In the wake of the recent physical attack on the Pope…

… I wonder if the issue of the sedia gestatoria should be revisited.

In years past when the Holy Father was carried on the sedia gestatoria, there were adequate lines of men flanking the chair bearers so that no one could have done what happened on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s.

That said, by making the Pope more visible, you might expose him to other kinds of attacks.

The Pope clearly can’t be put into a bubble.   But the security around him has to be increased.

It is not fair to the whole Catholic world, the whole world, that he should be exposed to this pesky … or perhaps deadly… events.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to In the wake of the recent physical attack on the Pope…

  1. This is a very good reason for bringing back the sedia gestatoria. Some say the Popemobile is better, but there are obviously some places the Popemobile can’t go.

    Besides which, the sedia gestatoria has the added advantage of looking very cool.

  2. JonathanZ says:

    Sancte Pater, sic transit gloria mundi…

  3. The Astronomer says:

    As a former operations officer for the US Govt, the sedia gestatoria, while a time-honored tradition, only makes His Holiness a more conveniently visible line-of-sight target for deranged people or henchmen of the Adversary. Popemobile is better, but indoors??? A real pickle, padre….security versus accessibility.

  4. haleype says:

    No security is foolproof and one wonders how the Holy Father, himself, feels about this. Does he so want to be accessible to the people that he disavows any stringent security precautions? That said, having been formed with a military background, I would say make the security of the Vicar of Christ as airtight as possible. After all, we have only one Vicar of Christ at any one time despite the proliferation of wannabe popes in our lifetime.

  5. joebkathy says:

    “In years past when the Holy Father was carried on the sedia gestatoria, there were adequate lines of men flanking the chair bearers so that no one could have done what happened on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s….
    The Pope clearly can’t be put into a bubble….”

    WHY NOT? EXcelent idea!! A modern bullet-prof bubble over the sedia gestatoria carried by forth-degree Knights of Columbus. Perfect, and would add and restore luster and pomp to Christ’s Vicor on earth.
    You do think of everything Father.

  6. joebkathy says:

    Sorry, “Vicar” not Vicor – my bad!

  7. Ellen says:

    I would think the sedia gestatoria would just make the pope a more inviting target for a sniper.

  8. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    As with the POTUS, a sniper inside a building, such as St. Peter’s, is almost unfeasible. Precautions are taken of which we know not for that kind of thing. Granted, the “jumping over railings” bit. However, it is being proposed to use the sedia indoors, and I find it hard to believe that a “sniper” would be able to hide out somewhere aloft without the Swiss or Vatican Police finding them as they prepare for the Holy Father’s presence.

  9. Rev. Philip-Michael says:

    I agree that the Holy Father’s security detail needs to be quite “air-tight” for the protection of the Vicar of Christ on earth but the people, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, would pray to only have the shadow of Peter fall upon them. The woman in the Gospel who ran up to Jesus just to touch His tunic. The person of the Pope will always be susceptible to people coming up to them. Surely, those who would do him harm, as in the most recent event being here discussed, need to be kept far away from the Pope but the Pope cannot become inaccessible or unable to be attacked or martyred as many before bore forth their greatest witness in having been. Let us pray for his safety and the safety of Popes to come in the future. Pope John Paul II didn’t cower after being shot but maintained public audiences in St Peter’s Square despite the danger.

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    The sedia gestatoria would only make the pope a better target for someone wanting to do violence to him. A better idea is 4-6 security agents right tight around him and a ring of 4-6 priests around them.

    That many people around the pope makes it much harder to get a clear shot without getting caught immediately–a tactical preventative–although no preventative short of bulletproof glass is going to be completely effective. He can’t say mass in bulletproof glass, yet there are things that can be done to make the situation more secure.

