Wednesday, December 28, 2005

BEST OF '05: Tantrums and Tiaras

This post originally ran on 28 April, after Benedict XVI revealed his new coat of arms and established a modern precedent in the process.... A nice reminder for everyone who still needs it after eight months.

I titled the post as a tribute to the Elton John tour documentary of the same name, a fitting commentary on the crowd most upset by the new Pope's decision.


The conservatives must be livid.

No sooner was their man Ratzi elected when they started joyously conspiring to bust into the Washington National Shrine, break the glass case, remove the crown of Pope Paul VI, fly to Rome and impose it on the head of Benedict XVI. One loudmouth went so far as to crow that the Pope should keep the tiara on his desk(!) to remind visitors and heretics alike that he has the power and they don't, so they should shut up and listen.

Well, Papa Ratzi sure does have the power. And Mr. Tiara-on-the-Desk sure doesn't. So he should shut up and listen. *APPLAUDIAMO*

The Holy Father has made it clear that trappings of temporal, imperial glory are inappropriate and unbecoming of a papacy and a church which seeks salience in the modern world. (This message will arrive in Philadelphia... never. Unless hell just happens to freeze over on a Wednesday afternoon. Fret not, dear St. Louisans -- Ray Burke won't get the memo, either. Nor will Crazy Jamie.)

The triregno didn't even make the cut on the coat of arms.

That's right. Even after Paul VI gave up the crown -- sending it around the world to raise money for the poor -- it still surmounted the papal heraldics. That is, until now.

In yet another sign of the increased humility with which Benedict views the office, a simple silver bishop's mitre adorned with three horizontal stripes of gold to represent the munera of the episcopal office -- to teach, govern and sanctify the flock -- is the new headdress above the shield. And, again to the dismay of the traditios, the bear with the backpack and the Moor's head chosen by Joseph Ratzinger on his election to the see of Munich and Freising remain. At the base of the achievement is the pallium, symbolizing the metropolitan jurisdiction, in the Pope's case over the province of Rome and universally.

Now, again, if Hummes were elected and did this, or Tettamanzi, or anyone but Ratzinger, a schism would've broken out days ago and Bernard Fellay would have had a nice, shiny crown on his head already. But they can't pull that with this Pope, their Pope. He will show them the way -- that is, if they don't wimp out and choose showboating over the Gospel.

Ladies and gentlemen, as predicted, Papam has gone to China.