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Vince Listi wrote:

Hi guys,

  • If a person:

    • has received valid Christian Baptism in a Protestant denomination
    • studied and learned Catholic doctrine on his own
    • attends Mass
    • has made the Profession of Christian Faith in his denomination or perhaps on his own, and
    • believes in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

  • What is to stop him from:
    • going to a priest to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Confessional on his own
    • receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist on his own, and
    • just so to speak, moving right into the practice of the Roman Catholic Faith?

His conscience has been formed by his study and understanding of the Catholic faith, and he believes what Catholics believe but he has never discussed this with the Bishop, nor a pastor, or a Catholic priest.

Vince

  { What is to stop this type of Protestant Christian from just going straight to the sacraments? }

Richard replied:

Hi Vince,

A baptized non-Catholic isn't in communion with the Catholic Church, until a priest witnesses the person's Profession of Faith and his desire to enter into full communion with the Church; then the priest formally receives the person into the Church. Usually this is a public, liturgical act performed in the context of a Mass, but in unusual circumstances, it can happen privately.

It has become conventional for such new Catholics to be received at the Easter Vigil, at the same time when unbaptized converts are baptized. This is not a legal requirement, however, and a pastor may receive a baptized Christian into the Church at any time of year.

— RC

Bob replied:

Vince,

If the person is in fact materially Catholic, he should be able to do all of the things you mentioned in theory. The reality is, however, since we are a community and not merely a collection of individuals, the rites proper to initiation are still necessary and appropriate. This is exemplified well by Paul, who although he had been authorized directly by Christ to be an Apostle, still journeyed to meet with the other Apostles to confirm his ministry and oneness with them in every way.

I would think that any person who is in such an accord with the Catholic Church, would by no means object to being fully received into the Church by the Bishop, particularly at such a glorious occasion as Easter.

Peace,

BK

Fr. Nick replied:

Hi Vince,

I am going to give you a very short answer since this is a hypothetical question.

  • How does a person prove they are Roman Catholic?

We know that no proof is needed in God's eyes, because He knows what is in our hearts, which the Church teaches as the Internal Forum. But in the External Forum of our world, we need to have proof we are, who we say we are. We have:

  • social security cards
  • passports
  • driver's licenses
  • marriage licenses, etc.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, we have:

  • Baptismal Certificates
  • First Penance Certificates
  • First Holy Communion Certificates
  • Confirmation Certificates, etc.,

which reflect that there is an official record somewhere, which proves we are Roman Catholic.
For example, we need these to marry within the Church or to pursue Holy Orders.

So our person who believes and wants simply to practice the Faith within the Internal Forum of [his/her] heart, is welcomed to do so, but [he/she] would have no official standing in the External Forum of the world in which we live.

I hope this is helpful!

Fr. Nick

Vince replied:


Thanks.

Vince

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