I was looking through Catholic baptismal records, while doing genealogy, when I realized that I didn't know what the purpose of godparents is. What is their purpose? Why are they recorded? Are the godparents held accountable for anything?
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A good explanatation is given in "The Role of Godparents" by Fr. William Saunders
As per Code of Canon Law 872 - 874 the rules are as below:
So the primary purpose is to take care of the Catholic faith formation, and it does not hold them accountable to taking care of the child in the future.
In times of old, it was not uncommon for the parents of a child to die, leaving no relatives behind. In such a case, who would get the child? Perhaps the church, if parents where part of it, or the child would be on its own. Thus, I think god parenting came out of need for the child. It is called compassion.