Confession for candidates/catechumens


#1

So heres the situation, I'm a baptized Christian in the process of becoming Catholic and I've recently found myself in what seems to me to be a somewhat irregular situation regarding the sacrament of confession. At the parish I first started attending the RCIA directors told me that since I was already validly baptized and had made a profession of Catholic faith I could go to confession. I was thrilled. I called up the pastor just to made sure it was ok since as I understand it the order of receiving the sacraments is different for people who weren't raised as Catholics. He seemed kind of surprised (probably because it wasn't immediately before the Easter vigil), but said that it was necessary to confess any mortal sins before receiving the other sacraments. So I made up a list of every sin I could remember commiting since my baptism and made what I believe to be a very thorough confession. He gave me a few words of encouragement, instructions for penance, and absolved me of my sins! It was a wonderful experience and I've gone back several times in the months since then.

Here's where it gets complicated. For unrelated reasons I've decided to start going to another parish and now I'm hearing from these priests (as well as several others that I've spoken to about it) that the sacrament of confession is only for people baptized in the Church or otherwise formally received as Catholics. Who's right?

At what point in the process of reception into the Church is someone obliged to go to confession, before or after confirmation? If it's the later (as I'm now being told) then were my previous confessions at this other parish sacramentally valid? Licit?

Thank you and God Bless.


#2

[quote="UntimelyBourn, post:1, topic:333153"]
So heres the situation, I'm a baptized Christian in the process of becoming Catholic and I've recently found myself in what seems to me to be a somewhat irregular situation regarding the sacrament of confession. At the parish I first started attending the RCIA directors told me that since I was already validly baptized and had made a profession of Catholic faith I could go to confession. I was thrilled. I called up the pastor just to made sure it was ok since as I understand it the order of receiving the sacraments is different for people who weren't raised as Catholics. He seemed kind of surprised (probably because it wasn't immediately before the Easter vigil), but said that it was necessary to confess any mortal sins before receiving the other sacraments. So I made up a list of every sin I could remember commiting since my baptism and made what I believe to be a very thorough confession. He gave me a few words of encouragement, instructions for penance, and absolved me of my sins! It was a wonderful experience and I've gone back several times in the months since then.

Here's where it gets complicated. For unrelated reasons I've decided to start going to another parish and now I'm hearing from these priests (as well as several others that I've spoken to about it) that the sacrament of confession is only for people baptized in the Church or otherwise formally received as Catholics. Who's right?

At what point in the process of reception into the Church is someone obliged to go to confession, before or after confirmation? If it's the later (as I'm now being told) then were my previous confessions at this other parish sacramentally valid? Licit?

Thank you and God Bless.

[/quote]

Always the Sacrament of Penance before the Sacrament of Confirmation - you must be in a state of grace to be confirmed.

God bless you on your journey home!

Clinton


#3

I was baptized this Easter Vigil so I didn’t have to confess anything but the already baptized candidates had a meeting with the priest on the weekend before Easter to make their confession. On the Vigil they were confirmed and then could start making regular confessions.

I could start making confessions once I was baptized and confirmed after Easter which is what I did.
That’s what I learnt through RCIA anyway and that was my experience but I don’t know the official Church teaching so I guess someone else can offer more insight.


#4

You’re correct, Gemma. Through Baptism God grants you sanctifying grace, so confirmation can follow immediately. But those ALREADY baptized would need to confess sins before being confirmed. Somewhere in the “General Directory for Catechesis” - it’s on my Kindle but not handy at the moment.

Clinton


#5

Normally a baptized non-Catholic Christian is not permitted to the sacrament of Confession unless they are about to be Confirmed, in which case they must receive Confession first so that they do not receive Confirmation in the state of mortal sin.


#6

Seems weird that your prior pastor received your profession of faith (which means you ARE a Catholic now) and had you start receiving confession but then did not confirm you and have you start receiving the eucharist.

Call your former pastor and make sure you, he, and the new pastor understand your canonical status. If your former pastor received your profession of faith, he should have recorded that in the sacramental records of his parish.

Your confessions were perfectly valid and yes, they were licit too, as we are to confess prior to receiving other sacraments.

You should be confirmed ASAP.


#7

From the liturgical book Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Section 5: “RECEPTION OF BAPTISED CHRISTIANS INTO THE FULL COMMUNION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH”

“394 It is the office of the bishop to receive baptised Christians into the full communion of the Catholic Church. But a priest to whom the bishop entrusts the celebration of the rite has the faculty of confirming the candidate within the rite of reception, unless the person received has already been validly confirmed.
395 If the profession of faith and reception take place within Mass, the candidate, according to his or her own conscience, should make a confession of sins beforehand, first informing the confessor that he or she is about to be received into full communion. Any confessor who is lawfully approved may hear the candidate’s confession.”

