ASK FATHER: Is it wrong or illicit to go to a different diocese to be confirmed?

From a reader…

Is it wrong or illicit to go to a different diocese to be confirmed? Does an Ordinary have the right to confirm his subjects? Does the Bishop of another diocese have to have permission to confirm someone from another diocese?

Background: neighbouring diocese wants two year program of prep, leading to candidates being even 18 years old, etc. (A Lutheran idea of Confirmation?)

It is not wrong.

Can. 886 of the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church states,

“A bishop in his own diocese may lawfully administer the sacrament of confirmation even to the faithful who are not his subjects, unless there is an express prohibition by their own Ordinary.”

Can. 887 adds that a priest who has the faculty to confirm, does so lawfully “even to those from outside the territory, unless there is a prohibition by their own Ordinary.”

Some people who might be interested in this topic are those traditionally-minded people who desire confirmation according to the older, traditional Roman Rite.  While their local bishop may not be cooperative, the bishop of the neighboring diocese may be friendly and helpful.

Also, may I add my opinion that it is better to be confirmed by a bishop?  Someone confirmed by a priest is not less confirmed, but it is seemly and fitting and, frankly, more impressive to be confirmed by a bishop.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. benedetta says:

    In my opinion the two year high school graduation from church confirmation model has been a total and utter disaster.

    Based on what secular studies show young people having to shoulder and take on burdens of at very early ages before mature judgment has developed, a Church that cared about the health of our young people would impart the true faith without watering it down from earliest ages and also confirm as early as possible. If people want to keep them coming to Mass, which is sort of a joke really, one should have a system whereby whole family attends Mass over a certain number of weeks which are dedicated to some aspect of catechism. Of course, pastors who look the other way and confirm when whole family doesn’t attend Mass regularly are not doing people any favors either. Sacraments matter and mean something and they require our assent when we receive them and not just a “whatever”.

  2. I do not think the Church requires “assent” for the Sacrament of Confirmation to be validly conferred. Otherwise infants could not be confirmed.

    I think there are some in my parish especially come confirmation and first holy communion time, who travel very long distances to be confirmed by the Bishop in our EF parish.

  3. benedetta says:

    ChiaraDiAssisi, perhaps the words could be changed, assent swapped for something else, but still, apart from “validity”, I think, making use of the grace on offer, cooperating with grace, all of these, for all of the sacraments, require something on our parts. I call it assent, not in any term of art, but it strikes me that way. I was not speaking of validity, however a few posts back Fr. Z did say that just baptising for the sake of it without any understanding that an infant will be raised in the Faith is not something the Church would condone. I am no expert in this area and I am sure others could flesh it out properly but as I understand it when it comes to baptism, parents and godparents do the “assenting” part for us. Coming to confirmation when one rarely attends Mass, doesn’t really know the faith, but receives the sacrament because it is the thing to do or because a parent made us, perhaps as you say it’s all still technically valid, but how desirable is it if that becomes a bit of a cultural and expected norm? Would we want a great majority in a confirmation class to come at it from that perspective ideally or would we hope that there were few in that position ultimately? I think it matters. I’d be interested to hear others chime in on it though.

  4. Joseph-Mary says:

    I had my children confirmed in a neighboring diocese as mine at the time had deficient programs and waited until upper teens. Some years the parish had no confirmandi. I was also homeschooling at the time, became a trained catechist and taught my children. Other homeschoolers did the same. We got permission from the neighboring archbishop. I let my parish priest know too as I was not ‘sneaking’ behind his back. I know of other cases with well prepared homeschooled children who are refused the sacrament until they are older.

    My present diocese is bringing confirmation down to the time of First Communion.

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Confirmation means “strengthening” or “support.” The Church asks the Holy Spirit to strengthen and support its baptized members with His gifts, and to protect them supernaturally.

    So basically, the requirement for Confirmation is that you’re a baptized Catholic who hasn’t yet been Confirmed. It’s a matter of need.

    It’s not an award. It’s not a certificate of being a determined Christian (like what I understand is the Lutheran view of Confirmation). It’s not a Catholic bar mitzvah.

    It’s “O Holy Spirit, please help this poor defenseless baptized person!”

    Leaving someone eligible unConfirmed is leaving them naked, poor, and shivering in the street.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Also, it occurs to me that the Apostles, disciples, and Mary got Confirmed after only 40 days. How come kids today have to wait for years?

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    50 days, I mean.

