Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 15, 2008
Eucharist kneeling request sparks controversy
Ottawa archbishop's call for parishioners to kneel at Consecration dubbed 'authoritarian'
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
'If you had no response to change, people wouldn’t be alive.'
Prendergast had informed his priests of the change last August, and said “a number” were not happy about it. Some expressed concerns that the archdiocesan liturgical commission was not consulted.
He has also had some parishioners complain.
“Change always does that,” he said. “If you had no response to change, people wouldn’t be alive.”
Bishops in Atlantic Canada initiated the move to a new common practice while he was still archbishop of Halifax, he said.
The Canadian bishops’ decision to adopt this happened before his appointment to Ottawa in 2007.
In travelling throughout the sprawling Ottawa Archdiocese, with its French and English sectors, Prendergast noticed a whole range of practices: some congregations stand throughout, some kneel in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer, causing a lot of noise and distraction, and others continue to kneel after the Consecration.
As more parishes are working together, sometimes congregants will be confused at a joint gathering, with half standing and half kneeling, a sign of division, he said.
When the controversy hit the front page, Prendergast had just returned from Rome where he had attended meetings of Vox Clara, an advisory group of Scripture scholars that is making recommendations to the Congregation for Divine Worship on the English translation of the Roman Missal.
The work during the latest meeting concerned the translation of the Proper of Seasons, that includes the prefaces for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and other seasons during the Church year.
“It’s slow,” he said. “It’s always longer than you think.”
“We were hoping to finish by 2010, but it looks like we may finish by 2011,” he said.
Some of the controversy over the change is theological, though Prendergast noted in his pastoral letter the reasons for standing: “expressing our dignity before God as his children set free by the death and resurrection of Christ;” and for kneeling: “to express adoration and reverence.”
He also pointed out that both postures would be in use during the Great Eucharistic Prayer of Praise.
Others have objected to being told what to do, though the Citizen had trouble finding people to comment publicly.
Though the newspaper described his move as authoritarian, the archbishop disagrees with the label. Exercising authority and making proper decisions can be perceived as authoritarian, but it is not, he said.
Others objected to the focus on a liturgical change when the Church faces other problems.
Parishioner Toddy Kehoe told the Citizen, “Is that all they have to think about? I don’t see the Catholic Church as doing loving things.
“I don’t see them as the caring community they should be. It isn’t whether you stand or kneel.”
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