  11. Daniel says:

    It seems the line-of-sight problem would be due to the tradition of carrying the rods upon the shoulders. Whereas it would be less solemn, it would seem the rods could be moved down to waist level; or even move the carriage down to floor level with small wheels. Then the problem would become complaints that no one would could see him. It does seem that bullet-proof glass would provide the solution.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    I attended a papal mass in 2005, after the increase in security around St. Peter’s. It was indoors. The area by the Holy Spirit window in St Peter’s was cordoned off for hours before we went in. There was a line of security (Vatican, Italian and Roman) at that cordon behind us as we took our places in the seating for mass. Still, as the pope processed through the crowd from his entry door at the side to the front of St Peter’s, he was very exposed to a large number of people. They process more or less in double file in a long line.

    Security needs to empty the basilica before those papal masses, similar to how they were occasionally doing for the NAC in 2001 right after the attacks on New York.

  13. Andy Milam says:

    There are arguments for and against. Fr. Z is correct in that something needs to be done. As for the sedia v. Popemobile…which medium was used when JPII was shot? And I’ve seen the Pope in the Popemobile, he is not all that visible, unless one is right on top of him.

    We have the right to sound tradition. It is part of the patrimony of the Church. It is clear that the principle of “noble simplicity” (whatever that is) has failed. If that had succeeded, then there would not be such a call for the return to the EF and the ceremonies surrounding it.

    As for a sniper at St. Peter’s….isn’t that a little “Godfather III-esque?” It really is a little sensational.

  14. TNCath says:

    I like the sedia gestatoria very much, but I’m not so sure it would be the answer to the security issues. Let’s face it: the security procedures for getting into St. Peter’s isn’t that tight, although there are surveillance cameras installed all over the basilica. I’m also thinking the Holy Father may be a bit too modest to be carried around in the sedia gestatoria, at least as long as he is in good health and ambulatory.

    I do agree with the idea of making the aisles wider so that security could better protect the Pope. As accessible as everyone wants him to be to the people, a couple feet farther away, at least as far away as he is from the people when riding in the Popemobile at the Wednesday general audiences in St. Peter’s Square, wouldn’t hurt.

    More random thoughts:

    How accessible is he really at this huge liturgies? There are other ways of making the Pope more accessible. How about returning to the daily Masses with small groups of pilgrims present? Does the Pope really have to walk down the main aisle EVERY TIME there is a ceremony at St. Peter’s?

    Finally, we have to come to terms with the fact that no public figure is ever 100% safe. As Michael Corleone says in The Godfather Part II: “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.” While the Holy Father was never in any immediate danger of losing his life Christmas Eve, this breach of security was a chilling reminder that anything can happen, and I would be willing to bet that this goes through the mind of the Holy Father every time he steps out in public.

  15. Athelstan says:

    I tend to agree with others here: you can increase the adequate lines of men flanking the pope without the sedia, which in any case presents its own problems now.

    I never understood why the Palatine and Noble Guards were eliminated. Sometimes I wonder if they would have survived had they been adorned with less threatening renaissance uniforms instead of Victorian ones.

  16. Jerry says:

    “In years past when the Holy Father was carried on the sedia gestatoria, there were adequate lines of men flanking the chair bearers so that no one could have done what happened on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s.”

    I don’t see that the sedia itself offers any significant protection for the type of attack that occurred on Christmas eve. In fact, there is a risk of greater injury to the pope should it be dropped.

    The real problem was not the lack of a sedia, but the lack of the “adequate lines of men” surrounding the pope.

  17. catholicmidwest says:

    Andy,

    What about the assassination attempt in 1981? There was a gunman in St. Peter’s square that day, as we all now know. PJP2 nearly died that day. He probably only survived because he was younger and stronger than most popes at the time.

    That experience alone shows that there’s nothing sensationalistic at all about protecting the pope from a nutcase with a gun–they unfortunately show up every now and then. There are a lot of creeps in this world, and they are the “sensational ones.”

    PS I don’t understand your somewhat incoherent comment about the EF. Perhaps you are trying to say that saying the mass in the vernacular is nobly simple? I beg to differ. When it takes 20 years of arguing and the formation of several Roman offices to get a simple translation for a 45 minute mass because every bonehead in the process has to protest like a 2 bit state congressman, that’s NOT simple, and it’s not progress. We could have just said it Latin after deciding for 15 minutes what music to play on the organ. Period. That’s simple.

