Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Major Catholic Archdiocese Will Give Confirmation To Young Children

From across the pond as they say this notice from the Archdiocese of Liverpool caught my eye. See

Let me post out the whole text and then I shall comment


Following a number of enquiries in the last few weeks regarding the proposed changes to the Order of Sacraments I have copied some of the current information that we have received regarding this and proposed a way forward for Cathedral Confirmations during the two interim years.

In recent years in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, most Catholics have been baptised as babies, made their First Communion around age seven, and been confirmed when teenagers.

These three sacraments make up the process of belonging to the Church (called Christian Initiation). The sacraments weren’t always in that order, and adults preparing for initiation have always received them in the original order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (Communion).

From September 2012 in this Archdiocese, children who have been baptised will follow that same order. Those aged eight by the first of September 2012 will be invited to receive Confirmation and First Communion in the days between Ascension Sunday and the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) in 2013, and the same pattern will be followed each year after that.

The families of these children will be invited to explore and celebrate Reconciliation with them during Advent each year, while teenagers and their families will be invited to explore and celebrate Reconciliation during Lent each year.

The bishops will preside at some of the celebrations of Confirmation and Communion (with priests delegated to confirm at the other celebrations).

At the same time the way children are prepared for these sacraments will change. Instead of teachers, catechists and priests teaching children and parents about the sacraments, they will help the parents to hand on their own faith to their children, fulfilling the privileges and responsibilities expressed in the Rite of Baptism. New resources will help parents to prepare their own children for these sacraments with the support of the local church community.

These changes are meant to help us understand that sacraments are gifts of God’s grace, that parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith, and that we are all called to get to know Jesus better throughout our life’s journey.

2011 and 2012 will be years of transition from the old regime to the new. During these two years all children born before 2004 (who will be 9+ in 2013) will need to have the opportunity to be confirmed. What I propose should happen for our children (namely those living in the Cathedral parish and members of our choirs , servers and siblings) is that for this year any children from Year 6 or older should be confirmed and then for 2012 children in the then Years 4, 5 and 6. From 2013 onwards the norm will be that children in Year 4 would receive confirmation and Holy Communion during the same celebration. When we have fixed a date for our Confirmation celebration this year we will be inviting those who wish to be confirmed to put their names forward.

Canon Anthony O’Brien Cathedral Dean.

I might be very wrong on this but this is the first time I have ever heard of children of this age being confirmed AS THE NORM in the Latin Rite Catholic Anglo sphere world. If this has occurred in the USA I am not aware of it. In my neck of the woods Confirmation usually occurs to kids in their late High School years.

With that being said I like it!! In the first place in the Eastern Orthodox Churches and in the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome both Baptism and Confirmation occur together when the child is a infant. Now I am not one of these people that say if the EAST does it they must be correct so lets do it! However it does show as a theological matter this should not be a major controversy.

Further this post from wikipedia I think is actually pretty good in showing that such a practice is not foreign to the West.

That entry makes this observation:

the early Church, through the Middle Ages, confirmation was closely linked with baptism and it was often performed on infants before their first birthday.[7] Like baptism, confirmation was an act for which the parents were held responsible. Two synods held in England during the thirteenth century differed over whether confirmation had to be administered within one year after birth, or within three years.[8] Confirmation became a much more important ritual within the Catholic Church in response to the Reformation's concerns about understanding and faith, as well as the age of consent.[9].

Of course in the Church of the East where the Reformation hardly no headway at all they did not change the practice.

I am not sure the Catholic Church has been well served trying to make this Sacrament akin to a evangelical altar call. That is "OK I am am Adult I accept Jesus and Lord and Savior."I am not saying that such an approach does not have benefits. However I do wonder if this way might be better.

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