Archbp. Conti of Glasgow tells people not to kneel to receive Holy Communion

I wrote about the GIRM for the USA and standing or kneeling for Communion here.

From CNA:

Scottish archbishop tells Catholics not to kneel for communion
By David Kerr

Glasgow, Scotland, Aug 30, 2011 / 12:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland has told Catholics in his archdiocese not to kneel to receive communion.

The Faithful should follow the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, namely coming to communion in procession and standing to receive Holy Communion,” wrote Archbishop Mario Conti in a letter to all his priests, dated August 25. [I wonder if the GIRM for every conference has a direction to receive standing.  I assume it does in Scotland.]

Standing in our Western culture is a mark of respect: kneeling at the altar rails (where they continue to exist) is not the practice envisaged by the instructions in the Missal,” he stated.  [With due respect to His Excellency, rather, His Grace, I am puzzled by this.  Getting to one's feet is a certainly a sign of respect at the entrance of a person.  That is both liturgical and secular.  However, we don't just show respect to Christ in the Eucharist.  We adore, venerate, worship, Christ in the Eucharist.  Am I wrong to think that there is a qualitative difference between showing respect for someone important and adoring Someone divine?]

The archbishop’s letter was issued ahead of the introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal, which comes into effect throughout the English-speaking world this coming November.

Ironically, his instruction comes only a year after Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Glasgow. At that papal Mass, all those receiving communion from the Pope did so kneeling on a pres-dieu.

“This is really awful,” one Glasgow priest, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote to CNA.

“The bishop is indeed the moderator of the liturgical life of the diocese. However, what concerns a number of the priests in Glasgow is that our Archbishop knowingly exceeds his legitimate authority when he attempts to remove liberties foreseen by the Roman Missal itself.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that “the faithful communicate either kneeling or standing, as determined by the Conference of Bishops.[It seems that the Conference in Scotland has prescribed standing.] The Instruction adds, “(w)hen they communicate standing, however, it is recommended that they make an appropriate sign of reverence, as determined in the same norms, before receiving the Sacrament.”

In 2002, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, attempted to clarify the issue after receiving complaints from lay Catholics who were being refused communion after kneeling to receive the host.

The Congregation, he wrote in an open letter, “considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments (Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213).”

He went on to add that even when the Congregation has given its approval for a bishops’ conference to make a standing posture the norm, “it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.”  [I don't believe that Archbp. Conti said anything about his intention to refuse Communion to anyone if they kneel.  I sounds as if he has simply expressed his own preference about what people should do.]

He also highlighted that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, believed the “centuries-old tradition” of kneeling to receive communion is a “particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species.

Cardinal Estévez concluded with a warning that “the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness” and, if those complaints are verified, it would “seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.”

There is no question of anybody being refused communion if they choose to kneel,” a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow told CNA on Aug. 30.  [Of course not.  Hardly needs to be said.]

“The purpose of the bishop’s letter is to encourage, and certainly not diminish, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament by reminding people of the need to make an act of reverence before receiving Holy Communion standing and in procession – which is the overwhelming custom in the diocese and the rest of Europe.”  [I am not sure that reference to numbers of people who do X is the best argument.  I suspect that the overwhelming number of Catholics in Europe and Scotland commit the usual carnal sins as well, all the while going to Communion when and if they go to Mass, the overwhelming number of Europeans and Scots haven't been to confession for years, and they go to Communion, and overwhelming numbers of Scots and Europeans, though baptized, have a sketchy notion of basic doctrines and catechism.  What percentage of Catholics in Scotland and Europe go to Mass?  Would I be wrong to find the argument by numbers to be a little weak?]

The latest development is not first time that Archbishop Conti has made headlines for his stance on liturgical matters.

In 2007, he sent an advisory note to all his priests following the publication of Pope Benedict’s document “Summorum Pontificum” on the provision of the older Tridentine Rite in parishes. The archbishop’s guidelines were dubbed the “coldest, most hostile I have read so far” by the renowned Catholic blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.  [Sadly.]

Archbishop Conti turned 77-years-old earlier this year and has already handed in his resignation to Pope Benedict. His replacement could be announced within the next few months.

Articles of this kind make me very sad.

You might recall that when the clarification of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum was released, the PCED’s document Universae Ecclesiae, Archbp. Conti commented on it in his Ad clerum letter to priest of that Archdiocese.

The posture from receiving Holy Communion is certainly a matter for sometimes hot debate.  My own views are well-enough known that I won’t repeat them. And, I must add, I am pretty much nobody in comparison with the lofty climes of curiae and chanceries.

In any event, whatever discussion we engage in about this very important issue, we should use charity and commonsense.

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59 Responses to Archbp. Conti of Glasgow tells people not to kneel to receive Holy Communion

  1. AnAmericanMother says:

    I am very puzzled by this.

    What is the motivation? What is the upside? What is the benefit?

    I honestly would like to know why this seems to be such a point of contention with His Grace.

  2. Is it just me, or does it seem that there is a growing movement among the flock to kneel? You have to ask, why would the bishop make such a statement if he wasn’t dealing with it at his own Masses, or “complaints” were coming from priests of the diocese. The sense of the faithful is turning, I believe, or shall I say leading by following their heart’s desire to receive kneeling and on their tongue (1 Thes 5:19)

    I was at Archbishop Vigneron’s installation Mass in 2009 – up front, photographing. Three young men – seminarians I believe from a local religious order – knelt on the marble floor in the archbishop’s line and he didn’t even pause when he gave them holy Communion, on their tongues. No one tripped. There was no scene. The young men did not slow anything down. In fact, had the archbishop paused or said something, he would have created a delay and drawn attention to them.

    Interestingly, when the local news videographer next to me edited his piece down to several minutes for the website, the Communion shot he put up, was of those young men receiving (fast forward to 2:15 and watch):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Qv0HhQEU4

  3. Oleksander says:

    “Your Grace ” I believe is proper since he’s an archbishop, not “Your Lordship” which I think is for “regular” bishops

  4. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I always find it puzzling when those who only know how to break a liturgical instruction suddenly (or repetitively) insist that those who wish to do as the Church has done for centuries are the ones who are breaking the rules. This comment doesn’t justify breaking rules or disobedience to legitimate authority — but I would find instructions to be uniform and cooperate with the rules more credible if it came from one who had a well earned reputation for thinking and acting with the Church.

    God bless,

    Chris

  5. AnAmericanMother says:

    Diane ATDL,
    Lovely. And the Archbishop reacted perfectly – i.e. he did not react visibly at all. Noticed that the elderly couple a little earlier also received on the tongue, and the sky did not fall nor the earth gape.
    And the music is really not bad at all. Holst hymn and the chant are good . . . the odd soloist on “God is Love” not quite so . . . sounds like he wandered in from a jazz club . . . the Archbishop has a fine steady voice and the congregation joins in with a will.

  6. One of those TNCs says:

    I have 2 points for ABp Conti:
    First, to his statement that “Standing in our Western culture is a mark of respect…”, I would add, “Kneeling, in our Western culture, is a mark of respect and HUMILITY.”
    Secondly, the statement by the spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow is just plain silly, purporting, as it does, to explain why Bp. Conti wants his flock to stand to receive. If indeed the good bishop wants to “…encourage, and certainly not diminish, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament…” by reminding people of the need to make an act of reverence before receiving Holy Communion standing…” then why, why, WHY does he not encourage his flock to make the most reverent act possible – that of kneeling??
    On the other hand, his statement to his flock has done some good: it gets people thinking and talking about just Who it is we are receiving in Holy Communion, and how we should best acknowledge Him. That’s a good thing.

  7. Ezra says:

    Well, one thing’s for sure. If I ever meet Archbishop Conti, I’ll be sure to genuflect and kiss his ring.

  8. digdigby says:

    Standing in line and being handed something is analogous to being fed in a Dickensian workhouse – what I have in mind is Archbishop Bumble and ‘Oliver’.

  9. Ezra: Remember, left knee, not right.

  10. AnAmericanMother says:

    Ezra,

    Remember: left knee for the archbishop!

  11. AnAmericanMother says:

    I would say, great minds think alike, but I Am Not Worthy. :-D

  12. I didn’t know that about genuflecting with the left knee for a bishop.

    Once I hung about in church for longer than I had intended simply so I wouldn’t have to greet the new bishop. It wasn’t that I had anything against him. I just wasn’t sure what to do. People probably though I was being very pious, but no….just stupid.

    A post about how to greet and address bishops might be welcomed by ignoramuses (or should that be ignorami) like me. :-)

  13. frobuaidhe says:

    If His Grace is coming down on kneeling for Holy Communion it can only be because more people are kneeling and upsetting the liturgists’ apple carts. I know of one good priest in the city who is doing excellent work in this regard, and I also know that this has not gone unnoticed on Clyde Street.

    To folk from elsewhere who don’t understand the Scottish situation I think it’s best summarised in the words of Tony Fraser (editor of Apropos) in a talk he gave some years ago to Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, “I come from Scotland, a land of extraordinary ministers and even more extraordinary priests.”

    Ss. Mungo and John Ogilvie, pray for them.

  14. CatholicDRE says:

    I was JUST having this conversation with my Pastor. He insisted that the laity does not have the right to kneel and recieve until I e-mailed him Redemptionis Sacramentum. Then I got something like “well, there are rights and then there are rights” (a cop out). He then went on about how kneeling to recieve “smacks of holier than thou” and it would divide the Church, create disunity and, oh yeah, hamper the flow of Holy Communion because he’d have to lean down a little when someone came to kneel. (To his credit he eventually said he wouldn’t refuse someone who kneeled for which I commended him). I tried to have solutions to each of his excuses and eventually he couldn’t really come up with anymore that sounded fair. He is really a good guy, but he is “of a certain age” with all that can entail. I guess what I am saying is it was eventually a good conversation and if your Pastor feels the same way then talk to them (charitably) about it and trust God. I feel like something was planted today.

  15. benedetta says:

    I would respect his authority. But would appropriate signs of reverence be then considered acceptable?

    It does make one wonder what the need was for this clarification, or the basis for concern.

    For me it echoes what I was taught a time ago which is that we don’t kneel, at all, during consecration (no kneelers in pews just chairs without kneelers attached) because we stand to show respect and that we are loved and regarded as equals by Jesus. Essentially. I mean, hard to argue with that…”But, Father, Jesus does not love me!? therefore I kneel…and upset the delicate balance of our lovely banner furnished and Haugen chanting worship space…” This would be, late 80s/early 90s. Or, “But Father, I prefer groveling…I am scrupulous and on and on…” and on like a runaway train…It’s like, in reality, “But Father haven’t you ever met someone joyful, fully loved by Jesus, cheerful, happy and well-adjusted, even if poor in one respect or another, sociable, and, who adores whilst kneeling?” OK. Never mind…Actually I have…

  16. The third typical edition of the GIRM states

    The Third Typical edition of the GIRM is already in effect in the US since their adaptations were approved early. The rest of the English speaking countries had their adaptations approved recently and will come into effect in Advent. At least that is my understanding.

    160. Sacerdos deinde accipit patenam vel pyxidem, et accedit ad communicandos, qui de more processionaliter approprinquant.

    Non licet ipsis fidelibus panem consecratum neque calicem sacrum per semetipsos accipere eo minus de manu in manum inter se transmittere. Fideles communicant genuflexi vel stantes, prout Conferentia Episcoporum statuerit. Cum autem stantes communicant, commendatur ut debitam reverentiam, ab iisdem normis statuendam, ante susceptionem Sacramenti faciant.

    My translation (Please feel free to correct)
    160. Then the priest takes the paten or ciborium and goes to the communicants, which normally approach in a procession.
    It is not permitted to the faithful themselves to take the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice, let alone pass it from hand to hand. The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as determined by the Episcopal Conference. However, when Communion is taken standing, it is recommended that, before receiving the Sacrament, give due reverence, by established norms.

    The Latin comes from here:
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/cdwlgrm.htm

  17. benedetta says:

    Also I think what Diane at Te Deum Laudamus is saying is correct as far as there seems to be a spontaneous movement by the faithful towards kneeling to receive. I think this reflects an underlying hunger and a hope for greater reverence in the liturgy in general, and a yearning for the Real Presence. We all have different responsibilities in terms of showing our respect for Jesus in the liturgy and it is helpful to recognize the needs of the faithful where they are on this one.

  18. Jack Hughes says:

    Even though my Bishop is not a traditionalist in any sense of the world I am glad that when I have assisted at his Masses that he has allowed me to recieve Jesus kneeling and on the tounge, it also means that SHOULD a Priest in the diocese refuse to allow me to recieve in such a manner that I can always go up to him afterwoods and tell him that the Bishop allows me to receive in such a manner.

  19. Seamas O Dalaigh says:

    Father,

    “Archbishop Conti turned 77-years-old earlier this year and has already handed in his resignation to Pope Benedict. His replacement could be announced within the next few months.”

    Ah, the biological solution.

    James Daly

  20. @An American Mother,

    The people Archbishop Vigneron is giving holy Communion to at the 2:15 mark (seated and receiving on the tongue) are his family.

    I think it is worth pointing out, in contrast to the example shown in the story in Fr. Z’s post, that whenever a bishop has come to Asssumption Grotto while I’ve been there (since 2005), they have always delivered holy Communion at our Communion rail where we choose to receive, on the tongue. In fact, during the new Mass, intinction is used.

    Further, Archbishop Vigneron, when he came to Grotto for on August 15, 2009 to celebrate the Mass, did so at the High Altar, ad orientem, and he did the Eucharistic prayer in latin (it was the new Mass, and I must say, his latin is very pleasing to the ears). It had to be 100 F in there that night, but he didn’t even break a sweat that I could see.

    What struck me when Archbishop Vigneron visited us that night was his charity in choosing to exercise those options familiar to Grotto parishioners. He had a perfect right, as celebrant to use a number of options that he is accustomed to using, but he generously considered what we were accustomed to at our traditional parish. He had every right in the world to use other, more typical options, but he did things as they are done at Grotto. We don’t have the sign of peace – the priests opt not to use it and the people prefer not to have it. The archbishop followed suit. I think I speak for all parishioners there, that we were endeared by his generosity and willingness to celebrate the new Mass the way we see celebrated every Sunday at Noon.

    Bishops and priests can do a lot to win the hearts of their people on many other serious things when they are willing to be generous in the kinds of ways that Archbishop Vigneron exemplified.

    Here is that photopost:

    http://te-deum.blogspot.com/2009/08/2009-feast-of-assumption-at-assumption_8424.html

  21. cathgrl says:

    AnAmericanMother,

    If memory serves me correctly, the elderly couple receiving on their tongues are the Archbishop’s parents.

  22. Dr. K says:

    May his reward be Pope Benedict accepting his retirement and appointing a bishop who will encourage kneeling for Communion.

  23. I can’t help but think that the appropriate sign of reverence is to kneel. When one is able of course.

    What responsibility does one have to know and to follow the norms of the bishops’ conference in one’s area for this? Is a norm binding under pain of sin? I don’t even know if I want to know the answer….But I guess I should learn it. :-/

  24. Laura R. says:

    He then went on about how kneeling to receive “smacks of holier than thou” and it would divide the Church, create disunity and, oh yeah, hamper the flow of Holy Communion because he’d have to lean down a little when someone came to kneel.

    At my NO parish people occasionally kneel to receive and it seems to be a complete non-issue: the priest gives Communion and no one trips over the communicant.

    In any event, whatever discussion we engage in about this very important issue, we should use charity and commonsense.

    I commend Fr. Z, CatholicDRE, Diane at Te Deum Laudamus, and everyone else who has emphasized the importance of charity in this and similar matters.

  25. @Catholicofthule – I did a blogpost series on kneeling for Communion, going through the GIRM and letters from CDW in depth on the matter. I went back and did a chronology on the documents. There are so many pieces of info out there, that I have seen people citing one thing, when something else came out after it. That is what drove me to write the series.

    Scroll down below the video clip in this post and see the list of posts:

    http://te-deum.blogspot.com/2009/02/abp-vignerons-installation-mass-video.html

  26. Fr. Z, et al;

    Isn’t there a new translation of the GIRM in regards to certain instructions? Isn’t the one concerning kneeling one of them? I know that you posted about this before:
    What does their new GIRM look like?

  27. APX says:

    I stand in line to buy groceries, get coffee, use the ATM, etcetra, etcetra. I do not show the ATM respect by standing while I use it. The only times I can think of when one stands as a sign of respect is if a person of merit enters the room, men standing when a woman leaves the table, and standing for the national anthem, and all three require a change in posture. I’m not buying this “it’s a sign of respect to stand to receive communion” when you’re already moving along in line.

    Ach du lieber Himmel! Kneeling isn’t that big of a deal. Even in my uber-liberal parish I’m thankfully out of, the priest didn’t make a fuss about me kneeling, despite being the only one, nor did the bishop fuss when I knelt to receive from him. Come to think of it, there were several elderly people behind me too and not one of them tripped over me!

  28. It’s simple: just restore kneeling as the universal norm. Just as before, this would have no effect on those who physically cannot kneel. True, parishes will then have to spend money to install altar rails; but perhaps it would be good to offer it up as a penance for decades of sacking and looting churches and abusing the liturgy.

    P.S. It seems to me contrary to charity to impute bad motives to those who prefer to kneel for Communion.

  29. Parasum says:

    The statement may have something to do with his long-continued lack of enthusiasm for the pre-Conciliar Missal. Cardinal O’Brien (Edinburgh and St.Andrews) has shown himself far friendlier to the use of the 1962 books; the Fraternity of St.Peter even have a place in the archdiocese. Mario, by contrast, is another kettle of fish; though to be fair, he has allowed the occasional 1962 Mass in Glasgow. Scotland has seven bishops – somewhat fewer than the US – so there is not much choice among them, if one or more is unwelcoming to the pre-Conciliar Mass.

    The SSPX have established themselves in Scotland, so it’s understandable if he is unwilling to do anything that could seem to encourage them. Even if this takes the form of discouraging traditional liturgical habits, such as kneeling.

  30. Anita says: It’s simple: just restore kneeling as the universal norm. Just as before, this would have no effect on those who physically cannot kneel.

    There was a time that I too felt this way. However, from a prudential standpoint, I suspect that the Holy Father is letting people get use to the idea gradually. So many people were wounded by the fast and radical changes that took place in the wake of Vatican II (which were not even in harmony with Vatican II).

    I trust the Holy Father on this. If he wanted the norms changed across the world to eliminate Communion in the Hand while standing, he could make it happen in a Vatican blink (I’ll let others “in the know” about such things define a Vatican blink).

    I think we, the faithful, need to press forward gently, patiently and prudently. The Holy Spirit has a lot of work to do in the hearts of others and they can be won more readily with reason and patience. There is little doubt which way things are turning and the momentum will pick up. People I know who were very closed to a return to kneeling a few years ago have either crossed over in their thinking, or are discerning while on the fence. For some of these people it is a very delicate discernment process that can be derailed with one imprudent remark out of someone.

  31. Long-Skirts says:

    Archbishop of Glasgow said:

    ““Standing in our Western culture is a mark of respect: kneeling at the altar rails (where they continue to exist) is not the practice envisaged by the instructions in the Missal,” he stated”

    ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE

    Man won’t kneel –
    Daily to pray
    But lift his hands,
    To applaud and play.

    Man won’t kneel –
    Examine acts dead
    But perform for himself
    By bowing his head.

    Man won’t kneel –
    Emotes bad behavior
    No matter reviews
    The director’s his savior.

    Man won’t kneel –
    He’s the star, can’t fail…
    So the prop-man struck
    The Communion rail.

  32. vikingjr says:

    i can’t help but fall into a sort of despair that the Holy Father refuses to just come out and tell us what to do… I know he’s the type to instruct by example, but it’s obvious that there are a bunch of people who aren’t getting the hint! So where does that leave us? What are we to think? I’d like to talk with this Archbishop personally… I work as a staff musician for the Episcopal Church, and I see old, decrepit, dying, crippled, one-foot-in-the-grave, feet-going-two-different-directions people kneel to receive BREAD and WINE! I remember the first time I saw that… I had already been kneeling for communion for several years, but when I witnessed that, I knew that there was no way I could ever stand of my own will for communion. What sort of excuse are we going to give on the last day, that we allow people to show more reverence to fake communion than we do toward Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament? Why is the Holy Father so meek to say it like it is in plain language on this matter? I don’t mean those to be rhetorical questions…

  33. UncleBlobb says:

    I would wish to bring to Hi Excellency’s attention the excellent book – written about previously by Father Z. – by his brother bishop His Excellency, Athanasius Schneider, ORC, “Dominus est.”. Perhaps Archbishop Conti could buy it through WDTPRS and give Fr. Z. a hand?

  34. I think that as a sign of respect for the authority of the archbishop, all the faithful, especially traditionalists, in Glasgow should receive Holy Communion standing. Even Jesus said that the disciples should do exactly what the scribes and Pharisees said to do (but not follow their example).

    Meanwhile, I hear the sound of papers being shuffled on Pope Benedict’s desk as a resignation letter is located, and the phone is probably ringing in a bishop or priest’s office somewhere…

  35. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I’d just like to express my agreement with Miss Moore:

    “It seems to me contrary to charity to impute bad motives to those who prefer to kneel for Communion.”

  36. Johnny Domer says:

    To take up Fr. Z’s point about numbers again (but in a different fashion), the force of the “overwhelming custom” prevailing in Scotland and Europe is lessened greatly when one thinks of it in the light of tradition (i.e., the democracy of the dead). This custom of standing has only been an approved practice for a blink of an eye in comparison to the centuries upon centuries in which Roman Catholics in Scotland, Europe, and everywhere else have been allowed or required to receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue. The now-prevailing practice is more aptly described as “currently in vogue” than as an “overwhelming custom.”

    To address Andrew Saucci’s point, I think that to do what the Church deems licit does not disrespect the archbishop. Archbishop Conti wants people to receive Communion standing but hasn’t required it; the Holy Father wants people to receive kneeling, but hasn’t required it. Obedience doesn’t come into play in this stand vs. kneel decision. Couldn’t receiving Communion while kneeling be seen as a desire to be of one mind with the Holy Father, just as much as receiving while standing is a sign of being of one mind with the archbishop? For me, I’d rather be of one mind with the Holy Father, who is 1. correct on this issue and 2. a higher authority than the archbishop.

  37. Joseph-Mary says:

    I have a young friend from Scotland who says the faith is in very bad shape there. All these lessenings of devotion and reverence continue to contribute to that loss of faith. My friend is considering a vocation with the FSSP.

  38. BaedaBenedictus says:

    “…receiving Holy Communion standing and in procession – which is the overwhelming custom in the diocese and the rest of Europe.” 

    His Grace says this, fully aware that it is only the custom because it was FORCED on the flock for decades. In the meantime, sanctuaries (with their altar rails) were raped to make sure people start to forget how it was before the buffet line.

    But low Mass attendance, dried-up vocations, the near-dying out of confession, rampant liturgical abuses, and a great silent apostasy among his flock are nothing when (shock!) people are daring to *kneel* to receive their Lord! The horrors!

  39. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    At least Archbishop Conti said the faithful SHOULD follow the GIRM and stand for communion vs. MUST stand for communion. It is not as if he ordered a poor old couple to stand for communion after it had taken them 3 minutes to get down into a kneeling position. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if some extremely traditional Archbishops unfairly and inappropriately DEMANDED the faithful kneel for communion.

    I believe I heard recently that the Catholic Church embraced Servant Leadership…wow Fr. Z, I bet many of your readers would view this type of leadership unnatural for the Catholic Church given she is often characterized as a “command and control” type organization. Think about it though from a biblical perspective – makes sense, right? I have included a couple of links for more information about Servant Leadership:

    http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=3656

    See reference in the 3rd paragraph:
    http://www.aboutcatholics.com/faith_beliefs/what_catholic_church/

  40. pinoytraddie says:

    Maybe His Grace is Channeling Fellow Italian Bugnini?

  41. ghp95134 says:

    And as for you Glasgow, you who think you are heavenly, I cast into the fiery pits of hell. For he who hears Son hears the Father and he who spurns the Son spurns the Father.

    Thaur! Ah fixed it fur ye:
    An’ as fur ye Glasgee, ye fa hink ye ur heavenly, Ah cest intae th’ fiery pits ay heel. Fur he fa hears th’ Son hears th’ Faither an’ he fa spurns th’ Son spurns th’ Faither.

    –Guy
    [translation courtesy of: http://www.whoohoo.co.uk/main.asp

  42. Fr. A.M. says:

    This is very sad. I do not blame those good Catholic men of Glasgow who, although they would love to serve their native diocese, choose to go elsewhere, sometimes abroad. Very often the problems relating to the ‘vocations crisis’ in certain dioceses lies in the very hands of the bishop. And many good bishops have shown that it is possible to encourage vocations by the manner of their leadership. I wonder if His Grace, with all due respect, will kneel in Heaven before God (presumably we’ll all be supple enough to do so), or even prostrate himself, or will prefer to stand to show ‘respect’ ?

  43. JonPatrick says:

    @parasum, it seems to me that if the bishop is trying to keep his traditional flock from going over to the SSPX, discouraging kneeling is hardly going to do that, but will have the opposite effect.

    It always amazes me that it is more controversial in today’s church to present oneself kneeling for communion than as a known “pro-choice” politician. We surely have our priorities backwards.

  44. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus,

    Thank you. I will definitely have a look at those.

  45. Legisperitus says:

    He’s not merely doing this; he’s doing it “on his way out.” Which will make it that little bit harder for his successor to reverse course without being perceived as a reactionary firebrand or a radical troublemaker.

  46. pfreddys says:

    There is actually some good news surrounding this article. I would say the attitude of His Grace is the exception in these current times whereas 25 years ago this attitude would have been so common that it would not even have been reported.
    There’s even good news for the suffering people of Scotland: they will soon have a new bishop!

  47. Clinton says:

    I share JonPatrick’s amazement– it is baffling that honest laymen are denied Communion just
    because they have the temerity to present themselves kneeling, while pro-abortion ‘c’atholic
    politicians continue to receive without a problem.

  48. Tina in Ashburn says:

    When are we going to be done with the false authority of Bishop’s Conferences? I understand the need for local and general discipline, but over the years, these conferences are used more to trump Rome than anything else. Its another ‘new’ thing from the last 50 years.

    [Conferences have the authority they have been delegated by the Holy See. When they do have some authority in a matter, it is real, not false.]

  49. p2rp says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    This article offers an excellent opportunity to ask a burning question regarding obedience. For those who deem receiving our Eucharistic Lord on their knees as the most perfect posture versus standing, and rightly so, wouldn’t receiving our Lord in a standing posture, out of obedience to his Grace, be a meritious and heroic act of self-sacrifice? [It could be, yes.] In matters that don’t necessarily contradict faith and morals, doesn’t our Lord always esteem obedience over personal preference above all else? [Well... I guess it depends on what is being preferred. Some people prefer wicked things.] Personally I dread the loss of witness and respect that kneeling inspires to Our Lord in the Eucharist, however, I’m conflicted by the opportunity in this matter to obedience and self-sacrifice.

