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Why can’t my 13-year-old brother-in-law be a godfather if he’s been confirmed?

 Full Question

My husband wants his 13-year-old brother to be our baby’s godfather, but our priest said no. My brother-in-law has received confirmation, so why can’t he be the godfather?


Confirmation is not the only requirement for a person to be a godparent. Canon law also requires that the person be at least 16, unless a different age is stipulated by the bishop or unless the minister of baptism believes that there is just reason to make an exception (Code of Canon Law 874). Apparently your priest does not consider the reasons you’ve given so far to be just reason to make an exception for your brother-in-law.

One of the reasons that there is an age requirement for godparents is that the godparents are expected to assist the parents in forming the child to “live a Christian life befitting the baptized and faithfully to fulfill the duties inherent in baptism” (CIC 872). A 13-year-old is himself still being formed in the faith and may not be ready for the responsibility of participating in the spiritual formation of another.

1 comment

  1. Hannah Reply

    That’s interesting. My youngest daughter was baptised in 1986 and her 2 sisters were godparents aged 7 and 10 at the time (we did need a dispensation from the local Bishop). The youngest of those sisters is now 37 and has just become godparent to her sister’s son. She has played a significant role in her sister’s life and indeed in persuading her to have her son baptised in the catholic faith (partner is non-catholic). I don’t think she understood the role much when she was 7 but I knew she would grow into it and take on the responsibility. I am sure she will continue to play a significant role as godparent to both her sister and her nephew for many years to come. I think that this shows that age isn’t a barrier to the role and validates my choice and insistence on it all those years ago. They’ve both done a better job of it than any of their own godparents. The ‘relationship’ that is built with the godchild is key.

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