Canonical Guidelines for Godparents


The significance of a Godparent at the Sacrament of Baptism requires that the parent(s) consider

very seriously the faith and religious practice of the person proposed for this role. The sources for

accessing the qualifications for the role of Godparent are The Code of Canon Law (1983) and

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) promulgated by His Holiness, John-Paul II.

Pastors, assistant pastors,pastoral assistants and directors of religious education should provide

an appropriate catechesis inthe preparation programs for the Sacraments of Initiation.

The following guidelines are provided to answer the usual questions that arise when parents or

candidates are discerning a person for these roles.


• The canonical guidelines for selecting a Godparent (patrinus) are found in cann. 872-874.

A person to be baptized needs only one Godparent. If the tradition of having two is desired,

the person or their parent(s) may choose a man and a woman.

Two Godparents of the same sex is not permitted.

• The mother or the father may not be a Godparent. The role of Godparent is to assist the parent(s)

in the training of the faith. The roles are distinct and not to be mixed.

• A Godparent is a Catholic in good standing, that is, living the Gospel message in their daily lives.

They should practice the faith regularly. They are to be at least sixteen years of age, have the proper

aptitude and intention to assume this role, and have received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

• Catholics married outside the Church, or Catholics who choose to cohabitate outside of the

Sacrament of Marriage are not permitted to be Godparents due to their irregular lifestyle.

• Any Catholic who is not living according to the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church

should not be asked to serve in this important role as Godparent.


• Any Catholic, who has abandoned the faith, even if they now are active members in another

Christian Church or community, may not serve as a Godparent or as a Christian Witness.

They have separated themselves from the Church and cannot serve even as a witness.

• A Christian Witness is a validly baptized non-Catholic who practices their faith in Christ

in a visible and sincere manner.

This guideline is effective immediately in the Diocese of Providence. Further questions or concerns

should be presented and discussed with either the Vicar for Canonical Affairs or the Chancellor.