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Ruth
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Posted: June 30 2007 at 7:04am | IP Logged Quote Ruth

I'm hoping someone will be able to help me come up with the right words. One of my relatives has been insisting on being our baby's God-father since he found out we were having another baby. The problem is he's not a practicing Catholic. He does go to Mass every other week or so. We're praying for his complete conversion. But yesterday he called me and told me things like, "This would really mean a lot to me. I would be the best God-father to this baby. I willl be so hurt if you don't pick me." I think it's a cultural thing in my family, maybe heritage, to have relatives as God-parents.

We can't, in good conscience, pick him to be the baby's God-father. But I need the right words to say to him. It will cause a lot of tension with us, and might completely push him away from the faith.

How can we be gentle and still say no to him?

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At_His_Feet
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Posted: June 30 2007 at 9:56pm | IP Logged Quote At_His_Feet

I understand how you feel.

However I was wondering how old he is? Perhaps he may yet have a deeper conversion. Maybe if you explain to him the real significance of the role of a God parent, he will either decide to step up to the plate, or accept that he may not be the best man for the job!

I know it's difficult to be so direct , but perhaps it's the only way??

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guitarnan
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Posted: June 30 2007 at 10:05pm | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

You know, if he's not a practicing, committed Catholic, the decision is not up to you. You can't select someone who isn't a faithful Catholic. The Church doesn't allow that. (He could be a "Christian Witness" but the role isn't the same.)

You could present the "no" response to him in that light; it's not really your decision, it's the Church's teaching. His life choices don't match Catholic criteria for being a godparent. While you love him and honor his wish to play a special part in this baby's life, you are not able to say "yes" to his request to be a godparent.

In the end, if he steps away from the Church over this, it will be up to your family and all of us to pray for his return. You can't have him be a godparent if he isn't already committed to the faith (and you clearly understand that).

We've gone down similar paths in my family, esp. in regard to future guardianship issues. In the end, it's worked out best when we've chosen truly committed Catholics (not relatives) to play these important roles in our children's lives. Similarly, we feel a commitment to our godchildren that goes beyond just praying for them and sending religious gifts.

You're in my prayers; I know this is a very awkward situation. Nevertheless, you should follow your conscience and choose practicing Catholics as godparents. You aren't responsible for driving another adult from the Church over a decision like this. If he leaves, and blames you, he was looking for an excuse, IMHO.

Hugs!

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At_His_Feet
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Posted: June 30 2007 at 10:41pm | IP Logged Quote At_His_Feet

At the risk of sounding extremely ignorant, may I ask a question?

What if you were in the positon that my dh and I were in, where until our last child we didn't have the option of choosing a godparent who was a committed devout Catholic? We were the only ones in our circle of family and friens at the time, who took our faith seriously. So we chose as best we could.
Thankfully, with our last child, we didn't have to worry, as we had made friends with another family who were as in love with the Lord as we were.

Sorry to ask this question so early in your thread Ruth. Perhaps the moderator can move it if needed?

I think Nancy's suggestion is much more diplomatic than mine.

Tricia

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Ruth
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Posted: July 01 2007 at 8:46am | IP Logged Quote Ruth

At_His_Feet wrote:
I understand how you feel.

However I was wondering how old he is? Perhaps he may yet have a deeper conversion. Maybe if you explain to him the real significance of the role of a God parent, he will either decide to step up to the plate, or accept that he may not be the best man for the job!

I know it's difficult to be so direct , but perhaps it's the only way??


He's 34. I thought about sending him the church's teaching regarding the role of God parents. I don't know how he will react, but at least he'll realize why we are not choosing him.

guitarnan wrote:
You know, if he's not a practicing, committed Catholic, the decision is not up to you. You can't select someone who isn't a faithful Catholic. The Church doesn't allow that. (He could be a "Christian Witness" but the role isn't the same.)



You're right. I never thought about it that way. This is a beautiful way to look at it.

guitarnan wrote:


In the end, if he steps away from the Church over this, it will be up to your family and all of us to pray for his return. You can't have him be a godparent if he isn't already committed to the faith (and you clearly understand that).



Unfortunately, he does not understand most of our church's teachings. This is why I'm so surprised that he is insisting on this. I have told him no from the beginning, but he is not dropping it. I have to be firm, and not worry about his feeelings, I guess. Oh, I hate to say that.

At_His_Feet wrote:
At the risk of sounding extremely ignorant, may I ask a question?

What if you were in the positon that my dh and I were in, where until our last child we didn't have the option of choosing a godparent who was a committed devout Catholic? We were the only ones in our circle of family and friens at the time, who took our faith seriously. So we chose as best we could.
Thankfully, with our last child, we didn't have to worry, as we had made friends with another family who were as in love with the Lord as we were.

Sorry to ask this question so early in your thread Ruth. Perhaps the moderator can move it if needed?

I think Nancy's suggestion is much more diplomatic than mine.

Tricia


Tricia,

This happened with our first child. But, we actually have picked out God parents for this baby who are completely committed to our Catholic faith, even to the point that when we asked them, her husband told her to call me back and think about it some more, because they did not feel they were devout enough to be God parents. Isn't this ironic? We would be honored to have them as our baby's God parents. They have helped me grow spiritually as long as I have know them.

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Erin
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Posted: July 01 2007 at 10:11pm | IP Logged Quote Erin

Ruth

You have some really great answers already. A couple of thoughts to add,
1- You could explain to him the role with the booklet and put the onus on him for the rest of your pregnancy to see if he can 'step up to the plate'.

2- (and this is probably the easiest solution) Ask your friends to be god parents (the ones you think they are not worthy ) and ask him to be an extra witness. My uncle who was Catholic and his wife wasn't got around it that way. He had one Catholic godparent and one non-Catholic godparent (who was really a witness)

Or you could just be really tough and say no. Very hard, wow I have never had this situation.

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insegnante
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Posted: July 02 2007 at 5:52pm | IP Logged Quote insegnante

I haven't reviewed the canon law on it but have seen reliable-seeming references (like diocesan and/or parish sites) to non-practicing Catholics specifically not being able to be "Christian witnesses."

Theresa
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KT75
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Posted: July 03 2007 at 11:15am | IP Logged Quote KT75

insegnante wrote:
I haven't reviewed the canon law on it but have seen reliable-seeming references (like diocesan and/or parish sites) to non-practicing Catholics specifically not being able to be "Christian witnesses."

Theresa


I am also quite sure you are correct on this. A Christian Witness is a non-Catholic christian. Technically they are not a godparent...a godparent must be a practicing Catholic.

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0233.ht ml
sorry don't know how to link

Here's something on godparents:

To be a sponsor, a person must be chosen by the person to be baptized, or by the parents or guardians of a child, or, in their absence, by the pastor or minister of the sacrament. The sponsor must not only have the intention of being a sponsor but also meet proper qualifications. The sponsor must have completed his sixteenth year unless the Bishop has established another age for sponsorship, or the pastor or minister judges that a just cause warrants an exception to the rule. He must be a Catholic who has received the sacraments of holy Eucharist and confirmation, and "leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken." Moreover, the sponsor cannot be impeded by some canonical penalty. Ideally, this sponsor at baptism should also be the sponsor for confirmation. Note that the mother and father of the child cannot serve as sponsors. Also note that these are the same requirements for confirmation sponsors. (Cf. Code of Canon Law, No. 874.1).

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Tina P.
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Posted: July 13 2007 at 2:41pm | IP Logged Quote Tina P.

I'm curious in all of this how it is that someone can *insist* that he be a godparent when it is the parents, with God's divine help, who choose who the godparents need to be. That is so wrong of him to put pressure on you like that.

I felt inward pressure to include my relatives as godparents of my children first. And I'll admit that I haven't chosen the best godparents for my children in the past. Back when I chose them, I thought they would be, but they've changed over the years. They became more *worldly.* And I was also hurt that only one (and not Catholic) family out of 6 in my relations chose me to be godparent to their children. But I certainly didn't insist that I must be and tell them outright that I would be hurt. I just suffered in silence after the decision had been made.

I don't have any gentle words for you, Ruth. I tend to come across more blunt and hurtful than I like. But I will pray that you come to some sort of understanding without too much hurt.

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