A simpler time.
ROME -- Pope Francis's low-key style has been amply demonstrated ever since he emerged on the balcony of St. Peter's. But since that time a lot of us have been wondering: Are his liturgical preferences simple too? At this morning's Vatican press conference, we started getting answers. Here's what to expect from tomorrow's Mass for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome:
At 8:50 a.m. local time (that's 3:50 Eastern), Francis will hop in some sort of popemobile -- either open or closed -- and drive through St. Peter's Square to greet the people. You'll see the superior generals of the Jesuits and Franciscans, who will concelebrate (with about 180 others). You'll also see the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople -- the last time one of those attended a papal inauguration was 1054.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will present Francis with the pallium -- he's the one who declared, "Habemus papam!" And the pope's Ring of the Fisherman will be presented by Cardinal Angelo Sodano. What kind of ring? Sort of a hand-me-down. The ring belonged to Pope Paul VI's personal secretary, Archbishop Pasquale Macchi -- and it won't be solid gold, but gold-plated silver. (Here's what it looks like.)
You'll hear the regular readings for Tuesday, the Feast of St. Joseph -- not the readings that go with the Mass for a papal inauguration. The first will be in English; the second Spanish. And the Gospel will be chanted only in Greek -- not both Greek and Latin, as is customary. The pope will preach only in Italian, as he did when he met with journalists on Saturday and when he gave his Angelus address yesterday. Evidently he wasn't kidding about that whole bishop-of-Rome thing.
You won't see an offeratory procession. You will hear prayers of the faithful for government leaders -- and of course for the poor. Nor will the pope distribute Communion (hundreds of deacons and priests will handle that).
The idea, Vatican spokesmen explained, is to keep the Mass as short as possible. (They're predicting two hours.) But you might see something else in these decisions, perhaps a smaller kind of papacy.