Readers may not have noticed, but poor boy Bobby (Mickens) of the Tablet is obsessed by ritual and liturgical details. He claims not to think they are important, but his obsession with the embroidery of the stole worn by the Pope in Germany yesterday is worthy of old-time scruples. It's nice to know that the illiberal-liberals are still young enough to draw breath. But only for a while. Bobby's rant on the blog of the Pill:
Pope Benedict XVI and his closest liturgical aides -- Mgr Guido Marini, the master of ceremonies, and Mgr Georg Gaenswein, his personal secretary -- pay careful attention to what type of vestments he wears and for which occasions.
So it was interesting to note that on Friday, during an ecumenical prayer service in the former Augustinian church (now Protestant) where Martin Luther was ordained and celebrated his first Mass, the Pope wore a stole that depicted his personal coat of arms topped by the triple-crown tiara. Talk about sending a message! If there is anyone who railed against the imperial papacy, it was surely Luther.
You might remember that much was made of the fact that, upon his election, Benedict XVI was the first pope ever to relinquish the tiara for his coat of arms and replace it with a bishop's mitre. But since Mgr G. Marini was hired he he has worn any number of vestments that include his arms topped with the triple-crown. And, of course, the Pope publicly received a tiara that was given to him as a gift and once hung a tapestry below his window overlooking St Peter's Square showing his papal shield with the tiara.
Aides justify all this is as being part of that "hermeneutic of continuity". But sometimes there is a good reason to throw things out or put them on the shelf for good. Not everything that was deemed necessary in the past is good for the present - or helpful in moving into the future.