An Appeal to Archbishop Brunett
by Erven E. Park
July 3, 2003
St. Thomas Apostle
TO: His Excellency
Archbishop Alex Brunett
910 Marion St.
Seattle, WA 98104
REGARDS: ROME - The Holy See: "Let your people kneel."
Greetings in our Lord Jesus, especially in gratitude of His Real Presence for His faithful in the most Holy Eucharist. The Real Presence of Jesus before whom it is commanded: "every knee should bend, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth." Philippians 2: 10.
It is not our wish to impinge upon your time, your Grace, or to in any way add to the burdens of your Office. We are very conscience of your personal written testimony relating the fact that you do not enjoy the "leisure" of having time to address certain subjects or grievances. We would plead of your Excellency, however, that there are particular issues of gravity relating to faith and morals that are reserved exclusively to your decisions and the governance thereof.
We would pray that it might be edifying to yourself in being informed that many of your conscientious faithful have come to be aware of the immense bureaucracy that encumbers many of the episcopate of our day. An examination of the "Catholic Directory - Archdiocese of Seattle," reveals departmental listings not at all unlike the human services listed in our State and Federal governmental directories a bureaucracy of monumental proportions.
Whereas in the not too distant past, the bishop's office was always prompt and open in addressing matters of gravity, today's faithful find their shepherd remote and insulated by a myriad of offices, committees, officials, Deaneries, etc. Moreover, when information is gleaned from operatives, it is very often found noncommittal or even contradictory. The more deplorable comportment being displayed by those contemptuously refusing to acknowledge or even respond (stonewalling) to legitimate inquiries. We are confident that much of this is not at all to your liking.
As is often true of adversity, however, some good has been realized in confronting this blighted communications milieu. Concerned, devout and loyal Catholic faithful, who have become very uncomfortable with the ongoing upheaval in our American church, often accompanied by contradiction, have been drawn together in a common quest for the answers grounded in the truth. In your published committal to being a good shepherd, we are assured that your Grace would commend and welcome any such worthy efforts. The truth is what your sacred Office charges you to teach, and your faithful diligently seeking this truth can only complement your sheepfold.
Thankfully, or more than likely it is the Lord's design, at this time of disruption in the Church, we find ourselves in the "information age" whereby technology has made available to many instant communication and information from all over the world. Very competent secular organizations have put together exceptionally informative websites collating all of the Vatican's official up to date instruction and commentary on such as the liturgy, etc. Providentially the Holy See has been in the forefront in participating in this medium and has encouraged their governing Dicasteries to be responsive to lawful inquiry from the faithful. By example, indeed, what a revelation to discover that on the subject of the liturgy the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome is much more readily available for communication and [factual] answers than is our (your) own chancery offices. We point this out your Excellency in the spirit of charitable suggestion that your presbyterate be made fully aware of this. Being candid, otherwise, the endeavor of imparting falsehood or ambiguity, even unintentionally, on such as the liturgy very likely can come back to that party quite rapidly as a matter of considerable discomfiture. Our following transcript will give example of the impact this reality is now generating. We shall restrict the discussion to but one subject in the Liturgy of the Mass, that of kneeling.
Before proceeding further, we would make one important commentary, however. The informational search that has been generated by individuals and organizations dedicated to Roman orthodoxy has yielded the certainty that the USCCB's Bishops Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) has ill-served those bishops committed to unity and harmony with Rome. There are activists in the BCL who embrace ideologies that are quite obviously in contention with the liturgical doctrines of the Church and their intrigues have exacted a destructive toll indeed.
It did not go without notice and satisfaction amongst many, your Excellency, your own frustration expressed on public TV on certain machinations emanating from particular groupings and mentalities of the USCCB at their bi-annual meeting in St. Louis of a few days back (June 18 - 21).
Kneeling! A term we now find in critical need of clarification, as it is proper to the Mass. Kneeling is much more than an option amongst options. It is directly coupled to and correct in its bond to the Blessed Sacrament. Its performing, or lack thereof, before the Blessed Sacrament (Almighty God), is a public indicator of one's belief, or lack thereof, in God's Real Presence before them. Let there be no question about this.
