Following rumours that a new Vatican instruction was going to ban altar girls, the Bishops of England issued a statement this week assuring Catholics that this is not going to happen. In a statement the bishops said: "Altar girls are to keep the backing of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments." They said that during a meeting with the Congregation they had discussed the much-leaked draft instruction concerning Eucharsitic abuses, requested by the Pope in the recent Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Afterwards, Bishops' Conference liturgy adviser Fr Allen Morris - in his summary of the meeting for the upcoming December edition of the Liturgy Newsletter - reported: "Because the text of the Instruction is not yet finalised, it is not possible to say for certain what it will contain. "However it is clear that bishops remain free to authorise the ministry of girl altar girls in their dioceses; that the encouragement to Communion under both kinds recently re-emphasised in GIRM [the General Instruction of the third revised edition of the Roman Missal] is not being withdrawn; and that liturgical dance or perhaps more accurately 'rhythmic movement' such as is indigenous to a local culture, most commonly in Asia or Africa, remains authorised." Fr Morris, who is Secretary of the Bishops' Conference's Department for Christian Life and Worship, added that his understanding from the meeting was that "the practice of interpolating dance and other 'entertainments' into the liturgy, in ways more common in Europe and North America, continues to be considered inappropriate." Bishop Mark Jabale, Chairman of the Department for Christian Life and Worship, said: "Cardinal Arinze stated that the reasons these issues were being addressed was because of particular situations in other countries where there were abuses. He said none of that was related to the Church in England and Wales." Reflecting on leaks to newspapers that altar girls might be banned by the Vatican, Bishop Jabale said: "It does nothing for the serenity of people in the Church for rumours to fly around. The stories unsettled people and caused an enormous number of letters to bishops. It was not helpful and, in the end, these things are not going to happen."
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