Saturday, December 19, 1998

to send Hawaii
rules on hula

Guidelines for pastors
will clarify a June order
banning hula in services

By Mary Adamski


Catholic pastors in Hawaii will receive guidelines next week on what is permissible in the way of "sacred gesture" during the celebration of the Mass.

The guidelines from the diocesan Office for Worship will reflect communication between Honolulu Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and the Vatican following a June order banning the hula in services.

"The guidelines are not hula-specific," said diocese spokesman Patrick Downes. He declined to give specifics, saying DiLorenzo wants the pastors to be the first to receive the information. The bishop met with diocesan staff about the matter yesterday.

The Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome imposed the ban in response to a complaint from a Hawaii Catholic about the use of hula during the worship service.

When DiLorenzo made a routine business trip to the Vatican in September, he met with officials in the department that issued the directive.

He told the Hawaii Catholic Herald that while the Congregation for Divine Worship asked the diocese to abide by current U.S. liturgical law banning dance, it did suggest avenues the diocese could pursue to allow the use of dance in church as a legitimate cultural expression of prayer and worship.

He said the congregation encouraged the Hawaii diocese to formulate guidelines.

What has come forth from the Vatican department since is "not an official pronouncement;l it's more advice on how to proceed," said Downes, editor of the Catholic Herald.

Hula and other forms of dance have been used here for years to express prayers, songs and scriptural lessons. A popular hymn, "Kanaka Wai Wai," taken from a Gospel story, is one that is sometimes enacted by dancers.

Downes said: "The primary objection was that it was too close to a performance for the sake of entertainment.

"People gather at Mass to pray and worship God through song, through recited prayer, through communal exchange of responses with the presider.

"Hula, as an expression within the Mass, has to either express praise, or petition, or thanksgiving, or another legitimate reason for prayer."

Although dance during Mass is not permitted in the United States and some other Western nations, it is allowed in Africa and other places where it is part of the culture.

"The bishop has said there are many cultures represented in Hawaii that have various forms of gesture and expression. Hula is an expressive form of communication, but it is also an entertainment," Downes said.

"Where dance or hula has been a problem is when it crossed the line and became something like a showpiece."

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