GICI 8-10 treat the ministry of godparent. The custom of godparent is old and essential for the sacrament:
8. It is a very ancient custom of the Church that adults are not admitted to baptism without godparents, members of the Christian community who will assist the candidates at least in the final preparation for baptism and after baptism will help them persevere in the faith and in their lives as Christians. In the baptism of children, as well, godparents are to be present in order to represent both the expanded spiritual family of the one to be baptized and the role of the Church as a mother. As occasion offers, godparents help the parents so that children will come to profess the faith and live up to it.
9. At least in the later rites of the catechumenate and in the actual celebration of baptism, the part of godparents is to testify to the faith of adult candidates or, together with the parents, to profess the Church’s faith, in which children are baptized.
– The role of godparent is much more than an honorary position. The connection is both to the extended family of the child as well as the larger Church.
– For a person who has reached the age of reason, a godparent is also a witness to the faith community that the catechumen possesses the level of grace and faith for full initiation. Much later, we’ll get to exactly how that works out in practice.
– GICI 10, next post, will deal with the qualifications for being a godparent.