This past Pentecost, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver released an interesting pastoral letter entitled “Saints Among Us.”
The archbishop stated his plan for the sacramental formation of children in his archdiocese and, in doing so, lowered to seven the age for the reception of Confirmation and First Communion.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, the archbishop stated: “The theology on the order of the sacraments of initiation is clear, and through my many experiences as both a parish pastor and a bishop, I knew that this was the right decision to make,” and further said, “As the title of my pastoral letter ‘Saints Among Us’ suggests, the decision to restore Confirmation to its original place is motivated by my desire to help the people of the Archdiocese of Denver reach heaven.”
This plan will take effect in Denver by 2020. By doing so, Confirmation is not seen as the “graduation from Church and religious education” sacrament, but the beginning of the Christian life. Confirmation is not the “Sacrament of Farewell,” as Pope Francis has called it.
Theologically, Confirmation is not, nor has it ever been, like a “Catholic Bar or Bas Mitva,” a sacrament of Catholic adulthood. Through many decades and through pastoral practices, in effect, it has become so.
We are not advocating that our own Diocese change its policy. What we are saying is that we need to constantly re-study the sacraments to properly understand what they are all about.