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    Athelstan,
    The real work of security in St. Peter’s is now handled by plainclothesmen from the Vatican and the city of Rome. I’m not sure the Italian government doesn’t help too. Trust me, they could act, if necessary. But they need to get more businesslike about formations around the pope as he processes through the basilica and the square.

  19. catholicmidwest says:

    There’s no reason the pope can’t sit behind glass while speaking and presiding. The big screens they used for PJP2 set off on either side of the event make it so people feel plenty close. It’s a much better way to handle the large crowds.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    There are a bunch of problems, ie 20th century developments that make such a change necessary.
    a) The decrease in respect and popular esteem for religious sites so that people might even think of such a thing as bringing a gun to one of them for the purpose of violence.
    b) The emergence of “fan culture” where anyone famous is at risk of violence. And yes, there are people who are not Catholic and just want to see someone “famous” up close at every single Wednesday audience.
    c) The emergence of the “mass tourist phenomenon” where tour companies the world over haul tourists, most of them non-catholic, through St. Peter’s square on Wednesday as part of the Itinerary for which they paid.
    d) Political, cultural, religious and ecclesiastical (within the Church) polarization and unrest.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    Add to that the increasing ethnic and religious composition of Europe, Italy, and of Rome itself.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    read: increasingly complicated and intricate ethnic, religious & political composition

    R

  23. mrsmontoya says:

    This is a high-profile situation in part because it happens so rarely. In these situations security personnel should be better trained and prepared to prevent such incidents.

    However, it is far more likely that our senior ecclesiastics will suffer from accidental injuries. It would be wise for all to take some basic self-preservation training, not necessarily an entire martial arts training, but at least the basics of how to fall and roll safely. I would suggest Tai Chi along with the rolling techniques of Aikido.

  24. tzard says:

    I’ve been thinking the reason be that the Pope wasn’t injured was the presence of his guardian angel.

    We have other ways to protect the pope than secular governments might conceive. In addition to a cadre of security, maybe a cadre of cloistered nuns praying *particularly* about the Pope’s safety at that particular time.

    We can’t let the world change us – we must change the world. Still, prudent changes *within reason* can be done on our part – bullet “proof” glass is the wrong direction. Surrounding him with lines of clerics or strong young seminarians might (with or without the chair).

  25. Dave N. says:

    The BBC footage clearly showed the inaction of the Swiss Guard during the whole attack, which angered me. Are they simply there for decoration?

  26. Prof. Basto says:

    Someone mentioned snipers as a reason not to bring the Sedia back. In my opinion, the possibility of an attack by a sniper is more likely outdoors, given that, inside the Vatican buildings, people pass trough metal detectors.

    Thus, I believe that the Sedia wouldn’t be a problem, at least when used indoors.

    And, before the Pauline reforms of the Papal Court, the Sedia-bearers indeed used to be closely flanked by guardsmen from the Noble Guard, so that an attack like the one we just witnessed woudn’t be feasible.

    In like fashion, the Gentlemen of His Holiness who carried the body of the late Ven. Pope John Paul II were also flanked by Swiss Guards and a line of clerics bearing candles.

    So, with or without a revival of the Sedia, adding a line of guardsmen (be they Swiss Guards or revived Noble Guards) to flank the Pope in procession would be a good thing.

    And, if the Pope intends to revive the Sedia any day, I believe this incident creates a very good pretext for its reintroduction.

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    I think the sedia would be a huge problem. With a sedia the target gets bigger: You can also attempt to bring down the sedia which is easier and causes the turmoil to do just about anything for a few seconds. Come on folks, think. I’m somewhat traditionalist too, but this is bigger than some pretty picture in the back of your head that you’d like to see.

  28. David2 says:

    I think the sedia would be an ideal solution, and the risk of “bringing down the sedia” is being somewhat exaggerated.

