Although not a sacrament of initiation, there are often questions about celebrating the Sacrament of Penance in conjunction with the process of initiation. These policies are provided here for the sake of completeness.
Candidates are to receive a thorough catechesis on the Sacrament of Penance and to be encouraged in the frequent celebration of the sacrament. (National Statutes #27 & 36) They shall be invited to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance prior to their reception into full communion, but not at the same liturgy. Candidates are required to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance prior to their reception into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church if they are guilty of serious sin. All candidates should be encouraged to do so in any case. (RCIA #482)
Catechumens preparing for baptism (both children and adults) do not celebrate the Sacrament of Penance prior to baptism. They are to be invited to participate in non-sacramental penitential rites as found in the RCIA #141, 291, so that they may come to understand the reality of sin and appreciate the comforting message of God’s pardon.
Non-Catholic children who are baptized in infancy but preparing for reception into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church should be adequately prepared and encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance some time prior to their formal reception into the Catholic Church. (RCIA #482, National Statutes #27)
Rev. Joseph M. Champlin, “Second Thoughts on First Penance,” Church Magazine, Spring, 1996, pp. 39-40.
Andrew Cuschieri, The Sacrament of Reconciliation, A Theological and Canonical Treatise. New York: University Press of America, 1992.
James Dallen, The Reconciling Community: The Rite of Penance. New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1986. Currently published by Liturgical Press.
James Dallen & Joseph Favazza, Eds. Removing the Barriers: The Practice of Reconciliation. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1991.
Martin Doodle & Geoffrey Rowell, Eds. Confession and Absolution. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1990.
Robert J. Kennedy, Ed. Reconciliation: The Continuing Agenda. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1987.
Jeffrey Sobosan, Act of Contrition: Personal Responsibility and Sin. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1979.
Rev. Paul Turner, “Reconciliation,” Ministry & Liturgy Magazine, 1996, Resource Publications, Inc.
Xavier Thevenot, Sin: A Christian View for Today. Liguori: Liguori Publications, 1984.
Rite of Penance, Catholic Books Publishing Co., New York, 1975.
Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1995. http://www.usccb.org