From a reader:
I’ve heard that the sign of peace at Mass is optional (for priest and people), and that its position within the Mass can be moved to another part of the liturgy such as the Introductory Rites. Are these points true?
Yes and No.
Yes, the Sign of Peace – and I assume here that you are talking about the congregation’s Sign of Peace – is entirely optional in the Novus Ordo. The congregation exchanges the Sign of Peace at the discretion of the priest or bishop celebrant. To put it another way, it does not have to be done at all. However, there is a specific moment when the celebrant extends his Sign of Peace to those present. The celebrant’s Sign of Peace is not an option.
No, the Sign of Peace cannot be moved to another place during Mass. However, it could be done before Mass and then omitted during Mass.