Bishop Roger Foys: Stop Holding Hands!

The Rituals of the Roman Catholic Church Call for Specific Words, Actions, and Gestures On The Part of the Priests and the Faithful.

Taken from

By Deacon Greg Kandra

Hot on the heels of the new Roman Missal translation, the Bishop of Covington, Roger J. Foys, has issued a decree clarifying the proper gestures and postures for Mass, according to rubrics laid out in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

As he notes:

The rituals of the Roman Church, of which we are a part, call for specific words to be used as well as particular actions and gestures, both on the part of the priest and the faithful who join their hearts with his in their worship of God. We are encouraged as the Mystical Body of Christ to continual, ongoing conversion in the faith and to strengthen that which is good and holy in our individual lives as well as our common life as Catholics and to root out that which is evil.

Among the points his decree makes:

Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.

And he notes:

The text of the Roman Missal be used exactly as it is written. As stated in the citation from the Second Vatican Council none of us has the authority to change the text for any reason.

a. This includes altering or changing any of the language contained in the liturgical books of the Church, not only the Roman Missal, but the Lectionary and other ritual books – the responses and prayers of the priest, and also those of the people.

b. Please note that only those texts approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States may be used.

c. Priests and deacons are restricted in their use of the Penitential Act – Form C, to those invocations found in the Order of Mass of the Roman Missal and those in Appendix VI.

Read all of Bishop Roger Foy’s Decree here.

Would you share with us your thoughts on holding hands during the Our Father?

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94 comments to Bishop Roger Foys: Stop Holding Hands!

  • Rita L. Woods

    Thank You Bishop Foys but it seems your article was given to us several years ago. Why has this topic not been discussed from the pulpit at least once a year so many many catholic people attending Holy Mass can hear for themselves what is proper and what isn’t. Attending Holy Mass once a week or daily each Catholic should know the proper way. How you hold your hands as you pray in private is up to you however, but when praying in public the Rubrics of the Catholic Church should be followed. Holy Mass is NOT a social event but our most Solemn Prayer. Lets all of us pray reverently, not socially.

  • Barbara

    Thank you Bishop Foys for saying what is correct. What is wrong in doing things the correct way. Please stop saying that you “took”communion. You “received” communion.

  • Richard W. Baker

    It’s about time someone has the guts to stand up and be heard on this issue. It’s distracting and it takes away the liturgy. That includes the music director also, the one who changes the most wordings in the psalm responses, please stop. Once again, thank you Bishop Foys. May God bless through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • Elpres

    All views are important and useful but to me whatever posture or no-posture at all at Mass does not matter. It is the heart, the soul, the mind, the conviction, the focus, the concentration matters

  • Paul

    Are you kidding me? What in the world is wrong with holding hands during the Our Father ? holding hands is just another gesture showing togetherness and unity and why wouldn’t the body of Christ wants to engage in unity ? how about for once the Catholic church invite positive gestures and inclusiveness instead of always exclusiveness and they wonder why people leave the church.

    • Stephen M Collins

      What’s “wrong” with it? It’s simply NOT what the Sacrifice of the Mass is all about, especially not just before approaching the Sanctuary to receive our Lord in Communion. It’s not a Catholic country club gathering. You can have all the silliness you want during coffee hour after your serious worship of God is completed.

    • Mary guardalabene

      People leave the church because it hasn’t catechized for the last 30 years, so most attending don’t know their religion.



    What a gift we have …. to just fold our hands in prayer and pray.

    To come for prayer, dressed appropriately to be in the presence of Our Lord and each other.

    To let the world pass and pray in thanksgiving for the gifts given to each of us his “LOVE AND FORGIVENESS”.

  • Thats what happens when Catholics go to Protestant churches. They bring customs that are not
    of Our faith. We catholics are united spirtually by the Holy Spirit and by the reception of Holy
    Communion. There is no need to hold hands. None catholics can only be united by holding hands. While we are holding hands and socialize with each other we ignore the fact that Jesus is present on the altar ! I think this is an abuse of His presence. The Bishop is right to point out that annoying fact to us.

  • Dale

    The greatest sign of unity in the Mass happens when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, NOT when we hold hands during the Our Father. We are diminishing the unitive aspect of the Eucharist with this silly hand holding. A priest once told the congregation how silly it looks from the altar to see the people holding hands, stretching across the isle to do so.