    We are talking about a chair carried by no less than twelve young, fit, strong men – you’d probably need to knock out perhaps half a dozeon of the bearers to topple it, and with a line of guardsmen on each side, the possibility of even touching a bearer is remote. You’d be surprised how stable a chair carried by twelve blokes actually is.

    On the contrary, I think the sedia is actually a very practical solution. We are not talking about using it in the streets of Rome; only in the Basillica itself.

  29. tired student says:

    One of my first thoughts when watching a recap of the attack was this: Vatican security should allow less laity to attend St. Peter’s solemnities and create more space in the nave. This is a very easy to implement first security step that would avoid throngs of people holding up their smartphones and creating general distractions. Also, the multiple rows of laity hem in the Pope and his security entourage. I trust that those in charge of planning papal liturgies can balance the attendance of prominent people (heads of states, politicians, nobles etc.) with ‘ordinary’ laity. Perhaps a ticket lottery might make more limited seating for solemnities fairer. It may hurt some people that only a relative few will be able to hear papal Mass. It’s in the Pope’s best interests, I’m convinced.

  30. Remember that the Popes of the 20th century through John XXIII (Paul VI too?) used the sedia, in an armed world every bit as dangerous as it is today, when the enemies of the Church were at open war with her. They were not shot. On the other hand, John Paul II, who refused to use the sedia, and who was standing in a vehicle close to the ground, was shot by a sniper who was standing just a few feet away. Using the sedia is not a guarantee of risk; keeping it in mothballs is not a guarantee of safety.

    In this age of materialism, it seems to me we are tempted to place a higher value on our hides than on our souls; maybe our worries about physical safety are inordinate. There is a place for counsels of prudence; but then there comes a point where the rest must be left to God.

  31. I’ve seen in the far east during processions the “security” on each side stays the same spacing however they carry a decorative rope between each man on the sides. Kind of a mobile barrier on the right and left of the VIP, but it looks like part of the event. It can be quickly raised or lowered to intercept anyone trying to cross. The visibility of the pontiff and his accessibility to the people is so important I think he will carry on as always. God bless the Holy Father.

  32. John Fannon says:

    Making the aisle wider seems to me to be the most practical solution. The idea of some maniac kocking down one or more of the men carrying the sedia is too horrible to contemplate.

    Making the aisle wider, coupled with a phalanx of guards on either side would give the time to react.

  33. Mitchell NY says:

    Putting the Sedia emotional debate aside and looking at the practical, for indoor Papal ceremonies it should probably be used. It will not topple easily, as how many times in the thousands of times it was used can someone recall it being toppled? Besides we must look at what HAS happened not only what might. The Holy Father has been “jumped” twice, this time knocking him the floor, which Thank GOD he did not suffer injury. But with what happened to the Cardinal it could have been the Holy Father with broken bones or worse. It simply would not have happened had he been elevated and surrounded. Bring back 8 or 12 Noble Guardsman to protect and encircle him. Their function will certainly add to his security and as well restore something that was maybe swept away in haste anyway. Albeit a limited number solely for this purpose. As far as someone getting through Vatican Security and taking a shot at him if elevated, let’s think about that. If they really get in with a weapon, do we really think they will put it down or cancel their plans if he is walking or not elevated? Whether on the Sedia or on the elevated Altar they will do their malice. Snipers are snipers, but allowing him to walk on the same level as people with weapons, or even knives seems somewhat foolish now. If the Sedia must be encased well then encase it. But elevate him above the walking dangers, surrounded by more Guards. No one should be able to tackle the Holy Father. His vestments heavy, his age and health, who would deny him use of the Sedia? You can never completely protect him, but the Sedia’s use now seems more practical than any of the other solutions. For various reasons and maybe this latest attack was a simple sign from above that it is time for the many who voice their opposition to the Sedia to humbly submit to the fact that the current practice of walking down the aisle of St. Peter’s must change. For all those in opposition, how would they have felt had he been hospitalized last Christmas Eve? Maybe he would be open to using it if people supported its’ use instead of judging him as having monarchial tendencies or returning to an outdated and ostentacious practice. Let’s all pray and show our support to the Holy Father if he considers this the best and now necessary way to continue with processions down the aisle. I am sure he was terribly shaken and should not be walking down the asile in fear before the liturgy.

