A few days ago I was asked by a friend what I thought of the fact that one of her family members was refused baptism for their child because they wanted to have their brother, a baptized and confirmed Catholic who just happened to be living with her girlfriend, as their prospective godfather.
Being put on the spot, my reply was not as diplomatic as I would’ve liked but I gave it a good college try. Well first, the Church Christ founded has a primary role of “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mat 28:20)
So, one of the primary roles of the Church is to teach its members. One way to assure a proper teaching is by making sure that those who are being baptized as babies will be raised learning the faith. The Church simply needs a reasonable expectation that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith and the godparents are supposed to be role models for them.
Everybody sins, but if you repent, ask forgiveness and intend not to repeat the sin, then you are forgiven and are then accepted as a godparent to the child in question. BUT, if you are an unrepentant sinner, that is that you are living with your girlfriend outside of marriage, well that’s called fornication and if you are unwilling to repent and turn of your ways then the Church simply tells you that you are not suitable as a godparent and the mother needs to choose another prospective godparent.
Now, if the mother is dead-set on an ineligible godparent then she herself inevitably delays the baptism until she is able to select someone who meets the requirements of the law.
So, let’s recap. First the Church will never, ever refuse baptism to anyone which is a primary function of the Church is to teach and baptize, a commission given to the Church by Jesus directly (Mat 28).
Second, in performing their duty in teaching and performing baptism the Church also expects the parents and godparents to raise the baptized child in the Catholic faith by requiring the parents to choose godparents whom the Church can reasonably expect them to teach the child the Catholic faith even if only by example. Is that really too much to ask?