Francis in Lampedusa

You probably saw the reports on Pope Francis’ first pastoral trip outside Rome yesterday – to the port city Lampedusa, to call attention to the plight of immigrants and attack the “globalization of indifference.” Francis shunned the fancy Mercedes popemobile and rode around in a 20-year-old Fiat. He drew high praise for his moral witness – in the German press, for example.

Readers of this blog will be interested in the liturgical and ceremonial aspects of the visit.

  • the altar was built over a small boat.
  • Francis’ pastoral staff was made of wood recycled from a shipwrecked boat.
  • the lectern was made of old wood with a ship’s wheel mounted on the front;
  • the chalice was carved from wood of a shipwrecked boat (though lined with silver).

There is more. Just last November, the Secretary of State stated, “at the venerable behest” of Pope Benedict, that formal dress is required in the presence of the pope – cassock, cape, all of this embroidered in accord with the cleric’s rank, and so forth.

But here is a cleric near the pope yesterday not in cassock:

And here is Guido Marini, master of ceremonies, in a simple black cassock rather than the regal purple he used to wear:

But the other clergy wore purple chausibles – because it was a penitential Mass for the Forgiveness of Sins, remembering and praying for the many immigrants who died at sea. Francis tossed a wreath of white and yellow flowers into the Mediterranean Sea in memory of the estimated 20,000 African immigrants who have died in the past 25 years trying to reach a new life in Europe.

UPDATE: an astute reader points out that in the first photo above, Francis is wearing his plain ring from Buenos Aires, rather than the “Fisherman’s Ring” popes wear in public liturgies. Francis’s fisherman’s ring was notable for being silver rather than gold – from a design done for Paul VI. Ordinarily he puts that on for liturgy – but not here.

One has to wonder – whose creative idea was it to have liturgical vessels made of shipwreck wood? Who is making all these liturgical decisions? Pope Francis seems to take a more active interest in the liturgy than his predecessor Benedict (the reader will catch the irony in that observation), in the sense that more has changed, more quickly, than we saw at the beginning of Benedict’s pontificate. Either Francis is a real take-charge guy, or he is remarkably able to get his team on board quickly with his vision of things.

Referring to the entire visit, Francis later said : “I hope people understand the meaning of this gesture.” Indeed.



  1. I found Francis’s whole approach to the Lampedusa trip very moving. The swiftness with which the whole thing was assembled does suggest that there are people close to the action whose thoughtful care brought this about. I have to say, it cheers me to see the use of liturgical sign and symbol (the chalice, the cross) to express bonds with the suffering people of that part of the world. I also imagine the Pope’s visit drew fresh attention to their plight, and shone the light of compassion on the people who are enmeshed in a situation which is no doubt also rife with conflicting expectations and political struggle.

  2. To mollify those who think that Pope Francis is above criticism on this blog, let me just say that the concelebrants’ chasubles are pretty awful and that I hold Francis personally responsible.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #2:
      Surely responsibility for the chasuble choice rests with Abp Marini and/or the local ordinary. But they are rather garish to say the least so I was a little surprised to read the positive take on them from some.

    2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment Hear, Hear!!!
      They are not just awful. They are hideous, tasteless, and ugly.
      Some warped souls seem to think that when ministering to the poor, only that which is tasteless ugly and artless in music, art, or vesture, is appropriate. It’s actually a very, very poor statement about the poor on the part of those doing the ‘ministering’.

      1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #54:
        We don’t have adequate information to make a balanced judgment. Your opinionated judgment (notwithstanding) is full of the usual *if I don’t like it it is ugly, artless*, etc.

        As someone above said, it is very possible that these were local vestments – made, designed by the local church – who are you to judge? It is very possible that these vestments are well-received by the community on the island – again, how do you know?

        Have you forgotten that Mozart was considered ill-mannered, ignorant, and risqué by the leisure class of his time?
        What you reveal is the usual first world snobbery – how tiresome, provincial, and arrogant.

    3. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #2:
      Personally, I think the vestments quite lovely, though I can certainly understand why others might think otherwise. Can you understand that things you might find lovely, others might find quite gauche?

