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Philippines: Bishop calls for unified policy on hand gestures at Mass during ‘Our Father’

Archbishop Jose Palma during the Feast of the Sto Niño. Photo from Archdiocese of Cebu Facebook page.

An archbishop in the Philippines aims to establish common hand postures during the Holy Mass, particularly when “Our Father” is being recited or sung.

According to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, there must be a unified church policy on proper liturgical gestures during Mass.

It must be noted that in the Philippines, the faithful practice several hand gestures depending on the customs and traditions of a particular place. They could raise their hands (akin to the priest’s “orans” position), remain in a praying position, or hold hands with the people next to them.

“It is helpful if we have a common stand with regard to certain practices,” Archbishop Palma said.

“I’d like to believe that would be reviewed and eventually a final recommendation will be made,” he added.

Archbishop Palma’s call for a unified guideline is in response to the different decrees released by various dioceses in the Philippines.

For instance, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes decreed against raising or holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer at Mass.

On the other hand, San Fernando Archbishop Florentino Lavarias allowed churchgoers to raise or hold hands during the same part of the Mass.

Archbishop Palma reminded the faithful that despite these differing liturgical and pastoral instructions, no one should ever forget the most important aspect of the Mass, the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. - Luke Godoy


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