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).

Advertisements

13 Responses

  1. Hi bfhu, Left or right knee – I don’t feel that it would be right for me to bow the knee to any fellow human being, regardless of their status.
    Peter said: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10v34&35)
    In 1Kings 19v18 I read of those who have not bowed the knee to Ba-al: “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Ba-al, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
    Since the definition of ‘genuflect’ is to bow in a servile manner, I believe that the only Person to whom I can ever bow the knee is to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2v9-11) (Also Rom 14v11)

  2. Dear Ready,

    You are a child of your culture; cut off, it would seem from our heritage of European civilization. For centuries all people bowed and knelt to European Kings and Queens. They were intelligent enough not to confuse kneeling before a king with kneeling in worship of our God and King.

    There is nothing about kneeling that restricts the act to worship and worship only. People in England even used to address superiors, (not sure if this was restricted to kings or lords) as “Your worship”. And yet they did not mean that they worshipped them as a God.

    You may feel and do what ever you wish but the fact is Protestants almost NEVER kneel at all in Church. They may kneel at the side of their bed, mostly as children, to pray at night. But it is very, very rare in Protestantism.

    Genuflection can be a sign of reverence and respect to the man chosen to lead His Church on Earth. It does not ONLY mean to bow in a servile manner.

    Yes, at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. But notice it does not say, “Only at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.” Again we bump into the Protestant habit of mind of either/or… Only this and never that. This is a false dichotomy.

  3. Great write-up, I’m normal visitor of one’s blog, maintain up the nice operate, and It’s going to be a regular visitor for a long time. “There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.” by Tennessee Williams.

  4. Bfhu, when John in Rev. 1.17 falls before Jesus, Jesus does not forbides him to kneel. Also in Rev. 4.10 elders kneel before the One that sits on the throne. Rev. 13.8 All of the world except those that will be saved bow to the beast. On the other hand when he (John) in Rev. 19.10 kneels before angel, angel says: No, I am a servant just as you and your brothers.
    I don’t know about other Protestants, but we, Sevent day Adventists, kneel in the church before God and God only.
    I am not sure what heritage are you talking about since in this, 21 st century it is not a custom to kneel in front of anyone. If anybody is cut off from anything it is you cut off from the present.

    • Your statement that you think I am “cut off from the present,” is a pretty demeaning statement. The point in my post is that “bowing” or “kneeling” is not automatically equal to WORSHIP. Pres. Obama bowed very low to the emperor of Japan just a few years ago. No one thought he was worshiping the Emperor of Japan.

      And in the passage in my post, the man was not merely honoring the Apostles with a bow or kneeling, but:

      fell at his feet and worshiped” Peter. Seeing this Peter said, “Arise. I myself am also a man.”

      Peter stopped the man from worshiping by telling him to arise. Falling prostrate is still a sign of worship. Please know the man did not bow or kneel in honor. You might find my post interesting. –>Another Protestant Tradition: Catholics worship Idols.

      • Oh, so when somebody tells you that you are cut off, that is demeaning, but when you say it to others that is ok. Boy are you in denial. In the Japan’s tradition bowing is a sign of greeting, just like handshake in western countries.
        On the other subject, Bible clearly states do not make statues and do not pray to them.

        • Davor,
          When have I ever told someone they are “cut off from the present”?

          The Bible does not say anywhere that we may not make statues. In fact, God directed Moses to make several statues for the Tabernacle and the Holy of Holies and many other images of things on earth in Exodus. You can read about this on my post
          Another Protestant Tradition: Catholics worship Idols.

          We do not pray to statues. It just looks like it to Protestants who have already been told that we worship idols. Statues and pictures of our brothers and sisters in Christ are reminders of their holy lives which we can aspire to as well as ask them for their prayers.

          • bfhu, on June 21, 2010 at 10:19 pm said:
            Dear Ready,
            You are a child of your culture; cut off, it would seem from…

            You can’t deny that you wrote this it is only few posts up.

            I was Catholic and Catholics here pray to the saints and Madonna. Instead of misleading people and justifiying it with tales of this and that you should see what Bible says.

            What about humble life of poverty that Jesus preached about?

            What tale are you going to tell me to justify Gucci shoes and other fithy riches that pope surrounds himself with?

            Open your eyes! I did.

            • OK but I said “cut off from our heritage of European civilization”. This is true to some extent of most Americans. We tend to forget our history unless we stop and think about it. That is a bit different than telling someone one they are “cut off from the present.” That seems to be a lot like saying “cut off from reality” b/c how else could one be cut off from the present?

              Catholics talk about “praying to the saints” but what we actually do is ask for their intercession. It is heresy to think that the Saints by their own power answer our prayers. However, I will admit that the language we use is misleading to Protestants who do not understand our Culture.
              We say, “I prayed to Mary” b/c it is shorter than “I prayed to Mary and asked her to pray to God for me.” But that is what we mean.

              The treasures of art that surrounds the Pope do not belong to him. They belong to everyone and are kept to share with all those who visit. And while Gucci shoes may cost a lot in the US remember they are Italian so not as expensive in Italy and most likely Gucci is honored to donate their shoes to the Pope.

              I am sorry to hear that you are so angry about the Catholic Church. I hope you find healing. I have read the Bible many times and I have never found anything that contradicts the faith of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic Convert from zealous sola Scriptura Protestantism.
              Please read my conversion story–> My Conversion to the Catholic Church

              • Oh come on, it’s not his, it is the property of the church which worships him as a god (since he is infallible). Which raises another question: was the Pope infallible when waging crusades?

                Why doesn’t the church sell that stuff and do something usefull? Jesus surely did not live in such luxury. It is sad that atheists from the image understand Bible better than Pope and Catholic church. Language is not appropriate in that image, I would replace the a… word with antichrist.

                So let me get the other thing straight: being cut off from the past is ok, from present not ok? All I wanted to point out by this is that it is not a custom in the present times to kneel in front of anyone as a sign of respect, so that argument for kneeling in front of the Pope goes out of the window.

                You teach people to do things that Bible says not to, but on the other hand forbid things that Bible does not forbid, like celibacy of the priests.

                Praying to saints: How can you pray to those that are not resurrected yet? Ecclesiastes 9.10 and John 5.28-29

  5. Does the White House belong to President Obama? Can the Pope sell the things in the Vatican Museum and spend it on himself? No.

    We do not worship the Pope. It is funny how so many people want to believe that we do worship the Pope because it gives them an opportunity to be critical.

    The Pope is only infallible when TEACHING the WHOLE CHURCH about FAITH and MORALS. So the crusades would not fall under that definition.

    The Church could sell all the things in the museums and churches and give to the poor but then all the historical treasures would be lost to all future generations and in a short time the money would be used up and the poor would still be with us, just as Jesus promised us.

    You are right, we do not generally kneel in the secular culture as a sign of respect. However, historically it was a custom to kneel before dignitaries as a sign of respect. Since the Church is 2000 years old, she has retained many of these traditional customs. Our honor of the pope is really another way of honoring Christ b/c the pope is Christ’s ambassador and chosen leader of His Church.

    You accuse us of violating the words of scripture but you give no scriptural examples. Do you expect us to accept your word as infallible?

    As for celibacy, the Bible and Jesus certainly DO recommend it.

    Matthew 19:12
    For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.

    I Corinthians 7:7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

    8 It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. … An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs —how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord….37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

    Let’s take a look at your scripture regarding Prayer to Saints.

    Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

    This was true before Jesus opened up Heaven with His death and resurrection. Before this, all souls went to The Place of the Dead, Sheol.

    John 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

    This is the Body that dies will be resurrected. The soul is immortal and is judged immediately after death and is consigned to Heaven or Hell. At the resurrection the body of the dead joins the soul once more.

    • “Does the White House belong to President Obama? Can the Pope sell the things in the Vatican Museum and spend it on himself? No.”
      “The Church could sell all the things in the museums and churches and give to the poor but then all the historical treasures would be lost to all future generations and in a short time the money would be used up and the poor would still be with us, just as Jesus promised us.”

      Church can sell those things to other museums. Jesus always sad to sell what you don’t need and give to the poor.
      In my country, after the crisis started, Catholic church spent €1.5 milon on onix stone for front elevation on a bishops centre. Pure decadence. Purpose of that stone is none. How many homless people could have had a place to sleep if a shelter was built with those funds or an orpahage?

      “We do not worship the Pope. It is funny how so many people want to believe that we do worship the Pope because it gives them an opportunity to be critical.
      The Pope is only infallible when TEACHING the WHOLE CHURCH about FAITH and MORALS. So the crusades would not fall under that definition.”

      Ok, so let me get this straight. You call him Holy Father, he is infallible and you kneel in front of him. Now I am certain that Pope is your god. Inquisiton falls under questions of faith and so does crusade since pope called it holy war. What an irony.

      ” …the pope is Christ’s ambassador …”

      In latin this translates as Vicarivs filii dei.

      “You accuse us of violating the words of scripture but you give no scriptural examples. Do you expect us to accept your word as infallible?

      I only accept what Bible says, and I am as ANY and ALL men are, fallible .

      “As for celibacy, the Bible and Jesus certainly DO recommend it.”

      1. Corinthians 7
      The Unmarried and the Widowed
      25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as yone who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is.

      Paul states that it is not a command from the Lord, but his (Paul’s) judgement in the view of the PRESENT DISTRESS. So if the Lord did not forbid priests to mary, why do you? And then you end up with nuns having abortions, pedofiles etc. It would be better if those priests had wifes.
      1. Corinthians 7.9
      But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

      “This was true before Jesus opened up Heaven with His death and resurrection. Before this, all souls went to The Place of the Dead, Sheol.”

      Sheol is grave, nothing more. And where in the bible does it say that Jesus opened up the heaven?

      “John 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

      This cleraly says that there are those that are in the grave and when the time comes they will hear God’s voice. If they are in heaven as you say, they already should be able to hear his voice, so this would make no sense. Especially the part: those who have done what is good will rise to live. If you go to heaven right after you die, then you are not dead, you live, just in other form. And if they rise to live, it means that they are not alive at the moment.

      “This is the Body that dies will be resurrected.” Nowhere in those lines it mentiones body(s). It says “those” as persons – body and soul.

  6. We interpret the scriptures differently.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: