The church in the West came up with a different solution; the separation in time of the sacrament of confirmation from the sacrament of baptism, which has been the norm in the United States for more than 100 years. This allowed infants to be baptized soon after birth, while the bishop could confirm many Christians at the same time, even years after baptism. Eventually, the current custom of performing confirmation several years after first Holy Communion developed, but the church continues to the stress the original order of the sacraments, and Pope Benedict XVI, in his apostolic exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis,” suggested that the original order should be restored.
Some dioceses in the United States are restoring that order, placing first Holy Communion and confirmation, for example, in the third grade together. The U.S. Conference of Bishops allows for confirmation of young people anytime between age 7 and 16, the desired practice of the local bishop being the deciding factor as to their members’ confirmation age.
Even in the West, priests can be authorized by their bishops to perform confirmations, and adult converts are routinely baptized and confirmed by priests in the same ceremony.