    • We aren’t discussing which sign of unity is the greatest during the mass. They are discussing holding hands during mass during the Our Father. Of course, the holy communion is great unity, but that’s not the point here. The priest who told you that it looks silly…oh I’d love to see him tell JESUS that !!!! That holding hands in REVERENCE and UNITY with the FATHER is silly….lol That priest has a lot to learn about PRAISE, UNITY AND WORSHIP. The Catholic Charismatics can teach the traditional Catholics a LOT. Those who are afraid of change are showing their true colors here. Sorry to say, but sounds like a “closed mind” to me.

      • Lisa

        I am a charismatic Catholic and I embrace the reverence of the prayer posture (standing with hands folded), kneeling during the consecration and hands upraised during praise singing. There is a place for everything and the rubrics tell us what is appropriate. Obedience is something a traditional Catholic can teach you!

    • Stephen M Collins

      And he wouldn’t have to witness that silliness if he was facing liturgical east – ad orientem – addressing his priestly prayers to God the Father, NOT to us.

  • dee

    I was told by a Priest that to hold your hands out a little bit during the Our Father is a very, very old way of praying.

  • Bishop Foy is right on target, somehow our mass seems to be a social event first & spiritual second, as demonstrated in body language, dress for church, clapping for the choir, and clapping for laity announcements at mass. Really, is that necessary?
    Some of the “songs” (have to call them songs as they do not strike me as hymns)tend to become more like performing artists. Some of that “guitar music” is a bit much. (when do I start to dance?) At one Catholic church one lady actually did step out into the aisle to shake her hips & do her shake). Lets keep the Catholic mass as a very personal and spiritual union with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. No need to redo His teachings and work. Thanks Frank -Dec.29/13for your comments, very well explained.

    • Sorry, but I beg to differ. With all due respect to Bishop Foy as a servant of God, he seems to be too stuck on “rules” rather than helping the people get closer to Jesus as a “true community” by a simple thing like holding hands during the Our Father. Really??? With all of the things going on in this world, he is zeroing in on something that brings people closer together with the Father? Have you ever attended a Catholic Charismatic mass even once? We ARE Catholic. We express our faith way more than the quiet traditional Catholics who sit in the pew, get up, kneel down, go up the aisle for communion….on and on…just like going through the motions. Catholic Charismatics actually PARTICIPATE in the mass far more than the traditionals. We SING, we PRAISE, we CLAP, we WORSHIP JESUS, we actually ENJOY going to mass. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…unless you are afraid of change, that is. Just because it’s different from what you’re used to, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s a happy occasion to go to a Catholic Charismatic mass. You should try it. Amen!!

      • Paul

        Bee, i couldnt agree with you more ! thanks for the wonderful comment.

      • Lisa

        It doesn’t bring people closer, it takes people away from what is really important ~ Jesus on the altar

      • ChrisC

        If you really wanted to see what being close to the Lord Jesus Christmas meant and felt like you would have to have been initiated into the Church before Vatican I I or attend one of the many church that use the Latin Rite. I fell in love with the Church in 1958 by going to Mass with a Catholic friend, prior to which I was a floundering protestant!

  • Adam

    It is interesting that we are taking away the manner in which people want to express themselves in prayer and reverence. You cannot kneel before the host in communion where we used to be able to and some priests have a problem with those who do it now. You now bow your head in reverence upon meeting the lord in the blessed sacrament, you no longer kneel on one knee. You take communion in your hands and not on your tongue. Now we should not extend our hand during the our father, nor should we hold hands or even share a sign of peace. Do you all think that Jesus would be offended at such gestures? I think he would be delighted to see his people in communion. As for raising my arms in prayer, each of us prays in our our way, as long as it is not offensive nor disrespectful. In the days of old, they prayed with arms raised to the heavens. The two hands clasped together came from a salutation to the kings with the bowing of the head at the same time. So does that mean I cannot bow my head as well because it is a pagan gesture? Regarding the sign of peace, isn’t it great that we can offer peace before we receive our Lord in the most perfect form? “Leave your gift at the alter and go make peace with your brother”. I think we need to pay more attention to the rituals of the mass, the proper way to read the scriptures, work on a great homily, and making the place of worship more conducive to prayer. Allow people to express themselves with the appropriate gestures according to their faith and personal relationship with God. If you don’t wish to raise your hands, don’t. If you don’t wish to offer a sign of peace, don’t, if you don’t want to hand your bother’s hands, don’t. Let us be a community of blessed people, respecting the differences but not limit them in their desire to praise.

