Q: A short discussion came up in the parish recently and I would like your insight if you have the time. My understanding is that the Sacrament of Penance is for the remission of sins committed after baptism. Yet, there has been a practice in many of our parishes to admit the catechumens to this sacrament prior to their baptism. Is there any document that clarifies that only candidates should receive penance before baptism or contrariwise a document that directs both candidates and catechumens to the Sacrament of Penance even before baptism on the part of the latter?
Thank you for time and any assistance you can give.
A: I’d start with Catechism 1263, where the emphasis appears in the original:
“By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.”
It is totally inappropriate to ask unbaptized catechumens to go to confession before baptism. In fact, it is impossible for an unbaptized person to celebrate any sacrament. Baptism is the door to the others.