(In USA editions of the RCIA book these paragraphs are numbered 481 and 482, from The Rites Volume 1, ISBN 0814660150, page 277.)

The profession of faith in this ceremony is not just reciting the Nicene Creed. It includes:
"The celebrant then asks the one to be received to add the following profession of faith. The candidate says:
I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.

(From Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Approved for Australia, ISBN 1876295716, page 230, n. 404. From The Rites Volume 1, ISBN 0814660150, page 280, n. 491).

So perhaps there has been confusion about what is meant by making a profession of faith.

At vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_25031993_principles-and-norms-on-ecumenism_en.html there is the DIRECTORY FOR THE APPLICATION OF
PRINCIPLES AND NORMS ON ECUMENISM. Paragraphs 122-136 may be helpful in understanding the general situation for the Sacrament of Penance for a baptised non-Catholic.


#8

I’ll have to talk to my pastor again but after reading through your comments I’m thinking that he probably meant that non-Catholics shouldn’t be going to confession until they are about to be confirmed.Thanks for your responses everyone!


#9

John- Yes, that's the profession of faith I was referring to. It was a weird situation. I came into the program towards the end of December and took place in most of the RCIA rites but since I didn't go through the whole thing it was felt that I should wait to be confirmed until after the Easter season. The way the program was run (without much input or even oversight from the pastor) was one of the factors that led me to change parishes.


#10

When you made the profession of faith you should have received Confirmation and First Eucharist at the same Mass.


#11

[quote="clintondyches, post:2, topic:333153"]
Always the Sacrament of Penance before the Sacrament of Confirmation - you must be in a state of grace to be confirmed.

God bless you on your journey home!

Clinton

[/quote]

If a person is in a state of mortal sin and they get confirmed the Confirmation is valid. It just means they would receive no graces until going to Confession and receiving absolution.


#12

[quote="UntimelyBourn, post:9, topic:333153"]
John- Yes, that's the profession of faith I was referring to. It was a weird situation. I came into the program towards the end of December and took place in most of the RCIA rites but since I didn't go through the whole thing it was felt that I should wait to be confirmed until after the Easter season. The way the program was run (without much input or even oversight from the pastor) was one of the factors that led me to change parishes.

[/quote]

If you made your profession of faith, you are a Catholic now. You need to sit down with your new pastor and make a plan to get confirmed ASAP, which may now require the bishop to do it or a delegation of faculties to your pastor. Typically a pastor has faculties to receive a non-Catholic and confirm him/her at the same time. Since your old pastor received you and did not confirm you, that makes it a little more muddy.

As a Catholic in full communion, yes you should continue in the sacrament of reconciliation whenever you are aware of mortal sin. You also can receive the Eucharist, but clear that with your pastor.


#13

But the fact is, he did not. So now he must work it out with his new pastor to rectify the situation.


#14

One of my continual complaints about the RCIA program in this country is that baptized Christians, who are fully prepared and committed to entrance into the Church, have to wait until an arbitrary 1 week or so before Easter vigil to go to confession. It makes absolutely no sense.
I do know there are some priests who understand the absurdity of it all and will allow for a profession of faith and Christians going through RCIA to regularly go to confession, but they seem to be in a minority. Much more common is, everything is a set process, and regardless of the risk to someone’s soul, the process takes precedence of all else.

[edited]

There are other things about the RCIA process which I considered poorly done (the high incidence of new Catholics immediately falling away from the Church is evidence for this), but this denial of confession to fully prepared and baptized Christians is certainly the worse.


#15

[quote="tafan, post:14, topic:333153"]
One of my continual complaints about the RCIA program in this country is that baptized Christians, who are fully prepared and committed to entrance into the Church, have to wait until an arbitrary 1 week or so before Easter vigil to go to confession. It makes absolutely no sense.

[/quote]

You are generalizing.

There is no RCIA program in this country. RCIA exists in each diocese, under the direction of the bishop.

Nothing in the RCIA rites or directives compel what you describe above. In fact, the opposite is true.


#16

That may be for people already baptized. In fact it probably is. However, if you are being Baptized and Confirmed and receiving First Holy Communion all at the same time there is no need for Confession as Baptism was cleanse you totally.


#17

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