    • Rey

      Adam, out of all the comments I read, yours covered everything perfectly, aside from following the kneeling, standing and kneeling during the consecration I see no other valid objections such as whether I should raise my hands or not when praying the Our Father, we see people doing all sorts of things or not reverent at all during mass and no one says anything not even the priest but it becomes an issue now if you extend or raise your hands during the Our Father or if you kneel before receiving communion. Well done Adam, though I am left with one simple question after reading this article : Why NOT ?… a gesture of reverence, respect, humility to the most High does not go against any Church ritual during mass.

    • Paul

      wonderful comment Adam, couldn’t agree with you more brother !

  • Jovita Couty

    Thank you Father! Since I started to go to Tridentium mass on Sundays, I join my hands when I say the Our Father! Thank you again!

  • Daria Sockey

    Another point against hand holding during the Our Father. The mass already has a place where we are supposed to reach out and clasp the hand of our neighbors. It’s called the Sign of Peace, and it follows right after the Our Father. If people have already been standing with their hands joined during the OF, to my mind this kind of detracts from, or diminishes the Sign of Peace.

  • Martina

    Thank you Bishop Foy, love reading this.

  • lou

    Perhaps the bishop could better spend his time… and ours… by condemning the legalization of gay marriage, the selling of aborted baby parts, and/or a host of actually relevant issues that impact eternal salvation.

  • Cheryl

    I agree. My husband and I focus on Christ, not on each other or others around us right before the Agnus Dei ‘Lamb of God’ because He is the reason we come to church. The shaking of hands was a protestant adaptation to the mass to draw our hearts away from Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary. We have never felt right about taking our thoughts off of Christ to the talking and kissing around us. It is quite disturbing and I don’t believe God wants us to be doing all that raucus at the most important part of the mass. We save the hugs and talking ‘way after mass’. Putting God first allows us to give more of Christ to others by first soaking in His Holy presence.

  • sharon pello

    We have longed for this instruction [to stop hand holding hands during the “Our Father”, and the sign of Peace ].. are both are very disruptive..we should be focusing on “Jesus” only and not on each other…It disturbs the whole reverance of the Mass. If we need to fellowship …then it should be done outside the church before or after Mass…we need to be worshiping not fellowshiping.. Christ ask us to spend one hour with him and it seems we still can’t do that without all this other unnsecessary action going on!
    The Bishop is right and we should be obedient!!!

  • Kullikoff

    I never hold hands when I am forced to attend Novus Ordo services. I prefer the TLM and its reverence and focus on God and Christ’s Real Presence on the altar, instead of focus on the congregation. I don’t participate in any of the Protestant practices that have found themselves at home in the Novus Ordo. And as an aside, who told people it was ok to talk in church? It used to be only at the beginning, then it was during the singing, then it was during any quiet moment during the service, now it’s even during the priest’s homily. The worst offenders are, of all people, the old ladies in the congregation who should know better!

  • I am glad the bishop clarified this in terms of the nature of liturgical gestures. The hand-holding seems to me an import from non-liturgical Protestant communities, where it serves a real purpose: expressing the unity of the individual believers gathered for prayer. That in itself is fine for Catholics–outside of Mass. In the Mass (or in any liturgical assembly), though, we are not a collection of individuals. We really are the Body of Christ, composed of many members. The unity of this body is expressed through the distinct roles carried out by the various liturgical ministers (one reason the lector should not also be the cantor or altar server). Importing the hand-holding into the liturgy is like suddenly speaking in a foreign language; it may even even be expressing a non-Catholic understanding about the nature of the Church! . Liturgy has its own language. How can we become more adept in it ourselves?

  • Mary Defoe

    I am no theologian but I see nothing wrong with holding hands with others celebrating our common joy of lifting our hearts up to the Father during mass. What I personally dislike is having so much music and singing going on as I am trying to communicate in a personal way with the body and blood of Christ during communion.

  • Back on September 22, 2008, I wrote an article at that clearly mentioned the Vatican’s condemnation of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. The Liberal members of the Church have ignored the instructions of the Vatican.

  • ThankYouSt.Jude

    It’s so difficult to focus on the deep meaning of the “Our Father” prayer with the aggressive hand grabbing that some do in an attempt to be a friendly community. As a recent convert, I was so relieved to learn that I didn’t have to be charismatic to be Roman Catholic . . . that it’s acceptable to approach the Sacraments, Mass, and the Church reverently and quietly because it’s Our Heavenly Father’s House of Prayer.

    Perhaps if we focus more on Our Eucharistic Lord’s Presence as an act of faith and less on ourselves, whether individually or as a specific parish, Our Lord Himself will unite our hearts in worship.

