Parents For Confirmation Sponsors?

by Jimmy Akin

in Sacraments

A reader writes:

Hi Jimmy, Can my mother be my Confirmation sponsor ?  I thought I read a Canon Law stating no parents or spouses of the candidate can be a sponsor. Thanking you in advance of a prompt response, God bless you,

I’m afraid that your mom cannot be your confirmation sponsor. Here’s the canon law on that:

First, the Code of Canon Law establishes that for a person to serve as a confirmation sponsor he or she must meet the requirements of a sponsor for baptism:

Can.  893

§1. To perform the function of sponsor, a person must fulfill the conditions mentioned in can. 874 [which lays out the requirements for baptismal sponsors].

§2. It is desirable to choose as sponsor the one who undertook the same function in baptism.

If we then look at Canon 874 to see what the requirements are for baptismal sponsors, we find:

Can.  874

§1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;

4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.

So I’m afraid that your mom can’t serve as your confirmation sponsor. It would be preferable (see canon 893 §2, quoted above) if one of your sponsors at baptism (your godparents) were your confirmation sponsor–assuming they still meet all the requirements of canon 874–but this is not required.

Hope this helps!

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Atlantic March 27, 2006 at 10:32 am

Er, my mom was my Confirmation sponsor. I didn’t know she couldn’t until ten seconds ago, and no one said anything at the time.
What, if anything, should I do now?

joe March 27, 2006 at 10:32 am

very intersting stuff. My mother was a convert and had assumed for a number of years that she had been confirmed–long story. Come to find out she hadn’t. Being in college, she asked me to be her confirmation sponsor and I did. Sort’ve the opposite of the posed question–just thought i’d share (after reading the pasted requirements, It seems my situation was canonically valid–at least I hope so.)

Annalucia March 27, 2006 at 10:45 am

I’m wondering too, Atlantic. When my two oldest children were confirmed (1994 and 1996) they both asked me to be their sponsors. I did, and nobody said Boo about it – though by the time my third was confirmed (in 2000) we were told that parents weren’t allowed, so his godfather did the honors.
By the way, when I was confirmed (1964 – I was 12) nothing was said about sponsors at all. All the sixth graders just went up in a group, like First Communion kiddies, and got confirmed. So did the idea of sponsorship fall into abeyance for a while, or what?

SDG March 27, 2006 at 11:05 am

What, if anything, should I do now?

Given that the validity of the sacrament doesn’t require a sponsor at all, I’m thinking the answer is “Nothing.” We’ve already seen that you can’t “undo” a sponsor anyway, which I would assume applies to improperly chosen sponsors as well as properly chosing ones.

JACK March 27, 2006 at 2:03 pm

Although, interestingly, I see nothing prevents a child from being a parent’s sponsor (of which, I was my father’s).

Chris St. Jean March 27, 2006 at 3:16 pm

I’m in the same boat as others here: my father was my sponsor. Certainly Steven is right that the validity of the sacrament isn’t affected, but does that mean that the sacrament was administered “illicitly”? (That seems too strong too, but I don’t know what word would be used to describe this lack of adherence to Canon Law.)

Maureen March 27, 2006 at 8:34 pm

Even parish priests can dispense people from certain things. This may be one of them….
I wouldn’t stress about it now. Take it as a blessing and go with it. Also, now you know, so you can warn other people if need be.

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