Vatican Newspaper Article Says Catholics Should Receive Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue

From LIfeSiteNews:

Although it may seem a little strange, there is a definite battle being waged within the Catholic Church.  It is the same “culture war” being waged by secular moderns against those who uphold traditional morality, it is pro-life vs. pro-choice.  But within the Catholic Church the same battle is fought along liturgical lines, and the publication in the Vatican newspaper of an article calling for Catholics to receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue is telling.

“If some nonbeliever arrived and observed such an act of adoration perhaps he, too, would ‘fall down and worship God, declaring, God is really in your midst,'” explained Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan in the pages of L’Osservatore Romano. 

The Catholic News Service reports that in the January 8 edition of the Vatican paper, Bishop Schneider noted that the reverence and awe of Catholics who truly believe they are receiving Jesus in the Eucharist should lead them to kneel and receive Communion on their tongues.  “The awareness of the greatness of the eucharistic mystery is demonstrated in a special way by the manner in which the body of the Lord is distributed and received,” the bishop wrote.

Although in all likelihood most Catholics are oblivious to it, the decision to receive communion on the tongue, versus in the hand and the decision to receive communion standing rather than kneeling is a significant fault line in the culture war.

Modernizers who relentlessly work to have the Catholic Church move away from so-called ‘archaic’ positions on sexuality, (forbidding contraception, pre-marital sexual activity, homosexuality etc.) also rail against ‘archaic’ piety in worship.

However, the culture war at least in terms of liturgical issues was nearly lost in the West until the advent of Pope Benedict.

In the United States for instance, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on the Liturgy wrote in its July 2002 newsletter: “Kneeling is not a licit posture for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States of America unless the bishop of a particular diocese has derogated from this norm in an individual and extraordinary circumstance.”

The majority of the faithful have since adopted the practice of standing and receiving communion on the hand. 

However, some traditional Catholics, often derisively referred to as “pre-Vatican II” Catholics have held to the practice of communion kneeling and on the tongue.  Those same Catholics are often the most vociferous defenders of life and family within and without the Church.

While many valiant Catholic activists who work in the pro-life and pro-family battles receive communion in the common fashion, they nonetheless respect the right of those who wish to receive communion kneeling and on the tongue.

Not so for those within the Church seeking to get the Church in line with the times.

Certain Church leaders, priests and even bishops who are zealous in their attempts to modernize the Church have gone so far as to attempt to enforce modernism by refusing communion to those who kneel for communion. 

One prominent example of such was Orange County Florida Bishop Tod Brown who was caught on video last year refusing communion to a woman who was kneeling.  Brown is also known for refusing in 1994 to back an Idaho measure to deny homosexuals special privileges.  Explaining his actions he said the law “would contribute to attitudes of intolerance and hostility in Idaho directed at homosexual citizens and is potentially discriminatory.”

In Brown’s diocese there has been considerable intolerance toward Catholics who kneel for communion and some traditional Catholics have been asked to leave the diocese.

Another prominent example was the denial of communion to Virginia House of Delegate member Richard Black by Arlington’s St. Thomas More Cathedral Rector, Fr. Dominic Irace in 2002.  Black was one of the strongest defenders of life in the legislature. As Delegate Black left the Cathedral, Fr. Irace loudly called him a “conservative idiot.” (see coverage: )

These types of situations caused the Vatican to react rather strongly in 2002.  Jorge A. Cardinal Medina Estévez, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which addresses liturgical matters, wrote a bishop about reports received of a priest denying communion to faithful because they were kneeling. 

The Cardinal called such denial “a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful,” and directed the bishop to investigate the case.  The letter said that the Vatican regards such abuses of the faithful as very grave.  The letter said, the Congregation, if such actions are verified, “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.”
(see the letter: )

Despite this letter from the Vatican, the suppression of kneeling remains strong.

The article in the Vatican newspaper advocating kneeling however signals a sea change.

Those who kneel have a champion in Pope Benedict who prior to his elevation to the pontificate wrote of kneeling and its tie to culture in his book ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy” (Ignatius Press, 2000)  “There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us out of kneeling,” wrote then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. “‘It doesn’t suit our culture’, they say (which culture?) ‘It’s not right for a grown man to do this — he should face God on his feet’.”

Cardinal Ratzinger continued: “The kneeling of Christians is not a form of inculturation into existing customs. It is quite the opposite, an expression of Christian culture, which transforms the existing culture through a new and deeper knowledge and experience of God.

