Benedict XVI’s new liturgical movements – WDTPRS POLL!

I picked this up from the intrepid Andrea Tornielli.

Apparently from tomorrow onward, Sunday, Pope Benedict will start using the moving platform used by John Paul II when it became hard for him to walk. He will do this in the Vatican Basilica tomorrow for a Mass he will celebrate.

The papal spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, says: «Non c’è nessuna malattia o indicazione di tipo medico … There is no malady or suggestion of medical nature.» Thus, we are not supposed to read too much into this. Lombardi said that this is just to alleviate some of the fatigue the octogenarian pope feels when walking long distances, particularly in heavy vestments.

What immediately occurred to me is that it might also give him a little more protection in the case of an aggressor. Sure enough, Lombardi mentioned that as well.

If they want to alleviate fatigue, make the Holy Father more visible to people and keep people from jumping out at him as has happened a couple times already, I have a similar idea.

Sedia gestatoria

Remember the POLL we had in 2009?  The plugin for that poll is long gone, though comments remain.  Let’s have another WDTPRS POLL!

Chose your best answer and then leave a comment in the combox, below, about this new development for Pope Benedict, Popes in the past, and/or the Sedia Gestatoria.

Should the Pope be carried on the Sedia Gestatoria again?

View Results

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From the Holy Father’s Mass this morning:


Not exactly the Sedia Gestatoria.  Since the Holy Father is not very tall, this will help him to be more visible.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. SimonR says:

    I had noticed that the Holy Father was walking much more slowly in recent times.

    Let us all continue to pray for our beloved Holy Father.

  2. frjim4321 says:

    The sedia will never come back, it makes too much of a target of the pope. Security procedures would never allow it. Speaking of heavy vestments, I wonder if that’s code for “Kevlar.” Would not be surprised.

    I think he should have whatever promotes his safety and comfort.

  3. Bring it back, definitely.

    I’d prefer that they find some recently retired US Navy “Seals” to surround it, though. Valuable cargo deserves valuable protection, especially considering the recent phenomenon of kooks coming out of the woodwork to attack the pope. And not intending any offense to his current detail, but their recent performance has not been exactly stellar.

  4. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Bring back the Sedia. Let us see and understand the weight of bearing up His Holiness. Bring back the Triple Tiara, that we may see the triple office of His Holiness. As the darkness gathers here in America, let the light shine from Rome.

  5. Jbuntin says:

    I didn’t vote because I didn’t know how to answer the poll since I have only been Catholic for 6 years. I’ve seen pictures but other than that I have no recollection of the Sedia Gestatoria. I do think that all tradition should not be thown out the window for the sake of modern times, but a little updating never hurt anything.
    I don’t see the present Holy Father ever using it, because he is just to humble. If it had never been put away I think the Holy Father would have had no problem with it, but he will never bring it back for himself. Maybe for the next Pontif.
    Just my opinon.

  6. Jbuntin says:

    Oh, just one more thing… I think using the Sedia Gestatoria would be wonderful for special feasts and Holy Days.

  7. Phillip says:

    I’m really torn on this one, so I voted “No, not yet. It isn’t the right time for it.” I like the idea of the Successor of Peter being treated like one might expect the Successor of Peter to be treated. I like formality and pomp, and I like the idea of returning to tradition. I don’t like those things at the expense of the faithful who are largely already ambivalent (at best) about the Church’s hierarchy for a number of reasons. I’m not suggesting we accommodate those Catholics-in-name-only who hate the Pope because he opposes abortion and teaches against the notion of “same-sex marriage,” but rather that we not go out of our way to surround the papacy with all of its former splendour when so many Catholics already feel that the clergy is out of touch.

    This isn’t to say, of course, that we should do away with solemnity and formality altogether, but rather that our focus should be upon those things when it comes to what’s really essential for Catholics – say, Mass. Not on what’s really just a pretty cool chair.

  8. KAS says:

    I love the thought of the chair being brought back, except that the point made about it making the pope an easy target is disturbing.

    As for the first three options on the pole, I voted for the first but thought any of the three were good.

    Kevlar lining on vestments strikes me as a good idea. On the other hand, there are a lot of types of bullets that are not stopped by this material good as it is– likely why the pope-mobile was so popular.

    Prayer is the best protection, but doing what we can is really important too and I would not want the chair if it put the Holy Father in danger.

  9. jlmorrell says:

    I voted: Yes, bring it back as it was with the Papal Court.

    Of course, this could be done in a way that is gradual so that the liberals don’t immediately all have heart attacks. It could be brought back at first only for certain solemn feast days with a very basic entourage and then progress could be made over the years to make it more frequent and similar to the olden days (like bringing back the flabullum and other components of the papal court that were disbanded).

  10. chcrix says:

    I voted “something more modern”.

    This is not because I actually oppose the use of the sedia. Rather, I expect the Holy Father to continue his ‘incrementalist’ approach reform of the reform. I would rather that next increment be his occasional public celebration of a mass in the extraordinary form.

    I am correct, am I not, that Pope Benedict has not actually celebrated the extraordinary form since he became pope?

  11. Phillip says:

    Not trying to flood the combox, here, but I’ve revised my position somewhat: maybe after a papal inauguration (or coronation…) or some other very rare occasion of exceptional significance.

    I was thinking more along the lines of the sedia becoming the new (old?) Popemobile or something in my comment above.

  12. “Sedan chair” = motionsickness, as many a pope has testified.

    So if they ever bring back the sedia, it needs to be combined with steadicam technology.

  13. Fr. Frank says:

    While I would love to see the Vicar of Christ again carried in the sedia gestatoria, I agree with Fr. Jim, above. It would provide an unobstructed head-shot for a sniper. Perhaps after the Great Chastisement, when the Eucharistic Reign of Christ is inaugurated. Please Lord, may it be so!

  14. pm125 says:

    Voted something more modern to care for the comfort and safety of Pope Benedict XVI due to circumstances of procession distances and numbers/proximity of people.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “No, not yet. It isn’t the right time for it.”

    Granted, I am a fan of such traditional trappings, but I do not think it would be safe. The security of the Holy Father is much more important than tradition (please note the lowercase “t”).

  16. heway says:

    I voted for an update because what I want wasn’t listed. I can understand that at the Pope’s age it must very tiring and difficult to be as spry as he appears. So I would like to see him carried on a chair, pushed on a chair or have a motorized chair. But as others have noted, the danger of easy mark may be too great. His protection should be uppermost. As to the chair itself…I could care less.

  17. UncleBlobb says:

    I voted for the real sedia gestatoria and the real detail for all of the obvious “ultra-montaine” reasons, and because all of these modern “things’ and accomodations are destroying my soul.

  18. Gail F says:

    There is no option for “that is one of the weirdest looking things I have ever seen.”

    Maybe for some kind of special occasion. But otherwise: no. It looks ridiculous, like something Yul Brynner would ride around in when playing Pharoah. Plus, no one is used to carrying people around on poles. What if they dropped him??? [They dropped John XXIII once. I have a great anecdote about that from one of the former “bearers” of yore.]

  19. Lori Pieper says:

    I voted for “something more modern” as a substitute. Partly because the would make the Pope too much of a target (and you can put bulletproof glass surrounding him up there very easily). And partly for the reasons Philip so eloquently stated.

    Oddly, I remember back in the earliest days of Bl. John Paul II’s pontificate how he would use the moving platform thing for his general audiences, when he was obviously young and vigorous. I think he was doing it just so he could say he wasn’t using the sedia gestatoria, which he never once used.

    His predecessor, John Paul I, had tried to abolish it, without complete success. He allowed them to carry him in it at his last three general audiences, completely stripped down, no furbelows, or entourage, except for those who were carrying him. And also once in the square in front of St. John Lateran on the day he took possession of it as his cathedral church. But he didn’t want to be carried in it inside the church during a solemn ceremony. John Paul II wanted to honor and fulfill what his predecessor did. After that, he got the Popemobile and the audiences were largely moved outdoors, which seemed to settle things.

    I think that in using the platform, Pope Benedict is using the “modern substitute” that’s right for him. I suspect he didn’t make the decision easily; he seems to value his independent movement. I hope it prevents him from suffering from complete exhaustion, poor man.

  20. YoungCatholic says:

    I would love it if the Holy Father would use the Sedia Gestatoria, but as others have said it is way to dangerous for the Holy Father to use it. What if he was on top of it when that lady jumped at him in 2009? That would have been a hard fall!

  21. Supertradmum says:

    I voted no because of security reasons. The Pope is probably in more danger now than for the last seventy years. Already, we have seen violence which does not respect religion and this will get worse. I pray for his Ireland visit, as I am very concerned about violence there.

