Belleville Catholics Knee-Deep in Standing Controversy

Bishop advocates letter of the law

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    The latest controversy in the Belleville Diocese has brought Catholics to their knees ... or not.

    Belleville Bishop Edward K. Braxton sent a three-page letter to Rev. Albert Kreher, pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Trenton, Illinois stating that parishioners must kneel during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. A similar letter was sent to Monsignor James Margason, pastor of Corpus Christi Church in Shiloh, Illinois

    For years, parishioners at these and other communities have stood during the reading of the prayer.

    "Since the bishop is making an issue of this, we'll probably have to start kneeling here," said Monsignor James A. Buerstor, pastor of St. Boniface Church in Germantown, according to bnd.com.

    Let's rewind a bit here. Everyone, um, take your seats.

    In the Catholic Church, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the core of the Mass, marking the point when—according to Catholic faith—the substance of the bread and wine is converted into that of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, while the outside appearances of the bread and wine remain unchanged.

    According to a 1969 decision by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, all American Roman Catholics must kneel during this prayer. (Elderly people are permitted to sit.)

    However, many parishioners in the Belleville Diocese choose to stand during the Liturgy.

    In fact, standing is the norm in the rest of the Roman Catholic world. Kneeling during the Liturgy is primarily practiced only in the United States.

    "If you go to European churches, you'll be expected to stand although it allows for people to kneel, but the general norm is people remain standing," said Rev. Michael S. Driscoll, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

    And while the Catholics here in Illinois are willing to adhere to their Bishop's demands, his letters have caused a bad knee-jerk reaction.

    "When you have the kind of bishop we have, he makes issues out of things that in and of themselves are not that important," said Buerster.

    "We live in one of the poorest dioceses in the country with East St. Louis in our diocese, and [Bishop Braxton] doesn't seem to be too much concerned with helping people that're in need, and yet we worry about whether or not the parishes are standing or kneeling," said Jeff Greenstreet, a parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Lebanon.

    "I don't think this is something that Christ would worry about, and I don't see we have any reason to need to worry about it ... but we have to comply, according to the bishop's mandate," Greenstreet said.

    For now, the parishioners will be standing down.

    Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.