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Congregation for the Clergy
General catechetical directory

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4 In very recent times in certain regions of the Church experiments relative to the first reception of the sacraments of Penance and of the Eucharist have been made. These have given rise to doubt and confusion.


So that the Communion of children may be appropriately received early, and so that psychological disturbances in the future Christian life which can result from a too early use of Confession may be avoided, and so that better education for the spirit of penance and a more valid catecheticai preparation for Confession itself may be fostered, if has seemed to some that children should be admitted to first Communion without first receiving the sacrament of Penance.


In fact, however, going to the sacrament of Penance from the beginning of the use to reason does not in itself harm the minds of the children, provided if is preceded, as it should be, by a kind and prudent catechetical preparation. The spirit of penance can be developed more fully by confining catechetical instruction after first Communion; likewise, there can be growth in knowledge and appreciation of the great gift that Christ has given to sinful men in the sacrament of the pardon they will receive and of reconciliation with the Church (cf. 1G, 11).


These things have not prevented the introduction in certain places of a practice in which some years regularly elapse between first Communion and first Confession. In other places, however, the innovations made have been more cautious, either because first Confession was not 50 much delayed, or because consideration is given the judgement of the parents who prefer to have their children go to the sacrament of Penance before first Communion.



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