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Bishops urge churchgoers to bend the knee

(ran PW, PS editions)

Anglican church leaders are hoping to bring worshipers to their knees _ literally.

A campaign organized by the Right Rev. Stephen Pedley, the bishop of Lancaster, aims to encourage worshipers to kneel more during church services.

"Over the past few years I have noticed the death of kneeling," wrote Pedley in a recent diocesan newsletter, according to the London Daily Telegraph. "People crouch, they stand, they sit, in extremes they appear to lie down: but hardly anyone kneels."

The kneeling habits of Muslims, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians could serve as a model for Anglicans, said the Right Rev. Geoffrey Rowell, the bishop of Basingstoke.

Kneeling "is a gesture of adoration," he said, and when worshipers abandon the practice, "something very important has been lost from our body language."

"We are bodies as well as souls, and how we actually use our bodies signals things," said Rowell, adding "The psalmist says, "Let us come in and kneel before the Lord who made us.' That's the primary thing."

But one Roman Catholic Church spokesman warned against overemphasizing the significance of kneeling.

"As a practice, kneeling is much less common in Catholic services," said Monsignor Kieron Conry. "People reflect more on why they do things. Many find that they can be equally reverential standing or even sitting, rather than kneeling because they have always knelt. To tell people to kneel is carping."