Saturday, November 24, 2007

Consistory Notes

My regular readers will not be surprised to know that I attended this morning's public consistory and I've been reading some of the coverage on various 'blogs such as The New Liturgical Movement and WDTPRS.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful event and much of the 'blog commentary is focusing on the Holy Father's vesture and the wonderful Papal throne which was dusted off for the occasion. (Cf Matt 13:52) They certainly added to the occasion and show that Mons Marini seems to be making his mark in terms of the 'style' in which the liturgy is celebrated. The fact that the liturgy was held inside St Peter's shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. The idea of holding an outdoor ceremony at the end of a Roman November, particularly one at which so many elderly princes of the Church were to be present was always optimistic, and it's been common knowledge in the city for quite a while that the whole thing would be moved indoors. It is unfortunate that this meant that many of the faithful who had travelled long distances to see their bishops being elevated to the Sacred Purple had to watch on TV screens in the Piazza , but there was no other realistic alternative. Thankfully, I did get inside the basilica and it certainly is wonderful when St Peter's is used for these solemn liturgies. There's something very special about the enthusiastic chanting of the responses and hymns in Latin by the congregation in such a manner that it threatens to raise the roof of this extraordinary building.

Some Liturgical Questions
Some questions have been asked in the comment-boxes of the various 'blogs about the absence of the altar cross - maybe it wasn't visible in the TV coverage, but the cross, rather than being placed on the altar behind the Holy Father, was rather placed at the top of the steps which lead down to the confessio. One wonders whether the intention was that the Holy Father should be facing the cross during the liturgy.
It should also be noted that the consistory is structured as a liturgy of the word - therefore, it's not at all inappropriate for the Holy Father to preside in his cope rather than just wearing choir dress. (I don't think anyone was complaining about the cope, but people are curious about the switch in vesture.)
I'm enthusiastic about Mons Marini, but I think he's still settling into his job. There were quite a number of gaffs during the consistory which jarred. The Holy Father read the formula for a Cardinal Deacon when imposing the birettas on a number of the Cardinal Priests and the wrong prayer was read before the Cardinals' profession of faith. The microphone was poorly handled as well, meaning that we frequently missed the first few words of the Holy Father's prayers. That being said, I can't imagine what it is like stepping into a job of that magnitude, and given his experience in Bologna, I'm sure that these little wrinkles will soon be ironed out. Whilst not a fan of his predecessor's style, having seen him at work on numerous occasions, I always respected his ability to run a liturgy smoothly and with a certain attention to detail. Speaking of Archbishop Marini, one is tempted to read something into the fact that he did attend the consistory, but quietly placed himself right at the back of the section reserved for the so-called Capella Papale. Cardinal Sodano, I understand, didn't attend at all. Having just turned 80, one wonders whether his retirement as Dean of the Sacred College is imminent. [Fr Z corrects me on this point. It seems that Cardinal Sodano was present. I don't recall where I read that he was absent.]

Other things which occur to me
It will not escape the attention of anyone who followed the consistory that great emphasis was placed on the bestowal of a red hat on Emannuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans. As head of a Church which is suffering much and whose members are enduring great fortitude, his elevation to the College of Cardinals is pregnant with meaning. As the Holy Father himself said:
Questi nostri fratelli e sorelle nella fede sperimentano nella propria carne le conseguenze drammatiche di un perdurante conflitto e vivono al presente in una quanto mai fragile e delicata situazione politica. Chiamando ad entrare nel Collegio dei Cardinali il Patriarca della Chiesa Caldea ho inteso esprimere in modo concreto la mia vicinanza spirituale e il mio affetto per quelle popolazioni.
These brothers and sisters of ours in the faith are experiencing in their own flesh the dramatic consequences of a continuing conflict and currently live in an eveor more fragile and delicate political situation. By calling into the College of Cardinals the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, I intended to express in a concrete way my spiritual cloeness and my affection for these suffering peoples.

It should be noted that as a Patriarch, His Beatitude will rank alongside the Cardinal Bishops in dignity and (unusually) does not receive a titular church in Rome.
Looking at the titular churches, some catch my eye:
Cardinal Vingt-Trois of Paris inherits San Luigi dei Francesi from his deceased predecessor Cardinal Lustiger. Cardinal Ortega's title of S. Maria della Presentazione is a newly erected title. So is Cardinal Njue's title of Preziossisimo Sangue di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo. Cardinal Brady's title of Ss. Quirico e Giulitta was vacant since 1968. The title of S. Salvatore in Lauro was re-established, but as a Deaconry rather than a Cardinal Priest's Title for Cardinal Comastri. Cardinal Coppa's deaconry of S.Lino and Cardinal Cordes's deaconry of S. Lorenzo in Piscibus are newly established. (Curiously, there are a number of 'open' and already established Deaconries.) [Credit must be given to Salvador Miranda for this useful resource which is great for digging up information about these issues.]


Fr Tim Finigan said...

Excellent post - it is good to hear from someone who was there. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully useful; thank you!

Berolinensis said...

Cardinal Sodano, I understand, didn't attend at all. Having just turned 80, one wonders whether his retirement as Dean of the Sacred College is imminent. [Fr Z corrects me on this point. It seems that Cardinal Sodano was present. I don't recall where I read that he was absent.]

I can tell you where you read it - on the blog of Fr Z himself, who posted the same thing before I corrected him by providing images, after which he deleted the whole post ;-)

As for the Cross, I think it wouldn't have made much sense to put it on the altar when the Pope had his back towards the altar for the whole cerimony. Also, Msgr. Marini himself explains it in today's Osservatore: "Il crocifisso posto ai piedi dell'altare della confessione e rivolto verso i fedeli è espressione del desiderio che tutti i presenti siano orientati verso di esso. È segno della continuità tra presente e passato in una tradizione liturgica che guarda avanti."

The whole interview is here: