the unforgivable sin

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 06, 2006

A pastor in California has told a group of recalcitrant parishioners that because they have defied Church authority, they are guilty of "rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin, separating oneself from the Church." They are now "invited" (whatever that means) to leave the parish and the diocese, and instructed not to return until they repent.

Wow. What had they done? Must have been really bad.

Did they lobby for legal abortion? No.
Did they endorse same-sex marriage? No.
Did they insist that women should be ordained to the priesthood? No.
Did they deny the Real Presence? Not at all.

In fact, this strange case developed because parishioners insisted on kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, when the pastor said they shouldn't.

(Tip to Dom for the lead.)

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 20 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Sir William - Mar. 10, 2006 10:11 AM ET USA

    Has anyone noticed (or maybe its just me?) that those who loudly demand to be OBEYED in these matters feel no personal responsibility to obey Rome themselves? They are saying with their own lives "do as I say, you little know-nothing peasants, and do not mind what I do". Why should anyone take them seriously, then, and obey them -- especially if it conflicts to the darling lapdog of the disobedient --- Conscience?

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Mar. 08, 2006 2:00 PM ET USA

    New GIRM #43 "In the dioceses of the United States of America...The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei, unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise." It would seem that a Bishop should have good reason to "determine otherwise" lest he should unnecessarily trample on the piety of a vast number of the Faithful. In discussing getting the clause following the comma "in" as an exception for the Diocese's of the U.S. the only reason I saw debated was to allow for the immigrants from Latin Am.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 08, 2006 12:42 PM ET USA

    The Bishops decree in the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan required all parishes in the Diocese to teach that the congregation is to stand for the agnus dei and throughout Communion until the last person has received and the remaining hosts are placed in the tabernacle. Needless to say a large number receive Communion and proceed right out the door!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 08, 2006 12:02 PM ET USA

    "even when it was not the written norm, was practiced in most all the Churches" is the definition of a liturgical abuse. As has been stated many times before, the posture after the Agnus Dei is to be determined by the local ordinary. To paraphrase an athletic expression, "there is no ME in liturgy." Be it on the right or on the left, disobedience is disobedience, and as in 99% of all cases, it is the fruit of the sin of pride.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 08, 2006 10:53 AM ET USA

    You can find a prayer for Bishop Brown at the Orange County Diocese site: PRAYER FOR THE MOST REVEREND TOD D. BROWN D.D. - The petitions of the prayer are interesting in light of this thread.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2006 11:29 PM ET USA

    wvcatholic The CDW in Prot.n. 2372/00/L Dubia Is it the case that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by No. 43 of the GIRM, intends to prohibit the faithful from kneeling during any part of the Mass except during the Consacration, that is, to prohibit the faithful from KNEELING AFTER THE AGNUS DEI and following the reception of Holy Communion? Response: NEGATIVE Vatican City, 7 November 2000 Jorge A. Card. Medina Estevez, Cardinal Prefect

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Mar. 07, 2006 9:13 PM ET USA

    wvcatholic--sorry, kneeling after the Agnus Dei is not an "innovation." It is an enduring custom. One which remarkably, even when it was not the written norm, was practiced in most all the Churches I've been to in the US (except those places where they stood throughout the entire Consecration ) Now, the New GIRM says that where this has become a custom it is to be "laudably retained"-the Bishop should have a very good reason to "determine otherwise!"

  • Posted by: garedawg - Mar. 07, 2006 7:32 PM ET USA

    It seems to me that if failing to kneel is not a sin, then the people should obey their bishop, even if he is acting like a blankety-blank. People don't kneel on Sundays in the Byzantine Rite church, so it's not a moral absolute. On the other hand, I find it hard to understand why the bishop won't cut them some slack.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2006 7:07 PM ET USA

    Servaim, The Latin text of the Roman Missal states that the congregation is to kneel only from the Sanctus to the Memorial Acclamation. The fact that in America (and some other countries) we kneel for the entire Eucharistic prayer was determined by the USCCB, The decision on kneeling after the Agnus Dei is reserved to the diocesan bishop. As such, Cannon 1371 states those who are disobedient to the local ordinary are to be punished by a "just penalty." The Church is not a democracy.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2006 6:19 PM ET USA

