Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Tiara: We Believe in Papal Primacy


  1. PART 1 of 3

    Hi John and everyone!

    I have written up a question and answers catechesis for defeding the use of the Papal Tiara. It is inspired from others that have been written and posted before. Everyone is welcome to use it. I'm only a young humble layman from Australia so if anybody has any suggestions on how to expand or improve it to make it more effective against the objections of the triregnophobes (or other people simply due to invincible ignorance, don't understand the reasons for the tiara) then please let me know.

    God Bless,
    Michael W.
    Here it is:

    Objection 1: It symbolizes the Pope's plenary jurisdiction, with which the Orthodox and Protestants disagree; therefore, wearing the tiara is harmful to ecumenical outreach.

    Response: The point of ecumenical outreach must ultimately be union with the Catholic Church. We can't change our doctrine regarding the Pope's plenary jurisdiction to placate the Orthodox and Protestants; if our ecumenical outreach is successful, it means that the schismatic’s will have accepted the Pope's authority. Nobody who sincerely wants to bind himself to the true teaching of Christ is going to let a hat stand in his way; if he does, he obviously isn't particularly sincere.

    Objection 2. It is a crown, a symbol of earthly authority; we want the Popes not to be seen as temporal rulers, but rather to be seen as spiritual leaders.

    Response: The tiara is every bit as much a symbol of the Pope's spiritual authority as it is of the Pope's earthly authority. If the Popes restore its use, they only need to emphasise with a few good homilies that the tiara chiefly represents spiritual authority now. The crowns symbolize the royal power of Christ who is King of all peoples and nations whether they are Catholic or not. And so the Pope does have as a matter of fact indirect temporal power over the whole world through his influence over temporal rulers who obey his teachings as Vicar of Christ as well as a little bit of direct earthly authority, as the sovereign of Vatican City.

    Objection 3: Everything that is triumphalist is bad. It is triumphalist. Therefore, it is bad.

    Response: I don't know what triumphalism means exactly. Liberals tend to interpret triumphalism so as to delegitimize anything beautiful or ascetically noble, particularly anything that was present in Counter-Reformation art and architecture. Looking at things more broadly it is hard to see how the tiara is somehow more triumphalist than the magnificent vestments, mitres and thrones that our Pope regularly uses today. (As an aside, I also don't understand how the Sedia Gestatoria is more triumphalist than a $100,000 Mercedez Benz custom-manufactured Popemobile and other modern expensive vehicles and treatments)


  2. PART 2 of 3

    Objection 4: Wearing the tiara offense poor people and is opposed to humility.

    Response: By this logic, we should have no beautiful churches, no beautiful vestments and music to glorify God. Honour that is paid to authority figures with special accoutrements (such as the tiara) is not intended to glorify the holder of the office itself, instead it is reflected back on Christ himself who instituted it in sacred scripture and thus glorifies Him. And if the tiara is really opposed to the virtue of humility then all the saintly Popes such as Pius V, Pius X and Pius XII who willingly wore it as a symbol of the Papal office must have been sinning against humility. Also bishops of the Byzantine rite (which is used by the Greek Catholic and Orthodox Churches) wear mitres that are based on the Byzantine Imperial crown. They began using them in the 1400s. The same principles and reasons explained above would apply to the wearing of the Byzantine crowns. So if the Byzantine Catholic bishops are wearing them with no or little objections then why should it be any different for the Papal office to have its own special headdress? Also when the Pope celebrated the Byzantine Divine Liturgy he wore the Papal tiara as his bishop’s mitre for that rite.

    Objection 5: It is opposed to collegiality, which emphasizes the Pope as being a member of the college of bishops.

    Response: Collegiality properly understood is a practical policy of how the Pope should act relative to other bishops; however, it doesn't change the fact that the Pope is categorically different from and superior to all the other members of the College of Bishops. His jurisdiction is still immediate, plenary, and universal over all other bishops, all other dioceses, over the entire Church. He can singlehandedly exercise extraordinary magisterial authority in a way that bishops can do only in a group united to the Pope. The idea that the Pope can and should wear articles of liturgical vesture that distinguish him from other bishops as being superior to them is one that has a longstanding pedigree. Archbishops distinguish themselves from lesser bishops by wearing the pallium, and they have far less authority over their suffragan bishops than the Pope does over all the other bishops. Since Paul VI gave up the fanon and the tiara, the only things that have distinguished the liturgical dress of the Pope from that of a normal bishop have been the two pallia worn by Pope Benedict XVI.


  3. PART 3 of 3

    Objection 6: The triple-crown tiara is a novelty and not a timeless tradition because it only goes back 700 years and was not used in the first millennium of the Church.

    Response: This is not correct, again, with that logic you could say the same for the Bishop’s mitre and many other traditional things which developed long after scriptural times. The tiara is thought to have developed from the Byzantine camelaucom cap or the Phrygian cap from the Graeco-Roman world to a pointed hat that had crowns slowly added to it as the centuries progressed. The tiara has developed organically to it’s present form by being handed down through the centuries just like how the liturgy has been. Crowns and coronations are an integral part of Catholic culture and traditional patrimony and are not to suppressed or demonized by the latest fashions and political/social ideologies of a particular era of human history such as today. Jesus Christ himself and his mother, Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary are portrayed with statues and imagery as King and Queen respectively with crowns upon their heads with each also having their own royal feast days on the liturgical calendar of the Roman rite.

    Objection 7: The tiara is opposed to the concept of the Pope being the “Servant of the Servants of God”, which is one of the titles of the Holy Father. Authority means service, not dominion.

    Answer: This is nonsense because the Popes who wore the tiara as it developed through centuries always bore the title “Servus Servorum Dei” aswel. The title was first used by St. Gregory I in the fourth century. Then its use became common in the ninth century which was the same period that the tiara started to develop into its present form. If they really are incompatible with each other then why did tiara ever come into being in the first place or why was the title still used with the tiara? It is most certainly right that exercising authority is an act of service and John Paul II, of all Popes, appears to answer the question as to whether the tiara is compatible with serving the servants of God:

    "The Second Vatican Council has reminded us of the mystery of this power and of the fact that Christ’s mission as Priest, Prophet-Teacher and King continues in the Church. Everyone, the whole People of God, shares in this threefold mission. Perhaps in the past the tiara, that triple crown, was placed on the Pope’s head in order to signify by that symbol the Lord’s plan for his Church, namely that all the hierarchical order of Christ’s Church, all “sacred power” exercised in the Church, is nothing other than service, service with a single purpose: to ensure that the whole People of God shares in this threefold mission of Christ and always remains under the power of the Lord; a power that has its source not in the powers of this world, but instead in the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection."

    -Pope John Paul II (from the October 22, 1978 homily of John Paul II for the inauguration of his Pontificate).