Noblesse ought to oblige.

PLEASE CHECK THE UPDATES, below.

In Spain at Sagrada Familia Queen Sophia refused to kneel before GOD and receive the Body of her Divine Saviour in the manner that the same Divine Savior’s Vicar on earth has pointed to as the most appropriate.

UPDATE: 10 Nov 1015 GMT:

A friend sent this and I must, in justice, share it with everyone (edited).

As much as we would like it or suppose it, Queen of Spain never converted to Catholicism….

Remember, they even had a double wedding, one catholic, one orthodox, as forbidden as that may be in general. It still is common practice in Greece.

She however is by far the best and most faithful member in the Royal Family, and she does not fear to be unpopular in shabby Spain, even on the usual social issues ….

So the way she received communion is the orthodox one, and none other she would accept. And receiving communion is according to can. 844 § 3.

I was unaware that the Orthodox received in the hand.  I thought they received under both kind and directly in the mouth through the use of a spoon.

Nevertheless, I happily receive correction in this matter if this is the reason why the Queen received in that manner.   At the same time, when one is in Rome, one does best to receive as the Romans.  When I go to am Eastern Catholic Church and receive the Sacrament, I receive in their manner of receiving.  Food for thought.

UPDATE: 10 Nov 2344 GMT:

Someone sent via email:

I suggest you watch the video from the Barcelona mass. The picture of
the queen is a little misleading. She wasn’t at the kneeler in front
of the Pope. He went over to her and she was on a platform above him
in a very awkward position. I doubt she was being disrespectful.

Of course there was no link to the video.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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94 Responses to Noblesse ought to oblige.

  1. Faith says:

    Her head should have been covered, too. I don’t know the protocol for royalty, but I know the Pope is the only one who should wear white. The same at a wedding, only the bride wears white. It is considered rude to detract from the main attraction.

  2. chcrix says:

    One has to wonder what goes through the minds of such people. Even many unbelievers are impressed by the fundamental kindness of the Pope. Good manners alone would seem to indicate that one should humor the dear old gentlemen.

    Once again I feel like I did when that nut case girl jumped the Pope (and broke the elderly cardinal’s leg let’s not forget). Here I would love to go and receive communion from the Pope, and this silly woman wants to make a statement.

    (BTW Father, the response from the site this morning is slow as the proverbial).

  3. albizzi says:

    In Heavens the first will be the last.
    Probably Jesus will welcome her majesty the queen of Spain in Heavens like a cleaning maid if not like a whore.
    What an overweening pride. His husband’s ancerstor King Louis IX of France is upset in his tomb.

  4. S Petersen says:

    There are already (7:30 a. m. EST) 46 comments on this matter over at Rorate Coeli. The upshot is that none of know the state of mind of the Queen or the HF. One important point is that the latter has left it licit to receive in the hand. He has the authority to change that but has declined to exercise it. Not only are we ignorant of what these parties think, but we are even more deeply ignorant of what God might be willing to bring out of this (overall, trans-Church) confusion. Whereas I might find it immensely satisfying to have every modernist-altar-girl-filled-protestant-hymn-singing parish purged away tomorrow, that might, in some way known only in Heaven, rip up a lot of wheat in the process.

  5. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    Faith: In all kindness, you have made a mistake and recorded it for posterity on a blog. A reigning Catholic Queen or Queen Consort of a reigning Catholic Monarch may wear white; this is the privilege du blanc. She is one of a very few women who can wear white to see the Pope. The others who come to mind are the Queen of the Beligans, the Grand Duchess of Luxmbourg, the Princess of Monaco, and the Princess of Lichtenstein. Would a female President of France get to wear white as the Co-Princess of Andorra? Perhaps.

    Albizzi: you’re just mean.

    Perhaps she has a bad knee; she’s in her seventies, eh? Maybe her dress was ripping. You don’t know. I would take greater exception of her receive the Blessed Sacrament in the hand, but that’s allowed these days, and she’s doing nothing wrong.

  6. traditionalorganist says:

    Well, I still don’t understand why the King wasn’t excommunicated for signing that abortion bill into law, in recent months, or perhaps it was last year. Either way, Lots of people opined about his powerlessness and the role of the king, etc,but as far as I can see, he did what was forbidden very explicitly by the church. Does anyone know the law I’m talking about?

  7. Joe in Canada says:

    The protocol is, I think, for Catholic royal women to wear a white mantilla, and non-Catholics black. The Queen ‘converted’ to Catholicism from Greek Orthodoxy to marry. If she became a Greek Catholic (rather than a Roman-rite Catholic) perhaps she feels obliged to receive standing as Greek Catholics do, although they do not receive in the hand.

  8. Legisperitus says:

    @Faith: Catholic queens are permitted to wear white in the Pope’s presence. BUT… not bending the knee to receive the King of kings– all I can say is I hope she was impeded by some ailment.

  9. Mashenka says:

    Dear traditionalistorganist,

    According to this article http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1000822.htm from “Catholic News Service”, the King was “constitutionally required” to sign it. So my question naturally would be, “What kind of a ‘constitution’ is that???!!!”

    As for the Queen, let me just say that it would be great if we all prayed for her. She needs a really good spiritual father (as everyone does!). She married the King, she became a Catholic, so she (it seems to me) is now a Catholic. It happens all the time among royals. The only excuse I can manage is that perhaps her knees are bothering her. What I simply cannot understand, though, was her overall manner in the photo. I am going to have to report her to Mantilla the Hon!

  10. MaryMaria says:

    Golden Opportunity……blown!!!!! No judgement here just sorrow….wish I could of been the one to have the same opportunity….how many others????

  11. danphunter1 says:

    I agree with S Petersen,
    The Holy Father has not made it illicit to recieve the Blessed Sacrament in the hand and standing.
    While it most certainly seems that the Queen should recieve the Body of God in the manner that the Holy Father prefers, and it does strike one as a shabby move, until the Supreme Pontiff abolishes the seemingly irreverent practice of Communion in the hand and standing, then the faithful may and will recieve his Body in this manner.

    I personally believe that reception in this manner is gravely sacriligious, but who am I?

  12. TNCath says:

    Judging by how awkward the queen looks, it looks like she had absolutely no clue as to what she was doing. Was she instructed ahead of time about the Holy Father’s preference for distributing Holy Communion? Do we know for sure that she actually refused to kneel at the prie-dieu, or was she simply receiving as she has been accustomed to doing for a number of years now? While the queen is certainly old enough to remember kneeling to receive Holy Communion, there is so much that has been lost in the confusion of the aftermath of Vatican II. She may very well have thought she was doing what she was supposed to do. I’d be interested in knowing if there was or will be a response from the royal family or not.

