Latest from Orange diocese

Latest from Orange diocese

A reader attended Mass at St. Mary’s by the Sea in the diocese of Orange, Calif., yesterday. (This is the site of the parishioner revolt against an order to remain standing during Mass after the Agnus Dei which resulted in them being “invited” to leave the parish and the diocese.)

After the Pater Noster, the priest offered the sign of peace, but the congregation did not respond. After the Agnus Dei, about 90% of the congregation knelt. The priest interrupted his prayer and asked everyone to stand. No one stood up. What is interesting is that one person stood during the entire Canon, even during the consecration, yet the priest said nothing about this person.

The reader also sent copies of the bulletin, with the administrator Father Tran’s latest message to the parish, and the latest flier from the protesting parishioners. The bulletin clarifies the Church’s liturgical law which gives the bishop the discretion to decide whether the people of his diocese will remain standing from the great Amen until after the reception of Communion. He’s right. The Church’s law gives the bishop this right and the people should obey all lawful adaptations. Some critics have pointed this out as if this settles the question. It doesn’t.

Update: Gerald at the Cafeteria is Closed has an email from a St. Mary’s parishioner with more allegations against the pastor and clarification about the nature of his group.

About kneeling or about something else?

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Not strange at all.  They know that the troublesome ‘kneelers’ are the ones who point out that the Emperor is wearing no clothes and preaching heresy from the pulpit.  What do they care about counterproductive. Becoming bolder, they only want to be able to continue their unholy agenda.  Hopefully, more of the sheeple are waking out of their slumber and joining forces against this ‘diabilocal disorientation.

  • Contrast this to what happened in my parish this weekend. We had a fill-in priest say Mass since our pastor was away. He played loose and fast with the rubrics. For instance he distributed Communion to the Extrodinary Ministers of the Eucharist and then sat down while they distributed Communion to the rest of the parishioners. He did not say the Agnus Dei properly(at least I think he didn’t since he did not utter the words “Lamb of God”), he said some thing like(I am not quoting verbatim): “Behold what you receive and what you are to become.” He also took a crack at the decision of Catholic Charities to not do adoptions anymore because he said “Some in the Church’s hierarchy have deemed that some parents are not <quotation fingers>quite right</quotation fingers>”. Yet this goes on all the time and nobody says a word.

  • Dan, it looks like your temp priest has violated sections 157 and 59, respectively, of Redemptionis Sacramentum, neither of which is listed among the “objectively grave matters” (RS 173). 

    No comment on the homily!

  • Hum.

    It seems to me that the _essential_ crux of the actual point in controversy (instead of all teh other stuff surrounding it) is that the USCCB inserted a line in the GIRM ( “The faithful kneel at the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.”

    Question: were these changes given recognitio by the Holy See, or do they need to be? In either case, what’s the relationship between that and the relatively clear Dubium St. Mary’s is using in defending the practice?

    As a side note, I’m curious: from what does the USCCB derive its authority to modify the GIRM, anyway?

  • Them not offering peace to one another is one thing, but not offering it back to the priest seems much more serious. Statement, whatever—I think it’s out of line. He’s on the altar, he’s the priest, show some respect, or at least some general charity. And their persistent disobedience is disturbing. Do they want to be Catholics or liturgists?

  • Joe Soucy was referring to schismatics I believe, specifically Mel Gibson and his kooky father.

  • They are getting into a discussion over at Geralds’ blog about obedience and off-base priests and bishops.

    Does anyone else see this problem arising more and more? The question of Who Do We Obey? Rome and our consciences or our priests and bishops? And to what extent? On the “minor” things? only on the major heterdoxy issues?

  • Unfortunately, when you have a family you want to raise your kids in one parish.

    The parish communal experience is supposed to be the norm for practicing the faith. Jumping from place to place may be good for the me and Thee experience of worship, but does nothing for the communal experiences.

  • Went to the new Mass accross the street this weekend. I had forgotten how much clapping there is at the Novus Ordo Mass.

