I’ve committed the mistake of misunderstanding the Catholic practice of confirmation, assuming that it was analogous to the Protestant credo-baptism (ie, “believer’s baptism”). I thought that catechumens were affirming an *understanding* of the faith that they were too young to affirm when baptized (as an infant). Turns out, perhaps you’ll be surprised to discover this, too, that is not what confirmation was historically about. Read on to see what the historical practice of confirmation meant to capture, and why that matters practically today.
The most recent controversy concerning punitive denial of sacraments on the basis of political views is this heartbreaking story: the parents of a teenager in Barnesville, MN were told that he would not be confirmed, and that the family could no longer receive communion at their parish, after the pastor learned the teen had posted a picture of himself on Facebook holding a sign he had altered to show his opposition to the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. (The measure would have amended the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. While the amendment was defeated, same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Minnesota; the defeat of the amendment means Minnesota law remains unchanged.)
There is much that could, and should, be discussed in relation to the denial of sacraments in response to certain political views or theological views, but in this post I’m going to focus…
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