Rock reported last night on one of the truly profound issues of our times. Apparently, lots of liturgical prelates and committees had been quizzed on this by folks disturbed at the thought that omitting the Sign of Peace might actually be–horrors!–a liturgical abuse.
And, elsewhere, the committee clarifies the place of the Kiss of Peace at Mass, apparently having received “received numerous questions concerning [its] omission” by priest-celebrants in the US.
“The Order of Mass makes clear that the invitation to exchange a sign of peace is given ‘if the occasion so suggests’ (ex opportunitate),” the response says. “The Priest may, for example, omit the sign of peace when an exchange of a sign of peace would be difficult in the light of the physical condition or arrangement of those present, or if it would present a health danger.”
At the same time, the clarification emphasizes that “the sign of peace should never be omitted due to the personal preferences of the Priest,” citing the General Instruction of the Roman Missal’s exhortation that “in planning the celebration of Mass, [the celebrant] should have in mind the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than his own inclinations.”
This strikes me as sensible in the best of the Roman way. The physical sign of peace is omitted if it’s a serious bother for the people. The finicky priest is to put up with it.