  3. I would suggest the boat-altar in the same photo is also of questionable quality and dignity. I was moved and impressed when I read in reports earlier today that the altar, lectern, pastoral cross, and chalice had been constructed from the wood of shipwrecked boats. It shows a beautiful solidarity of the Church with suffering people. In particular, the altar, a symbol of Christ, becomes a dramatic statement about Christ’s identification with the poor in their suffering. However, I was less impressed when I saw the actual altar.

  4. Then there is that . . . antependium?

    The chasubles are probably high-fashion Italian silk; they strike me as something Italian fashionistas may appreciate. I am not an Italian fashionista. I wouldn’t be surprised if Francis said something to the effect of, “whoa” to the con-celebrants in a tone that was both cheerful, non-condemnatory, non-directive, but still had an effect where they would not reprise this choice with him in the future (the best bosses understand how to use the lightest of touches for best effect – something Italians are actually very good at, folks in the Anglosphere and Germanosphere less so….).

  5. The lectern reminds me of a theme restaurant, like Red Lobster or something.

    I think I foresee a post on “liturgical beauty” – it seems there’s a different kind of beauty to all this tackiness, just as there is a certain ugliness to some of Benedict’s refined, elegant schtick – ugly in that it was divisive and gave the wrong image of Christianity being exclusivist and Eurocentric, or archaic and irrelevant, even as it was highly refined and elegant.

    But maybe I’ve already said everything I’d say in that post.


  6. I’m not well versed in how papal liturgies are organized, but is it possible that these furnishings and vestments were conceived of and created by locals? Whereas Pope Benedict might have been inclined to impose his own style on this celebration, perhaps Pope Francis received the requested design with a, “yes, that will be fine”? To allow something to happen is a bit different than directly causing a thing to happen.

  7. The vestments were very nice! I’m visiting Italian relatives in Chicago who have satellite Italian TV stations and the news coverage was lengthy and very positive there, although I don’t think there was any coverage on this side of the world.

  8. Rocco adds some information

    As noted by Catholic News Service, the ritual text employed by Francis was that of a Mass of Reparation (“for the Remission of Sins”) in light of the suffering of the innocent, the Pope and his concelebrants – some of whom wore ballcaps to shade themselves from the summer sun – all vested in penitential violet.

    To underscore the tone of the pontiff’s “profound” emotion, which the Vatican referred to in announcing today’s quickly-planned visit, Francis likewise donned the papal “mourning” miter – simple white, lined with gold – which, per tradition, a Pope dons only for two occasions: funeral liturgies and Good Friday… until he’s buried in it. In the same vein, the monsignori of Papa Bergoglio’s entourage hewed to the new script by leaving their purple at home and donning unadorned black cassocks for the day.

    The sun was definitely a problem which might have influenced the choice of vestments.

    I suspect the “mourning” miter was Guido’s decision; doubt Francis understood the tradition, but I suspect Guido made him aware of it.

    The altar, chalice etc. were probably local products; suspect they may have been in use for sometime and were not made for this occasion. Both the local bishop and local pastor had wanted Francis to come for some time.

    I don’t mind the use of the debris (these boats are piled up around the island) even if is it not very artistic or not by local artists. The people of this island are deeply involved and sympathetic to the immigrants even though the islanders have been overwhelmed and the Italian authorities and other countries not as helpful as they might be.

    What concerns me somewhat is that this example might be used by some parishes with far less involvement with the poor to demonstrate their solidarity. I am reminded of the occasion when Dorothy Day returned from one of her trips and found that the Catholic Worker had celebrated a “coffee cup” Mass because that had been done in the Soviet labor camps. Dorothy was horrified and buried the “coffee cup chalice” in the garden.

  9. Andrea Tornielli had this interesting take

    But the Pope’s visit to Lampedusa on this hot summer day is emblematic for other reasons as well. The Pope has shown that he can travel around Italy without all the usual pomp and ceremony of a papal visit, without queues of politicians and institutional representatives in tow and without being surrounded by bishops and cardinals. He can go and private visit – or at least as private as a papal visit can be – doing away with anything superfluous, getting around in an off-road car and using a wooden crozier and chalice made using the wood from the boats that came to the island carrying groups of immigrants in desperate search of a better life.

