a Protestant Baptism?”

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Q: My Lutheran brother is getting their son baptized in that denomination, and has asked my wife and I to be the child’s godparents. My wife and I are Catholic. Is this OK in the eyes of the Church? – B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: The short answer is: You could be a witness at the baptism, but not a godparent.

A godparent should be a model of the faith for the one being baptized.

That means the godparents for your nephew should be models of someone living the Lutheran faith. Catholics, of course, wouldn’t fit that description.

The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism says:

“98. It is the Catholic understanding that godparents, in a liturgical and canonical sense, should themselves be members of the Church or ecclesial community in which the baptism is being celebrated. They do not merely undertake a responsibility for the Christian education of the person being baptized (or confirmed) as a relation or friend; they are also there as representatives of a community of faith, standing as guarantees of the candidate’s faith and desire for ecclesial communion.

“a) However, based on the common baptism and because of ties of blood or friendship, a baptized person who belongs to another ecclesial community may be admitted as a witness to the baptism, but only together with a Catholic godparent. A Catholic may do the same for a person being baptized in another ecclesial community.”

Notice that the standard applies in reverse: Your Lutheran brother could be a witness, but not a godparent, at the baptism of one of your children.

By being witnesses to the baptism of your nephew, you and your wife could signal your love for your brother’s family.

By keeping open the lines of communication with them and praying for them, you might someday help to bring them into the Catholic Church.

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One Comment
  1. Yes, being a Godparent is to assist the young child in learning how to live the ‘faith in practice’ (the religion obligations aka Acts Of Faith of a specific ecclesial (church) community. And why.

    While the basics of Lutheran liturgical faith practices and Catholic liturgical faith practices are very similar, there are definite differences. As Father said, focus on the similarities and allow your brother and wife to raise up your nephew as they understand. (LIVE THE LOVE OF GOD in you, which is to ensure nephew lives that Baptismal grace of being part of Christ’s heavenly body) Pray for the family and let God take it from there.

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