    The homily by the ex-nun from Boston College was the real clincher.

  • Looks like o’l Tod Brown has a Tiger by the tail.  And of all places, the press in Orange County aren’t going to give him a pass.  The more publicity, the better.

  • Orange county is a tough and eclectic mix of orthodox, and not so orthodox but right-leaning folk.  I am not defending anyone, or attacking anyone, but such matters get completely out of hand because everyone is trying to “obey Rome” or “obey GIRM” or “obey true orthopraxis”…it is a difficult flock to shepherd in any direction.

  • Obedience to the bishop- that’s it in a nutshell isn’t it? We disobey the bishop when we fight diocesan sex ed i. e. Talking about touching, etc, excuse our children from the sessions, refuse to vote for the democrat he is (usually) campaigning for, support the death penalty ( St Thomas Aquinas supported it for heretics!

    …and that’s why they call us evil traditionalists. Must try not to glory in it overmuch!

  • jrp,

    The USCCB modification to GIRM which allows the diocesan bishop to set the normal posture after the Agnus Dei was approved as an Indult by Rome.  Kneeling after the Agnus Dei in disobedience to the norm is thus disobedience to Rome. 

    Aaron Converse and midwestmom,

    I don’t know about where you live, but the Archbishop of Boston asked for and received an indult from the Congregation of Divine Worship last year (the text of which I have not seen) which allows priests in the Archdiocese of Boston to include women among the “viri selecti”.  Following news of this indult, I believe at least one other bishop followed suit, though I’m not sure if he received his own indult, or if the indult for Boston applies. 


    What’s the name of the parish church and the city and state in which you attended the Mass you describe?

  • Mary Alexander,

    Is standing after the Agnus Dei, in compliance with the liturgical law of the Latin Rite approved by the Apostolic See, a sin or not?

    I ask because everything else in your list is a question of conscience.  Unless you can name the sin, the kneeling sounds like a question of personal preference.

  • If this was the event Tom I see it was a “reflection” not a sermon- yeah right!

    Sister Clare Fitzgerald SSND at Lenten Parish Mission in Leominster

    Our Lady of the Lake Parish , 1400 Main St. , Leominster , MA will hold its Lenten Mission from Sunday, March 12 through March 15.  Sister Clare Fitzgerald will reflect on COME UP TO JERUSASLEM.  The program will begin at 7 p.m. each evening.  All are invited to share in this Parish Mission.

            As a renowned leader in Catholic Education, Sister Clare has lectured widely in the United States , Canada and overseas. She has received numerous national awards for her distinguished work in Catholic Education & Leadership Training. For more information please call 978-342-2978.

  • Mary Alexander,

    Is wearing a rainbow sash to Mass a sin?


    Are you arguing that the ends justify the means, or are you just railing against the hierarchy?

  • In Quebec everyone seems to stand or kneel or sit during Mass as the whim or the Spirit moves them. At the Cathedral in Montreal people receive communion

    Forming a line
    Standing at the altar rail
    Kneeling at the altar rail
    In the hand
    On the tongue.

    Different postures can be left up to the laity, who express their piety differently and have knees in various stages of decrepitude.

    It would seem that bishops who tolerated sexual abuse and heresy could let parishioners kneel or stand as they wish.

    More seriously I see this as a sign of episcopal narcissism. Bishops don’t mind if people disobey God, but they had better not disobey the bishop.

  • Gerald: Not meant to be a criticism of you. I’m just saying that it’s not supposed to have to be this way. We end up having to cobble together a faith experience because we can’t our collective act together and make the Church function properly.

  • seamole:

    On reflection and further research, I am thinking the more obvious ‘otherwise’ case of ‘The faithful kneel at the Agnus Dei’, is that the Diocesan Bishop can allow sitting or standing.

    Partly, it seems counter-intuitive that the Diocesan Bishop can require someone to do something that is contrary to the GIRM. In fact, I don’t see any other adaptation that percludes the original way.