    Thank you Bishop Foy and all the courageous bishops and priests for shepherding us in these difficult times.

  • Mary Ann Chase

    I’m a convert, 1972….during all the wild changes which confused me. I was lucky to have relatives who were good conservative Catholics but the Rel Ed at our Parish went thru a very difficult time….no confession before 1st Communion,children receiving with their family first and then, sometimes, a group Communion at another date. It was nice to emphasize family but the True Presence got lost. And, of course, holding hands, hugging etc at the Our Father… was almost a joke. Much was from Charismatic renewal and Marriage Encounter which we were a part of for many years. It wasn’t bad but M.E. did let the True meaning of the Mass become a social hour. We still have some who hold hands and raise them, but it has been greatly reduced by our conservative Pastor yet I will not refuse the hand of a grandchild to hold but not raise up. Then if they go to a different Parish, practices may be different. We have 2 out of 5 kids that are practicing Catholics and those parents are trying their best to be rightly Catholic but even Catholic schools fail. The teaching has improved but damage was already done. One thing, tho….if raising or extending hands like the priest is wrong, then why do we allow the signing of our head, mouth and heart before the Gospel as the priest does. We have the old Latin Mass every Wed eve and the booklet seems to indicate that it’s just the priest who does it as he’s the one declaring the Gospel. I appreciate that Mass but also like the Norvus Ordo with more bible IF there’s a good homily that explains it which our Pastor and Deacons do. They all emphasize that Christ is saying and made present at the Mass. It is the churche’s duty to teach us rightly and not let personal opinions be the norm. If not led properly, we might as well be Protestant where our own opinions decide things.

  • Patricia Walsh

    Obviously since the Church got into the business of becoming so very contemporary by trying to assuage “likes” and “dislikes”, it has lost its grounding in a rational basis for liturgical actions taken by the laity. Now everyone is confused – no one has a clue other than “I like this” and “I don’t like this” – what a mess. Yes, long live modernity! 😉

  • marc

    Holding hands hands outstretched communion in hand. Im ROMAN CATHOLIC not protestant. Ive had enough i really have our religion is being destroyed, you only have to look at these Anglican Ordinariates who in the uk are allowed to hold mass and add readings from anglican mass while doing Catholic mass its crazy. Thank God for SSPX and others i go Latin mass on Sundays which is beautiful..

    • Raven

      to marc —Don’t knock the Anglican Ordinariate Mass, which is far more reverent than most Novus Ordo, until you’ve attended one.
      Historically, (I generalize for brevity’s sake) the Book of Common Prayer was simply an English translation of the Latin Sarum rite which was how Catholics worshiped before the Reformation, but with the “Catholic bits” taken out (like praying for the Pope, etc) .It was the cultural patrimony of every person who speaks English.

      With the return of groups of Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope guided by the Holy Spirit founded the Anglican Ordinariate to restore to the Universal Church the cultural patrimony of The Book of Common Prayer and its order of Eucharist BUT WITH THE CATHOLIC BITS RESTORED. These “Anglican Readings” are merely the English form of pre-reformation English Catholic Mass, and an important mystical step in undoing the tragedy of the English reformation. The Holy Spirit is “doing a new thing” in the Anglican Ordinariate, for all sorts of fallen-away Catholics seem drawn to it to return to the Church. Certainly the reverence of iturgy in formal language in is a refreshing antidote to “casual” novus ordo Masses with banal music. And the theological and challenging moral quality of Anglican Ordinariate sermons– which speak to us to about prayer, culture wars, sin, and sacrifice is of an order which sadly the Novus Ordo priests with their nice “BBC thought for the day” sermons can’t approach.

      The Anglican Ordinariate may well prove to be the “Second Spring” prophesied by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman which will restore England– and the English speaking world — to the true faith. Wait and see.

  • Mishka

    Bravo, Bishop Foys!

  • Alphonsus Jr.

    Lots of Roman Protestants here. Search the net for this essay:

    Roman Protestants by Fr. Wrighton

  • Jolene

    I believe our Lord is much more concerned with what is in our heart and how we treat our fellow man than how we hold my hands or where our fingers point when we pray.

    • Linda Smith

      I agree with lou above. I believe there are a lot more serious things going on right now to be concerned about other
      than ‘holding hands’ during the Lords’ Prayer.

  • Michael

    Sounds to me like what Pope Francis wrote about in Evangelii Gaudium that he does not want the Church “being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures . . within rules which make us harsh judges” or is he a “rogue bishop” to be ignored if the Catholic Jihad disagrees?

  • Francis

    This sentimental hand holding thing does not belong at the foot of Calvary where the Son of God is being sacrificed to His Father for us. Stillness, awe and reverence – indeed, trembling – are in order. To those that like to mimic the priest (priest envy?) by adopting the orans position (which is prescribed by the rubrics for the priest alone) during the Our Father, I ask: Do you do this at home when you pray the Our Father, say, for example, during the Rosary? So why at Church, during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Why the two differing norms? Who are you trying to impress? God, others or yourself? Since when has it become the role of the laity to design the Church’s liturgy? What other actions, postures, gestures and the like do we want to arbitrarily introduce in our communal worship – just because one or more of us in the congregation imagine it is meaningful or nice or holy or whatever? Of course, many of the clergy are themselves to blame for this anarchy, playing loose with the rubrics themselves – off the top of my head I could name a dozen silly and shallow practices which some priest or other decided would add to the “theatrics” of the Mass. These priests and their laity have forgotten that it is Christ Himself Who is offering the Mass, the eternal oblation of Himself to His Father for the atonement of our sins, and that our role in the proceedings is – rightly – very limited indeed. “I must decrease, that Christ may increase.” We sinners have nothing to offer to God except our thanks and contrite hearts. Almost all else is tomfoolery or distorted piety. Good on Bishop Foy. We need many more like him. And a lot less of arrogant Catholics (priests included) daring to publicly criticize a bishop of the Church for doing the right thing. Do these priests not understand that every Mass they celebrate, they do only on the bishop’s behalf?

    • Beth Smith

      Approximately 15-20 years ago hand holding during the Our Father was ordered stopped by the USCCB. An older sister in our congregation refused to left it be dropped. It really bothers me that a person can make changes that are not theirs to change. Some may call this issue small, but that is how things are accepted. For instance, let the teenagers come to mass dressed how ever they want, at least they are at mass. No they are not! They dress appropriately to go to sporting events for schools. I’m tired of short dresses, short shorts, t-shirts with inappropriate sayings, pants so low we all can see their underwear, and cleavages showing. The priest in Kingman, AZ published the dress code posted at the court house. Most parishioners complied. It takes small steps to make changes. That’s how all this evil stuff infiltrated our mass. We must take it back! I support Bishop Foys.

  • Sonia

    Thank God for Bishop Foy. This is a good thing that he is speaking up about this, Our Church has been slowly crumbling throughout the years that I no longer recognize her as Catholic. Why aren’t more Bishops in line with Bishop Foy? Why aren’t they speaking up about all the liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo? What saddens me deeply is that most Catholics, especially clergy, are blind to all of this and are completely okay with it all. God help us!

  • Larry

    If I were in this bishop’s diocese, his decree would be fine with me. Honestly though, none of these issues are points of consternation for me. Although I have my preferences (fairly traditional), unless it would directly conflict with the GIRM, I will accept whatever my bishop says and follow it faithfully. It is not my place to do otherwise.

  • Pam

    I am a convert to The Church. I cringe with the “peace be with you” Extending arms during Our Father was what my Priest in NC told us to do. Also, I am appalled with the “any visitors, birthdays, etc” at end of Mass

    • Sharon

      I’m not a convert and I cringe with you on all those items. Not to mention, I appreciate that we have a priest but the altar is NOT a stage, he loves to be clapped for and he loves to clap.. it is so annoying. They clap for the people giving messages, they clap for the choir, they clap for every little thing.. it’s stupid.

  • Evan Johnstone

    It is cringe-worthy to me too but now widely practised in a host of denominations and parishes.

    I still cringe at use of Overhead Projectors and Data Shows in church services of any kind. Ditto electric guitars, drum kits …

    God, I am conservative just like [email protected]

  • Toni

    Sally I totally agree with you. There is no reverence anymore. We are trying to teach the little ones in our family the way we were brought up. Its very hard to do when others aren’t teaching theirs. We tell the children our family what not to do and what we are supposed to do. I wished people would wake up. We are not protestant, we are Roman Catholic. Sometimes I feel people(not everyone) are trying to make our church more towards protestant. I don’t believe in talking bad about any other religion, but look what we have right in front of us, and some people want to just throw it away. God Bless.

  • Steve

    Are you kidding me? Let go of all this and spend some of this energy your wasting on finding ways to bring others to Christ. Ugh!

  • Joseph

    What bishop Roger Foyes says is an exaggeration

  • Mary

    I agree with this priest completely. Also, no Communion in the hand, kneel when receiving Our Lord in reverence and move the peace sign perhaps to the beginning or end of the Mass. We need more courageous priests!!!

