For adults seeking to be baptized, the Church offers a program called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
Infant Baptism requires that the Church have a “well founded hope” that the infant being baptized will be raised in the practice of the Catholic faith. Whereas adults freely choose to accept Christ in the Baptismal waters, infants obviously cannot make such a conscious choice. since ancient times, however, the Church has recognized the earnest desire of parents to spiritually anchor their infants to Christ. She therefore baptizes infants or very young children, provided that the parents make a solemn commitment to God that they will raise the child ni the faith into which they are being baptized. In practical terms this means that the parents promise to:
- Bring the child to Sunday Mass each week starting the Sunday after Baptism.
- Bring the child to Religious Education starting no later than the first grade and continuing through Confirmation.
- Teach the child by word and example at home to love God and neighbor as Jesus taught.
The promise to raise their child in the practice of faith is made aloud by the parents as part of the Baptism Ceremony. The Godparents also promise to assist the parents in this important work.
Godparent Requirements & Information:
Raising a child in the practice of the faith is so important, that the Church provides all the parents with “God-parents” – a man and a woman other than the parents, who will assist them with the child’s faith formation. To qualify for this important role, the prospective godparents need to be not just good people, and not just people of faith. They need to be people of visible faith so as to serve as Catholic role models and guides for the child. Godparents who already have faith as a visible priority in their own lives are much better equipped to help raise a child in the practice of faith.
Godparent Qualifications: The following qualifications apply to all Godparents. They are mandated by the Code of Canon Law, and apply universally to Catholic parishes. They are not meant to restrict, but to help in selecting the most effective and appropriate persons possible for this very specific role in the Church. In good faith we rely on parents to honestly and prayerfully make certain these requirements are met.
- Only one male and one female may serve as Godparents. It is possible to have just one Godparent, but two Godparents (one male and one female) are the norm in the Catholic tradition. No more that two Godparents are allowed, and never two of the same sex. Parents may not serve as Godparents to their own child.
- Godparents must be at least sixteen years of age. This requirement may be waived by the pastor only if the prospective Godparent has already been Confirmed and meets all other qualifications. The role of the Godparent is an important one, and certain level of maturity and faith experience is therefore necessary.
- Godparents must be Catholics who have received all three Sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. Before Confirmation, a Catholic has not been fully initiated into the Church, and cannot therefore sponsor a new member to join the Church at Baptism. Only a fully initiated Catholic has this privilege.
- Godparents must be practicing Catholics in good standing whose lifestyle is in harmony with the teachings of the Catholic faith. Minimally, this means that they should be attending Sunday Mass on a weekly basis and are living a life in harmony with the faith. Remember – a Godparent is not just a good or faith filled person. They are asked to serve as a visible role model of Catholic faith and moral teaching.
- Provided at least one Godparent is a qualified Catholic, the other may be a baptized member of an different Christian religion. Such an individual is referred to as a “Christian Witness”. A Christian Witness is a non- Catholic member of another Christian religion. (Catholics who are non-practicing, not Confirmed, or otherwise do not qualify to serve as Godparents may not serve as a Christian Witness). During the Baptism Ceremony, Godparents and Christian Witnesses publicly renew their own Baptismal Promises and commitments to Christ. Therefore, non-Christians (Jews, Muslims, etc.) may not serve as Christian Witnesses. To ask them to do so would not be respecting their own faith choice and traditions.