Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, General Decree Providing Regulations for the Catechumenate, January 1998.


In accordance with the prescriptions of cc. 788, §3, and 851, 1º, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference hereby decrees that:

8. The catechumenate or its equivalent shall be established where necessary for adults (cf. C. 852, §1). A similar provision shall be made for children of school-going age who have not yet been baptised.

9. A person shall be appointed to promote, direct and co-ordinate the catechumenate in each diocese where it is established.

10. Only those persons who have received the liturgical rite of admission to the catechumenate (cf. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, January 6, 1972, no. 18) shall be considered as catechumens.

11. Once duly inscribed, the catechumen enjoys the prerogatives accorded by law to those in this state (see c. 206, §2; see also cc. 1170; 1183, §1).

12. The various steps undertaken by the candidates shall be indicated. These acts shall be signed by the candidate(s) and by the diocesan Bishop or his delegate (a priest or deacon) who presided over the ceremony.

13. Preparation for the sacraments of Christian initiation shall not be limited to individual catechesis. Unless particular circumstances call for another practice, the candidate shall be integrated into a special parochial or diocesan support group established for this purpose, so that ecclesial life can be experienced. Those who, at the conclusion of their preparation period, are deemed ready to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation, are presented to the diocesan Bishops who shall preside personally or through a delegate at their election.

14. Priests and communities who welcome candidates to baptism and to the other sacraments shall work in close co-operation with the diocesan director of the catechumenate.

15. For adults and for children who have reached the age of reason and who request baptism, the catechumenate process shall normally

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be observed in accordance with the approved liturgical books and diocesan guidelines.

16. The baptism of adults – those who have completed at least their fourteenth years – is to be referred to the diocesan Bishop so that he himself may confer it, if he judges this appropriate (c. 863).

The Easter Vigil is the appropriate time for adult baptisms.

Christians who are already validly baptised in another non-Catholic ecclesial community and who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, shall follow a journeying similar to the catechumenate, with full respect being accorded to their baptismal status (cf. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 297).

17. When a candidate requests baptism, confirmation or admission into the Catholic Church on the occasion of a forthcoming marriage, the two celebrations (initiation and marriage) should be so spaced as to allow sufficient time for each sacrament.




Code of Canon Law Annotated (Montréal: Wilson & Lafleur Limitée, 2004): 1779-1780.