has received valid Christian Baptism
in a Protestant denomination
studied and learned
Catholic doctrine on his own
made the Profession of Christian Faith in his
denomination or perhaps on his own, and
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.
What is to stop me from going
straight to the sacraments? }
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.
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.
Fr. Nick replied:
I am going to give you a very short answer since this is a hypothetical
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
marriage licenses, etc.
Within the Roman Catholic Church, we have:
First Holy Communion Certificates
which reflect that there is an official record somewhere, which "proves" we
are Roman Catholic. We need these to marry within the Church or to pursue
Holy Orders, for example.
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!
report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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