ASK FATHER: Can an Eastern Catholic priest confirm a Latin Catholic

From a reader…


Is it licit for a child who has received the sacraments of baptism and first communion in the Western Rite to receive the sacrament of confirmation from an Eastern Rite priest?

Canon 696 of the Code of the Canons of the Eastern Churches establishes that Confirmation (properly called Chrismation) is validly administered by an Eastern Catholic priest to any member of the Christian faithful, including Latin Catholics.

However, it says also that an Eastern priest chrismates (confirms) a Latin Catholic only if they are his subjects (as might happen in a place where the Eastern Church is predominant and there is not a Latin hierarchy established), or if he licitly baptizes them (for example, if the person is in danger of death), and “always with due regard for the agreements entered between the Churches sui iuris in this matter.”

Unless those conditions apply, confirmation of a Latin Catholic by an Eastern Catholic priest would be valid, but it would be illicit unless those conditions apply, or unless there’s something specific in the agreements entered into between the Latin Church and whichever one of the 23 Eastern Churches to which you are referring.

Hence, if you are contemplating such a thing, I warmly recommend that you check with your local diocese to seek clarity about your situation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Nan says:

    Unlikely to happen if it’s a church that administers all three sacraments of initiation together. Much more likely that someone not realizing they were in the wrong rite would receive sacraments in the Latin Rite, not realizing they were an Eastern Catholic.

  2. Fr. Aaron Sandbothe says:

    It happens quite often. There are many people who frequent our churches for whatever reason and we provide sacramental care for them.

    Asking for a dispensation from the Latin Ordinary is quite simple and in almost all cases granted.

  3. Ed the Roman says:

    If the Eastern priest validly baptizes someone, when would they not themselves become Eastern Catholics?

  4. Fr. Aaron Sandbothe says:

    Canonical ascription depends on age, if it is a child then under normal conditions the baptized child takes the Church sui iuris of his father. If it is an adult then it depends on what Church the person chooses upon baptism.

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