  • Daniel

    I am very grateful that a Tridentine Mass is offered every Sunday nearby. Much of this post-Vatican II confusion is avoided.

  • PAL

    Holding hands is a Prod thing, not a Catholic thing.

  • tg

    In my parish, no one holds hands other than some families. Most extend their hands out like the priest. It used to really get on my nerves but I ignore it now and offer it up. I just fold my hands in prayer and bow my head. The deacon also folds his hands in prayer. I wish people would notice that if the deacon doesn’t extend his hands, they shouldn’t either. I agree with Nancy that the sign of peace should be at another point in the Mass. I think it should be near the end of the Mass, before the blessing.

  • Jayne

    Hang on folks, this could be reversed. Bishop Olmsted reversed his position on Holy Communion. From the Arizona Republic: Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix has backed away from his ban on using consecrated wine for Communion at most Masses, a decision that was originally met with widespread outcry.

    In an explanation of his decision in a letter to the priests of the diocese, Olmsted apologized for his own misunderstanding of church documents, including new guidelines and translations for the Catholic Mass, and for any confusion arising from his previous statement made at a priests’ meeting in September.

    Read more:

  • Joe P.

    What do you mean, you don’t know what to do with your hands at the Our Father if you don’t extend them or hold someone else’s hand? How about simply fold your hands in prayer? That’s what Christians have done for thousands of years.

  • Bill

    A noted Catholic sociologist once wrote: “…..I believe the present leadership in the church to be morally, intellectually, and religiously bankrupt”

    • Bill Hoogsteden

      Source please.
      I would tend to bet the “Catholic” sociologist is morally, intellectually, and religiously bankrupt.

      • Patricia Gallagher

        This is a much belated reply, but important.

        Bill, perhaps you have learned this since you posted here in December 2013: It is unfortunate that the “Spirit of Vatican II” that has seized and held the imagination of the Catholic Church, especially with regard to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is Evil itself. Pope Paul VI said as much: “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church.”

        Virgilio Cdl. Noè, “Master of Liturgical Ceremonies during the Pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, once the Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter and Vicar of the Pope for Vatican City,” was interviewed by Bruno Volpe. At the time, he confirmed, “When Paul VI denounced the smoke of Satan in the Church, he was referring to liturgical abuses following Vatican II.”

        You can read Fr. Z’s Blog post for May 15, 2008, which cites Volpe’s interview with Cdl. Noè at

  • Nette

    When I was into the occult and the new age movement some thirty years ago, my friend-occultist told me never to let anyone touch me at the top of my head, and never to accept a handshake ( or never to let anyone touch me at all). These two prohibitions for one important reason: the other person can transfer negative powers, hexes, spells, etc. Following this logic, if the person is possessed (as in many charismatic events where demons seem to attracted), some evil spirits in the possessed person can be transferred to you through touch. Sans paranoia, I’d like to ask, how can I be sure that in the long line of people holding hands, there is no one who is possessed? I don’t see anyone going to confession on Sunday Masses since there are no Confessions on Sunday (make an appointment on other days if you want to say your Confession), but there are so many people receiving Communion! In practice, at Mass I keep my hands together before my heart. I believe that when we keep our hands palms together next to the heart, we become more attuned to the Holy Spirit who dwells, speaks and listens to us in our hearts. (The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the heart Its tabernacle.) I also bow my head and close my eyes so as not to be distracted, but raise my head and open my eyes anytime I want. One important point, the holding hands is not a good reason to signify the unity of everyone at Mass. All living Catholics are called the Church Militant, truly united with the Church Suffering (Purgatory souls) and the Church Triumphant (those already in heaven). The outward sign of holding hands is a foolish substitute to true faith – knowing and believing in the unity of all Catholics, near or far, dead or alive, united by and in Jesus Christ.

    • Widdershins

      Nette, talk to your parish priest or consult church documents on possession. There has to be an act of invitation, first. Possession CANNOT happen by touching someone who is possessed. As Christians, an active Christian life with frequent reception of the sacraments protects us from evil. It is folly to think that the evil one is so powerful that he can possess the faithful without permission.

      • Marie

        Widdeshins, what Nette said is true. I think you need to read more on the topic or talk to an exorcist priest. While possession is rare, demonic influences and negative spirits abound and can be transferred from one person to another. This is also why the laying of hands on people is also dangerous. One has to be holy and live a holy life in order to have a very strong faith; being prayerful and offering sacrifices. Unfortunately, many people, including Catholics – are just mainstream, cafeteria Catholics, lukewarm, per se. If you think that evil can only come with permission from the person, you are being deceived. One can open portals without being aware of it.