    WV Catholic, The "American innovation" has been around since the '60's (when the Novus Ordo came into being - this tradition was retained) and was changed (giving permission to the local bishops) ONLY 3 YEARS AGO in the 2003 GIRM. We've been kneeling at that moment in the mass for about 40 years. And, yes it DOES CERTAINLY speak of "posture at other points during the liturgy The document from Cdl Arinze (issued in June of te SAME year)says precisely "during the various parts of the...mass"!!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2006 5:58 PM ET USA

    Actually, Wvcatholic, kneeling for the Agnus Dei is not an "American innovation". It is a long term habit in Ireland, Britain, Spain, Italy, Trinidad, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Curacao - in all of which I have been to Mass and nowhere did I find people standing at that time - and any number of other countries. I have never been to Mass in any country I have visited where the congregation stood for the Agnus Dei. Standing for this seems an American innoovation!

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 07, 2006 4:31 PM ET USA

    As far as I know, the "posture of choice" at the End of the World" is going to be kneeling What is it from Scripture that I recall? "...So that at the mention of the Name of Jesus every knee in Heaven and on the Eartth and under the Earth shall bend and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord..." Is Our Lord any less present in Eucharist then He will be at the End of the World? The Bishops have the right and the perrogative to command... but would they destroy themselves?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2006 3:02 PM ET USA

    The law in this case is very simple. The GIRM states that the posture of individuals after the Agnus Dei and before communion is to be determined by the local bishop. Many have decided to follow the actual Latin rite and require that parishioners stand, rather than the American innovation where the congregation kneels. The document quoting Cardinal Arinze is in reference to the posture AFTER receiving communion, and specifically does not refer to posture at other points during the liturgy.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2006 12:17 PM ET USA

    When the first few sisters in a major teaching order on Long Island decided to wear secular dress, all of the community was instructed to be "tolerant" and respect their decision. Not too many years later when all but a handful had given up the modified habit, those who had any hope of teaching had no choice but to wear secular clothes. Those insistent on wearing a veil risked early retirement. Once in power, the so called "liberals" have no tolerance for anyone who disagrees with them.

  • Posted by: Aussie - Mar. 07, 2006 6:58 AM ET USA

    It doesn't strike me as being very tolerant. Fr Tran and his Bishop should be more open to dialogue. Haven't they heard of "loyal dissent"? Hypocrites!!!

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Mar. 06, 2006 9:40 PM ET USA

    Amazing. First, the article states correctly that the Holy Father, via Card. Arinze, has already ruled on this matter. People CAN KNEEL, not only at the Agnus Dei & after Communion, but also when receiving Holy Communion, & no bishop/cardinal can prevent them. Second, the "pastor" of this OC parish, & Bp. Tod "with one 'd'" Brown & his classmate, Card. Mahony, are out-of-sync with the USCCB, which has determined that kneeling is the norm after returning to the pews after Communion. God help us.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 06, 2006 7:27 PM ET USA

    Living minutes from this parish the issues as reported are simplified. Fr Johnson who retired thus ending a Tridentine Indult to which many came from miles around Southern California used to warn those who came not to be "more Catholic than the Catholic Church". Please pray for this diocese.

  • Posted by: Sterling - Mar. 06, 2006 5:59 PM ET USA

    When is the last time ANYONE out there has heard a bishop accuse people of mortal sin? Now, if these threats to the faith had done something really bad - say, refusing to dip their fingers in the sand that replaces the holy water in some fonts during Lent - I might understand.

  • Posted by: Stonewall - Mar. 06, 2006 5:57 PM ET USA

    Cessation of kneeling for Holy Communion is the single greatest error that the Church made in the 20th century.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 06, 2006 4:22 PM ET USA

    What do they do there with Rainbow Sash people? Just curious.