A cautionary tale for bishops who permit liturgical dance

My friend Fr. Blake, the great P.P. of St. Mary Magdalene in Brighton, gets a tip of the biretta for this    o{]:¬)

From ICN:

Card. WakoSudan: assassination attempt on Cardinal

An assassination attempt on Cardinal Zubeir Wako, the Catholic Archbishop of Khartoum took place on Sunday. The attack happened as the Cardinal was leading the Eucharistic celebration at the Comboni Playground in Khartoum.

A suspect, who was identified as Hamdan Mohamed Abdurrahman,  infiltrated the congregation and joined the liturgical dancers in front of the altar. He made his way to the front of the group and held up a dagger within four steps of Cardinal Wako, before he was spotted by the Master of Ceremonies, Mr Barnaba Matuech Anei who was next to the cardinal, who caught and disarmed him. He was then handed over to the security guards who had missed him earlier.

“The man  might have infiltrated and entered the playground early, and hid himself amongst the faithful because we had very intense security check-in at the gates,” Mr Matuec said.

“We want to find out what was his mission in the Church was, and why he was carrying a dagger with him. [Why he had a knife?  Why do you think he had a knife?  Was he going to give it to the Cardinal as a gift?  Did he want His Eminence to autograph it?] After that, we will see what to do next. We must know his background and identity. If he has people backing him to carry out such actions in the church, we would like to know,” he said


The Catholic Church has filed a case against Hamdan. When interrogated on Monday at Military Central Committee of the Sudan Armed Forces, Hamdan testified that he was an Arab Misseriya from Southern Kordofan State. He is being detained at the police station in Khartoum and will be taken to the court for further action.

International experts warn that the life of Christians in Northern Sudan will be in danger if Southern Sudan secede during the self-determination referendum.

Let that be a warning to you!  Liturgical dance can kill you!

It’s been killing liturgical dignity for years.

CNA‘s story.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charivari Rob says:

    A possible assassination attempt against a Cardinal, a priest celebrating the Mass?

    There’s nothing in the remotest way humorous about that.

    Fortunately, it sounds like they managed to corral this guy before he hurt anyone (including himself).

  2. TrueLiturgy says:

    Liturgical dance is permitted in Africa. Just not in Europe and the America’s. Cardinal Arinze said as much at a conference at Catholic Familyland. It’s on youtube somewhere.

  3. I’m guessing this is the shape of things to come, and not only in that part of the world!

  4. JoyfulMom7 says:

    Oh, Father! I nearly fell off my chair laughing at your comments!!! (But it is ~awful~ that someone tried to assassinate the Cardinal.)

  5. Yes, it is awful. But this is, I suspect, going to be more frequent.

  6. It is my understanding that so called Liturgical dancing as practiced illegally by some parishes in the US is completely different than what goes on in Africa. (I have a priest friend who is from there).

    So much for moderate Islam…not as if it exists anyway. When will the West get it?

  7. Ioannes Andreades says:

    To expand on what TrueLiturgy said, I wonder whether the dancing taking place was more like what Cardinal Ratzinger described in “Spirit of the Liturgy”:
    “What people call dancing in the Ethiopian rite or the Zairean form of the Roman liturgy is in fact a rhythmically ordered procession, very much in keeping with the dignity of the occasion.”

    My hat’s off to the M.C. It sure shows what an eye for detail he has if he was the first person to spot the would-be assassin.

  8. Joao Augusto says:

    I think that the dance in the Mass is wrong, because this can still the meaning of the sacrifice of Christ. A place where we need to pray and not dance, pray mainly for this situations, where the meaning of Mass is stilling, about dances and priests whom “don’t celebrate the Mass”, because don’t read the blank, and don’t do the red. It’s my opinion!

  9. Gregg the Obscure says:

    A priest in my hometown was murdered while celebrating Mass in 1908: http://www.franciscan-sfo.org/fe/Heirichs.html

    I also expect more of this to come in years ahead, although not from anarchists, but from totalitarians

  10. BLB Oregon says:

    I understand the piece is tongue-in-cheek, but because of the number of martyrs and near-martyrs for the faith in Sudan in the last 30 years, this is nothing to joke about. There has been progress made, but whether or not he acted alone this attacker was not a lone lunatic. The war against Christians in that region has been genocidal, targetting even innocent children in Catholic schools. Including those who have fought in resistance, over 1.5 million Christians have been killed there since the mid-1980s. In 2005, Archbishop Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wakot, the focus of this attack, said in an interview: “The Government of Sudan set themselves the target of getting Christianity out of the country by the year 2000. We have foiled their plan … so far.” He went on to say, “To drive us out still remains the objective of our oppressors.”

    I don’t want to minimize the importance of fighting liturgical abuses–although to tell you the truth, I don’t know if liturgical dance during Mass even IS a liturgical abuse in Khartoum–but opposing liturgical dance and protecting church leaders who are on the hit lists of the enemies of the Church are surely on different orders of importance. IOW, the attack was not a cautionary tale about liturgical dance. It was a story about the grave danger faced by too many fellow Catholics when they even attempt to worship in public. They should always be in our prayers. I know that is a million miles from the intent, but honestly, I think making this into a joke can actually have the effect of downplaying of the seriousness of both problems. If seen as an insensitivity, it could make a real liturgical problem seem petty, when it is not.

