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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 05 Jan 2002

Liturgical dance QUESTION from Michelle April 7, 1999
I have read that the American Council of Catholic Bishops have clearly stated that liturgical dance during Mass is prohibited. I was wondering if the same ruling applies here in Canada. I e-mailed this question of liturgical dancing to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and received a reply from a woman who said that liturgical dancing is O.K. Do rulings change from one country to the next? Thank you for your response. P.S. My husband also suffers from degenerative arthritis, spinal stenosis, bone spurs and other back and neck problems. I will keep you in my prayers and ask that you keep him in yours. ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on April 7, 1999
Dear Michelle, Thank you for your offer of prayers, I assure you that you and your husband are in mine. I'm certain that my condition is a blessing -- it's just hard to remember that sometimes. Thank you for an interesting question. Liturgical regulations can and do differ from country to country. For example in the U.S., the bishops' conference received permission to require that the faithful kneel beginning after the Holy, holy, holy,, throughout the Eucharistic prayer, until the Great Amen. That being said, the liturgical law of the Roman (Latin) rite is binding on all who belong to this rite unless an exception is granted as in the case cited above. Liturgical dancing is forbidden throughout the western Church -- including Canada. The Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, through its official publication Notitiae, has issued a number of clarifications regarding the reformed rites of the Church and their celebration. The interpretations and explanations which affect the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and which appeared in Notitiae between 1969 and 1981 are included below. The numbers at the beginning of each section refer to the respective sections of the General Instruction. Dance has never constituted an essential part in the official liturgy of the Latin Church. If local Churches have introduced the dance, at times even in the temples, this was on occasion of feasts in order to show feelings of jubilation and devotion. But the dance always took place outside the liturgical actions. Conciliar decisions have often condemned the religious dance, as not befitting worship, and also because it could degenerate into disorders . . . hence, it is not possible to introduce something of that sort in the liturgical celebration; it would mean bringing into the liturgy one of the most desacralized and desacralizing elements: and this would mean the same as introducing an atmosphere of profanity, which would easily suggest to those present worldly places and profane situations. [Notitiae (Instructions for Sacraments and Divine Worship) Vol. XI, (1975) pp. 202-205] I hope this helps. Yours in Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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