Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Catholics have the right to kneel to receive Holy Communion

This is something of a repost (though I've added a little material).

At the request of a commenter, I've put the material on the right to kneel that I have in a side bar into post form so that it can more easily be accessed and linked to! Feel free to print it out and use it as you will.

A particular thanks to Antony for the link to the material on the Our Lady's Warriors Website, and Hugh Henry, for the pamphlet on this topic in the latest issue of Fidelity Magazine.

Catholics have a right to receive kneeling:

  • Canon law gives the faithful a right to the sacraments;

  • the right to receive kneeling and on the tongue has been specifically legislated by Rome, and is not overridden by any local legislation, even when approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship;

  • the Pope reaffirmed the virtue of kneeling to acknowledge the Real Presence by his Sermon and actions on the Feast of Corpus Christi;

  • the Congregation for Divine Worship has indicated that priests who deny the faithful their rights in this matter may face serious disciplinary action.

Canon Law

Under Canon 213, the faithful have the right to receive assistance by the sacred Pastors from the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments; and. Under Canon 843 sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

Redemptionis Sacramentum

The right to kneel was clearly set out in Redemptionis Sacramentum in 2004, which stated:

“91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,….”

The Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship has stated that:

“Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.” (Letter of July 2002)

Pope Benedict

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 22 2008, Pope Benedict said:“To kneel in front of the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: whoever bows before Jesus cannot and should not prostrate himself before any earthly power, no matter how strong. We Christians only kneel before God, before the Most Blessed Sacrament, because we believe and know that the one true God is present, who created the world and loved man so much that for his sake, he gave his only begotten Son (cfr Jn 3,16).”

Possible disciplinary action

The Congregation for Divine Worship has indicated in a past case where a catholic was denied communion on the basis that they were kneeling that "Priests should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse."

For more information see:

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