Baptism Sponsors in the 1983 Code

Author: EWTN

Sponsors in the 1983 Code of Canon Law

A baptismal sponsor, often called a godparent, assists the baptized in living the Christian life.

Canon 872.  Insofar as possible one to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who is to assist an adult in Christian initiation, or, together with the parents, to present an infant at the baptism, and who will help the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it.

The sponsor may be a male, a female, or there may be one male and one female.

Canon 873.  Only one male or one female sponsor or one of each sex is to be employed.

The Sponsor designated by a child's parents, lawful guardian, the adult baptized, or in their absence by the pastor, must be: 

• baptized and confirmed Catholic who has been admitted to the Eucharist

• 16 years of age and living a life in harmony with the faith and the role of sponsor

• not bound by an imposed or declared penalty

• not the mother or father of the one to be baptized

• not a member of a non-Catholic ecclesial community

Canon 874, 1. To be admitted to the role of sponsor, a person must: (1) be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the one who takes their place or, in their absence, by the pastor (parochus) or minister and is to have the qualifications and intention of performing this role; (2) have completed the sixteenth year, unless (nisi) a different age has been established by the diocesan bishop or it seems to the pastor (parochus) or minister that an exception is to be made for a just cause; (3) be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken; (4) not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared; (5) not be the father or the mother of the one to be baptized. 

A baptized non-Catholic, while they cannot be a sponsor, may serve as a witness alongside a Catholic sponsor.

Canon 874, 2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may not be admitted except (nonnisi) as a witness to baptism and together with a Catholic sponsor.

The parents and sponsors must be properly instructed as to the meaning and obligations of their offices.

Canon 851, (2). the parents of an infant who is to be baptized and likewise those who are to undertake the office (munus) of sponsor are to be properly instructed in the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations which are attached to it; personally or through others the pastor (parochus) is to see to it that the parents are properly formed by pastoral directions and by common prayer, gathering several families together and where possible visiting them.

The name given to the baptized should not be foreign to a Christian mentality. 

Canon 855. Parents, sponsors and the pastor (parochus) are to see that a name foreign to a Christian mentality is not given. 

The requirements for Confirmation sponsors are the same as for Baptism (see above). 

Canon 893, 1. To perform the role of sponsor, it is necessary that a person fulfill the conditions mentioned in can. 874. 

It is desirable, though not obligatory, that Confirmation Sponsors be the same as for Baptism. 

Canon 893, 2. It is desirable that the one who undertook the role of sponsor at baptism be sponsor for confirmation. 


Source: Code of Canon Law (1983), Holy See, tr. Canon Law Society of America.