Who Decides Who Can Be a Confirmation Sponsor?

Q: Who makes the decision as to who can be the sponsors for a child making his confirmation? The rules are 1) church-goer in good standing 2) not divorced 3) Catholic. I don’t know anyone who qualifies for all three.

A sponsor for baptism or confirmation must be at least 16 years old and be a Catholic who has received the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist and who “leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on” (see the Code of Canon Law, paragraph 874, for the complete requirements). In most places, as determined by the local bishop or the pastor of a church, “leading a life of faith” is interpreted to mean that a person is following the teaching of the Church with respect to marriage. If single, he or she must not be living with a partner; if married, he or she must be sacramentally married in the Church. (Someone who is civilly divorced but not remarried can still be eligible.) While these standards can certainly vary by parish and priest, these rules aim to ensure that the sponsor can set a good example for his/her godchild or confirmandi. The most important role of sponsorship is sharing your faith and helping your godchild/confirmandi’s spirituality flourish. A young person needs a role model who attends Mass regularly and who takes the teaching of the Church seriously. 

If you don’t know anyone who meets the requirements, make an appointment with the director of the confirmation program to discuss your particular situation. He or she will know if any exceptions might be approved by your local bishop. Alternatively, he or she could also connect you with faithful members of your parish who would be delighted to meet you and accompany a candidate on the journey to confirmation.