  34. Dr. Eric says:

    After seeing pictures like this:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YC87epvokPc/RuTp43zcbzI/AAAAAAAADPA/xyE1nStZutE/s400/GestatorialChair1.jpg

    I think that the extra entourage could have prevented the incident at Midnight Mass.

  35. In agreement with John Fannon’s suggestion of a wider aisle, perhaps additionally having those half walls with acrylic on top (as seen at hockey events) would be a deterrent as well. It would have slowed the assailant enough to get the attention of the security. The security teams reacted quite rapidly considering the high speed at which the woman scaled the wall and traversed the space.

    The prospect of having the chair topple with the Holy Father, even it did have a “seat belt” would produce greater injuries but then, that is just an hypothesis.

    Let us pray for our Pope, the injured Cardinal and for this woman who is clearly disturbed.

  36. Prof. Basto says:

    The problem of placing a line of bodyguards or guardsmen arround the Pope, flanking him in procession, whitout at the same time elevating the Pope by means of the Sedia is that the Pope would then be hardly visible to the faithful, as the line of guardsmen would block the view.

    So, if one wants the Pope to remain visible, the solution would be to combine a layer of guardsmen with the Sedia (or, outdoors, a bulletproof popemobile with a raised glass platform).

    As the picture linked by Dr. Eric shows, the Sedia used to be pretty well protected by layers of guardsmen, without blocking the Pope from the people’s view.

  37. Geremia says:

    This is a much better video than the AP one.

    Evidently Sig.na Maiolo, sporting her commie-colored sweater, does not need more ineffective psychiatric therapy; she has had months worth already. Since the Vatican has control over how to prosecute her, I think they should give her an exorcism.

    Also, why were so many people taking videos and pictures of the Pope, as Holy Mass was beginning, as though they were worshiping man? I am a papist, but first idolatry needs to end, especially during Holy Mass, because idolatry attracts more evil.

  38. edwardo3 says:

    The Sedia should be used for all indoor ceremonies period. If necesary have a new one commissioned that has hidden bulletproof capabilities or retro-fit the old ones. I also think the aisles should be wider as well. With the Sedia, there would be enough well trained men in formation around the Holy Father and the Sedarii that they would be well protected, and the Holy Father could be much more easily seen. Security + and Visability+.

  39. the seminarian says:

    I agree with Edwardo, Basto & others. I think that with indoor ceremonies, the crowd goes through security checkpoints and metal detectors to get into these events. So, hoping that one can’t pass a gun through this security I think the risk of being high up as a target inside the basilica is slim to none. I do not think it is necessary to retro fit any existing sedia for bullet-proofing. I am in complete agreement that the popemobile is probably the best way to handle outdoor crowds. It keeps the Holy Father moving at an adequate pace, it usually makes the rounds through the square so that everyone who came to see the pope can get a glimpse of him and neither he nor a gang of “sedia bearers” tires themselves out walking through the entirety of the square.

  40. Roland de Chanson says:

    The sedia is not the solution.

    The solution is to nullify that infamous council and the nefarious works it engendered.

    Bring back the minor orders, I say. Especially that of Basilica Bouncers, a.k.a. Ostiarii. In fact, make it a permanent order. Big burly bruisers who would bully any bimbo who tried to bulldoze the pope.

    Then again, maybe she is just a disgruntled Traditional Catholic who is overwrought at the papal intransigence at celebrating the “extraordinary” form publicly.

    Quem Deus diligit amens fit. Oremus et pro ea ut Deus amentiam eius sanet et pro papa ut Deus obstinationem eius superet.

  41. catholicmidwest says:

    The big problem with tall walls is that there is always a lot of pushing and shoving at these events, less so inside than outside, but still. The walls would have to be quite robust. Something that heavy would have to be anchored in the floor when in use. But other times, they’d have to be portable. The basilica is used in a lot of different configurations depending on what’s going on at the time. What you see Christmas eve on TV is not what you see most days of the year at St. Peter’s.

