One-time pababile and CDWDS head Cardinal Arinze made the Catholic internet news outlets with a caution against liturgical dance. Well, to be fair, he said other things at the recent meeting of Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. One item:
Adoration manifests itself in such gestures in genuflection, deep bow, kneeling, prostration and silence in the presence of the Lord. Asian cultures have a deep sense of the sacred and transcendent. Reverence in Asia to civil authorities sometimes shows itself in clasped hands, kneeling, bows, prostration and walking away while facing a dignitary. It should not be too difficult to bring and elevate this cultural value to honour our Eucharistic Jesus. The fashion in some parts of the world of not installing kneelers in churches should not be copied by the Church in Asia.
Kneelers? You don’t need European kneelers to kneel. I know Asians reverence God in kneeling, but I don’t recall seeing prie-dieus depicted in Hindu or Buddhist spiritual places.
What grabs attention in these bits of Roman addresses in places like Manila are these Western or internet concerns: dancing, innovation, kneelers, shibboleths like that. But I wonder if this is the extent of the talks. Do these speakers ever offer bits of theological insight? Do they address the meaty pastoral issues facing bishops? Things like interfaith relations, secularism, economics, oppression, and such? If I were an Asian bishop travelling hundreds of possible thousands of miles for a conference, I’d sure want to get more than pablum on dancing and Saturday innovation. Wouldn’t you?