  11. RichardR says:

    As is noted above, there is a difference in culturally approriate expressions of faith and liturgical abuse. Regardless, however, liturgical dance and actual attempted murder are not the same thing and the latter is not a source of amusement for people who love each other and the Church.

  12. Dr. Eric says:

    Proper “liturgical dance” as quoted in Cardinal Ratzinger’s book “The Spirit of the Liturgy” and in the video of Q&A with Cardinal Arinze is noted by both prelates as a “rhythmic procession” during the offertory by a very small group of the laity or the clergy when processing and recessing. It is more like a swaying walk, Cardinal Arinze even noted that Europeans walk very stiffly, unlike Africans. The youtube link can be found in the comments on the link Father placed in this post.

    This attempt appears to be by a Muslim who blended in with a troupe of dancers, which is forbidden. Dancers are not allowed to perform during ANY Liturgy of ANY Rite.

  13. Scott W. says:

    Liturgical dance is permitted in Africa. Just not in Europe and the America’s. Cardinal Arinze said as much at a conference at Catholic Familyland.

    Others beat me to it. The kind of dancing permitted in Africa seems quite limited by the accounts I’ve heard and nothing at all like the nonsense that we find in American progressivist-fluff parishes.

  14. thereseb says:

    “We must know his background “…..

    His middle name was Mohammed. Go figure.

  15. pattif says:

    I heard Cardinal Arinze speak in Westminster Cathedral a few years ago, and he was very clear that there is no place in the liturgy for dance: “it’s for the church hall after Mass”.

    That was the same occasion when he laid into liberal intellectuals: “When a child disobeys his parents, you don’t call him a liberal intellectual – you call him a brat!”

  16. Jayna says:

    “the Master of Ceremonies, Mr Barnaba Matuech Anei who was next to the cardinal, who caught and disarmed him.”

    Now that’s an MC you want to have around. For some reason, I just can’t see Msgr. Marini being capable of this.

    As to liturgical dance in the States, my former parish uses it at every conceivable opportunity. The Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday are a given (I was told that the Archbishop gave permission for that), but they don’t stop there, no, they need some ladies prancing around the sanctuary in leotards on Good Friday. Two years in a row. To music played over the sound system from a CD. And there are photos of this madness.

  17. tioedong says:

    Been there, done that…let me explain:
    In Africa, it’s not really “liturgical dance” (i.e. where some fat nuns in costumes dance in front of the alter during mass). It is the spontaneous dancing of everyone in the joy of the Lord.

    Usually, it is not “during” the mass. You might have dancing while the priest processes to the alter, and you might have singing and dancing at the end of Mass, especially when it is Easter or a special feast day.

    In Africa (at least in Bantu Africa), you show your joy or sorrow with your entire body…no stiff upper lip. If a child dies, mother will scream and roll on the floor, often with relatives screaming with her…of course, after ten minutes, usually she will get up, and start arrangements for the burial, her sorrow expressed…similarly the joy of a marriage or birth or good harvest or holiday is shown with a party or celebration with dancing and music and happiness (although in our tribe, the bride was forbidden by custom to smile…everyone would tease her trying to get her to laugh).
    as one of my patients told me: You Europeans sing sad hymns and worship like it’s a funeral…We dance and sing to show our joy in the Lord, that he came to us and saved us.

  18. BLB Oregon says:

    With regards to “liturgical dance” in the US, the worst of it may be understood if you imagined someone in Africa had watched ballet once and then ignorantly tried to ape the art. It could only be charming if someone under 12 did it for school. To someone familiar with the real thing, the result of adults trying something so beyond their understanding and experience would surely be grotesque and, if performed in a sacred context, profoundly upsetting. It would wind up being a satire, no matter how well-intentioned.

    It is hard to imagine that the vast vast majority of “liturgical dance” in the US doesn’t fall into this category. To allow ignorant imitation of other Catholics would be a crime against unity, not a help to it. Those who want it allowed have to understand the huge commitment of instruction and education that would be required in order to avoid unintentionally giving offense to the traditions of African Christendom. I think the American conceit that leaps from the encouraging “anyone might personally profit from expressing themselves by use of an artistic medium” to the ridiculous “everyone is an Artist” obscures that.

    African Catholics might not be quite so upset as that at seeing us do it, but only because they are a charitable lot, and are surely used to this side of us by now. That is no excuse to put their generous natures to the test. We due their liturgy the best homage by admitting that we are not prepared to imitate what is beyond us.

  19. One of the articles said that the dancers had come up earlier (probably at the beginning of Mass), that they were standing in an area near the sanctuary during the Gloria et al, and that then they were going back to the congregation area, passing near the sanctuary, when the fake dancer mixed in with them and then went for the archbishop.

  20. I am being unclear. The dancers going back to the congregation area, and the attack, both happened right after the Gloria was sung.

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