    The Pope’s visit to Lampedusa, the gateway to Europe could be a possible model for the future, the promise of a pontificate of change, which is evident even in its early days.

    Tornielli’s point is well taken.

    We should not get tied up in the trivia of papal ceremonial and miss the larger point that (again) Francis has totally reshaped the practice of the papacy, all without replacing people and issuing decrees. If he had replaced people and issued decrees, he would be an autocrat.

    As it is, he is exercising his Christian freedom. He has made it clear that he did not plan to be Pope, and that he still does not have a plan but feels very comfortable that he is responding to what God wants each day. And that he will make mistakes and that he is not afraid of that. He prefers going out and risking an accident to being shut up and sick. I wonder if this attitude will catch on?

  10. Why is there always a certain, if unspoken, “political undercurrent” to all the commentary on the Pope?

    Yes, I think that it is all lovely and the simplicity is great! But I loved a lot of what Pope Benedict’s liturgies looked like too.

    I don’t see either one as an occasion to turn things into partisan type liturgical sniping of the unspoken “so there!” type.

    1. @Dave Jaronowski – comment #12:
      You have a good point – we’re all on the same side, and we should cultivate unity rather than division.
      But when there’s such a marked contrast in style between two popes, and where there are so many strong feelings, positive and negative, about each style, I think it’s unavoidable that people will comment on it and express opinions on it. We can hardly pretend that there isn’t a marked contrast.

  11. The Vicar of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, is calling attention to Christ’s love for the marginalized and vulnerable. He went out of his way to do so with almost no fanfare. I feel enormously blessed by this good man. The spirit of St. Francis seems to be at work within him. Brace yourselves, Church, this man is likely to bring about the rise and fall of many. Thank you, Lord, for the witness of Francis.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #13:
      Fr. Jack, this reminds me of a comment by blogger Mark Shea that caught my eye in the days just after Francis’s election and which I have recalled several times since: “Attention, First World. The Global South is clearing its throat and is about to speak to our deranged economic system from the perspective of Lazarus. Dives will not like that, but tough noogies for Dives.”

  12. Setting taste aside for a moment, I think the ambo/altar has a particularly powerful message that only those who live on that island (and have died trying to get there) will completely understand. What Francis has done in using these familiar pieces in the liturgy is to not only raise awareness of the plight of these immigrants but also to elevate them and their life to become a window to the holy.

    On seeing something so familiar to them, they must have felt a complete sense of recognition and, more importantly, of being recognized. It was only right and just for Francis to use what is familiar for those who have been so unrecognized thus far in a liturgy where they were the assembly.

  13. Well, yes, I agree, but as has already been said a few times on here, I think the case is often overstated.

    My wife was having some fun at one point finding pictures of Pope Benedict wearing some native elements in different places that made him look a bit ridiculous in some of them. There were also pictures of him celebrating mass in some interesting circumstances. Her point was not to make fun of Pope Benedict; she was finding them because she didn’t understand why every single thing Pope Francis does is some clear statement.

    1. @Dave Jaronowski – comment #17:
      Dave, you make a good point but I’m going to push back just a bit.

      I’m sure there are such photos of Benedict. However, if we put up a gallery of all the photos of Benedict in vestments, and do the same for Francis, I think we’ll see pretty clearly what the outliers are and what the dominant trends are.

      Also, what we see in Francis’ choice of vesture and ceremonial seems to fit what we hear him seeing in pretty clear words – so it doesn’t seem that he’s being completely misinterpreted when people try to make sense of his liturgical and ceremonial choices.

      The big IF for me is not what he’s done so far or what it means – all that is pretty revolutionary and I stand by all my commentary on it. The big IF is what he does next in the policy and personnel decisions. I’ve tried not to make predictions or get my hopes up in that department.

      And of course it’s useful to recall that Pius IX started out as a known progressive, and the European media loved him at the outset. Then his secretary of state got assassinated on a loggia standing next to him, and a shift in his disposition began. And then…

      So who knows what is next.


