Should children make their first confession before or after receiving First Communion?


Full Question

My parish does not give the sacrament of confession to children until two years after they have received First Communion. I have heard that this is in violation of what Rome says, but my priest says otherwise. Who is right?

Answer

You are. The 1983 Code of Canon Law says, "It is the responsibility, in the first place, of parents and those who take the place of parents as well as of the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared and are nourished by the divine food as early as possible, preceded by sacramental confession" (CIC 914).

Cutting out the opening words relevant to parents, the canon says, "It is the responsibility. . . of the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason. . . are nourished by the divine food as early as possible, preceded by sacramental confession" (CIC 914).

Your priest has a responsibility under the Code of Canon Law to see that the children of your parish are given the instruction and opportunity for sacramental confession prior to their reception of First Communion.

The importance of this has been re-emphasized by the Vatican in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Children must go to the sacrament of penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time" (CCC 1457). If your parish does not supply its children with the instruction and opportunity for confession prior to First Communion, it is in violation of the Vatican's directives.


Catholic Answers Staff