Q. 1. My nephew, who is in his 20's, was recently confirmed with a few other adults in his parish. The Sacrament of Confirmation was administered by the parish priest. I never heard of that. I thought only the Bishop can administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. Has the Catholic Church rules changed on this matter?
A. 1. The ordinary minister of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Rite is a Bishop. Priests may be delegated for the purpose. A pastor can confirm a parishioner under some circumstances such as:
• A parishioner who is in danger of death.
• In ceremonies of Christian initiation.
• At the reception of a baptized Christian who is joining the Catholic Church.
One of the above conditions had to exist for your nephew to be confirmed by a priest. Such a confirmation does not change anything; it is still a valid Sacrament.
The Canon Laws on this matter are:
THE MINISTER OF CONFIRMATION
Can. 882 The ordinary minister of confirmation is a bishop; a presbyter (a priest) provided with this faculty in virtue of universal law or the special grant of the competent authority also confers this sacrament validly.
Can. 883 The following possess the faculty of administering confirmation by the law itself:
1/ within the boundaries of their jurisdiction, those who are equivalent in law to a diocesan bishop;
2/ as regards the person in question, the presbyter (a priest) who by virtue of office or mandate of the diocesan bishop baptizes one who is no longer an infant or admits one already baptized into the full communion of the Catholic Church;
3/ as regards those who are in danger of death, the pastor or indeed any presbyter.
Can. 884 §1. The diocesan bishop is to administer confirmation personally or is to take care that another bishop administers it. If necessity requires it, he can grant the faculty to one or more specific presbyters, who are to administer this sacrament.
§2. For a grave cause the bishop and even the presbyter endowed with the faculty of confirming in virtue of the law or the special grant of the competent authority can in single cases also associate presbyters with themselves to administer the sacrament.
Can. 885 §1. The diocesan bishop is obliged to take care that the sacrament of confirmation is conferred on subjects who properly and reasonably seek it.
§2. A presbyter who possesses this faculty must use it for the sake of those in whose favor the faculty was granted.
Can. 886 §1. A bishop in his diocese legitimately administers the sacrament of confirmation even to faithful who are not his subjects, unless their own ordinary expressly prohibits it.
§2. To administer confirmation licitly in another diocese, a bishop needs at least the reasonably presumed permission of the diocesan bishop unless it concerns his own subjects.
Can. 887 A presbyter who possesses the faculty of administering confirmation also confers this sacrament licitly on externs in the territory assigned to him unless their proper ordinary prohibits it; he cannot confer it validly on anyone in another territory, without prejudice to the prescript of ? can. 883, n. 3.
Can. 888 Within the territory in which they are able to confer confirmation, ministers can administer it even in exempt places.