We hear it said by certain liturgists: "Standing is understood to denote respect and even reverence. After all we stand for the Gospel, which has Christ's presence. We stand in respect of the priest who is an alter Christus, where is the difference?" The answer is obvious: Those such as the Gospel and/or the ordained priest are secondary causes and thus emissaries of God possessing a particular mode of His presence by the fact of His creating and sustaining their existence. As such they are certainly deserving of reverence and respect. They are not, however, the actual Person of God such as is His individual Presence (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Person of God calls for a great deal more than mere respect and reverence. Such niceties and protocols are often granted to worthy humanity, after all. The sacrifice that God seeks from each of us, and of which He is justly entitled, is no less than our own free will. The free submission of our will to His. This was perfectly exemplified by Christ in His agony when praying (on His knees) to the Father he cried out: "My Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Mat. 26: 39.
The overriding reality here is prescribed in one word: submission! Kneeling (and/or prostration) is the posture of submission as well as adoration, and it is thus the correct posture by man and angels before God in the Blessed Sacrament. We hear some of our so-called liturgists scoff at kneeling precisely because it reflects a servile action to a master. They thus mock a virtue while at the same time renouncing submission to their Creator. Such persons as these are NOT of the Catholic Faith! Those who do not fear God do not know God and those who do not know God cannot possibly have the Faith! They are pretenders!
With these truths in mind, why then have the faithful experienced the sustained and determined assault against the posture of worship and submission over the last three decades? What has been the genesis of this? The new information technology is now providing answers and what is revealed is decidedly disturbing. Although fingers can be pointed in many directions in the post Vatican II era, the preponderance of facts point to the plight of the American church lying almost exclusively in the hands of the US Conference of Bishops and certain offices of dissidents they have spawned and nurtured. This is not mere opinion, your Excellency; it is what the official record shows.
Take kneeling. Neither teachings of Vatican II, nor that of the Holy Father, or any of the Sacred Congregations of Rome has ever specified, or even suggested that kneeling be suppressed for any reason at Holy Mass. The facts reveal that the opposite is true (more on this further on). The faithful of the American church certainly did not ask for this suppression. Indeed, it goes against all healthy instinct (natural law) to deny kneeling before God. What then? With the new order of Mass (Novus Ordo Missae1969) the U.S. Bishops Conference arbitrarily introduced the option of standing for Communion. With the follow-up of the clergy, standing for Communion soon becomes commonplace.
Following upon this comes the clandestine removal of altar rails and from thence the march is on, even to overtly violating Church law by removing kneelers altogether from particular churches. None of these abuses were called for by the Catholic Church; all of these aberrations were instituted arbitrarily by the US Bishops collective with absolutely no consultation extended to the sensus Catholica of the faithful. We shall not here delve into the movements that gave birth to these transgressions, but the ideologies of Protestantism loom very large in this picture.
Fearfully beseeching Almighty God as our witness, we now come to the core of our respectful entreaty to your Excellency, our Shepherd. That being: Kneeling for Communion.
While the faithful has had no say in the suppression of kneeling, with sentiments ranging from indifference to utter dismay, most all of the faithful had been led to believe that the changes imposed were the mandate of the Church (Rome) and not merely the imposition of the US Bishops collective. That falsehood is recorded as put forth by many in the American liturgical establishment.
By means of the new informational technology it is now revealed that the faithful have been both misinformed and misled as to their rights in these matters. Rome is not in favor of the suppression of kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. The exact opposite is true! They1 encourage and offer support to those who desire retaining this virtuous practice.
This is so to the extent that the US Bishops request that standing be shown as the "norm" for receiving Communion in America was granted conditionally! That "condition" being it would be allowed only if those desiring to receive Communion kneeling would not be denied its reception in this posture. Further: "Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion." 2
Basing our suppositions on past performances of the BCL cabal it would come as no surprise to find that most US bishops, including possibly your Grace, have been kept unaware of the compelling sentiment of the Holy See in favoring the retention of kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion.
