Palaver over Pell's Cappa Magna
"On [St Dominic and Bishop Diego of Osma's] journey, they met at
Montpellier the Abbot of Citeaux and two other monks, Pierre of Castelnau and
Raoul of Fontefroide who had been preaching in southern France with no success. The monks were discouraged and frustrated, for the heretics [Albigensians] proved to be unmoved by their efforts. Bishop Diego quickly pointed out the reasons for their failure. They had gone there as papal legates surrounded by all the pomp and circumstance that attended papal legates, fine horses, splendid regalia, impressive robes, comfortable living quarters and good food. The Cisterians actually lived very austere lives, but they felt they had to take on all the trappings of papal legates. As Diego made clear, this was no way to impress people whose leaders led lives of extreme austerity. Actually, the Cisterians would have been more successful if they had gone there as simple Cisterians, living their own austere lives. They took Diego's words to heart as did Dominic."
I think this commenter has a valid point, and indeed it is one that occurs to me often - that in preaching the Gospel, how we appear and are perceived by our intended audience is important. Noteworthy then, is the context of the use of the cappa magna by Cardinal Pell, who donned it for a most solemn occasion for the 'traditionalist' youth pilgrims who attended WYD 2005. This may be less appropriate and indeed may even be a cause for scandal in other circumstances...
Nonetheless, I was not the only person to have commented on this (rare) appearence of the cappa magna in post-Vatican II times. Clearly pleased by this usage of an historical garment were Andrew Cusack (predictably), Julie Robinson (who alerted me to its usage in Dusseldorf) and Fr Jim Tucker who has even started a photo site devoted to the cappa magna... Not that I'm complaining! Who am I to argue with a priest?!
Less enthusiastic was Rocco Palmo (and his commenters) whom I should thank for linking to me. This boosted my hits for the day! Rocco (unlike Fr Jim) clearly is not a fan of what we called 'ecclesiastical tat' in the seminary because he commented on His Eminence's garb again today! Rocco's blog is well worthy reading though and he has some fantastic posts.
Finally, Zadok the Roman pointed out something from Scripture (Ecclesiasticus 45:6-14) which may help Rocco and company see the cappa magna in a different light... unless of course, you still prefer to go the way of Bishop Diego, as any good Dominican would!