  8. benedetta says:

    I requested that the sacrament be conferred in the EF for my child who was slightly younger than the technical age for it in my diocese which had it set at upper high school age. My child at the time was in middle school. He was homeschooled and we have used the Faith and Life series since his First Holy Communion. He is able to reflect on scripture and catechism meaningfully and is thoughtful and considerate about the faith. I felt for various reasons that he was in need of Confirmation and advocated for this. Eventually I was able to organize an entire class of young people who similarly desired the sacrament in the EF and our new Bishop did confer the Rite in the old form, which was quite beautiful really for all, about a year ago. The old form of the sacrament had not been conferred by a Bishop in decades, obviously. So far, there are no new classes forming up, but I am confident that in time more families will desire it and request it. In the meantime, my opinion as a teacher and parent stands that it be conferred at a much lowered age than late high school and with copious orthodox doctrine throughout childhood. To me it really has come down to a health issue. We desire holistic health for ourselves and our families, for our children, and all the secular evidence supports the regular, orderly practice of the faith with a progression of catechesis which is age appropriate. Age appropriate, as all homeschoolers know, is not the standard that the secular world sets for learning, and it is not because we say so but because of the way children themselves naturally show an interest in God, their souls, in prayer, and faith. There is a disconnect between the secular data if you can call it that and the practice in the Church, longstanding, which for weird reasons discouraged children from decent formation, this despite the fact of numerous examples of sanctity in children and youth longstanding. Well a lot has been weird for a long time, hasn’t it. Anyway I noticed that the gentleman who heads up the Catholic League has come out with a book marshaling the secular support for the spiritual life. Perhaps the powers that be will come to acknowledge what our young people deserve and need and themselves look for, at some point, one hopes, “while we’re young”.

  9. Actually, when the bishop delegates his authority to confirm to a priest, it makes me wonder why we don’t just do what the Eastern-rite Catholics do and administer all three sacraments of initiation at birth. The whole point of delaying Confirmation is to strengthen the bond to the bishop– if he sends a priest, it actually becomes rather silly. For many years now in my diocese we have had an episcopal vicar who is not a priest regularly administering some confirmations, and while it is allowed canonically, I agree that it is far from an ideal practice.

  10. momoften says:

    I left our Diocese to have some of my children Confirmed. I am absolutely BITTER about how our Diocese has handled the “age” to be Confirmed. It went from 8th grade to High School then suddenly POW down to 2nd grade… to 3rd grade or in some cases still 2nd grade. Since I have a large family obviously I was a probably one of very few that experienced it. I can’t tell you how many times the Diocese emphasized how important (at one point) how knowledge and maturity was necessary and felt it was best given to older children. Now, the younger children have 1st Penance, 1st Holy Communion and Confirmation ALL in ONE YEAR! OH, did I mention when they changed it they had NO< NADA<NONE materials to teach with for that age? I take teaching my children about their Faith seriously, and feel so inadequate that they are ready at that age for 3 Sacraments, when they were older and receiving Confirmation later, it seemed they were ready to reaffirm their Faith as they understood the sacrament better. Now, after 3 years of this, I believe they might change it again and move one of the sacraments to the next year. So, I did what I had to ~ 2 years ago, I had the rest of them Confirmed because I was afraid the requirements would change again, and as we homeschool, who knows what extras they would throw in for requirements. BITTER, yes. I absolutely HATE that there is NO common age, that this age requirement is getting frequently bumped back and forth. Why can't requirements across the USA Catholic Church be more uniform? Why can we not have some uniformity in some things? It seems like it would be a good thing? Sigh………..

  11. TWF says:

    Adult concerts are typically confirmed by a priest, so I was very blessed to be received into the Church by a bishop. Converts were pretty rare in my largely rural home diocese- the bishop came to town for the sole purpose of confirming me. Got to have dinner with His Excellency to boot. I remember the awe I felt, as a former Protestant, realizing I was in the presence of a true, living successor of the apostles.

  12. Christ-Bearer says:

    Andrew Saucci: I presume you mean “episcopal vicar who is not a *bishop*” instead of “priest”. I pray he’s at least a priest!

  13. @ TWF I too am a convert and received all 3 Sacraments of initiation by the Bishop on Easter Vigil of 2005. I remember that feeling of awe and making the Bishop chuckle because I was so eager to be baptized I kept putting my head over the font before it was time!

    Anyway back to the subject, thank goodness it is allowed to go to a different diocese to receive the sacrament of confirmation if you can’t find a parish that doesn’t scandalize you to the point of anger or despair.

    As for the age of confirmation, I like the idea of confirming very young if not at baptism. Perhaps the parents and godparents can assent at a much younger age for the benefit and armament of a precious little soul. Then later down the line youth group can be replaced by real solid faith formation with peers. something fun and engaging and challenging where they are actually able to put the graces they received into good practice. 12 years old is seriously pushing it for me but this is what our EF parish does and it looks like this may be the age they confirm for a while. So we wait because we are not Eastern Catholic.

