Recently a new priest was appointed as administrator of our parish and he refuses to give blessings to children and non-Catholics who attend Mass. This is a very common practice on the West Coast and especially in Oregon. The priest claims that “this is not in the rubrics of the Mass” and technically he is correct.
Nevertheless, this practice is very common in all of Oregon. Since we are a vacation community and receive a large number of visitors, many people line up with their arms crossed expecting to be blessed. Some bring their children to be blessed when they receive Communion themselves. Sometimes small children come up to the altar expecting to be blessed but are simply ignored. Our previous two pastors were more than happy to give these types of blessings, and this seems to me to make everyone feel like they are a part of the Mass, even non-Catholics.
What is the problem with giving blessings of this nature? It certainly has created a schism in our parish and, along with a number of other very conservative changes, has resulted in a large
drop-off in attendance.