IRC 8: Bishops Delegating

When may a diocesan bishop delegate confirmation to other clergy? The introduction tells us it may be done by another bishop, by presbyters when the cause is serious, or even by presbyters when the number of those to be confirmed is large:

8. The diocesan bishop is to administer confirmation himself or to ensure that it is administered by another bishop. But if necessity requires, he may grant to one or several, determinate priests the faculty to administer this sacrament. For a serious reason, as sometimes is present because of the large number of those to be confirmed, the bishop and also a priest who, in virtue of the law or a particular concession by competent authority, has the faculty to confirm, may in individual cases associate priests with himself so that they may administer the sacrament. It is preferable that the priests who are so invited:

a. Either have a particular function or office in the diocese, being, namely, either vicars general, episcopal vicars, or district or regional vicars;

b. Or be the pastors of the places where confirmation is conferred, pastors of the places where the candidates belong, or priests who have had a special part in the catechetical preparation of the candidates.

Any clergy reading who have confirmed outside of the Easter Vigil? Any readers confirmed by a parish priest?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to IRC 8: Bishops Delegating

  1. Jon D. says:

    I was confirmed by our parish’s pastor. At the time, it seemed to be the standard procedure in our neck of the woods (note: I hear things have changed back home since then). However, the bishop was very active in our pre-confirmation formation, which seemed more significant to me than the actual administration of the sacrament.

  2. Well, I was chrismated by a parish priest, but the situation of course differs because my entrance into the Church was Eastern and not Western.

    Now I think the interesting question is: why is confirmation done as it is in the West, including but not limited to, the normative process being from the Bishop (there is something good here which is being affirmed: the eucharistic center within the diocese lies with the Bishop), and that it is usually done after first communion (which is a perplexing and odd situation, but since most people are used to it now, they do not understand why it is odd and perplexing)? The second I still think was a mistake from Pope St Pius X based upon good intentions.

  3. Marilyn says:

    There’s really nothing short of an emergency that would justify delegating; I would think any good bishop would find it equal to an ordination in priority and his humble privilege to confirm…it would insult me if the bishop considered himself too busy to prioritize my child’s Confirmation – even if the Pope was in town! If that were the case, I would be grateful to my parish priest and look to him for confirming my younger children…but that would be up to the bishop, I think…not a parents choice?

  4. Dustin says:

    I was confirmed in 2000. As part of the diocese’s celebration of the Jubilee Year, it was decided that all of the diocese’s candidates would be confirmed together in one ceremony, with the Bishop delegating at the ritual and the various pastors confirming their respective kids. It was a little wild, and during the Communion they actually ran out of hosts, but it’s nonetheless a fond memory. I honestly can’t say how I would have felt in a more private ceremony with the touch of the Bishop himself. It sounds nice, but I have such a dim memory of my First Communion at the fairly small parish I attended that I don’t remember that was like either.

    Does the reformed ceremony still call for the “slap?”

  5. CarpeNoctem says:

    I have confirmed a couple times outside of the Vigil and outside of the immediate danger of death with the bishop’s written delegation. Yes, it would be ideal for the bishop to do it himself and I encouraged him to do so in all cases. But let’s face it, in my far-flung diocese (not to mention, in the military which I also serve) this is simply not practical without depriving the faithful of this sacrament for an unreasonable length of time.

    The important connection between the bishop and the sacrament is not that the bishop gives it with his own hand, but that there is a visible connection of the confirmand with the apostolic ministry which shares in the fullness of the Spirit’s gifts… this is realized by way of episcopal delegation when the sacrament is administered by a a priest and the use of chrism consecrated by the bishop. The bishop still ‘confirms’ in this manner, even if at the hand of a priest.

    If I am not mistaken, the vicar general of a diocese has the habitiual faculty to confirm in the name of the bishop– in this I mean that no further delegation is required. The office of Vicar General (which is in a way, a bishop’s alter ego,) commonly held by priests, also expresses a closeness or union to the episcopal ministry.

    On another note, I find it interesting to consider a priest an “extraordinary minister of Confirmation”, which, I think, helps people understand by analogy the role of “extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion”… particularly the rules/regs on being temporarily and locally delegated.

  6. Todd says:

    “Does the reformed ceremony still call for the “slap?””

    An exchange of peace.

  7. Cal says:

    No, a vicar general does not enjoy from the law itself the habitual faculty to confirm. Canon 134 makes the terminological distinction between “the diocesan bishop” in law and “the Ordinary” in law (the latter includes the vicar general). I suspect in most dioceses the faculty to confirm is a faculty that is delegated habitually to him by the diocesan bishop — and in my diocese specifically with the faculty to subdelegate — but it doesn’t come automatically with the post.

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