  14. Remember, Pope Francis is concerned with going to the peripheries. He wants a Church that is not self-referential. Therefore, his primary concern, it seems to me, is not what well-catechized, evangelized liturgists will think about his liturgies. His concern is what the world will think. Benedict’s message with his vestments was ad intra. He said on numerous occasions that he wanted his vestments to show continuity with his Pre-VII predecessors. He didn’t want to emphasize the monarchical symbols of the papacy. (Remember, Pope Benny tried to get people to stop kissing the ring and tried to avoid the papal cassock in daily interactions!) Pope Francis, on the other hand, isn’t interested in making a hermeneutic point about VII. Instead, he is interested in sending a message outside… to the peripheries. His message is well received.

    Secondly, I agree with the comment above that these types of liturgies can be used to justify every kind of “creative” liturgy. However, a close look at Francis’ liturgies reveals that his liturgies still include a lot of traditional elements. He is somber and reserved. He makes many traditional liturgical choices (Confiteor, Latin, Antiphon propers, traditional altar candles, etc). If he didn’t like these things, I think he would have changed them by now. The Bishop of Rome is trying to show what pontifical (i.e. bishop’s) liturgies should look like. I don’t think he is saying, “See how Latin and how ornate my liturgies are, well I tuned the Papal litugies down. You tune yours down even further.” I think he sees the Papal liturgies as nothing special- a Bishop with his people. I wish all Cathedral liturgies looked like Francis’ liturgies. They would be great! Clearly Francis adapts- more vernacular at more Italian liturgies and more Latin at more international liturgies, for example- but his liturgies are always sober and contain many traditional elements.

    1. @Steven Surrency – comment #22:
      I really like this comment, especially everything after the word “Secondly”. It is beginning to dawn on me that continuity is not just doing the same thing over and over. Rather, it is growing and developing from a solid base. It means respecting and preserving the core values, but realizing that the core values are the teachings of Christ, even the difficult parts, and not so much the pageantry.

  15. I like the altar over the boat, it really underscores that the Barque of Peter has come for all to enter in. And speaking of “in,” good to see tie-dye is back! 😉

  16. So the Pope said, “I hope people understand the meaning of this gesture”?

    Then I hope the poor man doesn’t see the Mr. Blackwell-style analysis we’ve been treated to in this thread. Geeeesh. Basta!

    1. @Xavier Rindfleisch – comment #25:
      I’m wondering if I should have appended an ironic emoticon to my earlier comment (not that the vestments aren’t ugly, but that is somewhat beside the point).

    2. @Xavier Rindfleisch – comment #25:

      The Lampedusa gesture did not get much light in the USA. My impression is that it was different in Europe.

      While I watch little TV, my recording device is set to record all the major daily news coverage on TV. I found absolutely nothing. The USA media were absorbed in an airline crash that had a lot of dramatic photos but killed only two people, and a self defence murder trial where only one person died.

      The quote above “Attention, First World. The Global South is clearing its throat and is about to speak to our deranged economic system from the perspective of Lazarus. Dives will not like that, but tough noogies for Dives.” captures the problem.

      For some time now, it has been clear to me that the power structure in Catholicism will shift toward the South and that would probably be evident in one or more Latin American Popes. I never dreamed it would happen this fast and this dramatically. Hopefully Francis will be able to institutionalize the shift. That change in environment will require radical rethinking about American Catholicism.

      When I noticed the liturgical aspects on Rocco’s excellent coverage of the event linked above in #10 (the only close to real time coverage I could find in the USA) I knew the liturgy aspects would find their way here, and I winced about the ability of this blog to cover them in light of the seriousness of the Pope’s gesture

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #29:
        I am not going to let your comment stand without reflective comment. You are comparing the coverage of the most important race-bias crime trial in the USA in many years (which you call a “self-defence trial”) to the coverage of a lamentably under-reported Papal visit. I have not tracked your comments on core liturgical subjects, in which we are all interested; however, I am really disappointed by this reference.

