An Italian bishop suspended the godfathers and godmothers of baptisms: “They have lost their original value”

The bishop of three dioceses of the province of caserta (Campania, in southern Italy) has decided to suspend the presence of godfathers and godmothers at baptisms and confirmationsat least experimentally for three years, considering that in today’s society they have lost “their original value”.

Mgr Giacomo Cirulli, Bishop of Teano-Calvi, Alife-Caiazzo and Sessa Auruncawill promulgate on March 20 a decree that stipulates it for baptisms, communions and the Christian initiation rite of adults, reads on the Facebook page of one of the dioceses.

In the current socio-ecclesial context, the office of godfathers and godmothers, for the most part, has lost its original value”, is stated in a note relating to the three dioceses, unified under the leadership of Cirulli last February by Pope Francis.

The mission of the godfathers and godmothers “consists of accompanying the catechumens or the candidates for confirmation throughout the entire journey of faith and not only at the time of the celebration of the Sacrament. At present, however, this role has almost completely lost its meaning, being reduced to a kind of formal fulfillment or social custom”, is explained.

Monsignor Giacomo Cirulli (Facebook)
Monsignor Giacomo Cirulli (Facebook)

In any case, it is an experimental suspension for three yearswhich “is not intended to diminish the value of these figures, but represents an attempt by the bishop to recover its identity and mission”.

The liturgical and catechetical offices of the dioceses “will have the delicate task of monitoring, during this triennium, the progress of the new practice and, at the same time, study possible new forms of accompaniment, which recover the true ecclesial meaning of the office of godfather and godmother”.

The new practice will come into force on April 9, Easter, and “the power to issue or not the authorization for the celebration of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation outside the diocesan territory remains with the parish priests.”

The bishop, who recalls that the presence of these figures was already indicated as not mandatory by the Code of Canon Law, recommends that this authorization “be granted for just reasons (…) and for reasons unrelated to the presence of the godparents and godmothers”.

“However, a certificate of suitability may be issued to those who have to perform the office of godfather or godmother in extra-diocesan territory, where this office is not suspended and only with the concurrence of the required requirements and in the absence of impediments,” concludes the note.

(With information from EFE)

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