    That said, I must say that the looks of the priests in the background are priceless!

  13. Revixit says:

    Some of us are unable to kneel. We would like to kneel but we can’t.

    And Fr. Z has previously said that it is not required by canon law for women to cover their heads so why should the queen have to wear a mantilla if woman in general don’t?

  14. Mashenka says:

    Aargh, now I notice that while trying to teach etiquette on this august blog, I have mangled traditionalorganist’s name…. Sorry! (But I still wish I knew how to send Her Majesty a photograph of “Mantilla the Hon”, who is a raving beauty, and who could have given good pointers on proper dress for Spanish ladies [perhaps a longer hemline, though, than Mantilla wears]… sigh…)

  15. Andy Milam says:

    To clear up a quick thing….

    Traditionally all persons are to wear black in the presence of the Holy Father. It is a sign of respect. There are two queens who have traditionally had an indult to wear white. The queen of Spain being one. So, to see her wearing white is not a shock. The shock comes with her being so blatant in her disrespect for the wishes of another sovereign. The Holy Father has requested that all who receive the Sacred Species from him are to kneel and receive on the tongue. Not an unreasonable request. However, it would seem that the Queen of Spain would think that she is somehow exempt from respecting the wishes of a fellow sovereign. Would the Holy Father show blatant disrespect to the Crown of Spain when he visits? No. As a matter of fact, he did not at any point.

    It goes without saying that one should show proper respect for the Blessed Sacrament when receiving, however, I must say that technically she was not receiving in a manner that was disrespectful, because it has become almost universal to receive in the hand and is allowed by the Church. (This statement does not mean that I support the reception of Holy Communion in the hand. I do not. I believe that the Sacred Species should be received on knees and on the tongue. It is my practice to do so, communion rail or not.)

    That does NOT mean however that she can simply show disrespect for the wishes of the Holy Father, which is the larger issue. Queen Sophia showed very bad protocol. At least one person noticed.

  16. Is it possible that the woman has a bad knee and is unable to kneel?

    I’m just askin’

  17. Andy Milam says:

    I must stand corrected….the indult to wear white has traditionally been extended to all Catholic Monarchs, however it has become an optional practice.

    Mea culpa.

  18. traditionalorganist says:

    Mashenka,

    Don’t worry, traditionalorganist is not my real name :-) I remember that article. It seems to me that the story of King Baudouin of Belgium is one of real kingly heroism. I would ask, what would happen to the King Juan Carlos had he not signed the bill into law? I likewise don’t understand how the bishops could let the King slide. I know he’s not a monarch “of old,” in terms of power, but this seems to have been an opportunity for some real heroism on his part. It’s unfortunate but true that abortion in Europe is much less of an issue, in terms of public activism, than in the U.S.

  19. TJerome says:

    A tasteless display by someone who should no better. I have no respect for her.

  20. danphunter1 says:

    “Is it possible that the woman has a bad knee and is unable to kneel?

    I’m just askin’”

    Yes, that is possible, but I doubt she had a bad tongue and was unable to recieve on it.

  21. Mashenka says:

    I guess, traditionalorganist, that there’s no way we can know the best answers to those questions that you so properly ask. It all gives the impression that secularism has taken over, not just in Europe but probably all over the world.

    The great hero of Spain, Ruy Díaz de Bivar [El Cid], received kneeling and on the tongue before every battle. His military chaplain and Bishop, the fighting bishop Don Jerónimo, raised the staff of his bishop’s cross and smote, in the midst of the jewelled helmet, through the armour, through the body, until the two halves of the Moor and the horse both fell on either side of the brook that runs through the Great Green Meadow….{just a tag-line or two from the Spanish National Epic which is Catholic from beginning to end)

    Those were the days, my friend!

  22. Anthony OPL says:

    Unworthy of the crown on her head or the blood in her veins.

  23. SidMJr says:

    Oh please…

    The queen was in an elevated plataform and didn’t know that she would receive the communion from the Pope in her place (you can see her surprise at the videos of the Mass). She tryed to receive the Lord reverently, in a very unconfortable position for an old person.

    Queen Sophia is one of the most devout monarchs.

  24. traditionalorganist says:

    Mashenka, I love how you bring El Cid into this! I actually wrote my thesis in College on him! I’ve forgotten so much, but it is quite Catholic (and not very politically correct for these days either). We must pray for Spain, that she may return to her roots and give the world more magnificent saints!

  25. 1. Her oldest impulses are Greek Orthodox – standing for Communion.

    2. Receiving at the Communion rail as a young Catholic convert, she would always have had the priest standing higher than her. In the picture, all the priests are lower than her and she is on a platform.

    3. Obviously she had to decide to do something, and decided that sparing the short Holy Father the attempt to reach up to her mouth past the priedieu was the right thing to do. Notice that she is in a weird position, bending way over the kneeler and toward the Holy Father. She doesn’t appear defiant. All that craning her body can’t be comfy, either. I’m surprised she didn’t drop anything.

    4. I don’t know why she didn’t wear her pretty white “I’m a Catholic monarch” mantilla. I see it on her more often outside Spain than inside it.

    5. I think she miscalculated, myself. And that’s not surprising, because a lot of us keep banging into walls of confusion about what’s the right thing to do. Even a queen can find herself lurching around, not sure what’s going on, only figuring out afterward that you did something you shouldn’t have.

    6. We don’t know what bad advice she may have been given by churchmen or protocol officers. Converts often feel even more unsure about these things than people raised Catholic, and are particularly vulnerable to bad advice because they don’t trust their guts to be right. I’m not sure what the constitutional constraints on her may be, either.

    7. Cut the woman some slack. She’s not Nancy Pelosi.

  26. sea the stars says:

    Her Majesty is 72 years old, though looks younger in that picture. I am 41 and my knees are already shot. Let’s not be so quick to judge, ok? Even if our parishes are full of kneeling septuagenarians.

  27. Could someone dial the judg-o-meter down a bit? Or at least take suspend use of the Jump to Conclusions floor mat?

    Do we know WHY she did not kneel? Could we suspend our passing of sentence until we are better informed?

    1. Why is the Pope concerned the “main attraction” of the Mass?
    2. Do we know the Queen was trying to “make a statement”?
    3. The comment about Jesus welcoming the Queen “like a cleaning maid if not like a whore” is utterly disgraceful. Have you forgotten the lesson of the Pharisee and the Publican so soon? Do you know how — and if — Jesus will welcome you into Heaven?
    4. I think the gawking of the clergy in the background is a bit much. It treats the reception of Holy Communion like a spectacle.
    5. “Unworthy of the crown on her head or the blood in her veins.” — I’m a bit confused on that one. How worthy are we of the blood in our veins?

    What a charitable bunch of comments this morning.

  28. Scroll down for recent pictures of Reina Sofia in both white and black mantillas. She wore a black mantilla and white gown to her kids’ weddings, which was an interesting bow to both her Catholic monarch-ness and not wearing the bride’s stuff.

    Re: the pope’s visit — It’s very noticeable that neither the King nor the Queen wore any of their more ceremonial or folkloric or historical formal outfits (of which they’ve got plenty, and in which they look good), despite the fact that this was a ceremonial occasion. So apparently the Spanish government or their advisers wanted them both to dress in business suits as civic monarchs, and not to do anything too Catholic-looking. (Probably out of some misguided concession to Spanish Muslims and atheists, but who knows? Maybe for some misguided attempt at EU cred, for all I know.)

  29. Prof. Basto says:

    We may dislike the fact that the Queen of Spain did not adhere to the “reform of the reform” posture, but the fact of the matter is that she received in the hand as Catholics in Spain are allowed by the Holy Apostolic See to do. So, receiving in the hand is licit.

    Also, perhaps the Queen is not aware that the Pope is now requiring people who receive Communion from him to do so kneeling. She has always received from Popes while standing. She may have understood that the kneeler was there for the Consecration only. Furthermore, she is 72 years old, and perhaps has knee arthitis.

    In any case, if the Pope really wants to have people not receiving in the hand and kneeling, he has to first change the laws of the Church, and that is something that he can do, you know, being as he is the supreme legislator in the Church. It would be a good legislative change. Why he has not legislated to that effect is for me a mystery.

    But, while he fails to legislate, his suggestion that people only receive on the tongue remains just that, a suggestion. It would be wrong for him to deny Communion to someone because that person has chosen to receive in one of the forms allowed by the Church’s own laws.

    As for the kneeling part, the universal law of the Church allows conferences of bishops to set the manner of reception (kneeling or standing). No one is to be denied Communion because he chooses to kneel, even when the conference adopted standing as the standard posture.

    The Pope, on the other hand, decided that he would only distribute Communion to people kneeling, so as to promote that form of reception. But if he really wanted to make this form mandatory, he could simply legislate to that effect. So, the queen of Spain received in the form allowed by her episcopal conference. Nothing illicit there.

    As for the pope’s decision that he would not give Communion but to people who chose to receive the Sacrament kneeling and on the tongue, that obviously applies to us who are common people. We have no right to receive directly from the Supreme Pontiff.

    On the other hand, if the Pope is visiting a country and this country has a Catholic monarch and a Catholic queen consort, and the Pope celebrates Mass in the presence of his royal hosts, then the Royal Catholic Couple, provided they do not do anything illicit, do has the legitimate expectation of receiving Communion directly from the Father of Princes and Kings. So, the Pope could not be expected to create a diplomatic incident by refusing the Queen of Spain Communion, especially when, strictly speaking, she had under current Canon Law the right to stand and the right to receive on the hand.

    Only the pope, as legislator, can put an end to those rights. But he has failed to do so for the time being.

  30. irishgirl says:

    Did anyone watch the Mass at Santiago de Compostella? The first to receive Communion from the Holy Father (kneeling and on the tongue) were Crown Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish throne, and his wife, Crown Princess Letizia. Letizia wore white, but did not have her head covered-I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of her wearing a mantilla.
    I was also thinking of Queen Sofia’s Greek Orthodox roots, though she has been a Catholic since her marriage to Juan Carlos.
    Jeffrey Pinyan-I agree with your comments!

  31. Apparently there was an incident, off camera, where the Queen tripped and fell down hard at the end of the visit. So she may not be all that steady on her pegs, and may have some kind of arthritis or leg trouble.

    The joys of news coverage in Spanish….

  32. Joe in Canada says:

    this is slightly off topic but the story of how King Baudouin of Belgium, who unlike King Juan Carlos refused to sign abortion legislation, met his future wife Queen Fabiola, with the help of ministers of the Church, is edifying: http://members3.boardhost.com/Beneluxroyal/msg/1288323718.html

  33. Tim H. says:

    If the Holy Father determined that she should recieve, who am I to second guess the Vicar of Christ? What arrogance that would be.

    -Tim-

  34. puma19 says:

    Now hold on here. I saw this live on TV Sunday and we have to suspend judgment here re The Queen of Spain. After all, she is the Queen and she was going to communion and also she was on a level up from the pope and she may have felt it easier for him to give her communion this way as he may not be able to reach her if she knelt. So he organsiers may be at fault here. But I think the matter of what colour dress or no mantila is really just going way over the top on this. I have seen her at Masses receive communion kneeling and she kenlt before Holy Father at airport and kissed his ring which only 4 cabinet memvers did and NOT the prime minister (the real pro-abortion culprit). So more attacks on him and his moral turpitude would be welcome.
    The Queen is 72 so we do not know if she has a problem now kneeling so please suspend judgment.

    Now, whilst on that matter —–THE KING did not receive communion which I think is quite astonishing. so we do not judge a person as such, but for a catholic king not to receive communion and his consort, the Queen, did, struck me as so unusual. But no one has even mentioned this fact whilst jumping to attack and condemn the Queen for receiving the Eucharist. So I think we all have to be very careful. Besides, do we know if the pope knew this matter when he met them prior to Mass? No one really knows, so I suggest in charity this is best left alone……
    |well, that’s my opinion as one Catholic viewer on Sunday of this extraordinary church by Gaudi who would have been proud that a King and Queen of Spain and a pope were at his new church’s consecration.

  35. Magpie says:

    She looks to be a lot taller than Pope Benedict? Or else she is standing on something.

  36. There’s a big analysis article in a Spanish newspaper, with two different verbs for the two different ways to receive Communion (handy to know!). They agree that Juan Carlos is very serious about receiving Communion only in a state of grace, which apparently has meant that he hasn’t received on several big occasions but then went to Confession real quick and received afterward in private. (If I were a constitutional monarch dealing with politicians, it would probably be very easy to get too angry to receive, right before or during Mass.)

    Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia did use the kneeler for Communion at the Compostela Mass. The article describes the Queen’s move as “producing a little pirouette of approximation”, so they must have thought it was an awkward move also.

    Also, apparently the Queen never eats flesh meat, because she made a vow to that effect in 1964 when her father died, for the good of his soul. So she’s not a godless impious hussy, and people should be nice. :)

  37. robtbrown says:

    Jeffrey Pinyan,

    First, you say:

    Could someone dial the judg-o-meter down a bit?

    It’s hard to miss the irony with you follow it with:

    4. I think the gawking of the clergy in the background is a bit much. It treats the reception of Holy Communion like a spectacle.

  38. Prof. Basto says:

    As for the King’s choice of not presenting himself for Communion, that is is no problem at all. People start supposing that he did not receive It as a political gesture, but that’s just crazy. He did not receive It because you only receive it when you are in a state of grace and properly disposed.

    It is precisely this misguided attitude (that believes – if you don’t receive you are not a good Catholic, you are at fault), that pressures many people into unworthy and sacrilegous reception of Holy Communion. It is a grave sin to receive Communion when not ready to do so. One needs not only to be fasting, but to be in the state of grace.

    Perhaps His Majesty has not gone to Confession since signing the abortion statute. It is even possible, perhaps, that he hasn’t reached the point of being contrite about it, so that he cannot be absolved in Sacramental Confession yet. Perhaps he still needs to repent his signature, wishing he had not done it and proposing to try not to do a similar thing in the future.

    So, it is possible that he knows he sinned badly and can’t receive Communion but still has to come to the point of being contrite and penitent and of receiving the Sacrament of Penance.

    Perhaps he was not in state of grace for other reason. Perhaps he, as I do, likes to adhere to the old, longer, Eucharistic fast.

  39. One more thing from that Spanish article (imagine an American article analyzing one’s own pattern of Communion reception! Eek!). The Spanish media, by request, usually don’t show their royal family at Communion time, whether they have Communion taken to them (as is the King and Queen’s privilege) or whether they stand in line. So normally, this would be a moment of comparative quiet and privacy for the King and Queen. This time, all of a sudden it’s cameras and flash-flash-flash! from the international media, who don’t know the usual way of doing things or don’t care. So there’s another reason the poor lady might lose her composure.

    Shutting up now! Especially since I only know what I saw in the Spanish papers.

  40. @suburbanbanshee “Apparently … the Queen tripped and fell down hard at the end of the visit.”

    Surely it was Divine punishment.

    @robtbrown “It’s hard to miss the irony”

    Then I apologize. I guess I’d like to know what those clerics are craning their necks to see.

  41. Jeffrey, this I can tell you from my own experience. You should not say things like that about other people, unless you really really want the Holy Spirit to invoke Murphy’s Law on you with the utmost of Divine Glee.

    Seriously. Not kidding. It’s like painting a target on oneself.

  42. puma19 says:

    Oops I forgot.
    Yes what were all those clergy staring at so much with the Queen. Most of them were bishops and perhaps they ought have been just quietly at prayer having received or about to receive communion. So stupid of them and rude to be gawking at Queen.
    I like the comments on the King which are non-judgmental. Its what we should all do lest we fall into the ‘cast stones’ brigade of onlookers. It would have been best if not shown on TV as they went to communion (or not for the King).

    On Prof Basto and abortion issue. I do not know whether King signed or what happened – besides do any of us know what his conscience is on this? I think not.
    But the late King of the Belgians was in a simialr situation in Belgium when alive, The parliament passed the abortion bill and when they did King Bourdan (? cant spell) stepped aside as king so that he did not have to sign the bill into law. Smart law as he did his temporary abdication. Remarkable man and I think up for future canonisation – a daily Mass ger like de Gaulle I think. The King was a living saint and seen as such by the Belgians. But he had a good solution which Juan Carlos maybe should have followed if he really believed abortion bill was against catholic morality.
    Well, we will all have to give an account one day…..

  43. Jameswestisthebest says:

    That the Pope went ahead and gave Queen Sophia Holy Communion should sum up the matter for all of us and put it to rest. The Pope gave her Holy Communion because he know he has no canonical or moral right to deny anyone Communion based on liturgical posture. In fact, Roman Catholics have a canonical right to receive Holy Communion and their choice to do so is a matter determined by conscience and not by clergy.

    Queen Sophia’s decision not to kneel is only a problem for Fundamentalist Catholics who consider themselves “Traditionalist.” However, as this case demonstrates, they are far from being Traditionalists since they are so often intolerant of parts of the Catholic Tradition such as (standing for Communion) they have arbitrarily elected to reject.

    The real issue behind the uproar is the fact that the so called “Traditionalists Catholics” cannot accept unity in the Church without uniformity in the Church. Because Queen Sophia did not conform to their expectations of what “Church” should look like, she becomes the unfortunate target of their derision and their petty and uninformed judgments.

    That she, like everyone else there, was simply seeking to commune with Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist is irrelevant to such critics. All that matters is that she did not conform to their expectations. Perhaps these supposed “Traditionalists” should listen to the Lord and take him seriously when he says “Stop Judging!”

  44. wolfeken says:

    If just about anyone here were to be the king of Spain or Belgium, I doubt we would bite our lip and sign a pro-abortion law, or run away from the throne while the dirty deed gets done in an alternative manner.

    A true Catholic monarch would have refused to sign either piece of legislation (Spain or Belgium) and dealt with the consequences., from losing the crown to being sentenced to death.

    And we wonder why we’re in the mess we are? Enough of the excuses — from communion to government.

  45. robtbrown says:

    Jeff Pinyan,

    Apologize for what?

    What are they craning to see? Every time the pope gives Communion it’s a spectacle. Doubly so if it’s a monarch.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    I have two bad knees. I look healthy. If I knelt down, I have trouble getting up. We must not judge. As to the white, queens can wear white if they are Catholic. Black is for non-queens and non-Catholics. As to the mantilla, no one wears head-gear at the NO. I hate the changes myself and feel that the lack of decorum is part of the “dumbing down” of manners. However, one does not have all the information. I think that Mrs. Bush was not dressed appropriately when the Pope came to America. The great models for dress in the last century were Mrs. Kennedy, wearing black and mantilla, and Princess Grace. We, including the Spanish, have lost our sense of occasion and our sense of homage.

  47. GuySainty says:

    The Spanish Constitution makes it impossible for the King to refuse to sign a law that has been passed by both the Spanish Houses of Parliament, irrespective of his wishes. The King has certain other authorities, but not to refuse the “democratic will of the majority”. Unlike the unique circumstances in Belgium that permitted King Baudouin to abdicate for one day, no such possibility is available to the Spanish Monarch – had he refused to have signed this would have been a constitutional crisis of such magnitude that it would likely have brought about the collapse of the monarchy but would not have prevented abortion being legalised.