    If it is the case that this was intended, then those parishoners definitely should submit. In any case, after the issues at hand are explained to them clearly, even if they still have doubts, they probably _should_ submit on this point out of obedience, while (justly) asking for clarification on the point in contention. That’s the advice I would give, anyway.

    That said, I would hope the Archdiocese and their pastor will (when it is cleared up) see this as an eminently forgivable transgression, partly on account of it coming in the middle of several legitimate issues, and partly because this is genuinely confusing and does, on it’s face, seems in conflict with the other document referenced.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of frivolity before. A frivolous Traditionalist- who would have thunk it?

    Wearing a rainbow sash is rife with meaning. When you wear a rainbow sash you state unequivocably that you support the homosexual lifestyle which is mortally sinful to engage in much less promote.

    You are creating a public scandal.

    When you wear a rainbow sash to Mass you commit sacrilege.

    Is there some trick to this question? Don’t beat around the bush, man. Just say it.

  • You know, the arguement that since the libs don’t get “corrected”, it is Okay to do this, doesn’t cut it. Thats the sort of relativistic logic that is a curse on modern man. Yea, you Mr. Traditionalist, I’m talking to you.

    One mass for one rite please, and I don’t see the need for a rite for the so-called “orthodox”.

    And it is easy to find a novus ordo, also known as “the form of mass we all should be doing”, without the “clapping.”

  • “When you wear a rainbow sash to Mass you commit sacrilege. Is there some trick to this question? Don’t beat around the bush, man. Just say it.”

    Mary Alexander,

    The rainbow can also be a sign of God’s covenant.  That is not to say that the intentions of certain pastors are something other than what you’ve gathered; it is to say that it is not sacrilege to display that symbol.  The sin of smarmy use of double meaning, designed to “challenge” parishioners like yourself may be at play, but just because it worked does not allow you to call it sacrilege, is that not so?

    I think sacrilege is better defined than the manner in which people often use it.  This is not to defend such actions as those you mentioned that have rightly upset you, but we need to take all this carefully and patiently or we won’t be able to love as we go forward through such abuses, sins, and wrongheadedness on the part of our fellow Catholics—if you can’t beat ‘em, don’t join ‘em.

    Forgive the Pollyanna impersonation.

  • 50 years ago, you could wear a rainbow sash without a problem.  Likewise, people can kneel after the Agnus Dei pretty much anywhere in the country and not create a problem, even in dioceses where this is not the real liturgical norm.

    But if you were at St. Mary’s by the Sea in Orange County, California, last Sunday for Mass, kneeling after the Agnus Dei meant something different.  It meant that you supported the group of laypeople known as Save St. Mary’s in their spat with the pastor, and whatever rationales Save St. Mary’s offered for violating the lawful liturgical norm.

    Among the arguments:
    * obedience to the Apostolic See (an invalid argument—Rome approved the norms)
    * parochial tradition (an invalid argument)
    * The See of Orange is sede vacante (valid argument, if true, but then why are they assisting at Mass when the bishop’s name is read in the Eucharistic Prayer?)
    * The ends justify the means (invalid argument)
    * appeal to conscience (argument unclear)

    So kneeling at St. Mary’s by the Sea means a lot of things.  It may mean a poorly formed conscience.  It may mean culpable ignorance of the law.  It certainly means rebellion against the pastor, a rebellion that has no known justification in conscience.  To choose disunity and rebellion in the moment before Communion, and call it “worshipping Jesus”, is a blasphemy.

  • Seamole,
    You are very self righteous and stern in a smug sort of way. Sad really.

    Was St. Joan of Arc disobedient to the Bishop when he told her to deny the supernatural locutions she received?

    Kneeling is an act of obedience to God and a sign of submission and service to Him. The devil said “non serviam”. I won’t. And I especially won’t because some silly Bishop is trying to destroy the distinction between man and God. I won’t cooperate in it and I won’t defend it.

    I am obedient to the Bishop when he teaches in conformity with the Magisteriam, not when he subverts it.