Kneeling does not come from any culture — it comes from the Bible and its knowledge of God . . . The Christian Liturgy is a cosmic Liturgy precisely because it bends the knee before the crucified and exalted Lord. Here is the center of authentic culture – the culture of truth. The humble gesture by which we fall at the feet of the Lord inserts us into the true path of life of the cosmos.”

31 Responses to Vatican Newspaper Article Says Catholics Should Receive Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue

  1. Elaine says:

    as to the above article can you please tell me when it was written. As i have a son in the seminary at Seton Hall, and would like the correct facts, he stated there will be no new ruling on kneeling for communion. Please reply. tks

  2. nikos emmanuel maria says:

    nice to read!

  3. Vinny says:

    I Always Kneel & resive on my Tongue, I been telling E-1 to do the Same. You Should post this in all the Churches & youtube & facebook etc..I like to say 1 more thing, If we have a choice then why dont all the churches put out kneeler’s for does of use that want to Kneel..

  4. Vinny says:

    Jesus hung for 3 hour’s we cant Kneel for 5 seconds???..people are weak & easly lead. they try to please man more then GOD..

  5. Elaine says:

    this is for my friend vinny, we are of the same church and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. On your knees out of respect, and reverence at all times. My hope is for everyone, everywhere to pay respect to our Lord. yes, he hung on the cross for us, that is the least we can do, for him.

  6. ngrid says:

    I was happy to see this link. I was taught to receive communion kneeling and on the tongue over the years. I still receive communion on the tongue but not kneel as my old parish changed when I was in my teens.

    I now have a problem, my daughter is due to make her first communion in June this year and my current parish teaches the children to receive communion in the hands at the priest request, I been told if I have strong reasons for not wanting this to happen to talk to the parish priest. I’m not happy about her receiving communion in the hands but I can explain my reason other than I’m uncomfortable with it and no one in my family has ever received it in their hands

    how do I handle this ?

  7. Joe Turner says:

    I am beginning a new mindset on how to concur my fear of pointing out what I feel should be addressed in the mass as a parishioner. Distraction is a tool of the devil which negates all doubt that Satan can be present even in the ever holy mass. A sacrilege is the violation or profanation of anything sacred or held sacred. Even if the smallest crumb of the Eucharist touches anything unblessed it is considered an sacrilege. As a alter boy in my youth I remember the care and utmost attention that was paid to this matter. Pattens ensured all “crumbs” (even the ones our eyes cannot see) made it back to the alter where it was consumed by the priest or deacon who was in charge of “purifying the alter” after communion. People! Receiving in the hand (unless you wash and consume the waste water) is a SACRILEGE! Does that word not bring the hairs on the back of your neck on end??!! How on earth the church allows communion in the hand is beyond my laws of common sense. And the installment of “Eucharistic Ministers” to “speed up” communion??!! Bologna!!! Like Vinny said, “Vinny says:
    January 25, 2011 at 11:32 am
    Jesus hung for 3 hour’s we cant Kneel for 5 seconds???..people are weak & easly lead. they try to please man more then GOD..”You should be grateful you get to wait in a line of so many followers of Christ’s teachings to receive him in flesh to dwell among your soul and body. Woe to the perishes who do not even give Him thanks after mass but instead leave before final rite’s, closing hymns, and have the audacity to speak of idle topics with no regard to Christ’s true followers who gives thanks for what they have received. Disgusting creatures we are indeed. All the more reason for me to love God who puts up with this non sense. Ave Maria everyone!

  8. ngrid says:

    I’m happy to report my daughter was aloud to receive communion on her tongue on her first communion day after we had a talk with the parish priest.

    A couple of weeks later the parish received a letter from the Archbisphop which you may have also received but I’d like to share

    Two weeks ago we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi when we remind ourselves of the gift of the Blessed Sacrament, which we receive in Holy Communion and adore in the tabernacle of every church. In recent weeks many children have made their first Holy Communion, bringing joy to their families. Our faith is clear: in Holy Communion, Christ comes into our inner selves, unworthy though we are, and we are taken into Him to form one Body in Christ through the Sacrament which we share.

    In Holy Communion we share in the fruit of Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross. Those who are not able to receive Holy Communion continue to share in that fruit, as expressed in the blessing they receive. They receive Christ in a spiritual communion.

    There are different ways in which we may receive Holy Communion. I want to speak about them now.

    The usual practice in our parishes is for the Sacred Host to be received on the hand, standing, and – when practical and prudent to do so reverently- for the Precious Blood to be received from the Chalice, also whilst standing. This practice of standing is
    now confirmed in the Liturgical Norm for England and Wales, just recently approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.

    This Norm together with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal also provide choices which each recipient is at liberty to make: to receive the Sacred Host in the hand or on the tongue, either standing or kneeling. Each way has its symbolic and
    spiritual meaning helping us to be profoundly aware of whom it is that we receive and the unity of faith we share.

    When receiving Holy Communion in the hand, we make with our hands the form of both a cross and a throne in which to receive our King who sacrificed his life for us. With clean, empty hands and with gloves removed, we receive him with utter reverence and consume the Host carefully in the presence of the minister before turning away.

    When we receive Holy Communion on the tongue, we are aware of coming to be fed with the Food of Life, conscious of our utter dependence on the Lord. We know the holiness of the One we receive, beyond our touch.

    When we receive Holy Communion standing we show that we are ready to receive the Lord and to walk and act in His name. In standing we are part of a prayerful
    procession, a people with a mission, summoned by the Lord to the glory of heaven. This is our baptismal calling and dignity.

    When we receive Holy Communion kneeling, we present ourselves with humility and reverence, submitting our strength to Him, recognising that He is Lord of all.

    Receiving Holy Communion, we know that Christ, whole and entire, his body and blood, together with his soul and divinity, is truly, really and substantially present. This is so whether we receive Holy Communion under both forms of bread and wine,
    or in one form alone. However, each form has its own particular meaning or symbolism which enriches our celebration of this Sacrament. In the Sacred Host,
    Christ is presented as the Body broken for us, in which is our strength; in the Chalice he is the Precious Blood poured out for us. in which is our forgiveness.

    Let us deepen our understanding and appreciation of this wonderful gift. We must always present ourselves for communion with the utmost reverence and aware of the immensity of what is taking place. Please reflect on how you personally present
    yourself to receive the Lord in Holy Communion. Each way of receiving Holy Communion expresses awe and must be carried out with care.

    It is important that we also prepare well to receive Holy Communion. We observe a Eucharistic fast, of at least one hour. We seek forgiveness of our-sinsrthrmtgh the penitential prayers of the Mass and through the Sacrament of Penance, especially
    whenever we are conscious of grave sin.

    When we have received the Lord, we concentrate utterly on his presence within us, in prayer and recollection, when we return to our places. A time of silent prayer should follow Holy Communion as we approach the end of Mass. Then, nourished by Holy
    Communion we leave the church and become, in our world, living ambassadors for Christ, the one we have received. We bring His love and compassion to all we meet.

    Today I ask every parish and community to refresh its reverence and love for the Blessed Sacrament and its practice of receiving Holy Communion.’

    Having read this I know I made the right choice for my child and will continue to receive communion on my tongue because that is whats right to me

  9. Joe Turner says:

    @ngrid, very well said and congrats on your little trooper receiving Christ with reverence!!

  10. Rose Anderson says:

    Yup, let’s drive away more people from the Catholic Church by instituting another superficial, man-made contrivance of kneeling. How dare you imply that I am not reverent about receiving communion if I am not kneeling? How dare these power grabbing bishops and “leaders” in our church continue to look to only the outside of our faith and nothing of substance. These conservative changes — made not out of joyful faith considerations — but of a “let’s get the people back in line” attitude have made many of us leave our parish and seek God elsewhere. Ooops! I forgot. God does not exist outside of the catholic church, right reverend bishops???

  11. Alwyn D'Sa says:

    We in India which has about 25 million Catholics are permitted to receive Holy Communion as per individual choice. Many still prefer receiving communion kneeling and on the tongue(not compatible to receive on hand in this position) and no priest dare refuse communion in this position though a few modernist and semi-arrogant priests may show their dislike.

    Most people in bigger cities receive Holy Communion on hand standing and just an equal number also receive standing and on the tongue.

    Of course generally it can be concluded that those who receive kneeling receive our Lord with more reverence, because the very act of kneeling which can be inconvenient when there is no pew, is a extraordinary gesture.

    I for one prefer receiving devoutly in a raised hand and receive it with equal reverence ensuring the fragments are also taken to the mouth.

    Our church and the faithful have to be tolerant towards both forms; Only kneeling and receiving on the tongue can also lengthen the whole procedure of mass because in India the churches are absolutely full for Sunday masses and even week day masses. (Thank God for this great and simple faith of our people). The only thing is that the faithful who receive communion have to show their deep respect to the Lord who is entering their heart!

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