ASK FATHER: Bishop bully: You have the right to kneel, but not to a kneeler.

From a reader….


We had a kneeler for those who wished to kneel and receive on the tongue. The Bishop ordered kneelers removed from the three parishes in the diocese that allowed their use. This impacts the elderly and infirm. His reasons: We have the right to kneel but no right to a kneeler and it’s not in the rubrics. Later, pushed by a fellow parishioner, he back pedaled to: It’s not recommended. I want to submit a written “request/protest”. Any suggestions for a defense for those of us clinging to the faith by our finger tips? Unfortunately, TLM is out of reach for many of us. Thank you for the opportunity to ask.

GUEST RESPONSE: Fr. Tim Ferguson

Men who do this sort of thing are bullies. It’s nice that he’s backed off on an outright ban and moved to a mere “recommendation.” If the pastor is comfortable with it, then keep the kneeler in place. If the pastor is unwilling to do so (and he may have good reasons – disobeying the bishop’s “recommendation” may come at a cost too high to bear), then we have to get creative. Kneelers are forbidden, but are large, firm pillows, with Knights of Columbus standing by to help up the elderly when they kneel? What about reserving the front pew for those who wish to kneel for Holy Communion, and once the priest is finished distributing to those coming up in file, he goes over to the front pew and dispenses to those kneeling in the first pew?

Bullies are tough to fight. When the bully is also the principal’s pet, then creativity needs to ramp up even higher.


If there is a Catholic piece of furniture, it’s probably a kneeler.  No wonder modernists hate kneelers and kneeling and those who kneel.

Perhaps one might consider diminishing the parish’s payment to the chancery by the amount that you have to increase your insurance in case someone should fall, because they don’t a Communion rail to kneel at.


I have the solution.

Everyone should get one of these garden kneelers, that help people get up and down when doing their gardening!  You can get them through my Amazon link, too.   US HERE

It’s perfect.  It has pockets for Latin prayer books, for LACE chapel veils, for a Rosary to be said while hearing Mass.  It’s all a “seasoned” Restorationist need!

And it is GREEN!

I’m picturing as a write, a line of people moving forward with these, sort of like walkers, but not.  Then, once in a long line parallel with the altar, everyone kneels and Father goes down the row with Communion.   Then back to the pews.  Orrrrrr…. maybe going over the Sacred Heart statue for a while and prayer from the Latin prayer book while Mass concludes.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Not says:

    Perfect solution..Have all the elderly come up for Holy Communion together, kneel on hard floor and struggle to get up afterwards. (that would be me). Charge Bishop with Elder Abuse. They never like to admit that TLM is attended by lots of young people with families, just us old diehards

  2. Dan says:

    I would file an ADA complaint. The universal norm for receiving is kneeling and no accommodation is made for the elderly or infirm to do so. Therefor your bishop is discriminating against the elderly and handicap.

  3. anthtan says:

    You have the right to kneel.
    But if you don’t provide a kneeler, you are – for the elderly and infirm, at least – actively discouraging, putting barriers to people who want to exercise their right. That is not respecting the right.

    Why discourage kneeling to receive the Holy Eucharist? What is so offensive about it? I don’t recall Christ discouraging anyone from paying homage to him or with any gesture acknowledging his divinity and glory. (‘Noli me tangere’ doesn’t count but that’s a whole other discussion)

  4. oledocfarmer says:

    This sort of tedious micromanagement is the hallmark of the Prog. Seems related to “issues with control.”

  5. ProfessorCover says:

    During the middle of the pandemic I used to watch a particular FSSP Mass on the livemass app. One Sunday the priest admonished his parishioners because when he visited those in the hospital their bedside reading typically was more about defenses of the TLM rather than about helps for saving one’s soul. For example , not likely to be a book of helpful meditations as could be found in The Imitation of Christ. He said was concerned that they were more interested in winning a debate than in saving their soul.
    Bishops seem to be less interested in the salvation of their flocks than whatever it is they are interested in. (Lording over their clergy and parishioners?) Don’t they care that they will be held accountable for the sheep that they lost or drove away? If bishops and clergy act like they don’t believe the faith, especially by acting like the Blessed Sacrament is not truly the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, do they really expect that more than a relatively small handful can keep their faith?

