.- The Archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland has told Catholics in his archdiocese not to kneel to receive communion.
âThe Faithful should follow the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, namely coming to communion in procession and standing to receive Holy Communion,â wrote Archbishop Mario Conti in a letter to all his priests, dated August 25.
âStanding 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,â he stated.
The archbishopâs 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.
âThis is really awful,â one Glasgow priest, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote to CNA.
âThe 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.â
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that âthe faithful communicate either kneeling or standing, as determined by the Conference of Bishops.â The Instruction adds, â(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.â
In 2002, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Jorge Medina EstÃ©vez, 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, âconsiders 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).â
He went on to add that even when the Congregation has given its approval for a bishopsâ conference to make a standing posture the norm, âit has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.â
He also highlighted that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, believed the âcenturies-old traditionâ of kneeling to receive communion is a âparticularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species.â
Cardinal EstÃ©vez concluded with a warning that âthe Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousnessâ and, if those complaints are verified, it would âseek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.â
âThere is no question of anybody being refused communion if they choose to kneel,â a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow told CNA on Aug. 30.
âThe purpose of the bishopâs 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 â which is the overwhelming custom in the diocese and the rest of Europe.â
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 Benedictâs document âSummorum Pontificumâ on the provision of the older Tridentine Rite in parishes. The archbishopâs guidelines were dubbed the âcoldest, most hostile I have read so farâ by the renowned Catholic blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.
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.