Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

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:

Can.872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.

Can.873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.

Can.874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

  1. Be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

  2. Have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

  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;

  4. Not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

  5. Not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

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.

share|improve this answer
add comment

By becoming a godparent you promise to raise these children if the natural parents are unable to do so because of death or incapacitating illness, or if the parents abandon the children.

share|improve this answer
2  
Good answer, but can you add a reference? –  El'endia Starman May 15 '12 at 3:53
    
I have noticed that the godfather and godmother are usually not married. So who gets selected as the caretaker? Do they share responsibility? Who makes the choice? The church, or do they settle it themselves? –  JustinY May 15 '12 at 3:57
    
I don't believe this answer is correct. Catholic godparents do not make that promise, Catholic canon law doesn't require that commitment, and it's not universal in statute law either (other family members would come first). A reference for this is required. –  Andrew Leach May 15 '12 at 7:11
2  
@AndrewLeach, I suspect that Jay may not have noticed the 'catholicism' tag (I didn't at first). –  Benjol May 15 '12 at 10:12
1  
Okay, I'll take a step back. What I wrote is the definition of "godparent" that I learned growing up. Before making the above post I did a quick Google search on "godparent Catholic" or something like that and the first page I found seemed to agree with that, so I went ahead and posted. But after seeing the comments, I checked more references and I see that the Catholic church clearly has a different definition. So ... I retract my answer. –  Jay May 16 '12 at 2:54
show 1 more comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.