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April 2009

Vol. XV, No. 2

CDW Prefect on Kneeling for Holy Communion

An interview with Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW), appeared in the February edition of the Italian magazine 30 Giorni (30 Days), in which the cardinal responded to several questions on liturgy. Following are excerpts from the interview, in which he strongly endorses Pope Benedict’s practice of administering Communion on the tongue to people who are kneeling.

30 Giorni: What are, beyond those which we already talked about, the issues you will have to address in carrying out this new mission?

Cardinal Cañizares: To help the Church to follow completely what the Second Vatican Council has indicated in the Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium. To help to understand fully what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the liturgy. To take to heart what the Holy Father — when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — has written about the question, especially in the beautiful book The Spirit of the Liturgy. To take to heart how the Holy Father — assisted by the office for liturgical celebrations headed by Monsignor Guido Marini — celebrates the liturgy. The papal liturgies in fact have always been, and still are, exemplary for the whole Catholic world.

30 Giorni: In an interview granted in Spain [in the journal La Razón] you have praised the pope’s decision to distribute the Eucharist, in the liturgies which he celebrates, only kneeling and only in the mouth. Are there changes to be expected in this regard in universal discipline of the Church?

Cardinal Cañizares: As is known, the current universal discipline of the Church requires that as a norm Communion is distributed into the mouth of the faithful. Then there is an indult that allows, at the request of episcopates, to distribute Communion on the palm of the hand also. This is worth remembering. The pope, then, to give greater prominence to the due reverence with which we must approach the Body of Christ, wished that the faithful who receive Communion from his hands do so on their knees. This seemed to me a beautiful and edifying initiative of the Bishop of Rome. The present norms do not require anyone to do the same. But neither do they prevent it.

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