    If you want to follow a bishop or cardinal for that matter who is wrong, wrong, wrong and then heap praises on yourself for your “obedience” then have at it but just be careful you don’t follow the bishop all the way to hell.

  • We can beleaguer this question of the rainbow sashes to death (and I think we have) but other than proving how smart we are all- where have we come to? We are still at the starting point.

    Can we kneel in adoration of God incarnate?

    According to some bishops – no
    According to some bettnet posters- no

    Whether it is the Emperor Diocletan or the local Bishop- if they tell me not to worship and adore God I will refuse to abide by such an evil command.

    Let God judge our hearts and our actions.

  • The more SOME bishops make the Novus Ordo a farce the more people will leave to either go schismatic or find an indult Church, even if it is very far from where they live.  I have been to NO Masses that you could hardly differentiate from a Trid Mass, and to other Masses that you wouldn’t know were masses, and situations like this make me much more sympathetic to our separated brethren in SSPX.

    While I agree that there should be one Latin rite, this will never happen unless Rome starts tightening things up.  As it stands I think you would be hard pressed to say you have two Roman Rites (pre and post 62).  In reality you have thousands of different rites that claim to be Roman today, some of which you could not differentiate from a protestant service.

    And just because a Bishop gets behind this nonsense doesn’t make it right, bishops are at the service of the Church, of the Deposit of Faith, of the people of God, and of Christ himself, they are not kings in their own rite. I think Rome should ask these bishops what theological, or even cultural rationale, do you have for your addaption of the liturgy.  I mean in this case, the Agnus Dei, is the part of the Mass where we call to mind the scene from the Apoc of John where the elders and angels stand around the throne and praise the lamb, and then fall down on their face.  What theological vision is the Bishop trying to promote?  Is it just arbitrary?

    I think we should always remember, for the sake of charity to our Bishops, that we don’t owe them mindless obedience. As faithful Catholics we owe him varying levels of respect based on what level of magisterium he is teaching at.  You can be respectful and disobey, ethically, morally.

    Anyway,  these bishops will start to get the message when the NO Churches are empty and the indult parishes are standing room only—or if they choose to disobey the Holy See and not allow the Trid Mass generously, then they will see their parishoners going to other diocese or worse to those not in union..

  • In your first response, you merely regurgitated the fallacies I had mentioned before.

    But in your second response, you have finally come up with the order to sin that allows the appeal to conscience.  You believe that standing after the Agnus Dei is tantamount to an act of symbolic apostasy, one which you must resist on the symbolic plane (i.e., by not shaking the censer at the idol). 

    I don’t know if I agree with you, but at least I now understand your point.

  • Mary Alexander,
    please be very careful in calling seamole “self-righteous”, “stern” and “smug”.  I think he raises a very valid point.

    Your statement “Whether it is the Emperor Diocletan or the local Bishop- if they tell me not to worship and adore God I will refuse to abide by such an evil command” sounds dangerously like the attitude “God and me and to Hell with thee”.  You seem to be equating kneeling or not kneeling after the Agnus Dei as an order to NOT adore-and the priest and Bishop NEVER said that they are not to adore the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. 

    I don’t offer pithy answers to an extremly challenging situation.  What I do know is that there have been saints who were obedient to their directors of seminary or leaders of their order EVEN WHEN they were very clear that God was asking something different of them-and God honored them for their obedience.

    In many instances our Bishops and priests may not follow the letter of the law to the nth degree but are they really calling us into sin?

    I would have to agree with seamole, that taking the most sacred moment of Mass and making it divisive was not their best moment. Can rebellion such as this be called correct adoration?

    I’m just asking because again, these are very challenging situations that almost all of us seem to deal with and it’s worthy of discussing without slamming each other.

  • Jen B wrote:

    “I don’t offer pithy answers to an extremly challenging situation”

    Well that is where we differ. The more pithy the better the answer in my opinion. Common sense is easy. It is not a tricky, arduous, heart wrenching prospect that leads you to the wrong answer! That is not reasoning but a subversion of reason. As Mr. Knightly said to Emma, “Better to have no sense than to misapply as you do!”

