Q. I am a divorced and remarried Catholic and have been asked by my grandniece to be her sponsor for confirmation. Forty years ago, I was divorced and remarried. At that time, I was told by my pastor that I could not receive Communion, and so I have not done so for all these years. I still, though, go to Mass every Sunday, believe in Jesus as my Lord and God, and try to live a good Catholic life. But does this mean that I cannot be her sponsor? (Baltimore)
A. A sponsor must be a practicing Catholic eligible to participate fully in the sacramental life of the church, including holy Communion.
The church's Code of Canon Law expresses it this way: "To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must … 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" (Canon 874).
That prescription is commonly taken to require full sacramental eligibility. The reason is that a sponsor serves as a role model in the faith for the person being baptized or confirmed and so, logically, must be able to share completely in the church's sacramental life.
And so, sadly, at this time you would not be able to be a confirmation sponsor for your grandniece. I certainly compliment you, though, on remaining faithful to Mass attendance over all this time. That is exactly as it should be; you are still a member of the Catholic Church and you no doubt benefit spiritually from your regular presence at Mass.
(You would also, by the way, be able to receive the anointing of the sick when seriously ill and to have a Catholic funeral.) But have you ever thought about talking to a priest about your particular situation? It may be that an annulment of your first marriage is possible, so that you could return to reception of the Eucharist (and be able to be a sponsor).
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.