RCIA and Confirmation Qualifications
On Participants in RCIA and Confirmation
For the proper response to the different sacramental and catechetical backgrounds of those who seek full communion with the Catholic Church, these notes are intended to supply direction by addressing two specific issues: (1) which categories of people must or may be in RCIA and (2) which categories of people are able to receive the sacrament of Confirmation from a priest.
- Pastorally, it is extremely important to determine the marital status of anyone seeking either baptism or full communion into the Church. Every year, at the time of the Vigil, pastoral issues arise that become painful moments because the marital status of individuals or their spouses was not attended to at an earlier time. The most appropriate moment to begin the process of addressing any particular marital issues in the person’s life, for example, if the person or spouse has been divorced and remarried, is when he or she made the determination to enter into the Church. As you well know, these marital issues can prevent someone, unless they are properly handled, from achieving his or her desire of becoming a member of the Church. Therefore, the Archdiocesan Tribunal must be consulted before anyone involved in what is or appears to be a canonically irregular marriage is enrolled in RCIA or any sacramental preparation program.
- The Office of Canonical Affairs may be consulted before anyone belonging to a separated Eastern Christian Church is enrolled in RCIA or any other program leading to full communion with the Catholic Church. As a reminder, it is important to note that the sacraments of anyone belonging to an Eastern Rite Non-Catholic Church are valid. Therefore, none of the initiation rites are to be duplicated.
- The Office of Canonical Affairs must be consulted before a baptized Catholic who has been brought up in or formally adhered to another religion, church, or ecclesial community, or who has repudiated the Christian faith and seeks readmission to full communion is enrolled in RCIA or any other program leading to full communion with the Catholic Church.
Participants in RCIA and Confirmation
- RCIA is for individuals over the age of seven years who have never been baptized. In the RCIA, these persons are classified as "catechumens."
- Catechumens who complete the RCIA program will ordinarily be baptized and confirmed by the priest and receive Eucharist at the Easter Vigil Mass.
- Adults who have been baptized in separated churches or ecclesial communities and seek full communion with the Catholic Church may take part in some aspects of RCIA. In the RCIA, these people will be "candidates" for full communion with the Catholic Church. They do not always need the same catechesis as catechumens and are not to take part in some aspects of the RCIA, e.g. the Lenten Scrutinies.
- Since the policy of the Archdiocese urges that when Catechumens and Candidates have been in the RCIA preparation together only the Catechumens are received at the Easter Vigil Mass, it is fitting that Candidates for full communion make their profession of faith and be confirmed by the priest and receive Eucharist at an Easter Sunday Mass or at a Sunday Mass during the Easter Season. Penance should be received prior to their reception into the Church. However if it is deemed pastorally necessary that both Catechumens and Candidates be received at the Easter Vigil, the "combined rites" should be used. (RCIA 562-594)
- Roman Catholics who were baptized but never "catechized" may take part in some aspects of RCIA. In the Archdiocese of Boston, persons in this group are those who have been baptized but have not received First Communion. They do not always need the same catechesis as catechumens or candidates for full communion with the Church and are not to take part in some aspects of the RCIA. As an alternative to RCIA these persons may be enrolled in a program leading to First Communion and Confirmation.
- Pastors and Administrators of the Archdiocese of Boston have received the faculty to confirm in their parishes uncatechized Catholics who have participated in appropriate aspects of the RCIA as outlined in paragraphs 400-410 of the Rite and paragraphs 25-29 of the "National Statutes for the Catechumenate". The use of this faculty is restricted to the Easter Vigil and to parish Masses in the Easter Season. A pastor or an administrator may subdelegate this faculty to confirm in his parish to another priest.
Candidates for Confirmation
- Roman Catholics who were baptized and have received First Communion should be dealt with in accord with their catechetical and sacramental needs.
- In the Archdiocese of Boston, permission will not be granted for a priest to confirm people in this category. Therefore, in lieu of participation in an RCIA program, it is recommended that such persons be enrolled in an "adult confirmation" program and presented for Confirmation either at a regularly scheduled parish Confirmation or at an Adult Regional Confirmation scheduled by a Regional Bishop.