A conversion presumably severs the spiritual ties with one's baptismal godparents. I am reading about a convert from Russian Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism, who apparently converted around age 20 and was confirmed around age 50. The confirmation, his only surviving sacramental record, names a godfather that he could not possibly have met until he was an adult.

In a comment, curiousdannii reveals that the term of art is "sponsor" (thanks!). Do converts to Catholicism always have exactly one sponsor? Does sponsorship differ from godparenthood? When do they get the sponsor?

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    The generic term, which includes those for adult baptisms, is "sponsor".
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 15, 2017 at 10:49
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    @KenGraham It's not completely clear (to me at least) whether the question is specifically asked about Catholicism, or whether it's asked about Christianity in general with simply an example related to Catholicism. I think we need clarity. Jun 15, 2017 at 13:28
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    The answer to this would vary by denomination of which there are many, which would make it too broad for this site as currently asked. Was there some specific denomination you were interested in? Jun 15, 2017 at 16:19
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    Hi folks, yes, I am specifically interested in the case of this Russian Orthodox to Roman Catholic conversion, in case the specifics differ. Jun 15, 2017 at 23:59
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    There are two questions to consider. First, do godparents in Catholicism have some type of formal or canonical responsibility to or authority over a godchild, or is the relationship defined by social factors? (E.g., "Sorry, John, your godparents have refused to allow you to become a priest and filed a writ compelling us to expel you from seminary without possibility of readmission. They also want us to shoot you in the leg, but Canon Law restricts us to a Nerf gun.") Second, do baptized persons receiving Catholic confirmation have a process or requirement for receiving sponsorship? Jun 18, 2017 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


All Christians, and on occasion others, can baptize others if necessary according to Catholic tradition - see Code of Canon Law §861.2. Godparents are not needed for baptism if not available - see CCL 872. CCL 892 says: "As far as possible the person to be confirmed is to have a sponsor." It seems clear that the dispensability of sponsors extends to conversion, but I do not have a source for this yet. Nevertheless, if someone wants to become a Catholic and was baptized in a Christian manner I claim that a sponsor is recommended but the Bishop or his representative priest may dispense with the sponsor if necessary; the justification for this is that the person who wants to become catholic may be in danger, and a sponsor is not available. Orthodox Christians are confirmed right after baptism, and so Catholic bishops should in my opinion respect the orthodox confirmation and not impose another one; update: according to the following BBC-link which validates my statement on orthodox confirmation, the Catholic church does not "confirm converts from the orthodox churches": http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/ritesrituals/confirmation_1.shtml

  • Every sentence in this answer could benefit from multiple citations. I'd imagine one of the other guys is gonna post a referenced answer so if you want to beat 'em to the punch, you should improve this answer.
    – Peter Turner
    May 27, 2019 at 2:25
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    Actually, this is a 2 year old question, so maybe there's no "beating to the punch". Well, I'd like to see citations anyway!
    – Peter Turner
    May 27, 2019 at 2:26
  • In particular, the apparent dichotomy between "All Christians can baptize others" and the dispensing with a sponsor. The first sentence may be strictly correct, but appears to be at odds with Catholic teaching and practice, especially when a priest or bishop needs to be consulted. May 27, 2019 at 15:51
  • @AndrewLeach There are circumstances when so-called emergency baptisms are called for.
    – Sapiens
    May 27, 2019 at 17:49

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