Q: I recently came across your answer to the question of children above the age of reason, baptized as infants but uncatechized. You stated that there would have to be some compelling reason to complete their initiation with Confirmation and then stated that “when they reach the diocesan confirmation age, they may be confirmed. My question is why would they not be fully initiated? The RCIA states in ¶409 that these individuals make a profession of faith, receive confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil (as long as a authorized minister is present.) However, Canon 852:1 states that children who have reached the age of reason are considered for the purposed of Christian initiation to be adults. Then in the National Statutes ¶18 states their formation should follow the general pattern of ordinary carechumentate as far as possible.
While it may be hard to determine what uncatechized looks like in some cases, it seems that with Canon 852:1 and the National Statutes that these individuals should be fully initiated if they present for Eucharist and fit the understanding of uncatechized.
When would we apply the preparation of uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist and when would wee apply Canon 852:1? Thank you so much for your answer.
A: The confusion comes from the word “candidates”, which RCIA 400 uses to describe both 1) Catholics who were baptized as infants but have received no further catechesis, nor the sacraments of confirmation or communion; and 2) Christians from another denomination with a valid baptism who wish to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
In the first group, the bishop is the ordinary minister of confirmation. That’s why RCIA 409 (which refers only to the first group) says that the bishop or an authorized minister has to be present, and why it does not mention the reception of those candidates into the full communion of the Church. They are already Catholics.
My response pertained to the case of children baptized Catholic as infants, but who received no further formation, nor the sacraments of confirmation and first communion. They are not part of the Rite of Reception because they are already Catholics. The bishop is the ordinary minister of their confirmation. A priest cannot confirm them without permission of the bishop. If the bishop decides that they may be confirmed at an age earlier than the diocesan age, so be it. But most bishops I know will want them in the confirmation program with other peers their age.
Children in the second group are to celebrate the Rite of Reception and to be confirmed and given communion in the same ceremony. The priest presides for it all.