Policy on Kneeling for Communion


From what I understand, it is up to the local Bishop (or Conference?) to decide whether to permit reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Is that correct, or are there general instructions that apply internationally?

I ask this since I have no idea where to look to find out whether it is permitted here in Germany. Since I will be received into Holy Church sometime soon, I’d like to know what I can do. :slight_smile:



I believe it is up to the bishops’ conference. The GIRM where I live states that the bishops’ conference decides whether the norm for receiving Communion is standing or kneeling. Those who receive standing should make a gesture prior to doing so. The nature of this gesture is to be determined by the bishops’ conference. (Présentation Générale du Missel Romain [French GIRM], 2002, article 160).

Note that the bishops’ conference decides the norm. To my knowledge, it does not decide whether to allow or forbid Communion outside this norm. By visual evidence, I have concluded that the norm here is standing. I receive kneeling, and I have never been denied nor spoken to after the fact. YMMV.

Welcome home! :slight_smile:


It is permitted by the Universal Law of the Church.

There have been cases where local bishop’s or even an entire bishop’s conference, have tried to restrict it, and they have been corrected by Rome.

That the faithful may not be restricted was clarified by Rome in Redemptionis Sacramentum

As a result, the US bishops conf had to change it’s restrictions to comply with the universal norm

Here is the previous GIRM, and some of Rome’s responses to how the US bishops were attempting to implement it


And the new GIRM 160

… The norm established for the Dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, March 25, 2004, no. 91).

Here is RS 91

[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”.[177] Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.


Great, thanks! :slight_smile:

I have never heard of a German GIRM, so I couldn’t look it up there. :shrug:


Well, there certainly must be a version for Germany. The problem is that you’d need to know what it’s called in German in order to find it. The Holy See’s Website appears to have the GIRM only in Latin, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Swahili. No German. I tried Googling it using the Latin name of the document + Germany or Deutschland and got nothing useful. Sorry :frowning:


Kneeling for communion is rather awkward without an altar rail and paten, so I don’t insist on it for myself if the altar rail isn’t being used at an OF Mass I’m attending


Reception on the tongue is a universal norm, but bishops may restrict reception in the hand. One diocese where communion in the hand is not permitted (but still occurs) is Rome.


Cardinal Arinze said on a video that it is permitted as long as you don’t make a “nuisance” out of yourself.

Except at the altar rails, I have never seen people kneeling for communion. The lines move way too quickly for that.


I wonder what he would consider to be making a “nuisance” out of oneself…? :confused:

I wouldn’t say it’s a common occurrence where I am, but I do see people kneeling in absence of altar rails. There are always some folks kneeling for Communion at the cathedral whenever there’s a high-profile Mass: Chrism Mass, ordinations, etc. (and maybe at other times as well, but it’s rare that I have the opportunity to attend Mass at the cathedral except for the big events). Perhaps 5-10 people in my own parish (population 22,000) kneel to receive. None of the three churches in my parish have an altar rail. Neither does the cathedral.

I haven’t noticed it slows the line down any, but maybe distributing Communion is slow here in general compared the what you’re used to.


At a Basilica I attend, I’ve seen the Monsignor tell a communicant who wanted to receive kneeling to approach last, because most people aren’t used to someone kneeling in a communion line and could trip over them.


I do like altar rails!!

At weekday Mass, I see more people kneeling to receive the Eucharist than at weekend Mass. Weekday Mass all receive from the priest, as opposed to the weekends (different parish, newer) there are EMs.

If my knees were better, I would receive kneeling when possible. I receive directly on the tongue otherwise.

closed #12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.