The rite of Confirmation is to be revised and the intimate connection which this sacrament has with the whole of Christian Initiation is to be more clearly set forth; for this reason it is fitting for candidates to renew their baptismal promises just before they are confirmed. (Sacrosanctum concilium, 71).
According to the revised rite of Confirmation, 11, promulgated in 1971, the Confirmation of those baptized as infants is to be postponed until the age of reason. The word "postponed" recalls the original practice in the Roman church of confirming immediately after Baptism.
In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 891 likewise prescribes "the age of discretion," that is, about seven years of age, as the age of Confirmation. Canon 889 does not require that a confirmand have the use of reason. Rather,
"if they have the use of reason, they must be suitably instructed, properly disposed, and able to renew their baptismal promises." Canon 889
The Rite of Confirmation, 13, states that Christian initiation
"reaches its culmination in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ. The newly confirmed should therefore participate in the Eucharist which completes their Christian initiation."
The modal verb in the last sentence is "should," not "must." This means that Confirmation is optimally conferred on children at about the age of seven during the Eucharist at which they also receive First Communion.
Since 1910, the practice in most dioceses and parishes of the United States has been to change Confirmation from a sacrament of Initiation to a sacrament of transition into adulthood, conferring it on teenagers outside its traditional order several years after First Communion.
Restoring the traditional order of the sacraments of Initiation — Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist — accords with:
- the patristic writings
- Vatican II
- the Rite of Confirmation itself
- Canon Law
- the clear witness of the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" (RCIA)
- liturgical and sacramental theology, and
- pastoral practice in Roman Catholic churches in many other countries and in all Orthodox churches.
Restoring this order is discussed with pastoral examples at the diocesan and parish level in: