Catholic Church in Sicily Bans Godparents For Now - The New York Times
Oct 16, 2021 2 mins, 12 secs
Part of the Catholic church in Sicily has imposed a three-year prohibition on naming godparents, arguing that the tradition has become merely a way to fortify family ties — and mob ties, too.

That weekend in October, the Roman Catholic diocese of Catania enacted a three-year ban on the ancient tradition of naming godparents at baptisms and christenings.

Church officials argue that the once-essential figure in a child’s Catholic education has lost all spiritual significance.

God parenting, church officials said, had fallen to earth as a secular custom between relatives or neighbors — many deficient in faith or living in sin, and was now a mere method of strengthening family ties.

It is a transgression most associated with, well, “The Godfather,” especially the baptism scene when Michael Corleone renounces Satan in church as his henchmen whack all of his enemies.

The break would allow the church some time to send Catania back to Catholic school, but Monsignor Genchi was not optimistic that it would stick.

But Archbishop Morosini said he kept bringing the issue up with Francis, who “showed himself very attentive” to it, and, in a meeting in May, told him, “‘Every time I see you, I remember the godfather problem.’”.

Angelo Alfio Mangano, of the Saint Maria in Ognina church in Catania, welcomed the ban, especially because it gave him a rest from spiritually questionable characters using “threats against the parish priest” to pressure him and others into naming them godfather.

When he was made a godfather, he said, he reciprocated by making his godson’s father a “compare” — or co-father — to his own children.

Salvatore Cuffaro, a former president of Sicily, said that he did not have many baptismal godchildren, “just about 20,” agreeing to only about 5 percent of requests.

“Despite what some priests think, I paid attention to all of my baptismal godchildren” and instructed them to go to Catholic school, he said.

“At least in Sicily, where I have lived, this doesn’t exist,” he said.

“It’s shocking,” said Jalissa Testa, 21, who celebrated her son’s baptism at the Catania basilica by dancing as her husband serenaded a crowd of women waving white napkins.

Afterward, the family posed on the church steps, and the family photographer (“You see the necklace on that baby?” the photographer said) called for the godfather to join.

“I don’t understand why the church is doing this,” Ivan Arena, 29, who may be the last godfather of Catania, said after the baptism of his nephew, who was dressed in a three-piece powder blue suit and white coppola cap.

Unlike Catania, he said, his diocese had taken a middle road, allowing godparents, but not requiring them


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