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Bishop puts Confirmation before First Communion, wins Pope’s praise

March 09, 2012

Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, has earned special praise from Pope Benedict XVI for his decision to alter the usual sequence in which young Catholics receive the sacraments, administering Confirmation before First Communion.

The Pope said that the “sacraments of initiation” had been “restored to their proper order,” Bishop Aquila reported, after meeting privately with the Pontiff on March 8 during his ad limina visit to Rome.

The bishop said that when Confirmation takes place first, “it really puts the emphasis on the Eucharist as being what completes the sacraments of initiation.” Confirmation, he said, is a completion of the process begun at Baptism, which helps the young people to develop “that intimate relationship of being the beloved sons and daughters of the Father in our daily lives.”

Bishop Aquila added that this sequence of receiving the sacraments also guards against some “false theologies” that describe Confirmation as a rite of passage to adulthood.


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Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: demark8616 - Mar. 21, 2012 4:48 AM ET USA

    "Will this Pontiff never stop surprising and pleasing?" - Thanks, my sentiments exactly! We are truly blessed in our Holy Father - a man of integrity. Not one for hiding himself or the Faith under any bushel.

  • Posted by: unum - Mar. 10, 2012 8:25 AM ET USA

    If the Code of Canon Law allows the change, why should it be a problem? On the other hand, I grew up in a universal Church, not a Church of random changes at the whim of the bishops, so some education on the change would have been helpful.

  • Posted by: JIZ - Mar. 10, 2012 6:13 AM ET USA

    For some historical background on the age of Confirmation in the West, see The Catechism of the Council of Trent said age 7-12; the 1917 Code of Canon Law decreed "the age of reason." Yet some nations have longstanding traditions of an older age. Thus Blessed John Paul didn't receive the sacrament in Poland until age 18. The 1983 Code prefers the age of reason but allows bishops' conferences latitude. The USCCB decreed age 7-18.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2012 2:03 AM ET USA

    Its about time someone tried to straighten that out.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 09, 2012 6:27 PM ET USA

    Why are you upset gunther. Seems like a good idea to me, and the Pope agrees.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Mar. 09, 2012 4:47 PM ET USA

    Humph! Will this Pontiff never stop surprising and pleasing?