    You kneel to adore the One True God made man after the Agnes Dei. That is non negotiable. You don’t go along error to make a better case for the truth somewhere along the line, all the while trying to “look good”.

    How can we implore the Bishops to have principles, back bone, etc. if WE OURSELVES HAVE NONE!

    The Bishops can lead, follow or get out of the way as far as I’m concerned but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua)

  • JenB,

    The bottom line is that the competent Roman authorities have spoken: the faithful have the RIGHT to kneel. Period.  How is that being disobedient, when someone is merely exercising s right recognized by the competent authority?

    Prot.n 2372/00/L

    Is it the case that the Congregation for Divine Worship and he Discipline of the Sacraments, by No. 43 of the GIRM, intends to PROHIBIT the faithful from kneeling during any part of the Mass except during the Consecration, that is, to prohibit the faithful from KNEELING AFTER THE AGNUS DEI and following the reception of Holy Communion?

    Response: NEGATIVE

    Vatican City, 7 November 2000 Jorge A. Card. Medina Estevez, Cardinal Prefect

    P.S. That is exactly why the faithful are forced to escape to the Tridentine Mass, just so they don’t have to bring ecclesiastical power plays into their worship time.

  • Seamole –

    I’m in the phone book and I use my real name, Mr. Seamole, so I figured I could be truthful and if someone was incredulous they could investigate it themselves.

    But, yes, Our Lady of the Lake in Leominster, MA located 1000 ft from my doorstep, and a woman in plain clothes (she’s really a nun?) gave a tedious treatment on the Scriptures immediately after the Gospel and immediately before the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I call that a homily.  What do you call it?

    I don’t call into judgement the pastor there, nor my Bishop and they can run the liturgy any way they want, that’s their job.

    I guess, at the name of Jesus every knee shall ,b> lock </b> , that must be the new translation from ICEL.

    At my old parish, the priest used to ask people to stand immediately after the Agnus Dei .. I always wondered …what is he worried about? Let people not going to Communion just pray on their knees … and that’s what I did for months and months … as I worked myself up to a good Confession.

    Actually, given my experience with pro-gay marriage Catholics,  pro-abortion Catholics, pro-divorce catholics, pro-Da Vinci code Catholics, pro-“the Bible is bull***t” Catholics…. I actually like the “God and me and to Hell with thee” attitude …. it helps me survive, mentally, I’m not into debating but I also don’t like bending toward apostacy … that’s why my best friends are athiests and Protestants … they tend to be sincere and honest and treat the Church, and my attachment to Her, with a modicum of respect.

    I reject the communal aspect to anything and I reject the community, especially Massachsuetts “Catholics.” This drivel is for communists.  They won’t be with me when I am judged. The home is the domestic Church. This community crucifies Christ, I weep on my knees.

  • Thomas,

    Who cares what ICEL says?  Just change the words in conscience.

    Who cares that there’s a woman in the pulpit?  Perhaps she’s there in conscience.

    Who cares that you can’t find a parish without clapping and nuns?  It is in conscience, perhaps, that no one will follow the liturgical norms for sacred silence.

    Your kinfolk in California have given up their right to complain about liturgical violations.  By defending them, you’ve given up yours.

    At least you’re honest in rejecting the community, which is the Church.  Good luck finding Christ without Her.

