Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Barring the Baton

To be sure, Thursday's installation of the Ninth Archbishop (while not the one shown at left) seemed to have more than its share of things that'll be grist for the ecclesial mill for quite some time.

Among others, the aftershocks of the homily are still being felt far and wide.

For the more ceremonially inclined, though, requests for clarification quickly rained down over the script for the ritual handover, which saw Cardinal Justin Rigali walk Archbishop Charles Chaput to the chair of St John Neumann with the crozier, yet leave without handing it over to his successor. (Chaput's trusty wooden staff, which he's used from his days as bishop of Rapid City, emerged from the sacristy moments later.)

Given the symbolic -- and, of course, photographic -- centrality that the literal passing of the baton has come to take on at practically every installation of a new (arch)bishop, churchfolk being churchfolk, the seemingly unusual optic quickly led to unfounded chatter of a spat. In reality, however, the use of the crozier as an insignia for the seating of an already-ordained bishop has recently been deemed "not appropriate" by Rome, and the Philadelphia rite was merely the first Stateside ceremony to accurately reflect the rubric.

Last December, the Newsletter of the US Bishops' Committee for Divine Worship published the following guidance, summarizing the response to a dubium (procedural question) issued in late 2009 by the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:
Bishops Receiving the Pastoral Staff at the Installation

It has sometimes been the practice at the rite of reception (or “installation”) of a Bishop (upon transfer from another See) to receive the pastoral staff (crozier) when he is first seated at the cathedra. The Congregation has determined that this gesture is not appropriate because the presentation of the pastoral staff is part of the Rite of Ordination, which should not be confused with the reception of a Bishop upon transfer to another See. The response to the dubium points out the norms for the Reception of the Bishop outlined in the Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 1145:
But the metropolitan may introduce the bishop into the cathedral church. In this case, at the doors of the church the metropolitan presents the bishop to the ranking member of the chapter and presides in the entrance procession. At the chair (cathedra) he greets the people and bids the apostolic letter to be shown and read to him. After this reading and the acclamation of the people, the metropolitan invites the bishop to sit in the chair (cathedra). Then the bishop rises, and, in keeping with the rubrics, the Gloria is sung.
It seems appropriate for the presiding Bishop, presumably the Metropolitan Archbishop, to carry the crozier in the entrance procession. Once the Metropolitan invites the Bishop to sit in the cathedra, the Bishop is simply handed the crozier (perhaps by a master of ceremonies) before approaching the cathedra.
Many thanks to the BCDW for the assist. Still, the degree to which the ruling's heeded at future installations bears watching.

Planners, take note.

* * *
Liturgically speaking, the rite featured two other notable innovations for the reception of a diocesan bishop: the concelebration of the cardinals in attendance (who, until now, would have attended in their scarlet choir dress) and Rigali's entrance clad in the pallium -- the symbol of the metropolitan's office -- which the departing incumbent removed immediately following the handoff of the chair.

On the latter point, the use of the pallium by an archbishop whose resignation has been accepted and been named apostolic administrator pending his successor's arrival is, at best, a questionable practice. Then again, in human and emotional terms, experience teaches well that, for a cardinal, leaving is never easy... even when it happens in the context of a bruising hundred-year storm.

And lest it go unnoted, there was one last fitting irony to it all.

While Chaput's simpler staff took center stage for most of the day, the installing prelate made one last entrance bearing his standard choice for Cathedral liturgies: the gargantuan brass baculum (right) made for Edmond Francis Prendergast, the Third Archbishop, who had been the River City's first auxiliary before succeeding to the chair precisely a century ago on the death of the golden-tongued Patrick John Ryan.

Until Thursday, Prendergast had been the seat's last occupant who previously served as pastor of a parish.