PCS 278-280: Recovery and Children

Let’s wrap up the introduction to Christian Initiation for the Dying. First, two sections that describe the church’s expectations should a dying person recover after being initiated:

278. One already admitted as a catechumen must make a promise to complete the usual catechesis upon recovering. One not a catechumen must give serious indication of being converted to Christ and of renouncing pagan worship and must not be seen to be attached to anything that conflicts with the moral life (for example, “simultaneous” polygamy, etc.). The person must also make a promise to go through the complete cycle of initiation upon recovering.

279. If persons who were baptized in proximate danger of death or at the point of death should recover their health, they should be given a suitable formation, be received at the church at a fitting time, and be given the rest of the sacraments of initiation.

Children present the same challenge to the parish’s priest and pastoral care ministers:

280. As far as possible, the Rite of Baptism for children and the Rite of Confirmation are celebrated in the usual way. The eucharist completes the sacraments of initiation. A dying child with the use of reason shares the common responsibility of receiving viaticum. It is also desirable that an even younger child complete his or her initiation by the reception of the eucharist, in accord with the practice of the Church.


There seems to be an expectation that the catechumen will be baptized, and that the renunciation of what conflicts with Christ has already taken place. This is more instructive on what the Church teaches about the entry into the catechumenate, that there is already a movement in the newcomer’s life to conform to Christian belief.

For the person not in the Church (Catechumens are seen as part of the Body of Christ–they are not “outside.”) there are perhaps two promises to be made. It would be left to the minister of baptism to ascertain a genuine renunciation.

The expectation is that a recovering neophyte will complete initiation (confirmation, and perhaps the Eucharist) at the church. This permits the faith community to welcome a new member, as they welcome regular catechumens.

What about non-Catholic Christians? Obviously the Church does not re-baptize someone who is already a valid part of the Body. Orthodox Christians, Protestants, and Anglicans may request the sacraments of the Catholic Church and validly and appropriately receive them in true pastoral need. The time of death would certainly qualify.

Children younger than seven may be confirmed and receive viaticum. I wouldn’t imagine there is an age limit, given the long Christian tradition of giving Communion to infants.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Care of the Sick, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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