UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

Vatican City

Don't 'blackmail' kids into coming to church, archbishop says

Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization released an updated Directory for Catechesis

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Updated: June 26, 2020 05:03 AM GMT
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Don't 'blackmail' kids into coming to church, archbishop says

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. (Photo: Salt and Light youtube)

Share this article :
Although he said, "I would never go to war" over the proper age to administer the sacrament of confirmation, Archbishop Rino Fisichella said too often it seems that the sacrament is delayed to "blackmail" young people into continuing to come to church.

The archbishop, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, made the comment June 25 at the Vatican presentation of the updated Directory for Catechesis.

In his prepared remarks, he said the directory hoped to promote "a 'pastoral conversion' in order to free catechesis from some chokeholds that prevent its effectiveness."

The first "chokehold," he said, was treating catechesis as if it were a school subject with information a teacher imparts to students according to a fixed calendar and with a fixed text.

Instead, the directory insists catechesis is the process of leading a person to a personal relationship with Jesus in the church community and to a life lived visibly with Christian values, particularly through works of mercy and charity.

The second "chokehold," he said, "is the mentality by which catechesis becomes the condition for receiving a particular sacrament of initiation, with a consequent void opening up once initiation has ended."

Related to that, he said, "is the exploitation of a sacrament in the name of pastoral strategy, so that -- for example -- the time frame for confirmation is dictated by the need not to lose the small flock of young people remaining in the parish rather than by the significance which the sacrament possesses of itself in the economy of the Christian life."

Asked by a reporter to elaborate, Archbishop Fisichella said setting an age for confirmation is a decision the Vatican has left up to bishops and, besides, it is a "lost battle" that can never be won.

The archbishop said he was confirmed at the age of 7; early in the morning he received his first Communion and later that morning the bishop came to confirm his class. In addition, he noted, many of the Eastern Catholic churches have preserved the tradition of administering all the sacraments of initiation — baptism, chrismation (confirmation) and Eucharist — to infants all at once.

While Archbishop Fisichella said there were valid reasons the Latin-rite church began administering the sacraments separately, "saying that the sacrament of confirmation is only for adults, to manifest maturity in the faith, does not correspond to the nature of the sacrament itself."

And while different practices are acceptable, "I don't think it's nice to exploit a sacrament for pastoral aims such as delaying for as long as possible the reception of confirmation, with the necessary catechesis, to keep within the parish a group of very faithful" young people.

In other words, he said, some parishes seem to want to hold on to young Catholics "as long as possible under a kind of blackmail insofar as granting them the sacrament."

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution