This was written a few years ago, but it’s still good for a chuckle.
The Catholic Church here in Orange County, California has yet another controversy to deal with along with their pedophile priests. In an LA Times article today, I learned that kneeling can be dangerous to your spiritual health. The pastor at St. Mary’s By the Sea in Huntington Beach has decreed that parishioners should not kneel after the Agnus Dei. After a number of people defied this and continued to kneel, he declared that kneeling “is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin.” Murder is also a mortal sin, so I guess kneeling is a pretty bad thing to do.
Since the 7th century, Catholics have been kneeling after the Agnus Dei, but four years ago the Vatican revised their instructions, allowing Bishops to decide at some points in the Mass whether their flocks should kneel or not. Apparently, the local Bishop decided they should not kneel after the Agnus Dei.
The rebels didn’t take this lying down, though. Or maybe I should say they didn’t stand for it. They started passing out leaflets to other church members, criticizing the church’s decree. According to the Times article, the church retaliated by publishing a series of “strident weekly statements” in the church bulletin, attacking the rebels for “despising the authority of the local bishop.” This sounds like a political campaign, complete with mudslinging.
In addition to giving me lots of chuckles, this illustrates very clearly that organized religions have little to do with faith and spirituality, and a lot to do with power, wealth, and control of the masses. At the center of this controversy is the insistence by the church for strict obedience to their edicts.
I found it particularly interesting that the local pastor, with the blessings of the Bishop apparently, could characterize kneeling as a mortal sin. Shouldn’t such a ruling come from the Pope? But the Vatican has not made any such pronouncement, merely saying that it was at the discretion of the local Bishop. So it would seem that Bishops now talk directly to God and determine what constitutes a mortal sin.
What is very clear from all of this is that the real “sin” here is disobedience. To say that kneeling…or not kneeling…during a church service is equivalent to murder is preposterous…unless you believe that obedience to the church is of paramount importance.
Apparently a number of people in St. Mary’s church did not agree, and they continue to kneel. The church retaliated by sending letters to those individuals “inviting” them to leave the parish and the diocese for, among other things, “creating misleading confusion, division and chaos in the parish by intentional disobedience and opposition to the current liturgical norms.” So far, the rebels have declined the invitation.
Does anybody doubt that organized religions are all about dictatorial power and control? Why isn’t that anathema to people in free societies?