Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Reverence towards Bishops
Reverence towards Bishops QUESTION from Robert Grey on December 25, 2001 I once read in a Church document, (I believe that the document was the one named Pontificalis Ritus, issued after the Second Vatican Council, that bishops, when entering and leaving the Altar in the beggining and at the conclusion of the Holy Mass, were not to be greeted with the people kneeling, but by a bow from the waist. Is this bow from the waist still the correct practise required by the liturgical laws?
If the bow remains law, why is it that when Bishops enter and leave the Church, everybody stands nowadays instead of bowing to the Bishop - isn't this inconsistent with the Vatican II teaching that the Bishops are Successors of the Apostles?
Also, other prelates that are equivalent in law to bishops, such as abbots who are the local ordinary, are to be greeted that way when enter and leave the Church?
What about the Supreme Pontiff, is he also to be greeted only with that bow from the waist? Has any special reverence towards the Vicar of Christ, such as kneeling, survived the liturgical reforms?
And lastly: if this document speaks only the proper reverence towards Bishops during Mass, what is the proper way of making reverence to the Successors of the Apostles, and to the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, outside Mass?
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on February 18, 2002 Dear Mr. Grey,
It is my understanding, and therefore my interpretation, that this section of Pontificalis Ritus actually deals with those times which are NOT sacred Liturgy. The words beginning or end of Mass and the ideas they represent are not found in the document, in particular not while describing gestures of reverence or greeting of the bishop, nor is any instruction given that determines what the proper greeting is inside Liturgy.
Normally in abbeys a local custom is observed as having force of law. They vary among the orders and abbeys.
Finally, in accordance with that above, outside of the Liturgy it is proper to greet a Bishop with a profound bow.
Unfortunately, in my experience anyway, bishops prefer NOT to be greeted in this way. Rather they prefer a handshake. These bishops appear to be the same ones who prefer to be addressed simply as Bishop rather than the appropriate Your Excellency in conversation.
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