Sancta Missa - Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual) - Confirmation - General Rules



1. The sacrament of confirmation must be conferred by laying on of hands together with anointing with chrism on the brow, accompanied by the words prescribed in the Church's official book, the Pontifical.

2. This sacrament imprints a character, and for this reason cannot be repeated; but in case a reasonable doubt exists as to whether it has really been given validly or at all, it should be administered again conditionally.

3. Oil of chrism used in administering this sacrament, even when the minister is an ordinary priest, must have been consecrated by a bishop in communion with the Holy See on the preceding Maundy Thursday; and one may not use the old oil except in an emergency. As soon as the consecrated oil has diminished to a small quantity, non-consecrated olive oil should be added to it, but in a lesser quantity than the consecrated each time this happens. It is never allowed to administer confirmation without chrism, nor to receive it from a heretical or schismatic bishop. The anointing is not to be performed with some kind of instrument but by the minister's hand, properly placed on the head of the subject.

4. The ordinary minister of confirmation is the bishop alone. The extraordinary minister is a priest to whom this faculty has been granted, either by common law or by a special indult of the Holy See. Those who enjoy this faculty by law, besides cardinals of the holy Roman Church, are: an abbot or prelate nullius, and a Vicar and a Prefect Apostolic, who, however, can validly use this privilege only within their own boundaries or territory and only as long as they are in office. A priest of the Latin rite, who possesses this faculty by virtue of an indult, can confer confirmation validly only on the faithful of his own rite, unless the indult expressly provides otherwise. Priests of the Oriental rite have the faculty or privilege of conferring confirmation along with baptism to infants who belong to their own rite; but it is gravely unlawful for them to administer it to infants of the Latin rite.

5. In virtue of a general indult of the Holy See, the faculty of conferring the sacrament of confirmation as extraordinary ministers is granted, only under the conditions enumerated below, to the following priests and only to these:

(a) pastors having their own proper territory, excluding therefore pastors of private persons or families, unless they also have their own territory, although held cumulatively with other pastors;

(b) vicars and also parochial administrators;

(c) priests who are exclusively and permanently in charge of a definite territory with a definite church, with full care of souls together with all the rights and duties of pastors.[1]

6. The aforementioned ministers can validly and licitly confer confirmation personally, but only to the faithful living in their territory, including persons who are staying there although not proper subjects; this takes in seminaries, hotels, hospitals, and all other kinds of institutions, even those of exempt religious; as long as such persons are critically ill and in danger of death. If these same ministers exceed the limits of the mandate, let them realize fully that they are committing a very serious offense, that such administration is null and void, and that they are subject to the penalties mentioned in no. 22 below.

7. They can use this faculty both in the episcopal city itself or elsewhere; whether the see is occupied or vacant, as long as the diocesan bishop is unavailable or lawfully prevented from conferring the sacrament himself; and if no other bishop in communion with the Holy See, including a mere titular bishop, is able to act as a substitute without great inconvenience.

8. A priest empowered with this apostolic privilege has the obligation to administer the sacrament to those in whose favor the faculty is granted, if they rightly and reasonably request it.

9. One who is not yet baptized cannot be confirmed validly. Besides, one must be in the state of grace in order to receive confirmation licitly and with spiritual profit. If the recipient has the use of reason, he should be properly instructed. Whenever this sacrament is to be administered to those who are critically ill, the minister should instruct them, in accord with the person's intelligence, in matters they ought to know; and he must arouse in them the intention to receive this sacrament as a source of strength for the soul. If later on they recover, then those whose duty it is must give them further instruction in the mysteries of faith and on the nature and effect of the sacrament.

10. Although this sacrament is not necessary by necessity of means, no one is allowed to neglect it if there is a possibility of receiving it. On the contrary, let every pastor see to it that the faithful approach it when the opportunity presents itself.

11. Even though it is the practice in the Latin Church to defer the sacrament of confirmation until about the age of seven, nevertheless, it may be given earlier if a child is in danger of death or if the minister deems it advisable for any just and serious reason.

12. Confirmation is to be administered in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Canon Law as modified for this case, using the rite given in the chapter that follows. It is to be conferred without a fee based on any title. Those to be confirmed (if more than one) must be present from the first laying on (or extension) of hands and must not leave until the rite is finished.

13. Although the proper place for administering confirmation is in church, the minister may, for a just and reasonable cause, administer it in another suitable place.

14. In accordance with a most ancient custom of the Church, there should be a sponsor if one can be had, just as in baptism.

15. The sponsor may act as such only for one or two parties, unless the minister decides otherwise for a good reason; but no recipient is to have more than one sponsor.

16. To act as sponsor it is required:

(a) that the person is confirmed, has attained the use of reason, and has the intention of acting as such;

(b) that he does not belong to a heretical or schismatic sect, is not excommunicated either by condemnatory or declaratory sentence, nor legally infamous, debarred from legal acts, nor a deposed or degraded cleric;

(c) is not the father, mother, or spouse of the one being confirmed;

(d) that he is chosen by the recipient or the parents or guardians, or if these are wanting or decline, by the minister or pastor;

(e) that during the act of confirming he or a proxy physically touch the recipient.

17. To lawfully act as sponsor it is required:

(a) that the person is not the same as the sponsor for baptism, unless confirmation is conferred immediately after baptism, or the minister decides in favor of it for a good reason;

(b) that the person is of the same sex as the recipient, unless the minister decides otherwise in a particular case for a good reason;

(c) that he has reached the age of fourteen, unless the minister sees fit to admit a younger person for a good reason;

(d) that he is not excommunicated for a notorious crime, nor excluded from legal acts, nor legally infamous (even though no sentence has been issued to that effect), nor interdicted, nor a public criminal, nor infamous in fact;

(e) that he knows the rudiments of faith;

(f) that he is neither a novice in religion nor a professed religious, unless necessity urges it and the sponsor has the express permission from at least the local superior;

(g) that he is not in sacred orders, unless he has the express permission of the local Ordinary.

18. A spiritual affinity between the sponsor and the confirmed results from a valid confirmation, by force of which the sponsor is obligated ever to regard his godchild as a personal charge, and to see to his Christian upbringing. However, this spiritual relationship does not constitute an impediment to matrimony.

19. According to the norm of canon 798, the extraordinary minister should record the confirmation in the parish register, entering his own name, the names of the confirmed (and if not his subject, also his diocese and parish), of the parents and sponsors, the date and place, and adding this annotation: "Confirmation was given by Apostolic indult, in view of critical illness and danger of death." A record is also to be made in the baptismal register in accordance with canon 470--2. If the one confirmed is of another parish, the minister should at once notify the pastor of the party of the fact by means of an official document containing all the data mentioned above.

20. Extraordinary ministers are bound in each instance to send an official notice at once to their own diocesan Ordinary, stating that they administered confirmation and giving all the data.

21. To prove that confirmation has been conferred, without prejudice to anyone, the testimony of one trustworthy witness or the oath of the confirmed himself, if he was confirmed in adult age, is sufficient.

22. A priest who dares to administer the sacrament of confirmation without the faculty conceded either by law or by the Roman Pontiff is to be suspended; or if he presumes to exceed the limits of the faculty given him he is ipso facto deprived of that very faculty.

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