Kneeling Ban: Good Liturgy or Loss of Religious Freedom?

by FR. REGIS SCANLON, O.F.M. CAP | Crisis Magazine  |  published on August 1, 2015

Some religious leaders in the Latin Rite are pressuring Catholics not to kneel at the Consecration, or to genuflect at their reception of the Eucharist. This trend has gained a great deal of traction in recent years, and is causing alarm among those who see it as a restriction of religious freedom. As Catholics, we have come to expect that our secular government wants to restrict our religious freedom, but it’s a new and disturbing trend when it comes from inside the Church.

This trend, which is being fostered by serious religious groups and orders, is being promulgated in both explicit and subtle ways. Whether it’s by making an actual rule, or by merely showing disapproval, participants in these liturgies are no longer free to “fall to their knees” in adoration. Instead, everyone must stand, sit, or bow—depending on the “rules” of that particular group. Deviation is not welcome, and in some cases, is forbidden.

What is behind this restriction? Is it a good thing? What does the Church say about the ways an individual may show adoration? The purpose of this paper is not to judge or condemn those who favor restrictions, but to show that such restrictive rules are incompatible with Church teachings, and even with the commonly accepted idea of religious freedom.

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