  14. Giuseppe says:

    I was confirmed when I was around 14. None of us chose to be confirmed, even though some viewed it as a voluntary re-baptism. It wasn’t really a choice; it was just something you did. The preparation for the sacrament consisted of our memorizing 40-50 questions verbatim. The most scintillating catechism class was a quiz when we had to reply whether a virtuous-sounding noun was a fruit of the Holy Spirit, a gift of the Holy Spirit, or neither.

    Understanding? Fruit
    Peace? Gift
    Hope? Neither

    Confirmation in early adolescence is like giving childhood vaccines in high school. It’s way too late. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholics have it right – get the grace while it can still protect you.

  15. Giuseppe says:

    Whoops – I got understanding (gift) and peace (fruit) wrong. Well, it was 30+ years ago…

  16. Yes, I meant “not a bishop.” Thanks for the correction.

  17. abasham says:

    We did this recently in our (amazing) diocese of Arlington. The (highly esteemed) Bishop Loverde conferred the sacrament of confirmation in the Extraordinary Form upon youth from our diocese and from across the Potomac in the Archdiocese of Washington. No doubt he discussed this with Cardinal Wuerl beforehand, but its good to see our (pretty darn amazing) Bishop help out the fellow faithful across the river.

    When are you visiting Arlington, by the way? ;-)

  18. CradleRevert says:

    Interesting. My in-laws used to travel out-of-state years ago to have all of their children confirmed in the old Rite. As I recall, they had to struggle with the local Archbishop to get his permission to do so. Apparently they didn’t need his permission at all, then.

  19. GreggW says:

    Benedetta: If you hear of (or inspire or lead) another such confirmation process, please let me know. I assume our kids would know some of the participants, would enjoy going through the process with some of their friends and would benefit spiritually from doing that.

  20. ProfKwasniewski says:

    Because we wanted our children to be confirmed in the traditional Roman Rite, we asked the Fraternity of St. Peter parish in Littleton, CO, if we could join their confirmation class. The answer was a resounding yes, and everything went very smoothly. It was a beautiful, reverent, and memorable experience, and I would highly recommend it for Catholic parents who would like to see this sacrament, which is only given once, given with the utmost solemnity.

  21. benedetta says:

    GreggW, I would be happy and honored to encourage another class of confirmands to be conferred the sacrament of confirmation using the old form of the rite. Perhaps you could drop a note with your email to our esteemed blogmaster who could put us in touch via our registrations here, and then we could communicate as to what would be needed to move such an effort forward. It’s important for others to know however that there is nothing special needed in terms of getting things together — I think that these confirmations all have the same origin: a parent asked for it. When it comes to sacraments, we are all well within our dignity in the Church to ask, and be willing to do what is required to make things happen.

  22. BigRed says:

    I am an adult convert. I received instruction from the pastor of a parish that hosted a TLM community in a neighboring diocese and was received into the faith by the old Rite of Conversion. Although I began RCIA in my own parish I had already become attracted to the traditional rite and sought out that experience. Some months after my conversion I joined that year’s class of confirmands. The bishop, who had authorized the presence of the TLM community, authorized the pastor of the parish to administer the sacrament, also in the old rite.

  23. iepuras says:

    Adult convert here who is Byzantine Catholic due to marriage. I am of the firm belief that our children need to be confirmed/chrismated as soon as possible after baptism. I am pleased when I hear of Roman Catholic dioceses that are doing it earlier and doing the sacraments of initiation in proper order. Our children need all the graces they can get these days. It will be harder and harder to be Christian in the coming years and our children need the sacraments.

  24. Gerard Plourde says:

    I received my conformation in 3rd grade, a year after my first Penance and First Communion (this was immediately before the Second Vatican Council). My children were confirmed in their middle school years (my son whe he was in 8th grade, my daughter in 6th). I think that this age is a sensible time. I know that I was too young to fully understand the Sacrament’s importance but also think that waiting until high school is too long.

  25. What if one was confirmed by an Abbot? Is that fitting or impressive?

  26. akp1 says:

    My 9 year old nephew has the misfortune to be in the ArchDiocese of Liverpool (UK) where he has just recently received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation on the same day, administered by the very elderly Parish Priest, who also did the preparation. It took place on Corpus Christi (beautiful, I thought and flew over to attend) but none of the readings were proper to the feast, including the Gospel (no 2nd reading), and no homily. These children were short-changed and it will take great courage and a responding to grace for them to stand any chance of remaining (or truly becoming) Catholic. (The EP was properly done, but then he got all the 9 year olds up to hold hands around the altar for the Our Father……I thought ‘how to make sure they never want to come again’) I was devastated!

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