Next year children in the Archdiocese of Liverpool will be confirmed before they receive First Holy Communion – reversing the traditional order of sacraments.
In its statement, the archdiocese said it was reverting back to the “original order” of sacraments. Children will be confirmed when they are eight, rather than when they are teenagers, and receive Communion shortly after.
In a video, Archbishop Kelly explained that the change would make First Holy Communion, or “participation in the Lord’s Supper”, the “climax” of the journey into the Catholic Church. He said Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI all recommended the sacraments in that order.
It is also the order in the Eastern Rite and Orthodox Churches: babies are baptised, confirmed and then given Communion all in the same ceremony.
On the other hand, eight is young to be initiated into the Church: surely if Confirmation takes place later, aged 13 or 14, it will provide an extra opportunity for young people to deepen their understanding of the faith.
So, should confirmation be conferred before Communion? Or would that lead to a diminished understanding of the faith?