  6. ajf1984 says:

    I wonder if the rubrics are equally silent as to the “right” to, say, a firm floor on which to stand, or a pew on which to sit. For, of course, we have the right to stand and sit in the Novus Ordo (indeed, the congregation is directed to do so), but maybe we are supposed to do these things without the aid of furnishings/architecture specifically built to assist with this sort of thing.

  7. Kate says:

    I think I may live in this diocese. He is a bully and has bullied more than one priest out of the diocese.

  8. APX says:

    This is the same policy in our Diocese, so the priest started standing on the steps leading up to the sanctuary so people could kneel on the bottom step to receive. I found it particularly helpful

  9. teomatteo says:

    “…Perhaps one might consider diminishing the parish’s payment to the chancery ”
    Can Fr F in a couple of sentences explain how this payment to the chancery is determined, and its timing and are they standardized?
    thanks, teo

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    A combination of efforts might help.
    Is there a local paper who might be interested in a story about how the bishop has removed kneelers which make it so much harder for Catholics with limited mobility to practice their faith? It’s a pretty interesting topic, because rarely do you find that kind of blatant contempt for parishioners coming from a bishop. He has distinguished himself! Even Rome may notice, kudos!

    Put some elderly or folks with limited mobility out in front of the rectory or chancery, collecting signatures of passersby to return the kneelers. Put up a sign and make it visible. The optics of that are terrible, for the bishop. Old meanie.
    If there’s a youth group, get them involved. Have families come by and sign.
    You can also stand by the doors of many grocery stores. You’ll get signatures left and right if people don’t have to contribute money. Would you please sign our petition, and have Betty ask. You’ll get em all day long.

    The gardening kneeler is a good substitute. Even better if there are people available to stabilize it and help people up and down. It takes a lot for seniors and people with less mobility to kneel, strength they don’t have in their core, legs, and often the balance is wonky too. Moving away from the kneeler is a potential problem area, there are places for the feet to get caught up. If the bishop wants to be sued, he’s setting up a fine case for it.
    These bishops have no fear of God. This is what the Grinch, with his heart ten sizes too small, would do. It is a total lack of compassion for the people, shocking in it’s brutality, coming from a bishop. They do not seem to fear answering to a real God over this abuse, but they will have to do just that.

  11. Tantum Ergo says:

    Actually, I have long considered a garden kneeler. Our Bishop has demanded that nothing linked to the TLM (such as using a Communion rail) is to be tolerated. After going through Rome, the Bishop has restricted the TLM to one small church for this enormous city. Nonetheless, even though somewhat “progressive” our pastor has removed obstacles to the TLM where he could. Out of appreciation for his kindness, I won’t embarrass him with the use of the garden kneeler.
    Had he not been so kind, I’d encourage buying the kneelers in bulk.

  12. Ariseyedead says:

    Do they also come in red, violet, white, rose and black?

  13. revueltos67 says:

    Sacred Heart statue? If only…

  14. G1j says:

    It’s all a “seasoned” Restorationist need!
    I like that…”Restorationist” ?

  15. Grant M says:

    Bring your own hassock.

  16. TWF says:

    The front pew works well as an alternative. My local parish did just this…. The pastor announced that those receiving kneeling would sit in the front pew, using the kneelers there, and he would commune them first.

    Of course our Archbishop has no issue with kneeling whatsoever. Our cathedral still uses an altar rail – at every Mass…. And the faithful always have the right to kneel. I would say half do… and it’s been like that for at least the 17 years I’ve lived here.

  17. Kerry says:

    Twenty-two U.S. Army nurses, were taken prisoner at the fall of Battan, and, if I correctly remember, kept in Bilbad prison. All prisoners had to bow to any Japanese soldier. The nurses took to walking the courtyard in a long, single file line. Thus any Japanese soldier had to bow once, twice, thrice….21, and 22 times. The Japanese soldiers began to run the other way. That strategy certainly has its application here. Heh.

  18. monstrance says:

    I believe the Archdiocese receives 15% of the general offerings.
    Some parishes make it possible to earmark your offering for particular usage. Like building maintenance, St. Vincent De Paul , etc.

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  20. Julia_Augusta says:

    Just bring a cushion or have an enterprising young Catholic rent cushions before Mass.

    I remember going to the bullfights in Spain years ago and renting cushions at the entrance for 20 pesetas (this was in the 90s before the euro) because the seats were stadium-style (concrete).

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