People sometimes choose godparents for purely social reasons. They think the godparent's role is largely a symbolic one, having more to do with social custom and religious tradition than anything else. And sometimes parents experience social pressure as a result. They may feel obligated to choose a particular relative or friend to stand as godparent to their child because they do not want to offend this person or make him or her feel left out. The Church understand this dilemma, but insists that social reasons cannot be the main consideration in the selection of a godparent.
People sometimes choose godparents for another reason. They think of godparents as designated legal guardians - persons who will look after their children if something should happen to them. This is not necessarily the case. The Church maintains that choosing a godparent for this reason should not be the chief consideration.
The godparent's role is simply and solely to assist the parent in giving the child a Catholic upbringing. Therefore, choosing godparents for your child is very important - so important that the Church lays down rather stringent requirements.
Only one godparent is necessary, although traditionally there are two: a godmother and a godfather. To be godparent, a person:
A person from another Christian church (other than the Orthodox Church) cannot be a godparent for a Catholic. However, he or she can serve as a Christian witness, together with a Catholic godparent. A non-Christian cannot serve in either capacity.
The Responsibilities of Godparents
Godparents should make a special point of remembering their godchild at Christmas and Easter, on his or her birthday, and on the anniversary of baptism. They should try to select gifts (especially gifts of a religious nature) which show their love and concern for the spiritual welfare of their godchild.
The Good Shepherd Parish encourages parents who are preparing for their child's baptism to pray for Gods help and guidance, and to ponder carefully their choice of godparents. They should also be ready to discuss with prospective godparents issues and ideas raised in this pamphlet, and involve the godparents in the preparation process. Being a godparent is a serious undertaking, and we hope that parents will bear this in mind when they ask someone to stand up on behalf of their child