Bishop Michele Fusco of Diocese of Sulmona-Valva, Italy, has recently published a decree where he abolishes Godparents in Baptism and Confirmation for a three year ad experimentum period (this article translates most of the decree into English).
The short decree starts from the premise that in many case the godparents are chosen in a manner that “is a kind of formal fulfilment in which the dimension of faith is hardly visible.” He reflects on the lack of this dimension of faith and the fact that often people proposed as Godparents do not meet the requirements for the role as expressed in canon law.
The bishop’s goal is not to abolish godparents indefinitely and admits that the decision will cause disappointment on the parish level, but he invites his pastors to reflect on the reasons for his decision with their parishioners in the hope that this three year break “may give new vigour to the role that all are called to play regarding the witness of faith and to the education of those who receive the Sacraments.”
On first glance this seemed very harsh to me. But I would imagine that, like myself, most PrayTell readers have seen godparents and sponsors who did not hold the ecclesial dimension of their role in high esteem. Many of the parents who bring children for baptism, have little faith formation themselves, and are unlikely to get much help from the godparents they have chosen to pass the faith on to their children. Maybe we need to make bold experiments like this to help us to better meet the spiritual needs of our people. Hopefully this will be a temporary learning experience to help people hold the religious role of godparents in a higher esteem. Although it will undoubtedly cause some short term strife, could this be a case of breaking eggs to make an omelette?