    Precisely because of this the Spanish Bishops issued a statement explaining and absolving the King from the moral responsibility of signing this into law.

  48. @Suburbanbanshee — Sorry, the sarcasm in my comment did not come through. I probably should have included some snarky emoticon. I sympathize with Her Majesty, as my previous comment indicated; I would not want to leap to judgment about why she received the way she did.

    @robtbrown — My duplicity, hypocrisy, accidental irony, etc.

  49. thefeds says:

    Albizzi,
    While the Queen of Spain might have shown really poor judgement, and not a small amount of arrogance, to speak sarcastically of how the Lord will great people as a cleaning lady or a whore goes beyond poor judgement! Do we really need catty remarks in these comments?

  50. Leonius says:

    I would like to make two points.

    An inability to kneel does not prevent a person from receiving on the tongue.

    And

    It is a mistake to idolise monarchs and make excuses for them that we would not make for someone else, such idolisation is what led to so many disasters in Europe in the past with the rise of absolutist monarchs that created the conditions in which the revolution was able to thrive and conquer so much of Christendom.

    I wonder if it had been Sister Sheehan who had done this would so many of you would be jumping to her defense?

    And yet the Spanish monarchy has endorsed abortion in that country and failed to defend the Catholic teaching on life presumably for no better reason than to maintain their position in society and yet they are above criticism because they are monarchs?

    Monarchs should be held to higher standards not less.

  51. Random Friar says:

    What the royals should or should not do, with respect to protocol and tradition, seems to me to be fine for discussion.

    But the tone some are taking, and the impure words that come from within this discussion would have me warn those same folks, for the sake of their own souls, with the words of King Juan Carlos: ¿Por qué no te callas?

  52. Perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t see the Holy Father, or someone like Bishop Schneider, who has been a real champion on changing hearts on how we receive, approving the ridicule and mocking, or even really drawing attention to this.

    I don’t see how we can pass any judgment on the motive of the Queen. The CCC would have us interpret the actions of our neighbor in the best possible light. There are several good points about why she wasn’t kneeling (like bad knees) and why she may have extended her hands (difficulty of stretching out like a crane when she couldn’t kneel).

  53. pjsandstrom says:

    Just a ‘thought question’ — I know the arguments about receiving communion kneeling or standing — but why do the laity receive differently than the clergy in the Western Church? Are the clergy ‘better Christians/Catholics than the laity which would somehow give them the ‘right’ to receive standing? The whole rest of the Church (the Eastern half) in all its varieties receives the Holy Eucharist standing — why should the Roman/Latin Church do differently?

  54. Gladiatrix says:

    The Spanish Royal Family is having a bad time politically in Spain at the moment. If King Juan Carlos had decided to abdicate for a day, in the manner of his cousin King Baudouin, he might well have found that he had abdicated permanently will he or nill he with the Zaptero government seizing on his action to effectively abolish the monarchy.

    Queen Sophia is clearly bowing from the waist so there was no lack of either good manners or appreciation of the profound on her part.

    All constitutional monarchs receive advice on the proper protocol applying to a particular function, I suspect strongly that the Queen was given the wrong advice by someone which was not double checked. One has to wonder why the Pope’s chief of protocol didn’t make sure that the Queen was told what was expected.

    It is also possible that at age 72 (and doesn’t she look good for her age) that the Queen may have trouble with her knees and find kneeling extremely difficult and painful. The Queen may also have noticed that the majority of communicants were receiving standing up and decided not to inconvenience them by taking time to kneel and then time to get up again.

  55. Jameswestisthebest says:

    That the Pope went ahead and gave Queen Sophia Holy Communion should sum up the matter for all of us and put it to rest. The Pope gave her Holy Communion because he knows that he has no canonical or moral right to deny anyone Communion based on posture during liturgy. In fact, all practicing Roman Catholics have a canonical right to receive Holy Communion and their choice to do so is a matter determined by conscience and not by clergy.

    Queen Sophia’s decision not to kneel is only a problem for Fundamentalist Catholics who consider themselves “Traditionalists.” However, as this case demonstrates, they are far from being Traditionalists since they are so often offended parts of the Tradition they have arbitrarily elected to reject.

    The real issue behind the uproar is the fact that the so called “Traditionalists Catholics” cannot accept unity in the Church without uniformity in the Church. Because Queen Sophia did not conform to their expectations, she becomes target of derision and petty judgments.

    That she, like everyone else there, was simply seeking to commune with Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist is irrelevant to her critics. All that matters to them is that she did not conform to their expectation. In other words, she did not do it “the right way.” Perhaps these supposed “Traditionalists” should listen to the Lord and take him very seriously when he says “Stop Judging!”

  56. rakesvines says:

    Must’ve been raised in a Jesuit school.

  57. annieoakley says:

    It needs to be pointed out that the Queen did kneel for the Pope’s blessing at the end of Mass. He had walked over to her and the King and she came forward and kneeled, with a little bit of difficulty, and bowed her head and received his blessing.

    The fact that she did it for his blessing suggests that she received Communion standing but bowing because that the custom with which she’s familiar.

  58. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Her head should have been covered, too. I don’t know the protocol for royalty, but I know the Pope is the only one who should wear white.\\

    Catholic queens have the “privilege du blanc”, that is, of wearing white before the Pope.

    As far as a mantilla, I have seen women receiving Communion from the Pope with uncovered heads at Papal masses. or for that matter, acting as readers. (I personally don’t think either practice is appropriate.) And I’ve also seen Arabic men wearing their burnooses over their heads receiving Communion from him. (Orthodox monks remove the klobuk and rest it on their shoulders when receiving Communion.)

    It could also be that Queen Sophia, as has been mentioned, might have trouble kneeling. We don’t now, but it’s not ours to judge her behavior. Christian charity requires we attribute the best motives to other people’s actions.

    Also, as a side note, remember that Her Spanish Majesty was Orthodox for a large part of her life, where the universal custom is to receive standing, though not in the hand.

    As far as her becoming a Greek Catholic, I don’t know, but I HAVE heard that Crown Prince Juan Pablo was baptized by a Melkite priest. Along the same lines, the Duke of Edinburgh has quietly returned to the practice of the Orthodox faith. I don’t know how true either story is.

  59. thereseb says:

    “the Duke of Edinburgh has quietly returned to the practice of the Orthodox faith” Fr Basil.
    Isuppose this could be confirmed by someone at Craithie kirk near Balmoral, or in any large scale event (like the upcoming royal marriage). Keep your eyes peeled! I would suppose he would no longer receive at a Protestant service.

    I believe his mother became an orthodox nun of great saintliness in later life. It is nice to think he has returned to it.

  60. Another reason to rescind the indult!

  61. Mitchell NY says:

    But as Queen of one of the only Catholic countries left on the planet shouldn’t she not only know protocol, but also set the best example she possibly can. I have knee trouble. It hurts to kneel, and genuflect, but I never skip it. And again, besides the medical possibilities, even if we are all allowed to recieve standing, in the hand, the Pope has said you can’t from him. Does he have to legislate this in blood for it to be obeyed and respected? I find another commenters’ opinion on the issue of The Pope never going to Spain and disrespecting the Monarchy in any way fitting. Monarchs know protocol. But what is really sad or disappointing is that there is no explanation. Yes, many would say she does not owe us one. But they explain, comment and deflect so much else that given the harsh comments worldwide some type of words might be appropriate. Obviously this was unexpected. And my last 2 cents is as an outsider, not Spanish, I always thought it beautiful to see the mantillas on women in Spain. I thought them amongst the most respectful and traditional. And perhaps they are, but the loss of the visual confirmation was unsettling. It is like being at a Royal function and not wearing a crown or tiara because you have a headache.

  62. Norah says:

    I wouldn’t even begin to speculate why Queen Sophia didn’t kneel to receive Holy Communion or why she received in her hand -that’s her business – but please don’t advance her previous Greek Orthodoxy as a reason why she mightn’t know that Catholics can receive kneeling. The queen has been a Catholic for 48 years! Greek Orthodox receive Holy Communion from a spoon from which the Sacred Species is tipped into the mouth.

  63. Rich says:

    Jameswestisthebest,
    Do you extyend the same benefit of the doubt to these so-called “traditinoalists” when they are refused communion because they are kneeling? Do you feel as strongly about unity in the Church then? Or, do you think they, for unity’s sake, should conform to the “uniformity” of standing to receive communion?

  64. Girgadis says:

    S Petersen, I’d give your post a gold star, if I had one.

    I have often heard priests voice frustration that until the Holy Father reverses the indult that allows Communion in the hand, the practice will continue, as will all the abuses that go with it.
    I’ll leave the conjecture about why she didn’t kneel or wear a mantilla to the conspiracy theorists but will point out that at least she made an attempt at a profound bow.

  65. Fr. Basil says:

    \\I believe his mother became an orthodox nun of great saintliness in later life. It is nice to think he has returned to it.\\

    She was following the example of her aunt St. Elizabeth the New-Martyred Abbess (all royal titles and earthly honors are extinguished by tonsure) who founded the Martha-Mary Convent of Mercy. By the time St. Elizabeth was martyred, over 100 women had been tonsured not as nuns, but as “Stavrophore Sisters of Charity” and were dedicated to active works of mercy–something revolutionary in Orthodoxy.

  66. Andy Milam says:

    Well, isn’t this just interesting….

    The “don’t judge” bug has made it’s way into the argument. How is making an observation judging? In all of the reading, I don’t see anyone saying that she’s a heretic. What I’ve seen are observations to the fact, and it is a fact, that Queen Sophia did not follow the request of the Holy Father when it comes to presenting oneself for Holy Communion. That much we can agree on.

    As for “her knees…” It has been documented that she knelt down when she met the Holy Father earlier. So, apparently kneeling is not an issue, except as Mass. And to continue the theme, if she is sooooooo much taller than the “shortish” Holy Father, then even if on a platform, kneeling would present itself as a means to level the playing field as a matter of height.

    Finally, as for protocol….Do any of you seriously believe that she was not briefed by her people on the proper actions when in the presence of the Holy Father? This would include how to receive Holy Communion. Just because she is a monarch, doesn’t mean that she’s above reproach. She didn’t get confused. Too many things don’t add up. (whoop, whoop, whoop….judgment alert!!!!) She chose to be obstinant when in the presence of another monarch. She wanted to make a statement and she did. One that is not being looked upon very well. Faux Pas. That is what we’ll call it. Bad form, that’s what I’ll call it!!!!!

  67. Rich – Suppose Jameswest responds that he does extend the benefit of the doubt to those who wish to receive kneeling (and/or on the tongue) and are refused because of it? What’s the next stage of your argument?

    The Pope gave Holy Communion in the hand to a woman who was standing and not wearing a mantilla. Did he compromise his principles for her? If so, attack him as well as her. If not, I think there’s a lot of over-reaction about this particular reception of the Blessed Sacrament.

  68. Rich says:

    Jeffrey Pinyan,
    If Jameswest were to respond that he does extend the same benefit of the doubt to traditionalists who are denied communion while kneeling, the next stage of my argument would be to ask him how he reconciles this benefit of the doubt with the apparent dead-set notions he has about traditionalists, as someone who seems to be so concerned about people judging others.

    Nice try: the “woman” the pope gave communion to just happens to be a queen. And I wouldn’t call the pope’s preferences with how people receive communion from him his “principles”. His principles I’m sure are the Church’s principles in this matter. And, he is not so stupid as to insist on his preferences over his principles when put to the test like this and cause even greater scandal. What’s curious to me is when the sort of people who don’t generally seem concerned about the Church’s principles suddenly rush to tout them in matters like these.

  69. Andy Milam says:

    @Rich,

    “Nice try: the “woman” the pope gave communion to just happens to be a queen.”

    And the Pope is a king. Have we forgotten that he is the Sovereign of Vatican City State? Protocol would dictate a certain matter of decorum.

    On the other hand, I don’t have much time for kings and queens, being an American. I find the whole idea of Monarchy to be a little outdated and to be quite honest, I think that the idea of one person lording over a whole group of people to be repugnant. I suppose that is another conversation altogether. To the contrary, that doesn’t mean that I won’t show respect, I most certainly would, but I don’t think that Queen Sophia showed much respect to The Holy Father.

  70. God bless their Most Catholic Majesties, Juan and Sofia!! It’s hard enough to be a monarch in a democratic country; it’s also hard to be a Roman Catholic IN the Roman Catholic Church. Both Benedict XVI and Queen Sofia have hard rows to hoe. Lighten up, people! I am a non-Spring Chicken who kneels to receive, even when it embarasses the priest who is not expecting it. And, I’ll continue to kneel until I can’t anymore. For me, I am not kneeling to be approved of by Traditionalists (of any flavour), but I am kneeling before MY monarch: The King of Kings. Long may He reign!! In 1917 the Church dispensed the requirement of head covering for women…all women–royal or regular. I imagine that those bishops and priests in the photograph were really gawking at that rarest of sights: A faithful Catholic doing the best she could in a country rapidly losing its Catholic identity and a Church where liturgical lunacy is the norm. Lay off the queen! You ought to be glad she showed up at all, considering that most Catholics in Europe don’t even go to Mass. Basta!!

