The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement indicating that it is acceptable to kneel after receiving Communion. The news came after months of confusion in U.S. dioceses about the appropriateness of the longstanding tradition.
Based on the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), many U.S. bishops had directed the faithful that they should kneel only during the sacred silence, which follows after everyone in the church has received Holy Communion. Until then, the faithful should stand. In addition, the singing during communion should end once everyone has received the Eucharist.
However, because of the widespread and longstanding practice of individuals returning to their places to kneel or sit in private prayer after having individually received Holy Communion, this directive caused much controversy.
In an effort to clarify the situation, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, chairman of the Committee on the Liturgy, submitted a request to Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments May 26.
In his response June 5, Cardinal Arinze said the intention of the Church document was not to “regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.” Instead, it was only intended to “ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass.”
“In the implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore, posture should not be regulated so rigidly as to forbid individual communicants from kneeling or sitting when returning from having received Holy Communion,” said the U.S. bishops.