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Australian Church official dismisses liturgical 'kite-flying'

Claims that the Pope plans to ban altar girls and clapping in church are utterly specious, according to the Australian church's top liturgical authority.

Fr Peter Williams of the National Liturgical Commission told The Age that the Italian Catholic magazine that claimed Pope John Paul plans 37 liturgical edicts within a year was simple "kite-flying".

"If a document with such provisions were in fact around I would certainly have a copy of it," he said.

The claims flashed around the world on the Internet and in Catholic news services yesterday after an Italian Catholic magazine claimed that Pope John Paul planned 37 edicts within a year.

They included banning clapping and dancing in services, and quoting from texts other than the Bible in sermons.

One Vatican "insider" told Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper that the article contained "idiocies so mad as to incite fear".

Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and former prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, said the draft was discussed by members of the doctrinal congregation and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in June.

"The document which will be released eventually will not be the same document I saw," he said, because it was sent back for revision.

In London, The Guardian says "instruction" was reportedly tabled in June and came in for stiff criticism at a meeting of the two departments. A final version is due to be published this year.

The paper describes the document as the Vatican's response to "many clerics [who] had complained that liberalisation and experiment in recent decades had left them not knowing what was allowed."

The Age
Catholic News Service
The Guardian

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference: National Liturgical Commission
Achille Cardinal Silvestrini (
New document on Eucharist delayed by debates within Vatican (Catholic World News)
Vatican reportedly split over altar girls, dancing (AP)
Vatican May Limit Girls' Role in Mass (Washington Post)
Magazine says Vatican set to ban altar girls (24/9/03)
Jesus Magazine
Vatican split over wine and girls (Irish Examiner)
No Clapping, Dancing at Mass, Vatican to Warn (Reuters)
Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia of His Holiness Pope John Paul II (full text, Vatican website)
Australian bishops welcome Papal Encyclical on Eucharist (22/4/03)
Encyclical reflects pope's own eucharistic devotion, bishop says (Catholic News Service)
Vatican says Bishops cannot require priests to use altar girls (4/1/02)

25 Sep 2003