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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Changing Godparents

by Catherine Frakas 15 Jun 2001

Changing Godparents QUESTION from Theresa on October 30, 2002 Brother Ignatius,
Thank you so much for this forum.
I have always been a practicing Catholic, but I am ashamed to admit that when my first daughter was born 6 years ago, I was primarily focused on making family members happy, rather than choosing an appropriate Godparent for her. We chose my brother, who was baptised and confirmed, but who was not currently a practicing Catholic (and hasn't been since) as the Godparent and my husband's sister, a devout Christian who has devoted her life to ministry (although not Catholic ministry) as a Witness. As I have matured my faith has become more important to me, and I realize my grave mistake. Is it too late to change Godparents? My sister, Godmother to my second daughter, is a practicing Catholic, and I would like to ask her to take over Godparenting responsibilities for my first. Is this possible? Is there paperwork? Does my brother have to renounce his Godparenthood (or can I just not tell him what we've done?) And does it matter if the Witness was female? We would like to retain her as the official Witness, if possible. Thanks again for your help.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on November 3, 2002 Dear Mrs. Theresa:
Many people have had experiences like yours. Few it seems in this day and age truly understand the significance and importance of the baptism of thier children and the choice of godparents. Many treat this only as a rite-of-passage, something that one just does.
I am very happy that you see the importance of the choice of Godparents and wish to correct previous decisions made perhaps from lack of sound judgment.
As for the witnesses to your child's baptism, this cannot be changed since they were actual witnesses to the sacrament and other people were not.
As for the godparents, technically godparents are not required for a licit and valid baptism of a child, though it is recommended.
The Church offers offers no regulations concerning changing of godparents. This is something that you can just do on your own.
In the course of your child's of your child's life there may be occassion to change godparents more than once due to death of a godparent or a godparent becomes unsuitable.
Thus, you can name a godparent or change godparents at any time.
I would make the choice of godparent, however, according to the qualifications specified by the Church, which are:
1) A child can have ONE male godparent and ONE female godparent; but not two females or two males;
2) be at least 16 years old;
3) be a confirmed and practicing Catholic in good standing;
4) not be the parents of the child.
If you want you might talk to your pastor and tell him the situation to see if it is possible to change the baptismal certificate, but even if this is not possible, you are free to designate new godparents at your discretion.
God Bless.
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