Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fr. J.P. Erickson: Dancing down the Aisles "would not be approved or looked upon with amusement if conducted by a Catholic parish."

Wendy Osman saw the video -- groomsmen strutting, groom somersaulting, bride bopping down the aisle -- and immediately sent the link to her co-workers, with this message:

"What are we going to do if we get requests for this?"

As the director of wedding ministry for Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Osman was posing a question crossing the minds of other clergy and wedding planners. Will the now-famous YouTube video of Kevin Heinz and Jill Peterson's grooving procession at Christ Lutheran Church in St. Paul, with its more than 14 million views, inspire copycats? Should it be allowed . . . ?

. . . Protestant churches, like the one in which the St. Paul couple wed, review and in some cases revise couples' plans for music and readings. Catholic churches are stricter, with polices -- but not doctrine or dogma -- that dictate what music, readings and rituals are appropriate parts of the liturgy.

Dancing? Not likely.

"In the West, the connection we have with dancing is not typically a connection with worship," said the Rev. John Paul Erickson, director of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' office of worship. "There needs to be a real guardedness about bringing it into the liturgy for that reason."

Catholic churches in Africa and other parts of the world have different relationships to dancing and do incorporate it into their services, he said. Erickson watched the video and found it "on its face, very amusing." But, he added, a similar dance down the aisle "would not be approved or looked upon with amusement if conducted by a Catholic parish. . . ."

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