Q: I teach a course on the RCIA. Can you give me the reason why the US bishops say no to giving a new name in the initiation rites. I agree with this, but students want to know why! Thank you.
A: I think the permission exists to accommodate those cultures where bishops tried to show that Catholic initiation bore similarities if not improvements over other types of initiation. I’m not sure if our bishops gave a reason, but I suspect that they thought at the time that the custom of awarding a new name at baptism was not practiced in the US and belonged more to missionary cultures. I believe it’s more common in Africa, for example, for people to get a new tribal name at certain points of their formation.