Unfortunately I was unable to see the Papal inauguration of Pope Francis on television this morning, and had to rely on internet reports. It was clear from these that His Holiness has raised hopes and expectations in his home continent amongst the faithful who were present in St Peter's Square.
This evening a friend of eminently traditionalist sympathies was saying that he thought this morning's ceremonial was in several ways a distinct improvement on that in 2005. He cited the presence of a crucifix over th Papal throne, and the free-standing statute of the Virgin and Child by the altar, the canopy over the altar and the six large candlesticks flanking the crucifix there, which also had its own, seventh light.
I assume that these are in part a result of the revision of the rite by Pope Benedict XVI before he stepped aside, and which was reported on the Vatican webite during the vacancy. It was this which restored the homage of the Cardinals - though as with the homage of the Peers at the English Coronation it is reduced to representitives of each degree rather than all the Sacred College. The New Liturgical Movement has Ceremonial Details of Today's Mass of Inauguration on its site.
I must, of course, admit, that I would rather we had had the traditional Coronation of the Pope, and will always recall the impact of watching on television that of Pope Paul VI in 1963.
One thing which surprises me for not being retained in the modified Inauguration, as opposed to Coronation, rite is the ceremony with a Franciscan holding up on three occasions a piece of burning flax or tow with the salutory admonition as it flared up and extinguished itself to the new Pope of "Pater Sancte, Sic transit gloria mundi." I would have thought that might appeal particularly to Pope Francis.
Such fears, whether justified or not, are not assuaged by reports such as this one by the veteran BBC Rome correspondent David Willey (though I often sense his understanding of the Vatican and the Church is less than perfect) which can be seen at Break with past.
That point made, it is also important to stress that as Catholics we feel loyalty to the Pope and to his office, and respect and look to his spiritual leadership and teaching example - as, for example, I wrote the other day Pope Francis may well be the leader to recall the developed economies to a sense of responsibility and morality. It is rather on these lines that Fr Julian Large C.O., Provost of the London Oratory, has written an excellent piece which can be read here.
Addendum - Thursday
Further to what I wrote above on Tuesday evening I would draw attention to a very thoughtful posting on his blog by Fr Blake about the nature and perception of Papal authority in the modern world. His point about the risks for the Church of relying on the perceived celebrity of a Pontiff has concerned me as an idea since the conclaves of 1978.His post can be read at Larger than life Popes?