  • Whenever a bishop or priest comes up with some innovation like no kneeling unless one does it in the manner prescribed by him I ask myself what is he trying to accomplish here?  What is this mans intent, how does it improve the liturgy if at all and how will we the laity benefit from this?  I can think of no instance of liturgical innovation that has answered these questions in a positive way?  What in the world could the laity be gaining from standing vice kneeling but more importantly what is lost here?  I remain convinced that a lot is lost here and that is a deep respect for the True Presence.  If it does not help us then it is hurting the Mystical Body of Christ.  What goes on in here (the Mass) affects everything out there.  I should be on my knees before my King not standing up with arms out, palms up saying “Give me something.” 
    The sign of peace is another example.  It’s totally pointless and wholly distracting especially considering when this takes place.  The pastor “may” do the sign of peace earlier in the Mass or not do it all but everyone likes the “group hug” thing so much that most pastors are afraid to stop it.
    As far as being able to find even decent NO Masses; that became so challenging that I essentially seceeded from my diocese and no attent and am a member of a parish in Wash DC that celebrates the Tridentine Rite.  Problem solved for me and my family.  No more scandal and I may actually enjoy a Mass without the risk of being scandalized by the teenager wearing the Big Johnson lawn-mowing service t-shirt in the pew in front of me or the 15 year old sporting her newest Britney Spears outfit.
    These bishops that forbid kneeling are completely wrong as well as proud.  Proud to think that they have a better way to do this than the aproximately 2000 yr old tradition we used to have.

  • I have no idea what the “in conscience” neo-logism is all about. Is that like John Kerry primacy of conscience? The community I mentioned persecutes Christ.

    Luck is a silly pagan notion.

  • Thomas,

    All I have seen you do on this site is ridicule the Church, which is the body of Christ.

    May the Lord bless you with a fruitful Lent.

  • Mary Alexander and twicealawyer:

    Not everything is exactly spelled out-Bishops are given a fair amount of discretion on matters concerning the Liturgy.  You may not like it, but I’m hard pressed to say that we should not obey it.

    ThomasCoolberth, as for your statement “I reject the communal aspect to anything and I reject the community, especially Massachsuetts “Catholics.” This drivel is for communists” would you be surprised to learn that

    “It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates.  “Liturgical services are not private functions but are celebrations of the Church which is ‘the sacrament of unity,’ namely, the holy people united and organized under the authority of the bishops.” CCC 1140

    We cannot really have Mass without the community(the Body of Christ), as we really cannot have Mass without the Eucharist (the Body of Christ).

  • Chris

    It sounds like your plan is for the faithful to leave the henhouse to the fox and run from henhouse to henhouse.

    Where do we run when there are no henhouses left?

    It is important to note that it is absolutely scriptural and in keeping with Church law to do the things Restore The Sacred has done.

    In the Church, the voice of one is the voice of none. Only the voice of many is taken seriously by Church authority and capable of receiving a response from the Holy See, especially in matters such as this. This is in keeping with the following scripture:
    If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

    Also bear in mind:

    St. Paul publicly rebuked St. Peter.

    St. Catherine of Siena was publicly critical of cardinals and told Pope Gregory XI to go back to Rome.

    Moreover, According to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, (ST II-II.33.4 ad 2) we have the duty to rebuke our prelate if he commits a fault.

    Most importantly, Catholics at St. Mary’s by the Sea are within their canonical rights to question the actions of Bishop Brown and Fr. Tran in accordance with Canon 212 of the Code of Canon Law.

    Canon 212

    §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

    §2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

    §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

  • In 1970, Pope Paul VI promulgated a revision of the Roman Missal. The 1970 Roman Missal is accompanied by the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), which details the norms for postures during Mass. The 1970 GIRM indicates that the faithful are to “stand . . . from the prayer over the gifts to the end of the Mass, except at the places indicated later in this paragraph” (no. 21). No posture provision is made later in the paragraph regarding the time immediately following the Agnus Dei (when the priest elevates the consecrated host). Because no special posture is provided, the faithful are to remain standing.

    In many places such as the United States, though, the custom has been to kneel immediately after the Agnus Dei. This custom continues a long-established practice associated with the Roman Missal of the Tridentine Rite (the Rite that predominated for several centuries until the post-Vatican-II revision of the Roman Missal).

    The Roman Missal and associated GIRM were more recently revised in 2002. The new GIRM, no. 43, reaffirms the 1970 GIRM, no. 21: “The faithful should stand . . . before the prayer over the offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated below” (no. 43). Again, no posture provision is made for immediately after the Agnus Dei. As with the 1970 GIRM, the 2002 GIRM indicates that the faithful are to remain standing at this time.

