Can my kids be forced to go to Spanish confirmation classes?

My oldest son was forced to take confirmation classes in Spanish. We speak English only. When we brought this up to the priest at the time, he told us to live with it. Now my other two kids are being forced to go to Spanish Mass after confirmation classes. This is by direction of the new priest in our parish. All the other kids in the classes are bilingual. There is an English Mass my kids could attend after the Spanish Mass.

We have not been attending our local parish due to what happened with my oldest son. I would like to again go to my local parish and do not want to be forced out a second time. What can be done or who can I contact in the Catholic Church to see about getting this priest to respect the fact that nothing is gained if one doesn’t understand the language?

Surely there must be a misunderstanding here, possibly on both sides. I simply find it difficult to believe that any priest would insist that children be prepared for confirmation in a language they do not understand and would respond to a parent’s legitimate concern about that with the crude suggestion to “Live with it.”

Since you are dealing with a new priest now, go to him and explain that your family does not speak Spanish and ask for confirmation preparation for your children in English. A way to present your petition with some tact might be to say that “Of course!” your family is interested in learning Spanish, but that the children need confirmation preparation now and so there is not sufficient time for the kids to become proficient in the language before they need to take the confirmation classes. (You do not actually have to sign up for Spanish classes to make this statement, but learning Spanish as a family could be a great family project and you might recommend to the priest that the parish offer Spanish classes for those parishioners who only speak English.)

As for attending a Spanish Mass, Catholics have a right to attend any Catholic Mass they wish. By all means, go to the Mass in the language you understand and prefer. The priest cannot condition giving confirmation to your children upon attending a Spanish-language Mass.

In any case, if such diplomacy gets you nowhere, call your diocese and ask for assistance. If further help is needed, I recommend the St. Joseph Foundation, a Catholic apostolate that specializes in questions of canon law.

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