This question and its answer reminded me a question I wondered about a long time ago: the ritual of entering catechumenate usually takes place some time during the process of pre-baptismal catecheses (i.e. learning the basics before someone is prepared for baptism), so there is some time (often quite a long time) when the person is being instructed but didn't enter catechumenate yet.

My question is whether the person is considered a catechumen by canon law since the moment the process of pre-baptismal catecheses begin (may be hard to find out when did it begin!), or since the ceremony of entering the catechumenate? If the latter is the case, have those learning so that they could be baptized any special status?


One who is exploring whether to become Catholic is known as an Inquirer and is in the stage known as Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate, as explained by the USCCB's webpage devoted to explaining the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It goes on:

After a conversation with a priest, or RCIA director, the person, known as an "inquirer," may seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, through the Rite of Acceptance. During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst the parish community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a "catechumen."

Those who are already baptized Christians desiring full communion with the Catholic Church, known as Candidates, go through a process known as formation. As practical matter at many parishes, both candidates and catechumens attend many (if not most) of the same instructional classes.

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