Tuesday, December 22, 1998

Catholic pastors can
allow hula as prayer

By Susan Kreifels


The Honolulu bishop informed Catholic pastors in the state yesterday that hula, or "cultural sacred gestures," would be allowed during Mass as long as they were expressing a form of prayer and not entertainment.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo sent out the two-page guideline to all parishes in the diocese, said diocese spokesman Patrick Downes. The directive goes in effect Jan. 3.

The guidelines came in response to a general ban on all dancing during services that was issued by the Vatican earlier this year. The directive did not name hula specifically.

Bishops are required to visit Rome every five years, and since this was DiLorenzo's scheduled year, he spoke to the Vatican Congregation for Sacred Worship, the office that sent out the original directive. That office told him that bishops had some leeway in incorporating "cultural expressions" into Mass but that they had to set guidelines, Downes said.

"Prayer would be praise, petition, thanksgiving, penitence. If these cultural sacred gestures express these things properly and respectfully, the bishop is allowing it in worship in his jurisdiction," Downes said.

"The bottom line is that the directive issued by the Vatican is still enforced. Dance as performance or entertainment is not permitted. Cultural expression and sacred gesture as prayer may be incorporated as the situation permits."

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