    However, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops proposed an adaptation of the GIRM for use in the United States. This adaptation gives preference to the custom of kneeling, yet allows U.S. bishops to continue the norm of standing that the 1970 GIRM established:

    In the dioceses of the United States of America, they [the faithful] should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

    The Vatican approved this adaptation. Thus, while the U.S. adaptation for GIRM, no. 43, favored kneeling more than the general norm issued by the Vatican, it also allowed the local bishop to determine another posture.

    There was no particular need in the America to legislate the norm that the faithful should kneel after the Agnus Dei. The gesture of reverence was a uniform traditional response. Only recently, when liturgical legalists called the practice in question, was it presumed necessary to address the practice in the proposed American liturgical adaptations.

    All of this being said, posture is not to be rigidly enforced.

  • The Holy See has guaranteed the right of Catholics everywhere to kneel for Holy Communion, so that isn’t properly termed disobedience, as can be seen here:

    It is not disobedient to kneel after the Lamb of God either. Cardinal Arinze expressed that here:

    This means that while GIRM 43 says: “The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.”


    Canon 838 says: “It pertains to the diocesan bishop in the church entrusted to him, within the limits of his competence, to issue liturgical norms by which all are bound.”

    The norm for the United States continues the practice of kneeling down after the Agnus Dei, unless a bishop establishes, for his entire diocese, the practice of remaining standing. There is no faculty for individual parishes to do this, establishing a patchwork of practices within a single diocese.

    However, for those who wish to kneel, where the norm is standing, and the right to do so has been secured by the Holy See.

    I don’t dispute GIRM 43.

    However, people seem to have overlooked Cardinal Arinze’s clarification of GIRM 43.

    I don’t dispute Canon 838 either.  However, Canon 838 does not supersede the fact that, as Cardinal Arinze stated, “the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.”

    A bishop may only act within the limits of his competence. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments determines the boundaries of a bishop’s competence in issuing liturgical norms. The prefect of that Congregation has said that it is not the mind of the Church to “regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.”

    Rome has spoken. The matter is settled.

    Bishop Brown is acting outside his competency in trying to strictly legislate posture during the Mass. Cardinal Arinze has said that it is not the intention of GIRM 43 and it is GIRM 43 that gives a bishop any discretion on the matter at all, as the Mass belongs to the Church, not a local bishop.

    My problem isn’t with Bishop Brown having the “right” to say people should stand.  My problem is that he demands it and allows his priests to harass and intimidate people who choose to kneel.  He even allows for them to be publicly accused of disobedience and “serious” “mortal sin”.  This is not the mind of the Church, as I have demonstrated here.

    The “universal” rule in IGMR 43 specifically states: “Where it is the custom that the people remain kneeling from the end of the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, and before Communion when the priest says Ecce Agnus Dei, this is laudably retained”.

    Laudably retained!  The Universal Church applauds kneeling after the Agnus Dei, but progressive bishops in the U.S. utilized the wording to eliminate the kneeling, ignoring the mind of the Church.

  • The US bishops amended GIRM 43, making these periods of kneeling part of their “adaptations”, and this is incorporated in IGMR 43.3. Furthermore, the adaptation states that people may choose either to sit or to kneel after receiving Communion. The bishops did not vote that all should stand until everyone has received Communion, as their discussion of this item revealed.

    A letter to the bishops from Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship (October 25, 2001) stated:

    “In cases where the Conference of Bishops is to legislate, such legislation should be truly specific, and the law intends precisely that any particular episcopal legislation on these matters be enacted in common by the Bishops of the Conference rather than being left to be determined variously in different dioceses.”

    An added chapter in the current IGMR spelled out clearly what variations were within the competence of individual bishops and of conferences of bishops to make.

    A few bishops favored eliminating most kneeling at Mass; but several bishops strongly expressed the hope that all would agree on the same postures and gestures for the people, precisely to avoid the problem of dramatic variation of practice among the dioceses, and they voted overwhelmingly to approve these adaptations on posture. (There were only 7 dissenting votes on the revised US adaptations when the vote was taken in November 2001.)

