The requirement of kneelers


A local Protestant gentleman has attended Mass here at the local Roman Catholic church. He saw that there were kneelers in the church here.
At his church there are no kneelers.
He expressed that in some of the newer Roman Catholic churches there are NO kneelers.
His inquiry is: Is there not a requirement that every Catholic chapel, Catholic church, and Catholic cathedral have kneelers so that the people will kneel in reverence as they pray to God?


kneeling is required, but kneelers are not.


“In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.” (GIRM 43.3)


Or in the old ones. The European cathedrals I’ve been in uniformly lack kneelers - and pews, too.


As noted, kneelers are not required. Some individual Bishops have mandated that any new Church construction or renovation within their dioceses include kneelers but there is no universal rule.


It’s more comfortable than kneeling on the floor.


You contradict yourself and the GIRM…kneeling is NOT required per the GIRM…notice use of word “SHOULD”, and “THOSE WHO NOT KNEEL”, and “UNLESS THE DIOCESAN BISHOP DETERMINE OTHERWISE”…so it is not absolutely required.


It’s required for most of the faithful, unless they meet one of those two exceptions. That doesn’t mean people can kneel if they feel like it. I will never understand why people want to argue to the death about this. Barring significant discomfort or an inability to get back up, why would anyone NOT want to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament? It makes no sense to me. My husband used to work in a parish in Wisconsin that had all of the kneelers removed and people got fussy with you if you kneeled, which is the right thing to do in that situation. I seriously don’t get it.


the lack of kneelers confuses people. my church has kneelers so everybody knows when to kneel, sit or stand

i have been in catholic churches without kneelers and really to be honest it is a comedy show; ’ some sit, some stand some kneel on the floor and some bring their personal kneelers

i am not trying to be funny or disrespectful’ i have seen this more times than i care to think about; including at a major marian shrine on the east coast


We kneel in reverence because Christ is present.

Catholics can pray standing, sitting, kneeling, while walking, riding a bus or while standing at the stove cooking chicken parmesan.

There is no universal requirement that every Catholic church, chapel and cathedral have kneelers. I have never seen kneelers in a monastic abbey church nor in a conventual Franciscan chapel. Most day chapels in ordinary parishes don’t have kneelers.

Most Catholic churches didn’t even have pews until a few hundred years ago.



You have gone to different one’s than I. Never been to a Cathedral or Basilica in Europe that did not have pews and kneelers. They were obviously built without them, but they are there now.


I was also thinking this. St. Peter’s and Notre Dame, among others, come immediately to mind as churches with both pews and kneelers. I have noticed that kneelers in old churches in Europe tend to be unpaddded.


Pews were added with the rise of Protestant Churches in which the sermon is the central act of worship. Catholic Churches had to compete. Pews were not the norm.

Poor people stood. Those wealthy enough brought their own chairs. The very wealthy had servants bring couches. Men were on once side and women on the other. All faced the center.



Regardless, the pews are there now and have been for centuries.


I agree with you 100%.


I’m not arguing why anyone who could, would not.

My point kneeling or not is not going in make the Mass invalid, and I would argue it will neither make it illicit. You are basing “required for most of the faithful, unless” on your interpretation.

An example is my church does not have kneelers, those who want to can, the overwhelming majority do not (and our priests would much rather they not…but that is a Franciscan thing, and a whole different story).

The Bishop is at our church 4 or 5 times a year, and he has never made an issue, one way or another, on kneeling.

My entire point was that too often, what we prefer as individuals, we claim are undisputable, non-negotiable tenants of the faith…and most often, as in this case they are not.


Actually, I think I counted four exceptions. Whatever…

I don’t know where this started, but I would guess that someone a long time ago got wind of the fact that at least in some eastern rite Churches, kneeling is a sign of penance rather than worship; the idea got adopted (never mind that it was a cultural issue for a different culture) and spread like wildfire. Sort of like holding hands during the Our Father spread from the Charismatic Movement.

And both have a tendency to have adherents and opponents who can be, shall we say, a tad bit rigid about it?

So why people would not kneel before the Blessed Sacrament is at least in part, a cultural issue which doesn’t sit well with those who culturally kneel; but one should not judge another’s heart on the matter. And yes, within the broad culture of the Roman rite, kneeling is the appropriate posture; but whether or not there is a sub culture can venture into areas where we have no business going, as they border on, if not outright enter into judging another’s heart.

Which does not make it any easier when one is in a parish which stands instead of kneels.

And as an aside, if one goes to the Holy Mysteries, then one should not act contrary to the congregation; if they stand, put aside feelings and stand. Or as the old saying goes, when in Rome…


Here in Detroit, there were several parish churches that were built in the 70’s that did not have kneelers.

One of our previous Archbishops ( Cardinal Szoka) reversed that policy in the early 80’s, and mandated that any new parishes be build with kneelers.

Any parish that did not have them had to install them if they did any reconstruction.

That policy has continued under every subsequent Archbishop



so unless the bishop determines otherwise, OR an individual is exempted for one of the stated reasons, kneeling is required for everyone else. I didn’t say anything about it being “absolutely” required, nor is what allegra said based on her own interpretation. neither one of us claimed anything was non-negotiable. you are the one adding these restrictive words. the girm lists exceptions, which means those who do not meet those exceptions are bound by the rule.

you might want to look up the definition of the word “should.” yes, it can mean something is merely suggested, but it’s also the past conditional tense of “shall,” which means something must happen, given something else. ambiguous, perhaps, but there it is.


so if you visit a parish where the congregation is doing something that is incorrect or otherwise inappropriate, you should join in simply because you’re a visitor?


Sorry, I did not make myself clear.

In the past there have been threads which touched on the postures of Eastern Rite Churches and more than one comment was made by RC individuals that if they were attending an ERC, they would kneel for the consecration.

Sadly, that puts personal feelings over rubrics, as well as potentially insulting members of the ERC present, who have enough reasons to not be particularly happy with the RC (Latinization of the Eastern rites, which thank God JP2 turned around - or at least made a serious effort to turn around).

My comment was meant to be directed to any RC attending an ERC Holy Mysteries. I was not clear.

But to answer your question, if I strayed into an RC parish that stood, then one gets into the question of why they do so. In some instances, it may be possible that they are within the 4 exceptions noted in the GIRM; in others, it may honestly get down to stubbornness. When it has happened in the past (and I had been given a clue or two that this was stubbornness) I knelt. Not having that information, I would have to think. What some people see as witness others see as stubbornness and I guess I question the value of making others angry, particularly at that moment. Of course, one could say that it would get down to the pot calling the kettle black…:rolleyes:

There is an element within the RC which puts heavy emphasis on rubrics; and I don’t intend to imply that I approach them in a sloppy fashion. The question becomes this: when does our reaction to lay action contrary to the GIRM become witness, and when does it become borderline Pharisaical - putting form over substance? Many will dismiss the question, but that does not necessarily mean that it has no validity.


thanks for the clarification. that makes a lot of sense!

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