Did you notice the Sign of Peace at the Mass in the cathedral in the Philippines that Pope Francis celebrated with clergy and religious?

First a bit of background. One of the last acts of Cardinal Llovera as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship was to sign, along with secretary Arthur Roche, the circular letter on the Sign of Peace of June 8, 2014. Pope Francis had approved and confirmed the document the day before. (Pope Francis transferred Cardinal Cañizares back to Spain in August.)

The new CDW document says things such as this:

It should be made clear once and for all that the rite of peace already has its own profound meaning of prayer and offering of peace in the context of the Eucharist… If it is foreseen that [the exchange of peace] will not take place properly due to specific circumstances or if it is not considered pedagogically wise to carry it out on certain occasions, it can be omitted, and sometimes ought to be omitted. …

It will be necessary, at the time of the exchange of peace, to definitively avoid abuses such as: …

  • the departure of the priest from the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful.
  • that in certain circumstances, … the exchange of peace being the occasion for expressing congratulations, best wishes or condolences among those present.

How to interpret these new restrictions? Pope Francis offers one possible interpretation:

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