I’m planning my baby’s baptism. What qualifications must I consider when selecting his godparents?  ~Ella

Dear Ella,

The Church teaches that choosing the godparents invites serious consideration.  Although it’s the role of the entire Body of Christ to help the newly baptized on the road of Christian life, the godparent holds special honor and responsibility (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1255).

Canon 874 of the Code of Canon Law say the godparent must be chosen by the parents of the child being baptized.  If an adult is being baptized, he or she chooses.

A godparent must be at least seventeen years old (individual dioceses may establish another age) and a Catholic who has received the sacraments of the Eucharist and confirmation, leads a life in harmony with the faith of the Church, is not a parent of the one to be baptized, and is not bound by any canonical penalty (interdict or excommunication, for example.)

A baptized (Christian) non-Catholic may withness the baptism with one Catholic godparent, but only the baptized Catholic is officially a godparent.  A person may have only one godparent, but no more than one male and one female may be chosen.

In addition, family and cultural traditions are important factors to consider. Also keep in mind that asking someone to be a godparent shows you respect the way he or she lives as a Catholic.

From “Questions People Ask”, Liguorian Magazine May-June 2009.  Answered by Father Tom Santa, director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, AZ.