Role of the Confirmation Sponsor

According to the Code of Canon Law, As far as possible the person to be confirmed is to have a sponsor. The sponsors function is to take care that the person confirmed behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the duties inherent in this sacrament.[1]

The Diocese of Richmond requires that all sponsors be in compliance with the criteria set forth in canon law[2] and listed below. The requirements listed in canon 874 refer to Baptism, but also apply to Confirmation. If the pastor of the parish does not know the candidates sponsor, it is advisable that the pastor seek a letter from the sponsors parish attesting that he or she meets the Church’s requirements.

Canon 874.1

To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:

  1. Be appointed by the candidate for Baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;
  2. Be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;
  3. Be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;
  4. Not labor under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;
  5. Not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptized.

Canon 874.2

A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may be admitted only in company with a Catholic sponsor, and then simply as a witness to the Baptism.

Canon 893.2

It is desirable that the sponsor chosen be the one who undertook this role at Baptism.

The sponsor need not be a member of the parish in which the candidate is preparing to receive, or will receive, the Sacrament of Confirmation.

In the case of a sponsor who is unable to attend the celebration of Confirmation, a proxy may be appointed to serve in the role of sponsor. Those who serve as proxies must also fulfill the criteria set forth in canon 893.

[1] Code of Canon Law, canon 892.

[2] Code of Canon Law, canon 893.