Thursday, November 12, 2009

Princes of the Church

Does anyone else note the irony of self-professed evangelicals aspiring to be princes of the church? ACNA Archbishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan insists on being addressed as "Your Grace." His Grace, The Lion of Abuja, the Archbishop retired of Nigeria, Peter Akinola refers to himself in the first person plural in his writings (or at least in what's written for him by his American handlers). Of course there are personality cults throughout evangelical Christianity, but few of them aspire to the trappings of monarchy (though they certainly aspire to its absolutism, and even to dynastic rule).

As the world becomes progressively less egalitarian, and we are ruled over by corporate oligarchs with aristocratic pretensions, and ecclesiastics with princely pretensions, I suppose this sort of thing is inevitable. The Church will resume its old role of spiritual buttress of the State and the Established order. As more bishops expect us to kiss their rings, look for our bankers and landlords to be standing right behind them.

Who would have ever thought that a papal tiara would work with a Geneva gown?

Here's something for them all to aspire to. Here is the recessional from the very last full Papal coronation ceremony, the one held for Pope John XXIII

Ironically, it would be this son of peasants who would begin the process that would end this kind of monarchical pomp and circumstance by convening the Second Vatican Council.

Now, the vengeful spirit of the First Vatican Council has removed him from his tomb and banished his remains to an obscure part of St. Peter's under the pretense of a beatification. Resting in his old place is the pope who began the current process of returning to the old centralized ultra-Montane church of the First Vatican Council, John Paul II.


Leonard said...

Are you certain he´s been banished? I saw him in a glass coffin in the nave at St. Peters a few years ago...I always liked the man and was very moved seeing him right there in front of me (unexpectantly)...within moments I also saw a gigantic statue of a floor length/vertical standing and robed Pope Pius XII staring over his should at me...freaked me out...when I was a kid he always scared me during the Blk and White Newsreals as he was shown being hauled about on a litter (apparently alive)...never did like that guy gave me the creeps (later I learned more about him and liked him less)...a shudder at Pius XII and a warm hearted greeting for John XXIII...amen.

Counterlight said...

I haven't been to Rome since John XXIII was moved. I remember when his was the second tomb I saw when I entered the grotto under the floor of Saint Pete's. The first was Pio Dodicesimo. I remember that John's was covered with flowers and candles, and the other papal tombs were bare. I had heard stories that Pope John was a little harder to find now that he had been moved, but I could be wrong.

Hannah Arendt was a big fan of Pope John. She wrote an essay on the occasion of his coronation called "At Last, A Christian on the Throne of Peter." She told a story about him in which he overheard a group of construction workers in St. Peter's arguing and swearing loudly. He walked up to them and said, "Gentlemen please! Why can't you just say 'shit' like everyone else around here?"

it's margaret said...

"I suppose this sort of thing is inevitable. The Church will resume its old role of spiritual buttress of the State and the Established order."

ohhhhhhhh... gawd.... you're probably right.

Leonard said...

¨In 2001, he was placed on display in a glass coffin in St Peter's, during a mass conducted by Pope John Paul II.

The space the older pope vacated in the crypt beneath the basilica will soon be occupied by the younger man who oversaw that very mass.¨

I thought I was losing it...I knew I saw him in a glass coffin at St. Peters and liked seeing him and I knew I saw Pope Pius XII (only a free standing gigantic sculpture) and freaked out!

Whew (and I haven´t had a drink for 30+ years)!

Lapinbizarre said...

Re your BBC link, Leonardo, if John XXIII was truly in good condition when he was exhumed it must indeed have been a miracle, because, like Pius XII & Paul VI, before and after him, he was visibly decaying (see contemporary shots in Life) by the close of his funeral ceremonies.

His coronation was the last one at which flax was ceremonially burned three times in a candle flame in front of the new pope with the warning "Sic transit gloria mundi".

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I am not one to dislike a bit of decorum, but these aare very little guys with issues. Redikkulus!