  • Bill

    Some of you folks must have a great cross to bear, having a lock on absolute truth.

  • S Bagley

    So, “No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.”

    I confess that, until I read this article, I didn’t know that the accepted rule for interpreting the words of the Roman Missal is that, unless the laity is explicitly directed to engage in some particular form of expression of devotion for our Lord or respect for our fellow congregants, then we are not permitted to engage in any such activity until we receive our next explicit advisory in the missal as to the form of our next outward physical movement in worship should be.

    I’m not sure whether Bishop Foys has been uniquely empowered to reach this bold and definitive conclusion through some divinely granted personal revelation to him, a scholarly analysis of tradition or, perhaps more likely, knowledge of some specific and well-established rule of interpretation in the rubrics unknown to most of us that have not had the benefit of his training in the Magisterium and canon law.

    It sure would give many of us more confidence to share with others throughout the country the contents of the directive of the Bishop of Covington on what to do, and what not to do, with our hands if he were to share with us the basis for his ruling and to share with us how many other Bishops, theologians, and canon lawyers with whom he consulted in reaching this important decision on what the laity, in at least a small part of Kentucky, should be doing during the mass that the editors of the Roman Missal neglected to specify.

    • JAndrion

      Totally agree with you!!!

    • JPatterson

      Amen! Thank You!

    • Rick Howard

      In the Evansville Indiana Diocese it was common practice to hold hands during the Our Father, about 10 years ago our then bishop said at the chrism mass one year that this gives a negative look in that we are excluding people and he suggested that we raise our hands like the clergy as a sign of respect. What I am seeing here though reminds me of what Jesus said about the Jewish leadership of the time, paying so much attention to what is written that you miss the point.

    • HereToday

      Seems like you must personally approve of your spiritual leaders’ instructions before you will obey them? This attitude runs dangerously close to the edge of rebellion. What if the minutia involved in the Bishop’s decision does NOT meet with your approval? Would you, then, go through his remaining instructions and toss out or revise them? The bishop is the top authority in his diocese, although he remains very human in many of his decisions. Be very careful of challenging his authority by challenging his instructions to the souls in his charge.

      If the externals connected with public worship were not controlled, then it would open game for any two or more people to bring in any invention of theirs that they thought would be a good idea or a nice thing to do, or add to the touchy-feely atmosphere. In our church we already have a deacon who gives a Public Service Announcement (PSAs) before the hand shaking business and an organist who gives instrumental solos (forbidden by Rome) during Holy Communion distribution. In San Antonio we heard an organist play gentle, soothing solo music during the middle of the Mass. The parish priest’s justification? It is “mood” music. I’ve heard the same thing in piano bars.

      It is good to remain a thinking person but to look for reasons to obey (even without understanding) rather than looking for reasons to not obey. Above all, avoid developing a “private” theology.

      May God find a way to get all of us into Heaven.

  • jeremyschwager

    This is a bold move, but much needed! Holding hands has become thoroughly institutionalized by now. I rarely go to a Mass where most of the people aren’t holding hands. I really hope other bishops follow Bishop Foy’s suit and make similar statements. But it is going to be a difficult sell to many priests and laity as they have been doing it for decades. Hand holding has never been an element of Catholic prayer or liturgy. I won’t hold hands at Mass, though I know people are annoyed at this sometimes. But I don’t really want to participate in a liturgical abuse.

  • James Lehar

    Jayne, If you study the message of Fatima you will see the bishop is far smarter than you and is little by little trying to accomplish what the Blessed Mother has warned against, altering the faith as taught by Jesus. Here is a start, they have much more to check out.

  • Nancy Rice

    I refuse to hold hands I keep them palms together and close to my body with my eyes closed. One thing I discovered is that if you smile while you are praying aloud, the words come out in a totally different and meaningful way. Try it! Also, I think the sign of peace should be moved to an earlier part of Holy Mass. As it is now, we have the God of the Universe present on the altar, and here we are focusing not on this holy and mystical Presence, but in addressing the people around us and it is disruptive and irreverent!

    • Fr. Jack

      God forbid you would actually be offering your hand to Christ standing right beside you. Lot of Pharisees on this site. I’m surprised. Guess they are unaware that there’ say new shepherd in town.

