Godparenting: A Call to Witness
From the earliest days of Christianity,
sponsors were assigned to adults who wanted to become members of the Church. The sponsor was a dedicated Christian who could be relied upon to truthfully testify that a person was indeed worthy of Christian baptism. As history marched on, the word godparent replaced the word sponsor in popular tradition. Like sponsors, godparents are called as witnesses, but in most cases, they’re witnesses for infants. They needn’t prove the infant is worthy of baptism, because all infants are worthy. As the Catechism says, “Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit” (CCC 1282).
Today, the question of fitness for baptism emphasizes the lives of the parents. If the parents are dedicated Christians, it’s safe to assume that the child will be raised to be a dedicated Christian. Since the role of witness (for the parents) usually falls to a parish minister or a priest, one may question: how/why is a godparent considered a “witness”? Godparents witness by speaking the truth about God through words and actions that show the child what faith in God looks like…
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