    Though a bishop is responsible for the liturgy in his own diocese, it does not belong to him; he does not have authority to do anything he desires. He, too, must submit to higher authority – the Apostolic See. IGMR 397 makes this clear:

    The principle shall be respected that each particular Church must be in accord with the Church universal….

    Bishop Brown’s insistence on prodding the parish administrator to accuse Catholics of serious mortal sin for kneeling is an abuse of his authority. It is also slander, as I have shown that the Church doesn’t want the posture of the faithful dictated in such a way that they are not free. Bishop Brown is wrong to go beyond making a general recommendation that people stand.

  • I know that people think we should try to work with Bishop Brown, and we have tried.  We have written him, and sought dialogue through our parish council.  We were refused to be given any hearing.  Since then, we have realized that going to Bishop Brown is like having a dialogue with the fox about guarding the hen house.

    We have heard, from some of the faithful in Idaho, that when Bishop Brown was the bishop of Boise, he retired an orthodox Roman rite priest, and then proceeded to micromanage and “educate” the parish.  They resisted.  One day, without warning, they came to church to find the doors locked and a cease and desist notice telling them where they would be going to Mass from that point onward.

    For details on Bishop Brown’s Idaho tenure, see: “Yes He Is! No He Isn’t!” by Christopher Zehnder, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, September 1998,

    What is deeply upsetting for our cause is that Rome has been negligent in disciplining bad priests and bishops. If you don’t believe me, believe Pope John Paul II, who admitted as much when he said, “I think that in this aspect, maybe I have done too little. There is always this problem of how to balance authority and service. Perhaps I need to criticize myself for not having tried hard enough to lead,” in his book, titled “Get Up! Let Us Go!”

    As Karl Keating has said:

    “If the Church had the kind of inquisitorial bureaucracy that its critics imagine it has, the Vatican would be disciplining 24 people each week, not 24 each 26 years. Even then, at 24 per week the total number disciplined during this papacy would be less than 7,500—not a large number when one thinks about the population and internal disarray of the Church.  If we were talking about 24 cases of discipline in a storefront denomination, maybe there would be cause for concern, but the Catholic Church boasts 1.1 billion members. This means that, on average over the last quarter century, the Vatican has disciplined only one out of a billion members per year.”

    For the above, see:

  • Cardinal Arinze has indicated that the Holy See is going to be equally gentle under Pope Benedict XVI:

    “I do not expect an aggressive correction of abuses. I don’t think the pope is going to use the ecclesiastical hammer,” Cardinal Arinze said.

    “Pope Benedict has very clear doctrine and convictions. What many people may not know is that he is not rough. He is gentlemanly, in the sense of what the prophet Isaiah said: ‘A bruised reed he will not break,’” the cardinal said.

    Many liturgical abuses, Cardinal Arinze said, are “based on weakness of faith or ignorance” or on a wrong idea of creativity. Where improper practices occur, it is important to begin identifying them and talking about them, but without harming the people involved, the cardinal said.

    Here, I disagree with the cardinal and fear that the Holy See does not see, or is unwilling to admit, that much liturgical abuse (not all) is rooted in more than ignorance. It is rooted in dissent and false notions of the autonomy of conscience. It is also rooted in lifestyles that are diametrically opposed to Christian doctrine that, while embraced by dissenting priests and bishops, darkens their intellects, weakens their wills, and strangles the life of their faith.

    I am going to speak in plain English: I know some of these men personally, and they are not in union with Rome. That is as mildly as I will put things.

    It is painful to hear good Catholics demanding that we obey disobedient priests and bishops. It comes across as condescending. It implies that our actions are not prayerful, and haven’t involved careful reflection and sound spiritual direction.

    Please consider the following:

    A Few Blunt Words To Catholics:

    We need warriors; not battlefield clutter!

    I mean nothing personal by that.