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Holy See Affirms Customary Kneeling During Communion Rite

Concerning the practice of kneeling after receiving Holy Communion, Cardinal Francis George, chairman of the Committee on the Liturgy, submitted a dubium [question] to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDW] on May 26, 2003:

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typical tertia, to forbid this practice?

Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the CDW, responded to the question on June 5, 2003 (Prot. N. 855/03/L):

Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem (No, for this reason). The mens [reason] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, not to regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

The dubium and response appear in the July 2003 edition of the BCL Newsletter, published by the US Bishops Committee on the Liturgy.

Earlier, the CDW re-affirmed kneeling after the Ecce Agnus Dei [Behold, the Lamb of God] when it amended the relevant paragraph (no. 43) of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani for the universal Church by adding the following clarifying sentence:

"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".

(See AB March 2003, p 4 sidebar. This sentence does not appear in the Institutio [or GIRM] as adapted for the United States, since this period of kneeling is explicitly affirmed in the adapted version of no. 43, "unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise"..)

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