The prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Francis Arinze, has said that Pope Benedict XVI may consider moving the sign of peace to before the offertory, “in order to create a moment of reflection while we prepare for communion.”
In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano on the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, Cardinal Arinze explained that “a different placement of the sign of peace” is under consideration. “Often the full significance of this gesture is not understood. It is seen as an occasion to shake the hands of our friends, when in reality it is a way of saying to the one next to us that the peace of Christ, truly present on the altar, is also for all mankind.”
“In order to create a more meditative atmosphere as we prepare for Communion, moving the sign of peace to the offertory is being considered. The Pope has consulted the bishops, and later he will decide,” Arinze explained.
Cardinal Arinze later explained that his dicastery “is not a sort of ‘ecclesiastical’ police or ‘intervener’ for every problem. The dicastery was created first of all to promote divine worship,” although “we certainly cannot close our eyes to objectively problematic situations,” he added.
“The 2004 document Redemptoris Sacramentum points out that many of the liturgical abuses “are not due to ill will but rather ignorance. Some just don’t know, but they also don’t know they are ignoring something. They don’t know, for example, that words and gestures have roots in the tradition of the Church. Thus they think they are being more original and creative by changing these texts and gestures. In response to this situation, it is necessary to reaffirm that the liturgy is sacred and is the public prayer of the Church.”