Friday, 22 March 2013

I should have blogged about... (#1)

I should have blogged about the Archbishop of Canterbury's enthronement on Thursday.  For one thing there's an interesting point to make about the archbishop being 'enthroned', but the Pope apparently not. 

© Rupert Fawcett (all rights reserved)

The short answer is that 'enthronement' is quite appropriate for a bishop in his Cathedral - the seat (cathedra) of his diocese - and that the pope will have an enthronement ceremony in the Lateran Basilica, Rome's cathedral, in due course. 

For some reason, despite the emphasis put on the fact that the pope is after all a bishop, this is given much less prominence than the inaugural mass.  There are those, of course, who think that Vatican Council II's declaration that popes are bishops and not a separate order of ministry is a threat to the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff: that is a grave error.

Pius IX and hat
Popes used to have coronations.  Papal coronation were thrown out for being too triumphalistic after Paul VI stopped wearing the tiara and sold it in aid of charity.  Let's face it, what's this if not Triumphalism: "Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art father of princes and kings, the ruler of the world on earth, the vicar of our Savior Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory through all ages"?  Much better is the idea of 'Servant of the servants of God" - we know which Pope Francis would go for!

Interestingly enough, that most triumphalist of popes, Pius IX, suspended enthronements (but not coronations) when he and his successors declared themselves 'prisoners of the Vatican' between the seizure of Rome by Italian troops (1870) and the much-misunderstood Lateran Treaty (1929).  During this self-imposed separation from their See, they only operated as Bishop of Rome through proxies.

In short:-

Coronation: Bad
Inaugural Mass: Good way to start anything
Enthronement: A real affirmation of the pastoral nature of the Papacy.

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