    Of course you could always simply install a wiggly, floppy (but not sharp) no-climb extension on the existing fencing so that it would be very difficult to traverse the fence top with one’s feet or stand on it to climb. Sections would be locked together at setup and fastened at several points along the aisle, and then unlocked by the maintenance staff to be put away again. A mixture of curly loopy wire and slippery tangled fine plastic filament about 9-10 inches deep laid across the top and down at an angle toward the viewer would do it. This wouldn’t stop some things, but it would have stopped the lady on Christmas Eve.

    They’d ought to use such a no-climb arrangement outdoors too, to inhibit the crazy climbing that goes on at the audiences.

    At papal events, people should also be held in seating sections, and once the event begins, it should not be possible to move from one section to another for security reasons, unless one is escorted in a group. If this is not already done, it should be. This way, if something were to happen, it could be pinpointed immediately and the person responsible would have no mobility until detained–a fine deterrent.

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    Roland,
    Yes, I agree. A few bouncers are definitely in order. People who can’t behave need to find themselves sitting in the street.

  43. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    To be fair to the protection detail for Benecict, once they saw what was happening, they took action. if you watch the video, the guard who takes the woman down comes running at full speed to stop her. This is especially clear in the video Geremia linked to above.

    I do not think they underperformed in this situation. That said, things can be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    But one last thing is that the answer is not to remove the Pope from the people, especially if, as I think it is, it is his wish to be close to the people. The Sedia would probably help, but if the Pope wishes have physical contact with the faithful, I think that choice should be theirs.

  44. Geoffrey says:

    Even before this recent incident, I have felt that the return of the sedia gestatoria is a bad idea for security reasons. Just imagine that was being used on Christmas Eve. The sedia gestatoria could have toppled, causing harm to the Holy Father and those around him. As much as I love tradition, the sedia gestatoria should not return. It just isn’t safe.

  45. There’s a lot of talk about toppling. Can anybody come up with a documented sedia toppling incident?

  46. Dr. Eric says:

    Geoffrey needs to look at the link I provided above. There are at least 2 layers of guards who walk with the Sedia. I assume there may be more than that. 15-24 guards are enough to make sure nothing like this happens again.

  47. catholicmidwest says:

    Anita,

    Historical data may not help in this instance. Society is changing and changing fast. See Fr’s posts on problems with Vatican security. Technology and different motivations make many things more likely than they used to be.

    Have you been to Rome lately (last 5 years or so) and walked in what used to be the nice quiet areas to the north of St. Peter’s?

  48. Mitchell NY says:

    Balance and distribution of weight load have to be taken into account with the Sedia. It would be extremely difficult to topple the Sedia even if you could get to and take out one of eight men that carry it. Load distribution would pass to the next two individuals on either side momentarily until the eighth could get upright..I am sure eight is more than sufficient and not the minimum. They must have been trained with that possibility taken into account, walking with 7 etc. We must not think of it as an upside down triangle on its’ apex that could be so easily tipped. It is not so..And with more Guards around the Sedia carriers it would be close to impossible to get to them. And again, when has a Pope been toppled from the Sedia? He HAS been toppled walking in Procession. If he continues to walk and this happens again then I think there will no longer be debate. After last year many thanked GOD he was not harmed and thought this would not happen again after reviewing security procedures and look what happened Christmas Eve. He was violently and forcefully pulled down to the marble or granite floors. This was unacceptable. Use of the Sedia, although not the perfect solution to all possible scenarios, will increase the level of protection up a notch and that is what is desperately needed right now. Also surrounding the Sedia with Noble Guard as was in the past.

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    I don’t understand this fascination with the sedia. Nothing like making yourself a target.

    Understand that the world is changing. Most Catholics are no longer in Europe or America. They’re in the southern hemisphere–Latin America, Africa and Asia. The sedia, which is merely an historical custom, says nothing to them. The world has changed.