      • Bill Hoogsteden


        I was at a relative’s funeral folding my hands during the Our Father and this “lady” next to me GRABS my hand and would not let go! I was almost in a fight to get her to let go of my hand! I can’t imagine the Lord being happy at that!!

        I think you may need to be checking you eye for a beam…

      • Stephen

        Wow, a bit judgemental! I personally prefer to direct my thoughts on praying as Jesus taught us, with my focus on the Father. Holding hands disturbs that focus. If some insist on hand-holding, so be it, but I agree that it should be discouraged. Definitely, it should never be instructed as “our parish tradition” as I’ve experienced in my own faith community. A pastor is abusing his authority in doing so.

  • Patricia Walsh

    Thank God for Bishops such as Bishop Foys, who is an extremely intelligent man! Mass is the continuation of Christ’s Sacrifice and Death on the Cross for our salvation. We are worshiping God and continuing Christ’s sacrifice as we offer Mass to the Father. By following the actual mandates from the Church regarding Mass, the people of God will once again come to understand what is going on at Mass. His letter calls for adherence to the protocols of Vatican II (which BTW in the USA were not followed). The 50 year period of liturgy according to your fancy at the moment has coincided with 50-70% of Catholics no longer believing in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, severe drops in attendance at Sunday mass, laity believing that they can do whatever they want regarding birth control, etc. I pray that with a renewal of the liturgy to the solemnity that is proper to it, so too will laity become again faithful to the actual teachings of the Church.

  • raymondscheel

    The only reason the habit ever took root was because of a significant number of rouge bishops who did specify holding hands during the Our Father even at parishes where that was not common practice. It is going to take some time to wean folks off of the habit now that it has been introduced by someone who the laity would think had the authority to approve or stipulate the practice.

  • TrueCatholic

    Jayne, On the contrary, he shows his intelligence by recognizing and promoting the Sacred Liturgy and the norms that help keep it sacred. And he has the backbone to stand up for it, another sign of his learning. And Vince, very good response.

  • Cathy Huppert

    I attend a Parish where this is never part of Mass. Reverence is key…we are not there for entertainment or a coffee clatch (you can hold hands and greet your fellow parishioners outside before or after Mass!!)…If I am visiting a Parish that does these things, I keep my hands folded, and my head down and PRAY…

  • James Lehat

    I forgot to mention, TO STOP THIS SACRILEGIOUS RECEIVING IN THE HAND STANDING, START RECEIVING ON THE TONGUE WHILE KNEELING AND REMEMBER, “Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord… For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 11:27,28

    Please help remove the sorrows and pain our Lord suffers due to altering the liturgy of HIS MASS

    James Lehar.

  • Vince

    John, how is the use of extra ordinary ministers wrong? The abuse of them is wrong, of course, but that’s a separate issue.

    Jayne, gestures (as well as words) mean things. The “Our Father” is supposed to focus our attention on our Father, not on our neighbor. The proper time for that immediately follows at the sign of peace. Perhaps it is not incorrect to say that this symbolizes “God first, neighbor second”, which corresponds to the order of the twin commandments given by the Lord.

  • john

    When praying we are to emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary..hands close to the breast folded..head down eyes to the ground in humility.Remember we are sinful creatures in the presence of the Most Holy Creator.

  • john

    Good for the can we please end the abuse of the Eucharist and get rid of the extra ordinary ministers of Holy Communion?

  • Sally

    Holding hands at the Our Father and shaking hands at the peace sign is not part of the Mass and we have refused to do it for quite some time. Thank you for this article. I am sick of the non-reverence at Mass with everyone looking around etc. and we go to daily Mass.

  • Nancy

    Evelyn, When I was a child I was taught to hold my hands close to my body in front of me, in prayer, with palms together and finger tips pointing to heaven.

    Wishing you many blessings

  • JMJ

    I agree with Lisa that it’s about time that somebody spoke about this. However, it is not enough that this matter is discussed in this type of venue. The Bishop(s) should make this clarification at the pulpit for every faithful to know and understand what the Church teaches and to settle this issue once and for all.

  • Evelyn

    Well we are not to extend our hands or hold hands but there is no instruction of what we are to do with out hands just what we are not to do.Actually the list of what not to do can be extended unlimitlessly and we still would not know what the proper gesture is. That specific information would be helpful.

  • Dave

    The Bishop is right on the mark… the Divine Liturgy is not a 60’s love-in!

  • Lisa

    About time somebody spoke up.

  • Jayne

    This may be one of the silliest things I have ever seen. Bishop Foy does not appear to be a smart person.

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