Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Holy Father's vestments for WYD

An interesting article has come in from the Australian newspaper about the Holy Father's vestments for World Youth Day.

The Pope has decided he will not wear the vestments specially designed for World Youth Day and billed as "chic clergy couture" on the WYD website.

The "earthy-red" coloured vestments feature the Southern Cross constellation on the front and an indigenous feature titled "Marjorie's Bird" on the back.

The Pope is known to dislike vestment symbols that are not explicitly Christian. He may, though, wear some variation on the vestment design, a WYD spokeswoman said.

The snub may be the first of many in the clash of cultures between the liturgically and theologically conservative Pope Benedict XVI and the exuberance of the youth day.

Conservative liturgist Father Tim Deeter has already left Sydney and his WYD choirmaster position because of "stress", a WYD spokesman said.

Held over six days in Sydney in July, the day has a strong youth festival element, including music, performing arts, visual art exhibitions, debate, film, community gatherings, street performers, workshops and a vocations expo. But Tracey Rowland, author of a recently published book about the Pope titled Ratzinger's Faith, said Benedict was totally opposed to what he called "utility" music in the liturgy.

"Pope Benedict believes it's unacceptable to use pop music as a carrot to get people to go to church," she said, adding that he was critical of rock music outside the mass as well.

The Pope believes applause in church "was completely liturgically wrong", Dr Rowland said.

The Catholic Church expects 125,000 young members to flock to the youth day in Australia, where they will join 100,000 young Australians for the largest youth event in the world. They are expected to sleep at Randwick racecourse, where the Pope will celebrate mass on July 20 - possibly wearing a variation on the official WYD vestments theme.

Dr Rowland said she had not seen the WYD vestments, but the Pope would think it was very important that any symbols featured on the clothing were "explicitly and unequivocally Christian".

The vestments are now being produced in Bergamo, northern Italy, by Solivari, a company specialising in liturgical vestments. Seven hundred chasubles, the outer garment, will be produced for cardinals and bishops, and 3000 stoles - the strip of cloth worn around the neck - for priests and deacons.

WYD spokesman Jim Hanna said he had not heard of any difficulties arising from the Pope's conservative preferences. "I have seen no evidence of controversy brewing about the liturgy," he said.

Mr Hanna said the church continued to expect about 125,000 pilgrims from overseas, despite concerns that the strong Australian dollar and the Pope's imminent visit to the US might act as a deterrent.

"We are in regular contact with the bishops' conferences in most of the main countries - we check the numbers they give us all the time," he said. "What they're telling us at the moment is that the number of 125,000 is about right."

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