Are baptized Christians in RCIA programs Catholics?

How does the Roman Catholic Church view baptized Christians who are in an RCIA program and attend Mass regularly and are on their way to being formally received in the Catholic Church? From what I understand, the Church already embraces them as her own, but they’re obviously not yet in full communion with the Church. So are they then Catholics? By that I mean, if a person were to ask them on the street: “Are you a Catholic?” Would they be able to say yes? What’s the official line here?


I believe the official term would be Catechumens.


Candidates are not Catholic until they make a profession of faith. Catechumens are not
Catholic until they receive baptism.


Technically they are candidates, but to a random person who might ask, a simple answer of “I’m Catholic” would suffice without requiring explanation.

No, if they are already baptized, they are “candidates.”

Ok, gotcha. I wasn’t exactly sure. :wink:

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

That’s from Lumen Gentium. So it seems like the answer could be yes or no depending on what you mean.

Yeah, it somewhat depends on the question’s context. For an easy example, a candidate is generally advised to put themselves as “Catholic” on any medical forms.

Wow, been a long time since I’ve seen a medical form that asks that. Hospital wrist bands no longer include that info.

However, if they are sincere in their intention to become Catholic through RCIA but died before officially joining the Church at Easter they would be saved based on Baptism of Desire.

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Candidates are already baptized Christians. They have no need of baptism of desire.

Within the RCIA there are various rites to mark the developing spiritual life. The Rite of Acceptance should come after a period of inquiry into Catholicism, and before formal instructional classes begin. This rite is when the person makes a formal committment to the Church and the Church accepts them as her own.

For those already baptised, there is a Rite of Welcome that corresponds to the rite of acceptance and is often celebrated with it. This would be the moment when the baptized but uncatechized become members of the Church.

Not all parishes use this part of the RCIA. I do not know how they answer your question. Probably if you are attending classes, you are considered to have become a part of the Church?

They can take part in the mass and get a blessing instead of Holy Comunion from the priest.

Until your formal entry at the time you make your profession of faith in unity with the church, you are “enquiring into the faith,” which should be a very exciting and spiritual time in your faith journey. Similar to all the preparations a bride makes for her wedding day.

It seems in your heart you already consider yourself “Catholic” and it is only the formalities that will make it complete. Welcome home.

When I was a candidate, our catechist took us to a number of Masses, and he said that we were welcome to come to other Masses if we wanted to. But I said, Thanks but I think I’ll wait till I’m a member of the Church before attending alone. I said that because Catholics aren’t always that happy about non-Catholics going to their church (and vice versa), and you aren’t Catholic until you have been confirmed in the church.

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@ShastaRose so sorry about your experience! That is terrible. In my parish and all parishes I am familiar with, people are most welcoming and humbled to accept with love and gentleness all those enquiring into the faith. After all, new Catholics need to be treated with the same care and concern as we would in receiving a newborn baby.
Again, unthinkable that you would be denied the affection you deserve. So sorry. :pensive: Prayers.

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The question has been well answered but I will just add my tid bit. If I were asked on the street, say in a poll of opinion, what denomination I belong to I would answer Catholic, even though I am not, nor am I a Catechumen. It would not be a case of deceit, but rather the simplest way to express to someone how I think in a religious sense. The details can come later if they wish to pursue it. If I were in hospital and were asked who I’d like to visit me, I would say a Catholic priest.

I suspect that most non-Catholics assume that if you attend Mass to the exclusion of other services, then you must be Catholic. So again, unless they need to know more, I feel it’s simpler to leave them with that impression.

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Baptism of Desire would make them a Catholic, not just a Christian. This means if they died before being officially accepted into the Church they would be saved by their desire to become Catholic and would be deemed by that desire to be within the Catholic Church.

No. They are candidates. A Catechumen is one who has never been validly baptized.

It is easy to confuse the two.

I think the straightforward response would be something like “I’m on my way! I’m in RCIA right now and am looking forward to Confirmation this Easter.” :slight_smile:

But, yes, they are candidates.

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