From Earth Times:

Mon, 25 Feb 2008 11:48:03 GMT

Rome – The Vatican is poised to introduce stricter norms on Roman Catholic mass, including halting the taking of communion in the hand and setting a time limit for homilies, an Italian newspaper reported Monday. Turin-based daily La Stampa quoted senior Vatican official, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don saying the move was necessary to eliminate “extravagancies” that have crept into Mass celebrations.

Provisions include restricting to 10 minutes homilies and sermons and ensuring that they be exclusively based on the Gospel readings, said Ranjith who is Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

The practice of allowing the faithful to receive Communion – the bread host which Catholics believe represents the body of Christ – in their hands would also be “urgently reviewed”, Ranjith was quoted as saying.

The Vatican wants the host “placed directly into the mouths of the faithful so they don’t touch it (with their hands)… because many don’t even realize they are receiving Christ and do this with scant concentration and respect,” Ranjith said.

The distribution of communion on the hands of those attending mass has been widespread since the so-called Vatican II Council – a series of reforms introduced in the 1960s aimed at making church celebrations more accessible to the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics.

But according to Ranjith the practice was “illegally and hastily introduced by certain elements of the Church immediately after the Council”.

“Some people keep hosts with them as a sort of souvenir, others sell them while in some cases the hosts have been taken away to be used in blasphemous Satanic rituals,” he said.

Ranjith said the measures to bring back “dignity and decorum” to mass celebrations were in line with Pope Benedict XVI’s wishes, but he did not specify when they would be introduced, nor if they would be issues as an order or a set of guidelines.

Benedict, who earned a reputation as a conservative before being elected pontiff in 2005, last year eased restrictions introduced by Vatican II on the celebration of the traditional Latin mass.

The move which has included softening a prayer for the conversion of Jews contained in the Latin liturgical text, has drawn criticism from Jewish groups who resent what they say remains a singling out of members of their faith.

Meanwhile hard-line traditionalist Catholics have expressed anger over what they say is Benedict’s tampering of the original Latin mass which they regard as sacred.

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