In light of this unfortunate reality we are attaching copies of very recent letters sent on the subject of kneeling for Communion by the Roman Congregation of Divine Worship and the Sacraments to US recipients. One of these is to an American bishop and the other two are to concerned laity. The context of these official "Protocols," as I am sure your Excellency would agree, carries the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.
For ready reference we here provide some pertinent excerpts from those letters, beginning with the one to the US Bishop:
Congregation de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum
Prot. n. 1322/02/L
Rome, 1 July 2002
This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has recently received reports of members of the faithful in your Diocese being refused Holy Communion unless while standing to receive, as opposed to kneeling. The reports state that such a policy has been announced to parishioners...
The Congregation in fact is concerned at the number of similar complaints that it has received in recent months from various places, and considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments (Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213). In view of the law that "sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them" (canon 843 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person's unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared. Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.
In fact, as His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has recently emphasized, the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species...
Priests should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.
Thanking Your Excellency for your attention to this matter and relying on your kind collaboration in its regard, (Our emphasis)
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Jorge A. Cardinal Medina EstÚvez
+Francesco Pio Tamburrino
Congregation de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum
Prot. n. 1322/02/L
Rome, 1 July 2002
This Congregation for Divine Worship gratefully acknowledges receipt of your letter, regarding an announced policy of denial of Holy Communion to those who kneel to receive it at a certain church.
It is troubling that you seem to express some reservations about both the propriety and the usefulness of addressing the Holy See regarding this matter. Canon 212 2 of the Code of Canon Law states that "Christ's faithful are totally free to make known their needs, especially their spiritual ones, and their desire: to the Pastor of the Church". The canon then continues in 3: "According to their own knowledge competence and position, they have the right, and indeed sometimes the duty, to present to the sacred Pastor; their opinions regarding those things that pertain to the good of the Church".... Accordingly, in consideration of the nature of the problem and the relative likelihood that it might or might not be resolved on the local level, every member of the faithful has the right of recourse to the Roman Pontiff either personally or by means of the Dicasteries or Tribunals of the Roman Curia.
Another fundamental right of the faithful, as noted in canon 213, is "the right to receive assistance by the sacred Pastors from the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments". In view of the law that "sacred" ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them" (canon 843 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass...Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.
Please be assured that the Congregation takes this matter very seriously, and is making the necessary contacts in its regard. At the same time, this Dicastery continues to be ready to be of assistance if you should need to contact it again in the future. (Emphasis ours)
Thanking you for your interest, and with every prayerful good wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Monsignor Mario Marini
CONGREGATIO DEi CUl.TU DIVINO
Prot. n. 2390/02/L
Rome, 25 February 2003
Dear Mrs. XXXXXX
This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has received your letter dated 9 December 2002, related to the application of the norms approved by the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America, with the subsequent recognitio of this Congregation, as regards the question of the posture for receiving Holy Communion.
As the authority by virtue of whose recognitio the norm in question has attained the force of law, this Dicastery is competent to specify the manner in which the norm is to be understood for the sake of a proper application. Having received more than a few letters regarding this matter from different locations in the United States of America, the Congregation wishes to ensure that its position on the matter is clear.
To this end, it is perhaps useful to respond to your inquiry by repeating the content of a letter that the Congregation recently addressed to a Bishop in the United States of America from whose Diocese a number of pertinent letters had been received. The letter states: "... while this Congregation gave the recognitio to the norm desired by the Bishops' Conference of your country that people stand for Holy Communion, this was done on the condition that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds. Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion".
This Dicastery hopes that the citation given here will provide an adequate answer to your letter. At the same time, please be assured that the Congregation remains ready to be of assistance if you should need to contact it again. (Emphasis ours)
With every prayerful good wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The assertive testimony of the Holy See as displayed in the above "Protocols" leaves no doubt as to the preferential status of kneeling for Communion that is upheld by the Roman Church. As is repeatedly emphasized by the Dicastery, standing is a posture granted to the US Bishops "conditionally."
