Q. 1. What is a Godparent by proxy?
A. 1. A Godparent by proxy means that when a Godparent cannot be present in person, he or she may appoint another person to serve as a proxy (appointed replacement). But the appointment must be made in such a way that there is certainty as to the person who takes the responsibility as Godparent. Ordinarily the appointment of the proxy should be made by the Godparent in writing or before two witness... the real Godparent must give a mandate directly or indirectly (through the agency of others but with his or her consent) to the proxy.
Q. 2. Why would a Godparent need a proxy?
A. 2. In a situation where an appointed Godparent suddenly has an urgent medical condition such as a heart attack and is unable to attend the ceremony, then a proxy is appointed to stand in at the ceremony.
Appointment by proxy has led to extreme abuses such as a case where a mother living in the United States wants her grandmother to stand as Godmother of her child. But the grandmother lives in Australia and is unable to attend the ceremony. So a proxy is appointed to stand-in for the grandmother as Godmother. This is a total abuse of the process. First of all, by refusing to attend the ceremony, the grandmother has declined the offer to stand as Godmother. Therefore someone else has to be appointed as Godmother. There is no need for a proxy.
Q. 3. Where can I find information about Godparents by proxy in the Canon Law or the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
A. 3. Prior to 1983, Church law made reference to Godparent by proxy. Since 1983, neither the Catholic Church Canon Law, nor the Catechism of the Catholic Church make any reference to Godparents by proxy. The Catholic Church no longer recognizes official "proxies" at baptism. Unfortunately, some priests still allow this to happen even through it is not correct and leads to babies having no Godparents.