In July we mentioned a report about possible changes to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy. Among the changes mentioned was the sign of peace, which could be moved, it was said, from its present position to the time between the Prayer of the Faithful and the Offertory. In fact, Pope Benedict had already indicated in Sacramentum Caritatis that he would let the CDW study this possibility. We now have confirmation that this is actually happening, as we can see from the press briefing the President of the German Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, gave today after the conclusion of the Conference's Autumn plenary assembly (thanks to a reader for the tip). Here is my translation of the relevant passage (original here):
Question of the Moving of the Sign of Peace within Holy Mass
The Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has asked all national Bishops' Conferences to give their view on a possible moving of the sign of peace within Holy Mass. At present the faithful exchange the sign of peace before Communion. A move to the place between the prayer of the faithful and the preparartion of the gifts has been put forward for discussion. The plenary assembly deems a shifting not useful for theological, liturgical and pastoral reasons and recommends therefore to refrain from a shifting. Instead, efforts should be continued to safeguard a dignified form of the sign of peace in litrugical practice.
The combox discussion has so far largely focussed on the merits of the change proposed by the CDW, which is of course entirely legitimate. However, in my mind this should also be seen in a larger context, which is why I am repeating here something I originally posted as a comment below:
I understand, and to a large extent share, many of the arguments that have been advanced here against a change of postition of the sign of peace; although there certainly also are non-negligible reasons for it.
However, what I find significant in this, and what has not yet been discussed in this thread, is that we are talking about a definite change in the Ordo Missae of the Ordinary Form - the first real change since its introduction with the reforms of the late 1960s, if I am not mistaken. Irrespective of the merits of this particular change, it shows that we have now reached a stage in which the so-called "reforms of Vatican II" (and we all know that that is an unjustified claim) are no longer considered sacrosanct (pun intended), but actual changes are being considered, and not in a purely academic way, but intended for actual implementation. What this shows us - and in so far I think it could be quite momentous and not to be underestimated - is that an actual reform of the reform is now no longer an unaccomplishable dream, but actually possible.