    Confusion in our Church multiplies daily, any guidance you can provide regarding my question of obedience and virtue is greatly and humbly appreciated.

    [You raise good points. It seems to me that when pastors of souls lay a burden (guilt trip) on people so that they don't do something people did with devotion as part of their identity for a long time, it is not a surprise that people resist. Also, as I was reading your comment, the image of the healing of the ten lepers jumped to mind. You recall the story: only one leper of the ten returned to the Lord and, when he did, he fell on his face at the Lord's feet. And that leper was a Samaritan. The other nine, apparent orthodox lepers and not Samaritans at all, that is, the overwhelming number of normal cured lepers, went their way with nary a look back, it seems. Which leper did Our Lord praise?]

  50. Cavaliere says:

    For some reason I could not post a quote from Cardinal Canizares Llovera from an interview he gave last month in Peru. When asked about receiving Communion in the hand or on the tongue he replied that “Communion should be received on the tongue while kneeling.” like many problems in the Church this one too will be solved by nature. The Cardinal is still relatively young whereas Archbishop Conti is past retirement age.

  51. Random Friar says:

    Re: the story above about the priest who said “there are rights, and then there are rights…”

    Fellow priests: if a layman has a right, and it is within reason, then the layman has no need to defend his assertion of said right. Remember how we feel when we try to assert our rights to the bishops, when we try to act as the Holy Father asks, or even especially when falsely accused of grave crimes. We cannot decry it in one sphere, and then turn around and demand it on the other.

  52. Mgoog says:

    What is the feeling on most eastern churches that offer holy communion to standing congregants but on the tongue?

  53. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Thank you for the clarification Farther Z, yes, the Holy See gives authority to these conferences. I’m not trying to spark any rebellious riots here LOL, perhaps ‘false’ was the wrong word. As you know, that type of authority is a relatively recent development, which allowed some of the questionable practices over the last 40 years, albeit allowed practices. I wish the previous form of Papal authority being the last word be restored. Then these discussions would be moot. That’s what I should have said.

  54. Kate says:

    Fr. Z.,

    P2rp’s take on this and your response are interesting to me.

    I have a similar situation going on at my parish right now. We have been “talked to” by our pastor a number of times regarding the norm of standing. (He wants us to stand.) I prefer to kneel, but I feel that I would be
    a.) giving other parishoners the impression that I am “stuck” in pre-Vatican II era
    b.) making a scene because everyone knows the pastor’s views
    c.) appearing “holier than thou”

    Honestly, I just want to kneel to receive Our Lord and not have it be a problem. Is the best thing to kneel (and offer up the suffering) or stand (and offer up the suffering). I have been assured by many in the Church that we all will, eventually, return to kneeling. I believe that over time this will happen. Should we “help” move the Church in this direction, or should we be obedient to the pastor and our local bishop who are firm on the standing issue?

    Thank you.

  55. Tina,

    I believe your original question is pertinent. Although the quote is not immediately at hand, I recall Cardinal Ratzinger expressing some concern about bishops’ conferences effectively exercising authority that they have not been delegated by the Holy See. I think there may have been examples of bishops committees exercising authority that has not been explicitly delegated by their conference. If so, these would be instances of the “false authority” that I assumed you to be questioning.

  56. But in the context of this thread, it occurs that the most clear cut example of false or improper use of authority would be any priest, bishop, or conference telling any person not to kneel whenever he feels obliged to do so.

  57. Athanasius says:

    ??? ??? ? ???? ????? ?????????? ??? ????????? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ??? ?????, ??? ?? ?? ??????? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?????????? ??? ???????? ??? ???????????

    Wherefore God exalted him to the highest place and bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…
    -Philipians II:9-10

    But not in Church.

  58. Parasum says:

    Craigmaddie says:

    “[Abp. Conti] is trying to promote a joint baptismal liturgy with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.”

    This Roman document may perhaps allow him to it:
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/general-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19930325_directory_en.html

    To quote:

    “IV. Communion in Life and Spiritual Activity Among the Baptized

    The communion that exists with other Christians on the basis of the sacramental bond of Baptism, and the norms for sharing in prayer and other spiritual activities, including in particular cases sacramental sharing.”

    But:

    “97. While by baptism a person is incorporated into Christ and his Church, this is only done in practice in a given Church or ecclesial Community. Baptism, therefore, may not be conferred jointly by two ministers belonging to different Churches or ecclesial Communities. Moreover, according to Catholic liturgical and theological tradition, baptism is celebrated by just one celebrant. For pastoral reasons, in particular circumstances the local Ordinary may sometimes permit, however, that a minister of another Church or ecclesial Community take part in the celebration by reading a lesson, offering a prayer, etc. Reciprocity is possible only if a baptism celebrated in another Community does not conflict with Catholic principles or discipline.106″

    OTOH:

    “98. It is the Catholic understanding that godparents, in a liturgical and canonical sense, should themselves be members of the Church or ecclesial Community in which the baptism is being celebrated. They do not merely undertake a res- ponsibility for the Christian education of the person being baptized (or confirmed) as a relation or friend; they are also there as representatives of a community of faith, standing as guarantees of the candidate’s faith and desire for ecclesial communion.

    a) However, based on the common baptism and because of ties of blood or friendship, a baptized person who belongs to another ecclesial Community may be admitted as a witness to the baptism, but only together with a Catholic godparent.107 A Catholic may do the same for a person being baptized in another ecclesial Community.”

  59. @ Kate
    From what I gather Fr Z was indicating that the Samaritan came back and worshipped our Lord. Our Lord had ordered all of the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests . The Samaritan is the only one who came back when he was healed. Now he didn’t necessarily disobey our Lord as he was not told to do it in a certain order or time span. Instead out of devotion he came and fell at the feet of our Lord first before carrying out his command. Such is the law of Liberty St Paul speaks of. The 9 others it is presumed did exactly what Christ said and never came back. They did not love Christ as much as the Samaritan. After that Christ’s new instructions superseded the previous.

    On an aside the priest has only as much authority as the Church/ God delegates to him. The same with the bishop’s and even the pope. It is a matter of hieracrchy. If an inferior trys to usurp the preogatives of a superior then any “authority” he has usurped is not valid (unless the superior validates it). In the earthly hierarchy of the Church the highest superior is the Holy Father. The Holy Father has previously spoken upon this issue by word and example. Not only that but he has delegated his authority to certain offices in the Vatican which are very insistent and clear upon this issue. The wishes of the Holy Father are quite evident and explicit. Any priest or bishop, archbishop or even conference of bishops who try to usurp the Holy Father’s authority upon this matter when such authority has not been delegated to them are well outside of their own legitimate authority. In such a situation their authority over that particular aspect is not valid. Therefore there is no moral obligation to obey them (outside of the considerations of charity). However, having said that the obedience we owe to the Holy Father and the priest himself stems from the authority delegated to them by God Himself. As Christ is God it is to Him we owe all obedience and reverence. Our reverence to the priest should be due to our reverence of Christ. The problem is that a number of Catholics strongly desire to worship our Lord and express our love for Him with our entire being. Some priests may not quite understand this desire which is akin to that of the Samaritan leper and some may even view it as primitive or even worse. However, when the Samaritan threw himself at the feet of our Lord he wasn’t thinking of what would the disciples say (don’t forget even our Lord rebuked the disciples for forbidding the little ones from drawing near to Him). Nor was the Samaritan thinking of anything else but Christ at that moment. That is how we should receive Holy Communion. If others are offended them let them be offended- that is between them and God. True charity comes from God and if we are more concerned with how our actions will be perceived or affect others then we are more like the other 9 lepers and share little in common with the Samaritan. As it is said perfect love casts out fear. We are created to know and love God- everything after that is secondary. Besides when a priest is holding the Consecrated Host deciding to honor the priest more (by following his preferences- they are nothing more) instead of venerating Christ is analogous to going to an audience with the Queen of England and going over to the prime minister who is next to her and shaking his hand while just nodding to Her Majesty on your way from meeting the prime minister. Even if the prime minister is a rabid anti-monarchist he doesn’t have the authority to change protocal at a personal whim. Besides I think the Queen would appreciate the polite deference properly shown than obedience to her prime minister’s personal preferences. I think it is the same with Christ also- so long as it is done out of charity and love of God.

    If the priest/ bishop had the legitimate authority to command us to stand to receive then obedience should be rendered. However, the “guilt trip” is not a legitimate from of authority and neither are character assasinations (“Holier than thou” attacks). It is said that when Satan wishes to attack the Faithful he seeks to confuse and distract them if he can’t tempt them to sin. If he is successful he renders them impotent and they are not very much of a threat to him. If he is able to do this constantly during Holy Communion when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ then he will gain a foot hold into many other areas of our life. God bless you.

    Thank you Father for the beautiful analogy. It has greatly encouraged me and helped me gain a little understanding I hope. God bless you.