Q: Is it the case that in any sacramental situation that calls for the priest to lay hands on those who are receiving the sacrament, there’s a general understanding that, for large numbers of people (as at a confirmation), an extension of the priest’s hands over the group satisfies the requirement to lay hands? I’ve seen it done thusly many times at confirmation; also at Masses of Anointing; never at an ordination (although I’ve never been to an ordination where more than seven men are ordained, so I’d think that’s not a large enough number to justify the switch). Please advise, and thank you, as always!
A: Baptism for a large number of children permits extending hands over the whole group at RBC 115.
The Rite of Confirmation 25 permits it as you have noted.
General confession and absolution permits it in Rite of Penance 62.
But Anointing of the Sick requires placing hands on each person to be anointed in PCS 139.
Likewise, the ordinations of bishops (45), priests (130) and deacons (205) all require individual imposition of hands.