      2. @Jim Waldo – comment #38:

        Aren’t you being a little unfair to Jack Rakosky and hasty to condemn? I have not followed the details of the proceedings themselves but have read reports that race is not even being discussed in that trial, much less is the case being tried as a race-bias one. And self-defense — the very term used by J.R. — is the claim being made for the defendant, and what the jury is asked to decide, is it not?

  17. As far as I could tell from the Italian news coverage of this event on Monday is that the real substance of the event was reported, dissected and discussed rather than the style of the pope and the liturgical accoutrements. Ironically instead of going to the liturgical periphery we should avoid it altogether and focus on the substance staring us in the face. And yes there was no American news coverage of this event.

    1. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #30:
      Baloney. This is a liturgy blog, so we focus on “style” and “accoutrements,” without of course neglecting larger theological and cultural issues.

      No one focused on style and accoutrements under Benedict XVI more than you. That’s because you liked them. Now that you don’t like them under Francis, you want to change the subject and stop others from talking about it. It’s not going to happen. Style is substance and Pray Tell will keep talking about that. And substance is also substance, so we’ll talk about that too.


      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #31:
        Pope Francis has inspired me to undergo a conversion, so I repent of liking the emeritus pope’s papal style, although it wasn’t/isn’t my style which in fact is more like Pope Francis vestment style. In other word I’m frugal with my funds and parish funds when buying vestments! But what about that Pope Francis expanding the Anglican Ordinariate’s mandate to go to the periphery to evangelize nominal Catholics not just disaffected Anglicans?

      2. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #32:
        Changing the subject again.

        Allan = style/accretions
        Allan and Substance = does not compute.

        Conversion = really? So, you are moving out of your fortress and heading to Motel 6 on the Interstate?
        While in Chicago – you might want to attend the liturgy at Loyola University this Sunday or go visit the Depaul University library especially the Vincentian Studies Institute section and read up on Monsignor Egan, Vincent dePaul, and catholic community organizing and its impact on Chicago’s common good?
        Or, be really risky – attend the liturgy at St. Sabina’s – let Pflueger know you are coming. As you say above: “…focus on the substance staring us in the face.”

      3. @Bill deHaas – comment #35:
        Came here Monday, staying with 75 year old 1st cousin and departing Friday, no time for the extravagant periphery while here only time for relatives.

  18. Steven Surrency in #22 has the best comment of the day, I think.

    While I serve a parish and pastor that uses beautiful vestments and all the rest of it, I never thought that Pope Benedict’s liturgies sent a message that such things were REQUIRED; but he did send a message that it’s hard to argue AGAINST them.

    Francis, I think, is really primarily concerned about the poor and evangelization. I don’t read him as saying that these things are bad, just not of primary importance.

    And in the two, I don’t see much contradiction. Benedict was saying “Do Liturgy well and with reverance.” Francis is saying “Take care of the poor and evangelize.” Neither is saying that the other’s message is wrong.

    1. @Dave Jaronowski – comment #34:
      I don’t think it’s hard at all to argue against the vestments Benedict wore – they obviously got in the way of his (very beautiful, btw) message and distracted from it, and made the Gospel and Catholicism seem pretentious and irrelevant to all too many people. It was all a tragic misreading of the current cultural situation in which we are called to proclaim the Gospel.

  19. Since my response was to someone whom I think is in Europe, I puzzled for a while how to describe briefly the murder trial, and came up with the “self defense” label.

    I have not followed the trial so that may be very inaccurate but my limited understanding is the defendant is not claiming that he did not kill the victim, or that it was an accident, but that he had the right to defend himself. Of course you and many others may be interested in the trial for many reasons. But that gets into media commentary which I have not followed.

    One of the many reasons why I do not watch TV very much is its obsession with coverage of criminal trials, along with media personalities, etc. Many years ago I was a Perry Mason fan. So I understand how trials can be interesting.

    However, given the many lives and deaths involved in immigration issues, and the global nature of the economy, these trials just do not stack up in importance. I see them as part of TV becoming an entertainment media rather than an information media.

    The excessive time spent TV viewing is an extremely serious matter, as serious as poverty and immigrant and war, and far more important than these trials.