  22. puma19 says:

    I have noticed that when BXVI was in Spain he was moving more slowly and then in Germany most recently he really was taking smaller steps as he walked around. Much slower than normal. For an 80 + man he was able to get down steps with ‘great alacrity’ but of late his mobility has got slower. Not sure about Sedia as hard to bring back now after it went out with JPI of great memory in 1978. Also as some have said the Vatican security would be paranoid about having the pope high up and not able to be aurrounded should some nut want to harm the pontiff. So I that’s out: BUT it could come back inside the basilica if their security upon entering was really superb. It would be easier to see pope and also from my exprience there I have been horrified to see nuns and others shoving to see the pope as he walked down the centre aisle. So many jump up on seats to take pics. So unbecoming in the great basilica.

  23. ipadre says:

    I would like to see the Sedia brought back for one reason among others. This stand on wheels gives the media a reason to jump to conclusions as they always do. They will once again bring back the question of who the next Pope will be, like Pope Benedict is moments from his last breath.

    Long live Pope Benedict XVI!

  24. jhayes says:

    Here is a video clip of the Holy Father entering on the wheeled platform, pushed by two men.

  25. Mitchell NY says:

    If Our Holy Father is in need of rest and the walks in procession are too taxing on his body then truly it is time to re-introduce the Sedia into Procession as was last used by Pope John Paul I. The Hermeneutic of Continuity seems to almost direct towards this decision. We have a way for our Holy Father to avoid the long walks and that is through the use of the traditional Sedia Gestatoria. Besises, the moving platform, no matter what the Vatican Press office says about it, is going to infer that the Pope is really sick or on his way to ill health. It is too vivible a reminder of the long, suffering illness that Pope John Paul II went through. It is going to smack of a repeat of this. Re-Introduce the Sedia, get it over with, and let people understand why this is done. For a Pope who is really exhausted he deserves the Sedia and he also deserves our respect and understanding for its’ recovery. It would be a great moment for Cathechis and also links him to a not so long ago predesessor, John Paul I. And as uncomfortable as it might be for some, it would be comforting for many more to see the Catholic Tradition being used once again. Just as the Mass is not a Museum piece so shouldn’t be other items that are rich in Catholic Tradition. Just as the Flabelli should be removed from behind glass and appear on the balcony of St. Peters in the foreground of the Pope when he makes his addresses. At least we would know these things have not disappeared from sight for those who are not fortunate enough to get to the Museum to see them. I really hope the Holy Father considers this in the name of Continuity.

  26. Mitchell NY says:

    Or reconstruct it with red carpet, the color of the Papacy, and place a Sedia Chair on it so he may sit while being wheeled, which is safer than standing. Then it will be reminiscent of the past with the Sedia Chair and at the same time lowering him even further than in the upright postion, for those concerned about a shot from afar. But really, a moving target perhaps with waving Flabellum along the side of the Pope is going to be a great distraction to anyone trying to get a fix on something. And if someone is really determined to harm the Holy Father consider he is on a raised platform on the Altar for more time than the Sedia and worse yet he is stationary for moments at a time. If determined they will do it. The Sedia poses no additional risk and as I remember, when he was tackled the idea of the Sedia was brought up and an article was written I think by a Security person stating that the Holy Father may even be more safe in the Sedia and the reasons why. I will try to look for that link. But the Sedia Chair on the movable platform is not such a bad idea. I think it would please all sides and most importantly allow the Holy Father to rest comfortable AND be stabilized.

  27. jbosco88 says:

    I take a different slant on this and would say that this moving platform IS the “modern alternative”.

    It does need to be attended to by Marini (different carpet, and an elaborate chair for the Pope to sit in, perhaps?)

    As much as I like the sedia, the motion sickness is probably awful, and the shock of being dropped/lowered too quickly for an 84 year old pontiff is unfair.

  28. mike cliffson says:

    I voted for it ’cause the modernists, liberals, and trendies, not to mention prods, have audibly sneered at it my whole life time .But it doesn’t bother me personally.The reductio ad absurdam of zero protocol/theoretical outward humility would be everyone in church in a loincloth or something – and the present Holy Father is as good an example as we’ll get of extreme genuine personal humility, not divorced from respect for the dignity of his office. The sedaria is a historical solution to a practicalproblem, applied with dignity.So are most other suggestions and platforms. I scandalized my pious elders and betters half a century ago by insisting that the Pope would still BE the Pope on the run and hunted for in the hills, diguised as a goatherd or car mechanic or whatever, with the vatican a crater or a “people’s palace”. Previous centuries have seen it, so may we.

