A good English translation of this hasn’t surfaced yet, but here’s the gist, from L’Espresso and Sandro Magister:
The sign of peace in the Roman Rite of the Mass will remain at the same moment in which it is now placed, before the distribution of the Eucharist. But it must be corrected the abuses that have registered so far, especially with regard to the confusion that often characterizes this time of the liturgy.
This is the meaning of a letter sent by the Congregation for Divine Worship to the bishops’ conferences of the world…
In the letter, signed by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera Prefect and Secretary Archbishop Arthur Roche, it should be noted that the study of this issue was initiated in the course of the Synod on the Eucharist in 2005.
And what is mentioned in paragraph 49 of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of 2007, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” Benedict XVI wrote:
“During the synod of bishops was the appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly just before communion. It is important to remember that nothing is lost when the sign sobriety needed to maintain a climate suitable for celebration, for example by making sure to limit the exchange of peace to those who are closest. ”
Pope Joseph Ratzinger [Benedict] then added in a footnote:
“Taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers, I asked the relevant departments to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts to the altar. This choice, however, would not fail to elicit a significant reminder of the Lord on the reconciliation required prior to any offer to God. ”
Before the offertory is also the time when the peace sign is placed in the Ambrosian liturgy, in force in the diocese of Milan.
Read more, with some recommendations, here.
UPDATE: Catholic News Agency has more:
“If the faithful do not understand and do not show, in their ritual gestures, the true significance of the right of peace, they are weakened in the Christian concept of peace, and their fruitful participation in the Eucharist is negatively affected.”
On this basis, the congregation offered four suggestions which are to form the “nucleus” of catechesis on the sign of peace.
First, while confirming the importance of the rite, it emphasized that “it is completely legitimate to affirm that it is not necessary to invite ‘mechanistically’ to exchange (the sign of) peace.” The rite is optional, the congregation reminded, and there certainly are times and places where it is not fitting.
Its second recommendation was that as translations are made of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, bishops’ conference should consider “changing the way in which the exchange of peace is made.” It suggested in particular that “familiar and worldly gestures of greeting” should be substituted with “other, more appropriate gestures.”
The congregation for worship also noted that there are several abuses of the rite which are to be stopped: the introduction of a “song of peace,” which does not exist in the Roman rite; the faithful moving from their place to exchange the sign; the priest leaving the altar to exchange the sign with the faithful; and when, at occasions such as weddings or funerals, it becomes an occasion for congratulations or condolences.
The Congregation for Divine Worship’s final exhortation was that episcopal conferences prepare liturgical catechesis on the significance of the rite of peace, and its correct observation.