    If you read the post you will realize that I am deeply critical of Television; it is like living in the Papal Palace, dangerous to one’s sanity (to use Francis words). I prefer to keep a healthy distance from it, using it only when necessary.

  20. @ Fr. Ruff – OK, well then there is where we part ways. You see liturgy as a social commentary, I see it as praising God. And I’m not denigrating you – your comment is a worthy and debatable one. I can follow the logic of liturgy as evangelization.

    But for clarity’s sake, you favor a break with tradition for the sake of evangelization. I personally do not see liturgy as evangelization, I see it as existing for the worship of God.

    1. @Dave Jaronowski – comment #41:
      Okay I am confused: You can follow the logic of liturgy as evangelization, but don’t want to break with tradition to evangelize. What tradition, exactly? The Church is 2000 years old – have we been doing the same thing for the past 2000 years? I think you know that we have changed over time, and that is particularly true of the papacy and its vestments.

    2. @Dave Jaronowski – comment #41:
      False oppositions and straw men here, I’m afraid.

      Once we set worship and humans in opposition, or God and humans, and think that we get more of the former by putting down or ignoring the latter, much goes off the rails.


  21. We have certainly changed much more rapidly and drastically over the last 40 some years than the organic, slow changes in the history of the Church. This is the “hermenutic of rupture” that Pope Benedict spoke of.

    I also take the view that the function of Liturgy is not primarily to evangelize.

  22. My apologies if this has already been suggested, but are the concelebrants’ chasubles supposed to look like stormy, wind-swept seas?

  23. Dave Jaronowski : @ Fr. Ruff – OK, well then there is where we part ways. You see liturgy as a social commentary, I see it as praising God. And I’m not denigrating you …

    I think you pull a fast one here. If you indeed do not want to denigrate Fr. Ruff you perhaps could consider that Fathers ‘social commentary’ deeply respects the best of scripture and tradition and is a very valid form to praise God – claiming in essence that elaborate riches are essentially required to properly praise God is in my view just that – a claim.

  24. Geez, what would Dave J. have done in the early church when they didn’t even wear vestments.
    It seems the Vatican fashionistas under B16 were ruptured from the early church, a break in tradition from an earlier time and an example of hermeneutic of rupture. I guess there’s just rupture everywhere!

  25. The Vatican translation of Pope Francis’s homily in Lampedusa.

    It’s important to remember that most of the refugees who dock at Lampedusa are from North Africa, especially Tunisia. Pope Francis did not write a homily which attempted, even implicitly, to convert the migrants to Christianity. Rather, Pope Francis speaks only to the intrinsic human dignity of the migrants.

    Pope Francis is light-years ahead of his predecessors who railed against the “Saracens”. This homily, and not the liturgical aspects of the visit, is most significant.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #49:
      “This homily, and not the liturgical aspects of the visit, is most significant.

      False dichotomy between homily and liturgical aspects of visit, as if the homily isn’t an intrinsically liturgical action.

      What you consider ‘most significant’ may or may not be so for other observers or listeners. After all, etymologically, if something ‘makes meaning” for someone it is significant for them. Some people, like you, would have found meaning in what they heard, (homily), others in what they saw (prophetic action). So it really all is relative to one’s readiness to process what’s happening.

      1. @Gerard Flynn – comment #50:

        Gerard, I believe your misunderstand what Jordan meant.

        I may be wrong but I think he meant that the homily was the most significant part of the service for the migrants. He didn’t mean to imply that the homily was the most significant part of the service in terms of liturgical importance.

        If you’re an immigrant from North Africa and a follower of Islam, the Eucharist will hold little import for you because you may not understand it but the homily is most significant to them because they can listen to it and understand what is being said.

        And I very much agree with Jordan that Pope Francis is light years ahead, especially as a peacemaker considering what he has stated about atheists and other faiths. More light than heat.

  26. Bill deHaas : @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #46:He must study at the feet of Kathy Pluff, and CUA gave her a master’s in theology!!

