valid ordination

Can a baptized man who has not been confirmed be validly ordained?

Are you asking about the distinction between validity and liceity?

Canon 1033 states, “[a] person is promoted licitly to orders only if he has received the sacrament of confirmation.”

No I think he is asking about validity.

The canon law passage you cite seems imply an affirmative answer to his question regarding the bare validity of such an ordination. Importantly, however, the passage states that it is unlawful to confer order upon an unconfirmed man, even if the sacrament would technically be valid. No ministry in the church would be conferred in such an illicit ordination.

Umm… interesting assertion… :hmmm:


That’s not true. There are actions which impede a priest from exercising ministry (cf. cc. 1040-1044) or crimes which make render him “suspended” from ministry (cf., for example, c. 1383). Lacking Confirmation is not among those actions/crimes.


If in the event of an oversight or some other reason a man was made a priest or bishop without confirmation, could he be confirmed after his ordination?

Illicit ordination is a big deal. If he were illicitly ordained, no matter what circumstances, he would have no ministry in the church. An illicit ordination would not properly install the man into the ministry of the priesthood.

He would not be “suspended” from ministry, because he would have never had one. He could still exercise the sacraments in an emergency, but that is about it. He would need his orders canonically normalized, and be formally accepted to the priesthood, before he would have any right to minister as a priest.

In the unlikely event of a clerical error ;), his situation could be normalized. I would image this would require administering confirmation, in addition to an examination of the circumstances to check for any other potential impediments, but I am not familiar with the technical details of such a procedure.


Can. 1024 A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.

Can. 1025 §1. To confer the presbyteral or diaconal orders licitly, it is required that the candidate, having completed the period of probation according to the norm of law, is endowed in the judgment of his own bishop or of the competent major superior with the necessary qualities, is prevented by no irregularity and no impediment, and has fulfilled the prerequisites according to the norm of ⇒ cann. 1033-1039. Moreover, the documents mentioned in ⇒ can. 1050 are to be obtained and the investigation mentioned in ⇒ can. 1051 is to be completed.

§2. Furthermore, it is required that he is considered in the judgment of the same legitimate superior as useful for the ministry of the Church.

§3. The bishop ordaining his own subject who is destined to the service of another diocese must be sure that the one to be ordained is going to be attached to this other diocese.

To confer the presbyteral or diaconal orders licitly, … [the candidate must have] fulfilled the prerequisites according to the norm of cann. 1033-1039. (Canon 1033 being the aforementioned requirement to be confirmed).

If one is not licitly ordained, one does not licitly minister in the church. The situation could be canonically corrected if needed.

Why would not having received the sacrament of confirmation not prevent a man from being validly ordained? He is not fully initiated, so how could this not be an impediment to receiving valid holy orders?


Certainly, illicit actions are always to be avoided. I think you are jumping to conclusions, though, regarding the consequences of an ordination that is illicit due to the lack of Confirmation. The law contains no such consequences.


I understand the distinction between what is licit and what is valid and that sometimes an illicit sacrament is still a valid one.

What I am asking about is the reasoning that an ordination can be validly conferred on a baptized man that has not been confirmed since he has not been fully initiated according to Catholic teaching. Confirmation is required for full initiation into the Church.

I would ask what kind of evidence you have for a belief that an unconfirmed man could not be validly ordained. Baptism is the gateway to all sacraments, not Confirmation. Therefore if a man is ordained and not confirmed, it is a simple defect in procedure and not a diriment impediment to his reception of Holy Orders. Lacking evidence to the contrary, I don’t know why else it would need to be proved valid.

Because according to the Catholic teaching, he is not fully initiated into the Church and the grace of his baptism has not been completed. How then could he become a priest or bishop and even have the ability to confirm others?

Is this a question about sacraments of vocation, or about orders specifically?

After all, a Catholic person can validly enter into the sacrament of matrimony without having been confirmed, and therefore, without having been fully initiated into the Church… :wink:

I would say this more more than a simple defect. Candidates for the priesthood study for years, and have their sacramental records scrutinized. For a bishop to ordain a man who was not confirmed would almost certainly be an egregious abuse, either on the bishop’s end or deception by the candidate. One or both would almost necessarily be attempting to circumvent church law. While the sacrament would be valid, mere validity of a sacrament is not enough to confer ministry in the church.

One must be accepted to the clergy prior to ordination, the ordination must be lawful, and priest must be installed into a ministry. With a candidate who is not confirmed, the first two steps would almost certainly have been bypassed. Further, unlawful ordination sometimes triggers an automatic excommunication for both the ordaining and the ordained, barring any practice or participation in the sacraments until rectified.

While admittedly, a mere (but still serious) error in performing the search of the records might be easily rectified, illicit ordination should not be pooh poohed as no big deal.

“Christian initiation” refers to the ordinary order of sacraments when being received into the church, not the effect of the sacraments on one’s soul. The groupings are descriptive of when the sacraments are received, not precisely what they do.

Consider that it is a months long process to annul a marriage; a canonical process to correct an illicit ordination would be at least equally intense, because the souls of every person ministered to by the priest would be at stake.

The integrity of the Church’s sacraments is of paramount importance.

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