Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"But Father, I saw the Pope wearing an overlay stole...."

I have gotten several emails and comments stating this or, similarly, pointing out that certain important ecclesiastical types do. My initial and enduring response is, "So what. Just because someone important does it, it doesn't make it right." I think most clergy that engage in this abuse do so innocently. They simply are unaware or haven't thought through the rubrics.

The Pope is a different case. As the supreme earthly legislator within the Church, he has the authority to grant himself a dispensation from liturgical law. However, I am told that this is not what is going on when one sees the Pope in an overlay stole. The Pope doesn't bring his own vestments with him when he travels. It is provided by the area which is hosting his visit. Ideally, the papal Master of Ceremonies would provide guidance on this, but as this is Archbishop Marini.... A few years ago, I was at the ordination of a friend in California. It was about to get ugly after the diocesan MC informed me that, "In this diocese, we wear the stole on top." Just then, my Roman trained friend suggested that I do what John Paul II did when confronted with this, wear another stole under the chasuble. I suspect this is what the current Holy Father does when confronted with a similar situation.

(P. S. Be careful not to confuse the papal pallium with an overlay stole.)
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