Concurrent Sacraments?

Q. Recently, I have been hearing talk about doing baptisms and confirmations at the same time. Is this true? How would that work?

Emily, Milwaukee, Wis.

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

In the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, which comprises 99 percent of Catholics around the world, baptism is to be administered to newborn children “within the first weeks” of the birth. Generally that is understood to mean infants should be baptized before the month is over. The sooner the better (see Canon 867.1).

Confirmation may be conferred when the child reaches the age of reason (about 7 years old), but the national bishops’ conference can determine the age. In the United States, confirmation is given to youths between the ages of 7 and 17. The age depends on the diocese where you live. In emergency cases, children younger than 7 years old can be confirmed.

However, in the Eastern-rite Churches (Byzantine, Ruthenian, Coptic, Armenian, etc.), the three sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation and holy Eucharist) are given to the infant at the same time.

Both the Latin and Eastern rituals are valid and praiseworthy, but are founded on different theological emphases.