  71. Melody says:

    I agree with those who say we should try to be charitable. She’s an older lady who might have bad knees. Also, she’s bowing pretty deeply there.

    And until mantillas are commonly worn again, I’m not about to criticize someone not wearing one.

  72. Rich says:

    God save the queen.

  73. Poimier says:

    I believe it is quite wrong to comment whether persons attending Holy Mass have communicated or not. In fact, I could express myself more strongly but won’t

    This normally excellent website loses much from such audacious comments.

  74. Mariana says:

    Off topic, but King Juan Carlos was very good during the attempted coup in 1981, which he effectively put down.
    I wish he had followed the example of King Baudouin, too, of course.

  75. Ellen says:

    Sofia has the privilege du blanc. Right now, the Queens of Spain and Belgium and the Grand Duchess of Luxemborg (and I think the Princess of Savoy) may wear white during formal meetings with the Pope. I don’t understand why the Princesses of Monaco and Lichtenstein don’t have this privilege though.

    Anyway, I was always under the impression that Sofia is a Catholic, but that she converted after her wedding. Sofia is quite socially conservative – she does not approve of abortion and euthenasia and said she can’t understand why people are proud to be gay. She’s been roundly criticized by the usual suspects.

  76. Mashenka says:

    There is one Liturgy where Orthodox Christians receive the consecrated Host (a small segment of consecrated, leavened but not fluffy or crumby: Syrian-type bread) in the hand. It’s at the Liturgy of St. James, which is celebrated very infrequently. Here is a newish translation by a Greek monk, Archimandrite Ephrem of Mt. Athos http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/lit-james.htm

  77. Prof. Basto says:

    The information on the “update” section is not entirely correct.

    Queen Sofia, then Princess Sofia of Greece, indeed converted to from the Orthodox Church to Catholicism and is today a Catholic in full comunion with Rome and a member of the Latin Church.

    As a Catholic, the Queen routinely expresses her filial submission to the Supreme Pontiff by kissing his hand/ring, something she wouldn’t do if she retained her Orthodox faith. Also, it would be unthinkable for her to receive Holy Communion exept in danger of death were she an Orthodox.

    As for the matter of the wedding with then Prince Juan Carlos, there was indeed the toleration of a double wedding (I don’t know if Juan Carlos received special dispensation for that or if it was just an informal toleration). Since the then princess was the daughter of the Greek Sovereign and the wedding was in Greece, and given that the Orthodox religion was the official State religion, an Othodox wedding ceremony was allowed to take place after the Catholic ceremony.

    If fact, there were a total of three ceremonies: there was a Catholic wedding in a Catholic church in Athens (that’s when the canonical marriage took place); then the prince and princess went to the Spanish Embassy, where a civil wedding ceremony took place before the Spanish Ambassador, creating the marriage contract in the eyes of Spanish civil law); and finally there was the Orthodox Wedding in the Orthodox Cathedral, a religious wedding also valid for civil purposes under the then existing laws of Greece.

  78. Prof. Basto says:

    Regarding the possibility of King Juan Carlos following the example of King Baldouin… its not that simple.

    Under the Constitution of Belgium, the Council of Ministers has the power to find that the King is under an incapacity that prevents him from discharging the functions of Head of State. The Council of Ministers then summon the Chambers of Parliament, and the Chambers provide for the appointment of a Regency. The Chambers need not appoint the heir apparent of the Throne as Regent. The Legislature chooses the Regent.

    So, King Baldouin arranged for his incapacity to be declared, and then politicians were invested with the constitutional authority to sign the bill into law, so that the King made a political statement against abortion, preserved his conscience by not promulgating a murderous statute, and the Royal Family had nothing to do with the signing of the bill into law. Subsequently, Parliament found the King capable of reassuming his powers and duties.

    In Spain, however, matters are way more complicated, so that King Juan Carlos could not simply take a leave of absence and transfer his powers to politicians.

    Under the Spanish Constitution, if the incapacity of the monarch is declared by the Parliament, and if, when that happens, the Prince heir to the Crown is already of age, then such Prince necessarily becomes Regent. Under the Spanish Constitution, a Regent is only appointed by Parliament when there is no one prince or princess in the order of succession capable of discharging it.

    So, if Juan Carlos had asked for his incapacity to be faked so that he could preserve his conscience (as did King Baldouin of Belgium) King Juan Carlos would only be passing the problem to the hands of the next generation, namely, to Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias and heir apparent to the Crown, who would become the Regent.

  79. wolfeken says:

    I have to wonder if some of the king’s pro-abortion signature defenders here would be saying the same thing if legislation were presented to him mandating the slaughter of several thousand Jews in concentration camps. But, he’s the king, and the constitution says he has to sign it. So what’s the problem?

    Those who defend him signing into law the slaughter of the unborn in exchange for the preservation of the crown and government ought to think a little more about priorities. I am a monarchist. But before that I am pro-life. If there is a gun to my head making me sign a document that will result in the killing of innocent children, then that trigger is going to get pulled.

    Too bad the king sacrificed kids for his career. And too bad the bishops looked the other way. And too bad people are still defending this pro-abortion activity because he “had” to sign the pro-abortion law. No one “has” to sign a bill that legalizes the slaughter of the innocents. No one.

  80. Mariana says:

    Come to think of it, didn’t the Grand Duke of Luxembourg recently do a King Baudouin, too?

  81. Prof. Basto says:

    Wolfken, absolutely agreed.

  82. Raymond says:

    Though it was unfortunate that King Juan Carlos had to sign the abortion and gay marriage bills into law, those who say that he should have followed King Baudouin also do not understand the political reality of Spain. Juan Carlos would not only have risked his crown and his dynasty’s future, but also the political stability of Spain itself. Remember, the Spanish Left (of which the Socialist Party is the biggest entity) has never forgotten the loss of the 2nd Republic (1931-36), Civil War, and Franco’s subsequent 36-year rule. They will use any excuse to abolish the monarchy and set up a 3rd republic. Furthermore, the regions, especially the Basque Country and Catalonia, will also use any excuse to separate themselves further from Madrid. And, let us not forget the possible violent reaction of the military command. Only the king, as heir to the thrones of the ancient Iberian kingdoms and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, holds together these forces which, if released, could threaten the peace in Spain once more.

