Thank you for publishing Joan Lewis' fine report on Redemptionis Sacramentum, the recent Vatican document addressing the widespread problem of liturgical abuse (“Mass Abuse,” May 2-8). I do, however, feel obliged to offer an important clarification to the otherwise excellent piece.
On Page 7, Ms. Lewis identifies several norms cited by the new document. She includes the “norm” that “[c]ommunicants may receive the Body and Blood of Christ either standing or kneeling.” This is at best misleading. What Redemptionis Sacramentum actually says is that “[t]he faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the conference of bishops will have determined, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See” (No. 90).
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, with the recognitio of the Apostolic See, has determined that the norm for reception of Communion in the United States is standing.
Lewis does rightly add that one should not be denied holy Communion based on posture (though the proper cite is No. 91, not No. 92). This is an extremely important point, as some pastors have unjustly denied Communion to those who kneel to receive. This is simply an application of the general principle that any baptized Catholic who is not prohibited by law must be admitted to holy Communion (see Code of Canon Law, No. 843).
Even so, the norm is standing, and pastors have been given the at times unenviable task of “catechizing” the faithful on this controversial norm.
LEON SUPRENANT, Steubenville, Ohio
- May 16-22, 2004