  29. lgreen515 says:

    I think it is sad that we cannot see the Holy Father lifted up because it would make him a potential target.

  30. eulogos says:

    Mitchell in NY,
    I think you mean ‘ the moving platform, no matter what the Vatican press office may say about it, is going to IMPLY that the Pope is really sick or on his way to ill health… ” Or that people will infer from the use of the moving platform that the Pope is really sick, etc.

    (I surely hope he isn’t. )

    Susan Peterson (also in NY)

  31. Michael J. says:

    Yes, without any doubt, bring back the Sedia! And while digging it out, he might as well wear his new Papal Tiara that was just given as a gift to him. Also, for extra protection, reinstate the Noble Guard and the Palatine Guard. Every vestige of the Glories of the Papacy and that unmistakeable splendor should be returned, for both the Papal Office and the edification of the Faithful today. Long Live The Sovereign Pontiff, Long Live His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI!

  32. Geoffrey says:

    After seeing His Holiness the Pope use this platform at this morning’s Mass, I think it is a very dignified modern alternative to the old sedia gestatoria. I just wish they would officially give it an appropriate name. The commentator for Vatican Radio said it was to be called “the indoor popemobile”. Ugh…

  33. pinoytraddie says:

    The Seda Gestoria is The Symbol of The Authority given by Christ to Peter as His “Highest” Representative on Earth.

    Yes to It’s Revival!

  34. puma19 says:

    I want to add having seen the new pope-mobile-Sedia that I agree with ipadre about this piece of vatican mobility. It does create the impression that the pope is now ill, which he is not – just getting slower like any 84 yr olds with weak legs. This ‘vehicle’ really does look so stupid and is like watching something out of a circus act.
    I think they ought bring back the Sedia for the basilica journeys down the aisle, as it would restore some dignity to the whole thing. The pope would be seen more clearly, even if up six feet high. It worked well for Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI, so why not BXVI?
    The Sedia would look great in the basilica.
    This mobile trolley being pushed down the aisle with the pope standing there just looks odd and crazy.
    Bring back the Sedia – it is the pope after all we want to see with dignity.

  35. AnnLewis says:

    I couldn’t answer the poll…my response is a little off the beaten path, I think. While I love the sedia aesthetically, I’m concerned because it makes him a target in a different way. It’s difficult to protect him from shooters (regardless, its difficult either way) but if an attacker simply rams into the carriers (i.e like a linebacker might ), trips them, attacks them in another way, the seat could be dropped and Papa could be harmed by a fall.

    So I think the moving platform is okay. He can be protected and he won’t be dropped. I like my Papa Ben to be safe.

  36. puma19 says:

    oh: one very keen blogger has noticed:
    “And for the record, while the reigning pontiff has reinstituted the wheeled platform, the late Pope’s coat of arms — tiara and all — still adorn its sides”
    You can see the coat of arms at the base of the pope-ambulatory-mobile.
    Interesting that the coat of arms has the tiara.
    Revolution from the ground up maybe ?

  37. It might be larger than just a policy decision…. From the prophecy of Our Lady of All Nations:

    ” We ( our Lady and the seer ) are now in a very big church, in St. Peter’s. I see lots of cardinals and bishops. The Pope enters. He is carried in a kind of chair. People applaud. the choir begins to sing. Now the Holy Father is announcing something, while holding up two fingers…”

    Then Blessed Mother explained the vision to Ida :

    ” This day will, in due time, be the ‘Coronation Day’ of His Mother, ‘the Lady of All Nations’, who once was Mary.” ” My prophecy, ‘From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed,’ will be fulfilled more than ever before, once the dogma has been proclaimed. The Holy Father knows his time. He will prepare it and accomplish it before he will be taken up to dwell with Us. ”

    It is said this is the proposed dogma of Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix.

  38. Am I the only one who sees in the picture of Pope Benedict yesterday an increase of papal dignity and visibility? In contrast with strolling down the aisle, difficult with his stature for anyone to see, drifting from side to side to bless any babies that are thrust forward.

    And also in contrast with sitting on the sedia under a canopy drooping on its swaying poles, carried by and surrounded by men in comical costumes from central casting. (But, hey, I could stand it if he could.)

    However, perhaps in the next iteration, a more elegant rolling platform with the pope seated regally on an impressive throne.

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