The faithful; even unwary bishops your Excellency, will be totally unmindful of these priorities if all they have for reference is the text of the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) that is now being released to the American church by the USCCB. This release will serve to further the controversy rather than clarify it. As has been so often the case in the past with the works of the BCL, the wording is inaccurate to the extent that it cannot do other than foster ambiguity and confusion.
The section of the GIRM that speaks specifically to the subject of kneeling for Communion at Mass is No. 160, paragraph 2. It reads:
"The norm for reception of Holy communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm."
The first inaccuracy is exposed in the instruction: "...should not refuse..." Accuracy would have it read: "cannot refuse." "Should not" gives the connotation of suggestion whereas the correct teaching would be the command that you cannot refuse!
There are at least two serious inaccuracies in the next sentence, to wit: 1) "Rather, such instances (kneeling) should be addressed pastorally..." The immediate impression given by the wording of this statement is that the party kneeling has done something wrong and that it will have to be handled in a pastoral (?) manner. The party kneeling has done absolutely nothing wrong! 2) "Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm." The direct impression given by this statement is that there is "catechesis" available that will provide theological rationale establishing the greater merit of standing for Communion over that of kneeling. That is a falsehood. As is repeatedly born out by the Roman Congregation over Liturgy, no such catechesis exists and the posture of kneeling for Communion holds unequivocal precedence over that of standing.
At this point your Grace, we pray fervently the decks are now cleared of the dross and the case for the rights of the faithful in kneeling for Communion is held in the clear light it deserves. Further, we have no reason to believe other than it is your desire to respect and uphold those rights.
As Bishop Thomas will affirm to you, this spokesman has experienced public humiliation and refusal of Communion by a priest at my own parish for kneeling to receive Communion at Mass. This was prior to your coming. I am in contact with those in our archdiocese who today are being personally intimidated by priests when attempting to receive Communion kneeling. They will attest to this for the record.
On the other hand, and we are confident you will agree with this your Excellency, the priest(s) presiding at Mass should not be placed in what has the appearance of being in a adversarial or compromised position. Acknowledging that the faithful have the undeniable right to kneel for Communion, however, then the pastors should be allowed and encouraged to make the arrangements whereby this can be accomplished in an organized and dignified manner whereby disruption or controversy need never occur.
I want desperately to be kneeling when receiving Christ in Holy Communion. Many of our confreres feel the same, but like myself are of the age and/or physical circumstance that kneeling on a open flat surface poses some challenges that it would be unfair to ask of them. Yet, if they have the sincere desire to kneel, it should not be disregarded and conveniences certainly can be easily provided.
In closing, your Excellency, please allow me to express the personal trepidation that has befallen myself while in reflection on the gravity of what is occurring here. How utterly surreal it is that we find ourselves in a day and time where we have found it necessary to beseech our Catholic Bishop to be allowed to kneel before our God and Creator in receiving Him in Communion at Holy Mass. By His omnipresence, God is standing before you and I at this very moment. What is His Divine Face now revealing at such an unholy state? I fear it terrible and foreboding, and I cower at the retribution we are deservedly bringing upon ourselves. Please let us kneel before Him. You are in our prayers daily.
To all in Christ through Mary,
Erven E. Park
Member - Spokesman
St. Catherine of Siena
Contemporary Catholic Conflicts Study Groups
813 NW Ohio St.
Chehalis, WA 98532
cc/ Francis Cardinal Arinze - Rome
Monsignor Mario Marini - Rome
Bishop George Thomas
Fr. Tuan Nguyen
1 The ruling Congregation on matters of the liturgy is the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. For those who wish to write to this Congregation: Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect - Congregation for Divine Worship -Piazza Pio XII, 10 - 00120 Vatican City (Europe)
2 Congregatio Dei Cultu Divino Ft. DisnPlina Sacramhn Orim. Prot. N. 2390/02/L - 25 Feb. 2003 - Mons. Mario Marini, Undersecretary.