    If you absolutely must live in the past, then you’d better start having millions of children to maintain the faith in Europe and the US. You’d better start paying for new cathedrals and defending the faith with your armies and your universities. Otherwise, this is not your call.

  50. catholicmidwest says:

    Understand that the Church’s mission and commitment to the truth of the Gospels have NOT changed. But the historical and cultural circumstances around her have.

  51. If you absolutely must live in the past, then you’d better start having millions of children to maintain the faith in Europe and the US. You’d better start paying for new cathedrals and defending the faith with your armies and your universities. Otherwise, this is not your call.

    ?????

  52. Jordanes says:

    catholicmidwest said: Most Catholics are no longer in Europe or America. They’re in the southern hemisphere—Latin America, Africa and Asia. The sedia, which is merely an historical custom, says nothing to them. The world has changed.

    “Nothing”? How then do you explain this photo of Pope John Paul II at Guadalupe, Mexico?

    http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff319/kjk76_95/Guadalupe79.jpg?t=1195615518

    If you absolutely must live in the past, then you’d better start having millions of children to maintain the faith in Europe and the US.

    That’s not “living in the past” — having children is living in the present and for the future. But you’re right — Catholics need to start having a lot more children, right now. Faithful Catholics already are, but there are far too many unfaithful, contracepting/aborting Catholics in Europe and the U.S.

    You’d better start paying for new cathedrals and defending the faith with your armies and your universities.

    Sounds great to me!

  53. Mitchell NY says:

    Actually elevation during processions does have a strong connection in Latin America…It is done all the time with statues of the Virgin and various Saints. Especially Chile, Mexico, and Comombia. To see the Pope would not be strange to them..In fact in quite a few homes I have been in, in Latin America there are images of both Venerable Pope Pius XII, and Blessed John XXII in the Sedia during Processions. Amongst deep traditional backrounds many like the idea of the Sedia and other elements disregarded. Except of course evangelical Catholics coming from a different angle. It is not as foreign as we think. Other Latin Americans are more pious and traditional than we think. That has been my personal experience.

  54. catholicmidwest says:

    Jordanes,

    That statement had the form: if, then.

    To restate:

    *IF* you must live in the past (wanting your old customs forever), *THEN* you’d better do the things from the past that enabled the faith to grow and thrive in Europe and US.
    *IF* you don’t do those things, *THEN* your customs will falter and disappear because they will be replaced.

    We, as a culture, withdrew the elements that enabled the faith to thrive in the West, so it’s not. Rather, the greatest growth in Catholic church membership is in other parts of the world.

  55. catholicmidwest says:

    Mitchell,
    How about African populations? That’s where the church is growing fastest. The number of Christians in Asia is increasing too.

  56. Geoffrey says:

    Dr. Eric:

    I did see your link. I happen to own a copy of that picture. It is very beautiful. However, that was a very different time and place. It wouldn’t take much for one of those handlers to lose their grip during a commotion and drop the sedia gestatoria. I’d hate to see tradition outweigh the safety of the Vicar of Christ.

  57. Dr. Eric says:

    I think that the many different scenarios would be drilled just like other police, military, and paramilitary personnel do. I’m sure that the guards would be instructed to lower the Sedia once a skirmish started. Let’s not forget the extra layers of guards that flank the Sedia.

    Up until I saw the picture I was against bringing back the Sedia.

  58. Mitchell NY says:

    Not to mention the Sedia would be a moving target if one at all and would be more difficult to get a still focus on. Also perhaps turn the Flabelli inwards with a slight wave of them while they walk would further obscure any focused attack on the person of the Holy Father….As for tipping, when has this ever happened and it has been used for centuries? This keeps being brought up as a probability. I think the weight load is pretty well distributed, and 8 to 12 men carrying it have been trained for a multitude of possible scenarios, including tipping…Don’t the Orthodox do some elevating of high Churchman, maybe the Patriarch in a Sedia type chair? I thought I have seen photos of this…

  59. Trevor says:

    I think this makes the Pope more vulnerable to wackos with pistols…