Baptism and Confirmation

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I enjoy your blog. There is always something to be learned!  Thank you for doing this.

I am new to the area and parish and have taken on the position of RCIA Director.  The practice here for RCIA Adapted for Children (7 yrs and older) has been to split the sacraments.  Baptism occurs at one time, followed by Eucharist and Confirmation.  The timing of Eucharist & Confirmation depends upon the age of the child, and the child could very well be put into the sacramental preparation class for Eucharist, then at 9th/10th grade be in the sacramental prep class for Confirmation.  I have been involved in RCIA for many years, and this has not been my experience.  I learned early on that Baptism and Confirmation need to be done together past the age of 7 years according to Canon 852.1 (adult baptism applies to those who are no longer infants and have attained the use of reason). 

I was shocked as well as disappointed in this practice of splitting the sacraments and asked for an explanation.  There has been a custom (somewhat cultural) where the parents bring the children to Faith Formation only to receive sacraments.  If the child receives all three sacraments at one time, the parents would very likely not bring them back-they would receive their sacraments and then not receive any further faith formation.  

I believe we should not be holding children hostage for the sacraments and it appears to me, according to Canon Law, that we clearly cannot do this.

Can you please address this?  

Thank you very much.


A: Thanks for your comments on my blog. 

The canons pertaining to the confirmation of children of catechetical age are 883 §2 and 885 §2.

The priest confirms a person he baptizes “who is no longer an infant or one already baptized whom he admits into the full communion of the Catholic Church.” “A presbyter who has this faculty must use it for those in whose favor the faculty was granted.”

A priest violates the law when he does not confirm a child of catechetical age whom he baptizes. He receives the faculty for the sake of the child. CARA did a survey of parishes 5 years ago and discovered that your situation is not isolated. An incredible 53% of US priests do not confirm the children they baptized as required by law.

We should not deprive children of the gift of the Holy Spirit.