Kneeling Before the Pope


Q. In Acts 10:25-26, Peter refused to let a man kneel before him. Why doesn’t the Pope also forbid people from kneeling before him just like St. Peter?

A. In this passage from Acts Cornelius “fell at his feet and worshipped” Peter. Seeing this Peter said, “Arise. I myself am also a man.”
If the Pope detected that someone who came to honor him was in fact worshipping him he too would give the same warning. And forbid it. But kneeling is a sign of respect and reverence, especially in former times. When Sir Francis Drake knelt before Queen Elizabeth, he was not worshipping her. So kneeling can be a sign of respect or of worship. It all depends upon the intentions of the one who kneels.

The intention of the one who is kneeling can not be detected, for sure, unless he is asked about his intentions. For instance, many non Catholics, seeing a person kneeling in front of a picture or statue of Mary or another saint jump to the uncharitable conclusion that he has seen idolatry with his own eyes!

Comment: Actually a difference can be detected by an outward sign. Gregor:The difference is marked by the rule (today not always observed) that we genuflect on our right knee before God, whereas we genuflect on our left before the Pope (and – traditionally – Cardinals and our own Bishop).

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