    Bill, is it appropriate to:
    1. Infer some sort of derision via the cloak of “insider information” privy only to you and Fr. Ruff via invoking the the name of someone whose name doesn’t appear in this whole article or thread, and then-
    2. Further demean said person’s name and dignity by evidently mocking their academic credentials, indscriminately and publicly…?
    How did that little quip advance discussion or evince the credibility of your opinions about other characters whom you caricature?
    Not cool, definitely not HHFranciscan.

  27. I must admit to finding the altar and ambo charming in a kitschy sort of way. Those vestments are terrible, though. I’m cool with Francis’ style overall, and I say that as someone who generally liked Benedict’s style too and how it encouraged unity by demonstrating how our history isn’t closed off to us.

  28. And CNN has finally caught up with the Pope, Lampedusa, etc.

    Catholic Princess Diana?
    By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

    The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Canadian priest close to the Vatican, said the pope had wanted to go to Lampedusa with just a small group, flying commercial.

    “I’ve utterly given up trying to figure out what he’s going to do,” said the Rev. Paddy Gilger a newly ordained Jesuit priest who runs the website “The Jesuit Post.”

    In Francis he sees a pope unafraid to push the boundaries and keep his minders – as well as the media – on their toes.

    “It’s very Jesuit: whatever it takes,” Gilger said. “He’s unafraid to use any tool he can to share the gospel.

    CNN also covered the liturgical opposition:

    R Kenneth Wolfe a writer for traditionalist Catholic publications such as Rorate Caeli.

    “Francis is more of a … American Protestant,” he said with a sigh. “Not in beliefs but in demeanor and approach to religion. Dressing as one of the people.”

    The pope’s trip to Lampedusa was charitable, Wolfe said, but the Mass there summed up what Wolfe dislikes about Francis.

    “The Mass was pretty much a joke. I mean to have an altar made out of a boat, a wooded chalice, a lectern that had a ship’s steering wheel on it and altar girls?” he said. “It resembles the clown Masses of the 1960s. It’s not a serious way to present liturgy.”

    Yes, dressing like the people, smelling like the sheep. Yes, some of the laity are more clerical than the clergy.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #57:

      Quoting from the CNN article:
      “The Mass was pretty much a joke. I mean to have an altar made out of a boat, a wooded chalice, a lectern that had a ship’s steering wheel on it and altar girls?” he said. “It resembles the clown Masses of the 1960s. It’s not a serious way to present liturgy.”

      Really? Comparing the Pope’s Mass, with the presence of Marini, to the mythical “clown Mass”? I think he’s just destroyed any legitimacy the “clown Mass” meme may have had if this is what they’re complaining about.

  29. The comments by Mr. Wolfe are illustrative of today’s gospel passage. Jesus’s proclamation of the Kingdom definitely brought division into families. But the incendiary remarks made about the Lampedusa liturgy bespeaks a rather vile divisiveness rooted in an understanding of church, liturgy, and evangelization that in not just “pre-Vatican II”, but “pre-Tridentine”.
    Jesus did not leave us a ritual at the last Supper. He left us with a command: Take and Eat, Take and Drink. Do this in memory of me. St. Paul notes that by the time the church was organized in Corinth that there was an awareness that this command also embraced the following: As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again. The worship of God is not static, nor is it simply a compilation of words and actions that “when done right” accomplish the worship of God. That understanding, IMO, borders on idolatry. Worshiping the form of the Mass is not the equivalent of worshiping God in spirit and truth..
    The Bishop of Rome, exercising his role as servant leader for the universal church, was making a pilgrimage to Lampedusa to express compassion for those who died while seeking to immigrate to Italy. One’s taste for vesture or for the style of furnishings is totally beside the point. To compare this to the fabled clown Masses is disgusting.

  30. I grow tired of the clown Mass comparisons too, or the whole notion that the OF is for entertainment (maybe when the changes were new, but not nowadays). However, I also find it annoying that so many news sources go and quote Rorate Coeli whenever they want a “traditionalist” viewpoint, like it is traddy headquarters or something.

    Oh, and I’ll have to remember Bill’s response to MJO next time he criticizes traditional style and antique vestments, lace, or the cappa magna.

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