No More Applauding at Mass!
This is the good news contained in this piece. The altar girl thing will receive most of the attention though and no doubt spark quite a bit of outrage.
From The Advertiser: Vatican to ban altar girls [23sep03]:
"Nor, it said, will girls be able to serve at the altar. Readings from texts other than the Bible will be forbidden, as will applauding during religious services. No reasons were given for any of the various edicts.
The document will state that all Catholics, whether priests or laymen, would be encouraged to denounce 'abuses' of the regulations to their bishops, or even to the Vatican itself, according to the magazine. "
This Reuter's piece on the same document is even more confusing:
According to the magazine, the draft says the use of girl altar servers should be avoided "unless there is a just pastoral cause" and that "priests should never feel obliged to seek girls for this function."
The Vatican in 1994 gave individual bishops the power to decide whether to allow altar girls in their dioceses. But some conservative Catholics are against altar girls, saying their presence has eroded a traditional recruiting ground for priests.
Traditionalists have also seen altar girls as a foot in the door to a female priesthood, which the church bans.
Italian media reported that the initial reaction to the draft, circulated to the world's bishops, has been negative and the document may have to be at least partially modified.
The draft document also discourages applause during masses and "dances inside the sacred building."
Ironically, Pope John Paul's sermons during masses, even those in St Peter's Basilica, are often interrupted by applause.
Some of the pope's masses in Rome and around the world have included dancing, particularly those celebrations marking Asian, African or Latin American events.
The document, drafted by two Vatican departments which oversee doctrine and liturgy, was ordered by the pope who will eventually have to approve a final version.
The draft also warns against the use of non-Biblical language during the mass, such as readings from poets.
It discourages the practice where the faithful receive the wafer and wine at communion.
Catholics believe Christ is present in the wafer and wine but the document says it is preferable just to receive the wafer.
"Self-service" communion is also frowned upon. This appeared to be a reference to the faithful taking the consecrated host directly from the chalice instead of receiving it on their tongue from the hand of a priest.
Communion under one form seems very suspect to me. The altar girl thing seems like a suggestion. The document seems doomed before it is even released.