Sacrament of Confirmation

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What elements are required for the sacrament of confirmation to be valid?

Last month I witnessed a group of children being confirmed by our parish priest. They were anointed with chrism while the words “be sealed in the Holy Spirit” were said, but they did not receive the laying on of hands. Perhaps the priest was trying to save time.

In my opinion, the laying of of hands must be necessary for this sacrament to be valid, since holy scripture clearly shows that this procedure was followed by the apostles.
Dear arnulf,

The form of the Sacrament of Confirmation consists in the words which the minister speaks when he imposes his hands on the recipient and anoints his or her forehead. However, there is no official dogmatic decision regarding the essential matter of this Sacrament. Theologians are divided on this. Some, like you, hold to the necessity of the imposition of hands. But there are others who consider that the anointing with chrism alone is the essential matter. The majority seem to favor the imposition of hands. But since the Church has made no official decision regarding this, all things being equal, the Sacrament of Confirmation as your priest administered it would be considered valid.

For more on this, read “The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” by Ludwig Ott, available through our catalogue.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.
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