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In the Catholic Church, do sponsors for baptism need to be male and female, or are you able to have two females or two males as sponsors?

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The Code of Canon Law for the Latin Rite Catholic Church states that there may be one or two sponsors for the sacrament of baptism. However, if there are two sponsors, one must be male and the other must be female. Thus two sponsors of the same sex is not permitted according to the laws of the Church.

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

Here is a more readable way of reading the same thing from the GUIDELINES FOR SPONSORS FOR BAPTISM & CONFIRMATION of the Diocese of Rockford:

A person who is to be baptized or confirmed is to have a sponsor. While it has become a tradition to have two sponsors at Baptism, having only one sponsor is acceptable. No more than two sponsors are permitted, however, and the two sponsors may not be of the same sex.

I am unaware of any possibility of someone obtaining a dispensation of the norm for allowing two sponsors of the same sex. One would have to contact the local ordinary (bishop) at the Chancery Office of your particular bishop and ask this question to those in authority for an answer.

  • I'm from just north of you and my daughter was baptized with two sets of godparents, obviously at least two were of the same sex. I wonder what I should do if I were to find that were illicit... – Peter Turner Feb 5 '17 at 4:07
  • @PeterTurner It would make the sacrament "valid" but "illicit". Anything more than this we would have go to chat. – Ken Graham Feb 5 '17 at 4:12
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One sponsor/godparent is required. The other may be an "honorary" godparent of either gender. The parents do not need to tell the honorary godparent that they are honorary and not the recorded sponsor. A non-catholic christian can only be recorded as a christian witness. That is why one godparent must be a practicing catholic. (Canon 872-874, CCC 1255)

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The Catechism at least intimates that you only need to pick one person to be a Godparent.

Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: "What do you ask of God's Church?" The response is: "Faith!"

CCC 1253

But it also talks of a necessary time for a godmother and a godfather

For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.

CCC 1254

The Church has always held that there is complementary between the sexes, both on physical and spiritual matters. God is Our Father, the Church is our Mother, etc... It's not an arbitrary.


However, I've seen one instance of same-gender Godparents. If they had to ask for an exception, I don't know what it was. There's also a pretty good western called "The Three Godfathers", although, I don't know of that's theologically sound. One would hope that the reason for choosing same-gender godparents would not be scandalous.

Lastly, Church forms will want to see the name and religion of your godparents to make sure at least one is a Baptized Catholic - so there may be bureaucratic hurdles and canned certificates that will look strange.

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