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Godparent Guidelines

by Candace Webb

Godparents are charged with the spiritual growth and education of their godchildren, according to the Catholic Education Resource Center. This can include attending the child's baptism, accompanying him to church as he grows, if his parents cannot do so, and responding to any spiritual questions the child has. Long-established guidelines regarding the choosing of and the role of a godparent are in place so the child's spiritual journey through life is both consistent and protected.

Who Can Be Appointed

The guideline for a godparent mandates the chosen sponsor/godparent is not only a member of the Catholic Church, but attends Mass on Sundays and holy days. She must also receive sacraments for confirmation and the holy Eucharist. In addition, the godparent must be a member of a parish, and make financial contributions to the faith as she is able to do so. The godparent does not necessarily have to belong to the same parish that the child and her parents belong.

When the Godparent is Married

If the godparent-to-be is married, he must have been married in a Catholic Church. The only exception to this is if a priest allowed the marriage to take place in another faith's church for a good reason. In addition, if either spouse was previously married, that marriage must be officially annulled by the church before this marriage could take place. The godparents are charged with spiritually guiding the child, therefore, they must lead by example, which includes following the church rules for marriages.

Canonical Penalty

Guidelines for choosing a godparent include excluding anyone who is under canonical penalty. Such penalties are incurred by violations such as having had an abortion, recording and distributing a confessional, or attacking the bishop or pope. In addition, performing a civil wedding when unauthorized to do so can invoke the canonical penalty rules.

General Guidelines

While only one godparent is necessary, two can be appointed. When two are appointed, one most be female and the other male. Only one has to be Catholic. The second can be a non-Catholic as long as she participates in a Christian faith.

About the Author

Candace Webb has been writing professionally since 1989. She has worked as a full-time journalist as well as contributed to metropolitan newspapers including the "Tennessean." She has also worked on staff as an associate editor at the "Nashville Parent" magazine. Webb holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in business from San Jose State University.

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