Catholic Center at The Citadel

A Ministry of the Capuchin Franciscans - Province of St. Conrad

Certificates for First Confession
by: Fr. Curtis Carlson, O.F.M. Cap 06/13/19 05:36am

The Catholic Center priests are not able to sign a Reconciliation Certificate. Please see the information below. Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum University.

JULY 11, 2017 Q: Over the last number of years I have heard children’s first confessions (First Reconciliation) in a number of parishes. It seems that it has now been customary that certificates of First Reconciliation are given. There have been a number of times that I have had a child who would not admit to any sin, despite my prompting and suggestions of possible sin, so I could not give absolution but just gave the child a blessing. Yet that child receives a certificate stating that she/he received the sacrament for the first time. Also, I am concerned about the seal of confession. I was always taught that it is never permissible for me to say whether or not a particular individual has made a confession. I am now bothered in conscience about these things. If I am in any way rightfully concerned, perhaps religious educators should be alerted to this. — L.W., Chicago (USA)

A: There are several issues involved. Certificates of first reconciliation are not mentioned in any official document and are not required by canon law. They might be useful in some countries where catechetical preparation for first reconciliation and first Communion take place in different venues, or there is a significant time lapse between first reconciliation and first Communion. It would not be appropriate for the confessor to issue the certificate, since effectively, insofar as his role as confessor is concerned, the penitent is not known to him and he can reveal nothing whatsoever regarding the confession itself. If it is issued by those in charge of catechetical formation, all they can certify is that the child has entered the place of reconciliation and presumably received the sacrament. They cannot know what has transpired within the time of reconciliation and if absolution is granted or not. This is perhaps a limitation that has to be accepted out of respect for the nature of the sacrament of reconciliation, and given that in reality the certificate has no legal status. [article continues—see https://zenit.org/articles/certificates-for-first-confession/ ]


Catholic Center at The Citadel

A Ministry of the Capuchin Franciscans - Province of St. Conrad

Certificates for First Confession
by: Fr. Curtis Carlson, O.F.M. Cap 06/13/19 05:36am

by: Fr. Curtis Carlson, O.F.M. Cap

The Catholic Center priests are not able to sign a Reconciliation Certificate. Please see the information below. Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum University.

JULY 11, 2017 Q: Over the last number of years I have heard children’s first confessions (First Reconciliation) in a number of parishes. It seems that it has now been customary that certificates of First Reconciliation are given. There have been a number of times that I have had a child who would not admit to any sin, despite my prompting and suggestions of possible sin, so I could not give absolution but just gave the child a blessing. Yet that child receives a certificate stating that she/he received the sacrament for the first time. Also, I am concerned about the seal of confession. I was always taught that it is never permissible for me to say whether or not a particular individual has made a confession. I am now bothered in conscience about these things. If I am in any way rightfully concerned, perhaps religious educators should be alerted to this. — L.W., Chicago (USA)

A: There are several issues involved. Certificates of first reconciliation are not mentioned in any official document and are not required by canon law. They might be useful in some countries where catechetical preparation for first reconciliation and first Communion take place in different venues, or there is a significant time lapse between first reconciliation and first Communion. It would not be appropriate for the confessor to issue the certificate, since effectively, insofar as his role as confessor is concerned, the penitent is not known to him and he can reveal nothing whatsoever regarding the confession itself. If it is issued by those in charge of catechetical formation, all they can certify is that the child has entered the place of reconciliation and presumably received the sacrament. They cannot know what has transpired within the time of reconciliation and if absolution is granted or not. This is perhaps a limitation that has to be accepted out of respect for the nature of the sacrament of reconciliation, and given that in reality the certificate has no legal status. [article continues—see https://zenit.org/articles/certificates-for-first-confession/ ]

Catholic Center at
The Citadel

A Ministry of the Capuchin Franciscans - Province of St. Conrad

Certificates for First Confession
by: Fr. Curtis Carlson, O.F.M. Cap 06/13/19 05:36am

The Catholic Center priests are not able to sign a Reconciliation Certificate. Please see the information below. Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum University.

JULY 11, 2017 Q: Over the last number of years I have heard children’s first confessions (First Reconciliation) in a number of parishes. It seems that it has now been customary that certificates of First Reconciliation are given. There have been a number of times that I have had a child who would not admit to any sin, despite my prompting and suggestions of possible sin, so I could not give absolution but just gave the child a blessing. Yet that child receives a certificate stating that she/he received the sacrament for the first time. Also, I am concerned about the seal of confession. I was always taught that it is never permissible for me to say whether or not a particular individual has made a confession. I am now bothered in conscience about these things. If I am in any way rightfully concerned, perhaps religious educators should be alerted to this. — L.W., Chicago (USA)

A: There are several issues involved. Certificates of first reconciliation are not mentioned in any official document and are not required by canon law. They might be useful in some countries where catechetical preparation for first reconciliation and first Communion take place in different venues, or there is a significant time lapse between first reconciliation and first Communion. It would not be appropriate for the confessor to issue the certificate, since effectively, insofar as his role as confessor is concerned, the penitent is not known to him and he can reveal nothing whatsoever regarding the confession itself. If it is issued by those in charge of catechetical formation, all they can certify is that the child has entered the place of reconciliation and presumably received the sacrament. They cannot know what has transpired within the time of reconciliation and if absolution is granted or not. This is perhaps a limitation that has to be accepted out of respect for the nature of the sacrament of reconciliation, and given that in reality the certificate has no legal status. [article continues—see https://zenit.org/articles/certificates-for-first-confession/ ]