The Italian Church will suppress the figures of godfathers and godmothers in baptisms and confirmations for three years

Italy will suspend the figures of godfathers and godmothers in baptisms and confirmations

The Italian Church decided suspend the figures of godfathers and godmothers in baptisms and confirmations for a period of three years. This measure, which will be experimental, will be extended to the entire country after several dioceses began to announce it.

Monsignor Giacomo Cirulli, bishop of Teano-Calvi, Alife-Caiazzo and Sessa Aurunca, of the province of Caserta (Campania, south) will promulgate on March 20 a decree that stipulates this for baptisms, communions and the rite of Christian initiation of adults, according to what is indicated 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 direction 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. Today, however, this role has almost completely lost its meaning, being reduced to a kind of formal compliance or social custom”, is explained.

In any case, it is a suspension with character experimental for three years, which “is not intended to diminish the value of these figures, but rather represents an attempt by the bishop to recover his identity and mission.”

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

In Italy they allege that the roles of godfathers and godmothers have lost
In Italy they allege that the roles of godfathers and godmothers have lost “their original value” (REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane) (GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE/)

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

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 causes (…) and for reasons beyond the presence of the godfathers 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.

Last February the Archbishop of Palermo, Monsignor Corrado Loreficeadopted the same measure, which in that region of southern Italy will take effect from July 10, also with a duration of three years.

“Social conventions and consolidated habits have compromised the authentic meaning of this office exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church,” he said. And he added: “It has lost its original sense of accompaniment in the Christian life of the baptized and confirmed, being reduced to a mere ‘choreographic ornament’ in a religious ceremony.”

The Bishop of Melfi-Rapolla-Venosa, Monsignor Gianfranco Todisco, had already adopted this measure in 2017, due to the “lack of responsibility in transmitting the faith with the testimony of life”. In 2020, Monsignor Ciro Fanelli, his successor, extended the decree.

These debates and reforms have the support of Pope Francis, who on March 13 will celebrate ten years of papacy.

(With information from EFE)

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