“Ask a Priest: What If the Parish Won’t Allow My Brother to Be a Godparent?”

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Q: I would like to baptize my twins and have asked my brother to be a godparent. He has been baptized, received his first Communion and was confirmed. My church will not give him a sponsor letter until he “uses the envelopes” for at least three months. I am absolutely heartbroken. To me it sounds like my church only wants money. My mother taught CCD there. My whole family has been a member of the parish for over 30 years. I have spent enough time crying in order to get my precious angels into this world. And now I have to deal with this. What else can I do? – K.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good that you want to see your children baptized. It would be one of the greatest gifts they can receive.

The Church cares a lot about the moral formation of your children in the faith. Ideally, godparents (or sponsors, their technical title) are Catholics who are living the faith fully. They don’t need to be saints, but they do need to be practicing the faith. This includes regular attendance at Mass.

My guess is that the parish can only gauge whether a person is attending Mass regularly by whether they seem to be donating on a regular basis. It is a precept of the Church that we should materially support the works of the Church; this, too, can be a sign that someone is practicing the faith.

So, this isn’t a money issue as much as an attempt by the parish to discern that someone chosen as a sponsor will be able to give the witness that is needed to help the children grow in their faith.

It would be good to speak with your pastor and explain the situation. Even if the parish doesn’t bend its rule in this case, that wouldn’t be a reason to delay the baptism of your children.

That would be the priority to focus on, even if in the end you need to find another sponsor.

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