  83. Jayna says:

    Take a look at the faces of the priests in the background. The fourth one back on the left side looks positively gobsmacked!

  84. dspecht says:

    “In any case, if the Pope really wants to have people not receiving in the hand and kneeling, he has to first change the laws of the Church, and that is something that he can do, you know, being as he is the supreme legislator in the Church. It would be a good legislative change.

    Only the pope, as legislator, can put an end to those rights. But he has failed to do so for the time being.

    Why he has not legislated to that effect is for me a mystery.” [Prof Basto, see above]

    I totaly agree – – – so if Popes do not behave like Popes then no wonder Queens don´t behave like Queens….

  85. dspecht says:

    Yes, not the Queen should be blamed that much, but all the Church-man, all the responsibles, the persons in charge – incl. the Popes! – that made and make such poor, bizarre and absurde things resp. behaviour possible [btw., what absurdity to have the Communion-kneeler on a higher platform/level than the distributor, the Pope! – Bizarre post-Vat.II.-oddities…! Not to speak of the poor indult of the Comm.-in-the-hands itselfe and all the other awkward things…. ].

    Marvelous new times, brave new post-Vat.-II-world and -era…!

  86. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Z,

    Regarding the update. That is patently false. Queen Sofia abandoned Orthodoxy in 1962 when she converted to Roman Catholicism. It was widely publicized at the time because she converted on a yacht off the Greek coast so that she would not offend the Orthodox by converting on Greek ground.

    Since she converted in 1962, this would mean that she is intimately familiar with the form of reception of Holy Communion that the Holy Father wishes.

  87. dspecht says:

    On Rorate [under the thread re the Queen-of Spain-CITH-scandal “Reform of the Reform apparently put on hold”]

    Prof Basto did write the best (and funniest) thing I´ve read for a long time

    He wrote:
    “…in the funeral of Vatican II…”
    [09 November, 2010 13:48]

    And Ken, commenting this (freudian) slip, wrote:
    “If only such a Requiem were offered!”
    [09 November, 2010 18:50]

    Lol, ROFL – Kudos to both!!!!!!!!!!!!! … So in the funderal of Vat. II the Queen wore a mantilla…. how nice…..! :-DDD

  88. Thomas S says:

    I have NEVER before heard that Her Majesty didn’t convert to Catholicism. I find the claim highly dubious.

    As for her reception of Holy Communion, we don’t know if she has difficulty with her knees. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Also, she was clearly seated at a higher level than where the Pope was standing, adding to the difficulty. Lots of people who DON’T know the circumstances are being uncharitable to a woman who has distinguished herself as a fierce defender of the Church and Her moral teachings.

    Basta!

  89. Joe in Canada says:

    You are quite right Father that the Orthodox receive Communion from a spoon, directly in the mouth. Perhaps “received like the Orthodox” meant “standing”.

  90. edm says:

    It seems to me that if HRH Queen Sophia had been kneeling, the Holy Father would have had a difficult time communicating her. I think her mouth would have been quite a reach up for him, and perhaps look rather undignified for HIM. She showed kindness in doing what she did. And by reaching down she also avoided the possibility of an accident with the Most Blessed Sacrament.

  91. annieoakley says:

    It’s interesting that almost all the attention’s focused on Queen Sophia. Watching the Mass on EWTN, I was certainly startled by the Queen bending over instead of kneeling; but I was shocked at the King not receiving Communion. Saying he must have done it for personal reasons ( i.e. that he’s in a state of mortal sin although everyone’s being too polite to say so) doesn’t cut it. He wasn’t attending the Mass as a private individual; he was attending it as the Monarch of Spain and that makes his action political as well. He knew he would be attending the Mass and that the spotlight of the world would be on him. Common sense dictates that a Catholic who’s a Head of State would get himself to Confession to ensure that he would be able to publicly receive Communion.

    Of course, there’s another explanation (speculation alert) – that the Vatican asked him not to receive Communion. Why would they do that? Think about it – Juan Carlos, a Catholic, signed pro-abortion legislation into law. Isn’t the Church asking pro-abortion politicians who promote and pass pro-abortion laws to refrain from receiving Communion? And isn’t this because the Church needs to ensure that the faithful are not led to believe that abortions are okay, which they could easily think if the Church takes no action against these politicians? And wouldn’t that be the case if King Juan Carlos received Communion, which would cause a scandal among faithful Spanish Catholics?

  92. Jason Keener says:

    From the looks of the video, it appears that the Queen did nothing inappropriate. I probably would have done the same thing.

  93. Prof. Basto says:

    dspecht ,

    Regarding the distribution of Communion to the royals on a higher platform. I absolutely agree with you. By the way, I believe we can resort to the rite for the “Benediction and Coronation of a King” found in the pre-conciliar Roman Pontifical to understand how a King would receive Communion at Mass, or at least, during his own Coronation Mass, in pre-Vatican II times.

    The “ordo” contains a few rubrical prescription regarding the placement of the Royal Throne in the Church. The King’s throne is to be raised on a platform with steps, but it should not be set higher than the highest step of the Altar.

    For the reception of Communion, the Celebrant (who always has to be a Metropolitan, and as such is identified in the rubrics as “the Metropolitan”) does not go to the King’s throne.

    Rather, the King (already having removed the Crown since the beggining of the preface), would descend from his Throne, go before the Altar, and ascend its steps until the last, highest step. The King would then kneel on the highest step of the Altar to receive Communion. The Metropolitan, being on the Altar (i.e., above the higest step that leads to it, and thus, being higher than the King, would turn towards the King. The King, on his knees, would then kiss the right hand of the Metropolitan, and then receive Communion. After that, the King would purify himself with a chalice received from the Metropolitan (I guess that purification is needed because the King kissed the hand of the Metropolitan before the Metropolitan’s abulition), and would rise, descend the steps of Altar and return to his Throne.

    “Postquam Metropolitanus se de Corpore et Sanguine, quem totum sumere debet, communicaverit, Rex, detecto capite de thalamo suo accedit ad altare, coram quo, in supremo gradu, genuflectit, et Metropolitanus conversus ad Regem, ipsum communicat. Rex, priusquam communionem sumat, osculatur manum dexteram Metropolitani, et sumpta communione, ex calice de manu Metropolitani se purificat, et purificatus ad thalamum suum revertitur.”