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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 22 Jan 2002

Is my wife considered a Catholic? QUESTION from B Rea March 24, 2000 Background: My wife was baptized and a receive her first Communion in a Methodist Church when she was approximately 13 years old. I was raised a Catholic and attended Catholic schools a during my childhood. We both went through marriage classes prior to being married in the Catholic Church and at that time we were told that she did not have to do anything special to become Catholic by the Catholic Priest that married us. (in 1979)
We have both remained active in the Catholic Church for over 20 years now and are raising our children in that manner. My wife happened to be talking with friend that had ask her if she was Catholic and she responded Yes, her friend then ask if she was a Baptized Catholic or did she go through the RCIA classes? My wife stated, I was told by my Priest when we were married in the Catholic Church that there was not anything special I had to do to become a Catholic at that time because she had already been Baptized. Her friend said, that you are not considered a Catholic unless you receive Confirmation in the Church.
Does not recieving Confirmation disqualify you from being a Catholic? Our feeling is that it is not absolutely necessary, but would like a definitive answer.
Could you help us out on this with your views and references on the matter?
Thank you, B Rea
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on March 26, 2000 Dear Mr. Rea:
When I hear stories like this I sometimes whether the Cracker Jack boxes did not give out ordination certificates at one time.
The priest who told your wife and yourself that she didn't have to do anything to come into full communion in the Catholic Church is DEAD WRONG!
While your wife's baptism will most likely be considered valid and thus she will not have to be baptized, she STILL MUST BE CONFIRMED in the Catholic Church. Her confirmation in the Methodist Church is NOT a confirmation in the Catholic Church.
Thus at this moment, she is catholic with a small c because of her baptism, but she is NOT a Catholic with a capital C.
For one thing, in order for the Sacrament of Confirmation to be valid, it must be administered by a Catholic Bishop, or if properly delegated, to a Catholic Priest.
Thus, for that reason alone, your wife's confirmation is not valid.
But confirmation is also an affirming of the CATHOLIC faith. Confirmation in the Methodist church was an affirmation of the METHODIST faith.
One must formally AFFIRM the Catholic professional of faith in communion with the Pope and Magisterium.
Bottom line: She is not Catholic.
How to resolve this?
First, your wife needs to not receive the Eucharist anymore until this is resolved. She is also not able to receive absolution in the Sacrament of Confession, or participate in any other Sacraments.
Second: go to your priest and to your bishop to see about correcting this mess caused by this priest who advised you incorrectly.
Your wife can then be confirmed, and brought formally into full communion with the Church, then able to receive the Sacraments and live a good Catholic life OFFICIALLY as I know she has done unofficially all these years.
I am sorry that these priest mislead you, but the solution to this is easy. More in likely the bishop will grant a confirmation in a matter of weeks given the circumstances.
So, go to your bishop and explain the whole mess and let him know that your wife wishes to correct the problem and become a Catholic officially.
God Bless.
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