The Vatican has called for the faithful to be more restrained when offering the sign of peace during Mass, reports The Tablet.
The Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) has instructed to bishops to draw up new guidelines so that the gesture can be performed with more sobriety and less 'excess.' It advised bishops to find alternatives to the use of 'familiar' or 'worldly' greetings.
The CDW said it would 'offer some practical measures to better express the meaning of the sign of peace and to moderate excesses, which create confusion in the liturgical assembly just prior to Communion.'
It said priests should avoid leaving the altar to offer parishioners the sign of peace, and criticised those who moved from their place or offered congratulations or condolences during the sign of the peace at nuptial or requiem Masses.
'If the faithful do not understand and do not show, in their ritual gestures, the true significance of the rite of peace, they are weakened in the Christian concept of peace, and their fruitful participation in the Eucharist is negatively affected.'
The circular letter was signed by the Congregation’s Prefect, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, and its Secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche. Dated 8 June, it had been approved and confirmed the previous day by Pope Francis.