The Requirements of Sponsor: Baptism, Confirmation and RCIA
(notes prepared by the Diocese of Rockville Centre)

The role of sponsor is an important one for the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The Church sees the sponsor as a fully-initiated Catholic who supports the one receiving the sacrament with example and instruction. Because of the seriousness of this ministry, the Church has the following requirements:

  • The sponsor must be a fully-initiated member of the Catholic Church through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
  • The sponsor must be at least sixteen (16) years of age.
  • The minister of the sacrament can dispense from this requirement.
  • In this case, the Catholic who is younger than 16 must be fully initiated and meet all the other requirements.
  • The sponsor must have an active life of faith in the Church and provide good example.
  • Someone married outside the Church is not able to receive Communion and is not able to be a sponsor.
  •  Also, a Catholic who has left the Church is not able to be a sponsor of a new member into the Church.
  • Therefore, a Catholic who has left the Catholic Church cannot be a sponsor, and cannot be a “Christian witness” if they join another Christian communion.
  • The sponsor cannot be either parent.
  • When there are two sponsors, they are “spiritual parents” and are to be a godfather and godmother.

Christian Witness – (A baptized non-Catholic Christian)

Provided there is one Catholic sponsor, a baptized non-Catholic Christian may serve as a Christian witness. This person is a Christian witness and not a sponsor.

  • Requirements to be a Christian Witness:
    • at least sixteen years old
    • a validly baptized Christian
    • living an upright life
    • cannot be either parent
    • cannot be a Catholic who has left the Church
  • A Christian witness may never be a non-baptized person. For example, Jewish or Muslim godparents are not permitted by universal church law.
  • The notation “Christian witness” is placed under the name of the non-Catholic Christian witness in the baptismal register.