It may be helpful to review the actual regulations on the orans posture.
What does the GIRM say?
First of all, nowhere in the (2002) General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) does it say that the orans posture is recommended for the congregation during the Our Father.
In GIRM 43 and 160, the paragraphs dealing with the people’s posture during Mass, the only posture specified for the congregation at the Lord’s Prayer is standing. It says nothing at all about what people do with their hands. This is not a change from the past.
Background of present confusion
The history of the bishops’ debate on the orans question suggests the origin of the confusion that persists.
During the US bishops’ discussion in the 1990s of the proposed ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) revision of the “Sacramentary” (prayers for Mass), some liturgists were urging that this orans gesture, which by centuries of custom only the priest assumes, should now be mandated for the entire congregation as well.
In 1995, the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy (BCL), then chaired by Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, proposed certain amendments to the proposed revision. Among these, the BCL recommended specifying the orans posture for the people during the Our Father. The rationale was that the orans gesture was used in the “early Church”, and that this posture should replace hand-holding during the Our Father, a practice that was becoming increasingly common.
Several bishops objected to adopting the orans for the people (by custom a priestly gesture), and strongly opposed making this a rule. But eventually the bishops compromised, at this 1995 session, and voted to make the orans a permissible option for the congregation during the Our Father.
It is important to note that the bishops’ debate and vote on the orans posture for the people involved the ICEL Sacramentary, not the new Roman Missal.
Source of continuing confusion
One source of continuing confusion is this. When the proposed ICEL Sacramentary was sent to the Holy See for approval (after the November 1999 meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops), the BCL posted on its web site a description of the orans posture, saying that this posture would be permitted when the new Sacramentary was approved.
This 1999 BCL comment stated, in part:
No position is prescribed in the present Sacramentary for an assembly gesture during the Lord’s Prayer. While the recently approved revised Sacramentary does provide for the use of the orans gesture by members of the assembly during the Lord’s Prayer, the revised Sacramentary may not be used until it has been confirmed by the Holy See. I might also note that in the course of its discussion of … this question, the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy expressed a strong preference for the orans gesture over the holding of hands since the focus of the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer to the Father and not primarily an expression of community and fellowship.