February 1, 2007
TO: Parish Priests and Parochial Vicars
Parish Catechetical Coordinators
RE: Pastoral Guidelines for Confirmation
It is my duty to respond to the numerous requests from priests and catechists that the diocese to lay clear pastoral guidelines regarding the administration of the sacrament of Confirmation in our particular Church. Please diligently study the following pastoral directives.
1. Who may be confirmed? All baptized persons who have not been confirmed and only such persons may receive Confirmation. The candidates for Confirmation must have the use of reason, suitably instructed in the faith, properly disposed and able to renew their baptismal promises. (CIC 889)
2. Who must prepare the candidates for Confirmation? The initiation of children into the sacraments is ordinarily the responsibility and concern of parents. One of the highest responsibilities of the people of God is to prepare their fellow baptized for Confirmation. After the parents, the pastors of parishes assume the responsibility of instructing the children and insuring that our children approach the sacrament at the appropriate time.(cfr. Rite of Confirmation DOL 2512)
3. What is the age for confirmation? The sacrament of Confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion (CIC 891). This age of discretion is not only preferable but normative as indicated by commentaries on the Code. The age of discretion is about seventh birthday. The universal law permits diocesan bishops to determine an age that seems more suitable for Confirmation to insure proper formation and maturity. As a diocesan policy, we have determined that Confirmation must be administered between ages nine to twelve years old.
4. When may we integrate the conferment of Confirmation within the Eucharist? As a diocesan policy, the sacrament of Confirmation must always be celebrated within the Mass in order to stress the interrelatedness of the three sacraments of Christian initiation.
5. Can parish priests administer Confirmation? As a diocesan policy, I grant a general delegation to all parish priests to administer Confirmation under the following conditions:1. The candidate is an adult preparing for the sacrament of matrimony; 2. The candidate will receive baptism as an adult and therefore Confirmation will be administered within the same rite of Christian initiation;3. The candidate is in danger of death.
6. Is it necessary to make a Confession before Confirmation? As a diocesan policy, in view of the decrees of the synod, all candidates for Confirmation must make a good sacramental confession prior to Confirmation.
1. How many sponsors may there be for Confirmation? It is not strictly required to have a sponsor for Confirmation. As a rule there should be one sponsor for each of those to be confirmed.
2. What are the duties of the Confirmation sponsor? They bring the candidates to receive the sacrament and help them to fulfill their baptismal promises faithfully through the grace of the Holy Spirit.
I hope these pastoral guidelines help you in guiding and teaching our youth and children to appreciate the Catholic faith and more deeply understand the sacrament of Confirmation.
Please receive my pastoral affection and blessings.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Bishop of Balanga