Abbots and Confirmation

Last year, the confirmandees of my parish were confirmed by a local abbot, and I was just wondering if it was normal practice in other places. I have no objection to the abbot’s presence; he has equivalent authority of a bishop from what I understand. So, anybody know someone confirmed by an abbot, or were confirmed by one themselves?

No, I am not referring to the Easter Vigil.

Unless he was also a Bishop (the normal minister of Confirmation), an Abbot has no authority to confirm. An abbot is the head of a Monastic community and may or may not be a priest depending on the needs of the monastic community. Those confirmandi (those to be confirmed) may not have actually been confirmed if he was not a bishop or in special circumstances declared by the bishop a priest. I suggest looking into the fact of him actually being an abbot and if he is an ordained priest. If he was not, then those confirmandi are not confirmed and would need to be truly confirmed.

It is normal practice to be confirmed by the Bishop. He is the only one who can confirm someone except in the special case of Easter Vigil when a priest had the dispensation to confirm in the absence of the Bishop.

More about the Minister of Confirmation is in the Code of Canon Law, canons 882 to 888, which are at .

Pacbox-Yes he is an abbot as well as a priest. We were told he was celebrating because the bishop and his auxiliaries were too busy with other confirmations.:shrug: I know it is the normal practice for the Bishop to be there, which was why I was asking if anyone else had run into this situation. In this specific case, he was asked by the Bishop to help out, and he agreed. I doubt he would have agreed if he thought it in any way affected the validity or illicitness of the Sacrament in question.:smiley:

J. Lilburne- I think somewhere in there it said there is a circumstance under which the abbot could exercise the regular authority of the bishop. I’m just wondering if anyone knows of such a situation themselves. Actually, due to the fact that he didn’t seem all that phased, it makes me wonder if his helping out is a yearly thing.:frowning: It would be nice if one of the bishops was there though, no offense to the good abbot.

Hey, I just wanted to make sure the confirmandi had been properly confirmed. There was a lack of information in your previous post. I am surprised that the Bishop would give dispensation for such a thing. They usually only give such a dispensation for Easter Vigil. Typically, the Bishop and the individual parishes schedule confirmations on a schedule. So unless for some very odd reason they decided to do confirmations all on one specific date, the Bishop should have been able to confirm.

Still, unless an abbot is also a priest and had been given dispensation by the Bishop to do so, an abbot has no ability to confect a sacrament. Abbots are monastics and in specific cases (determined by the need of an order) a priest. Monastics are not priests. They live their lives in community and prayer, not serving a parish. Just to be clear.

I doubt that an Abbot would even attempt to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation outside the Abbey, unless he was asked by the local Bishop and given permission and authority to do so.

I would expect that the abbot was delegated by the bishop to do this. Such delegation is common in our diocese, Orange California. Besides the Easter Vigil, our bishop delegates pastors to confirm adults at Pentecost. He has also delegated retired or visiting bishops to do some of the regular confirmations. We have 55 parishes and he wants all confirmations done between Easter and Pentecost; so all help is used.

True. I just find it odd that beyond Easter Vigil, a Bishop would grant a dispensation to a priest to do so. I’ve never heard or seen anyone but the Bishop or specifically designated priest and situation (Easter Vigil) being given this dispensation before. I just found it odd that an Abbot, whose main role is to lead his monastic community, would be given such a dispensation. My concern was that the abbot may not have permission and the faculty to do so and had done so without permission and faculty and then there would be cause for concern about the validity of the sacrament. Like I posted, there was a lack of information and I responded to the information given.

A technical point, but at the Easter Vigil the bishop does not need to give a dispensation for pastors to confirm; they have that right by law.

I think that one should not second-guess the church.

There is a dangerous growing tendency for Catholics all too often to assume they might be catching a cleric messing up. There is no possibility of a Confirmation happening in a parish without the bishop knowing about it, he owns the place and employs the pastor.

It does happen to be the case that many (if not all) Benedictine Abbots are actually bishops. It has been this way for many centuries. That is why so many attend General Councils of the church. They are also able to ordain clergy, which is good, in some monasteries half the monks are ordained and these can be a great relief to the local diocese in a pinch to supply clergy.

Our Bishop rarely does our school children confirmation and often sends a Monsignor in his place.

Just curious, are those valid?

Another issue that has been surfacing. Sacraments are suposed to be celebrated in the persons parish church overseen by their pastor. Not in the school they attend.

This just came to my mind when I read your post. However you could mean this either way. School age children being Confirmed in the parish Church or school children being Confirmed in the school setting and not the parish church.

I apologize for the lack of clarity, and upon reflection agree with both your concern for the confirmandi as well as the lack of information in my post. I had assumed it was obvious that the abbot would have gone through all the proper measures. For those curious, this was our regular scheduled confirmation.

Joe, hearing from you that it is common is a little discomforting, considering I too am of said diocese. Now I think I’ve blown my cover. Anyway, I was wondering if you knew anyone confirmed by an abbot, anywhere. It’s nice he had his own crosier/staff though, he, he… I know he came a great distance from his abbey, and that his community is planning on moving to the border of the county to expand as well as move away from damaged buildings. Can you guess who he is yet?:smiley:

Well, I used to serve as the MC for confirmations that the abbot served. I can assure you that he had the proper delegation to do the confirmations from the bishop of the diocese. In fact, our diocese has used retired bishops as well as an Melkite bishop (one of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches).

Deacon Ed

It is common practice in our diocese for the bishop to allow priests to confirm adults, however, he makes every effort to confirm the younger people himself.

The diocesan bishop may delegate any priest (secular or monastic) to be the minister of Confirmation, so long as the priest has faculties to celebrate the Liturgies of the Church (c. 884).
There are no restriction as to what time of year this can be done. Individual bishops may have policies or the practice of not granting this delegation except under certain circumstances or seasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that he may do so anytime he sees fit.

Hello The Fool,

While most abbots are only “in charge” of their monastery, there are “territorial abbots” who are, in canon law, equivalent to a diocesan bishop (See canons 368 & 370). As far as I know, there are now only 15 or so territorial abbacies left. Most, if not all, are in Europe.


I recall that Belmont Abbey in NC was for years the only abbatia nullius in the US. No idea what it’s status is now.

I do not think he was a territorial abbot, but I am somewhat familiar with their existence. I’m also vastly amused at the power some abbesses’ had, or do they still have it? I think an abbot and abbess of the Orthodox tradition is also quite different, so I wonder about the procedures for them… but that’s for another forum.:smiley:

Just curious, does anyone know if a prioress is subordinate to an abbot if her community is dependent on his? Uh, she might not be a prioress, but she is a superior for sure.

I’m not well-versed on the canonical status of monasteries, but I do understand that many of the abbots in the US have ordinary jurisdiction within the monastery itself. In other words, some have a regular diocese with parishes (that’s an abbatia nullius, right?), but in the US that ordinary jurisdiction (which is equivalent to the jurisdiction of a bishop-ordinary) applies only to the monks of that community and not to anyone else–but they do still have it. Belmont being the one exception? Comments, corrections?

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