17 Whenever possible, a SPONSOR is to be employed in the celebration of the sacrament. (CIC 872)
17.1 Only one male or one female sponsor, or one of each sex, is employed. (CIC 837)
The law does not allow for two males or two females to be sponsors at baptism.
17.2 To be admitted as a sponsor, the following prescriptions must be met (CIC 874, § 1):
17.2.1 be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the one who takes their place or, in their absence,
by the pastor or minister and have the qualifications and intention of performing this role;
17.2.2 be at least 16 years of age unless the pastor or minister judges that an exception is to be made for a just cause;
17.2.3 be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist
and leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken; (5)
17.2.4 not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared; (6)
17.2.5 not be the father or the mother of the one to be baptized.
17.3 The prohibition for clergy and religious to be sponsors no longer exists.
Those asked to be sponsors are to defer from being the minister of baptism so that the roles are not confused.
18 At the parents' request and following the ecumenical guidelines, a baptized Christian not in full communion with the Catholic church may act as a Christian witness together with a Catholic sponsor. (cf. CIC 874, §2) If a Christian witness was used, proper notification should be made in the baptismal register. (7)
19 A baptismal sponsor may act through a proxy.
19.1 For a proxy to act validly, he or she must have been appointed by the sponsor, not the parents or minister.
Proof of appointment must be obtained in writing.
19.2 Proof that the sponsor is qualified and willing to accept the office obligation also must be obtained.
19.3 The proxy must have the same qualifications as the sponsor, and the names of both must be recorded. (8)
(5) The phrase “leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken.” should not be interpreted too strictly. Under no circumstances are the ministers to use the celebration of the sacrament of baptism as a means to force the godparents to enter into a sacramental marriage. However, in those cases where their marital status can be rectified, they should be encouraged to do so. Married sponsors should be in a valid marriage. Rare exceptions may be made by a pastor. Use of the form “Affidavit of Eligibility for the Ministry of Baptism or Confirmation Sponsor” and the document Godparent-Sponsor Agreement assists pastors with their responsibility in this regard.
(6) Penalties in the church must be imposed or declared by a judicial process (e.g. ex-communications, suspensions, interdicts). These are legitimately imposed penalties by a Tribunal of the Church. No priest or deacon may impose their own penalties.
(7) Because of the close communion between the Catholic Church and the separated Eastern church it is permissible for a just reason to accept one of the faithful of an Eastern church as godparent along with a Catholic godparent at the baptism of a Catholic infant or adult, as long as the Catholic upbringing of one being baptized is provided for and there is assurance that the person is fit to be a godparent. (Secretariat for Christian Unity, Ecumenical Directory, Part I, May 14, 1967. no. 48)
(8) Instruction of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments, Nov. 25, 1925.
CODE OF CANON LAW
CHAPTER IV: Sponsors
Can. 872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or, together with the parents, presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and fulfilling the obligations inherent in it faithfully.
Can. 873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.
Can. 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsoring a person must:
1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;
2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;
3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;
4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;
5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.
§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.