Friday, April 08, 2005

Modern meets Traditional

Wired, News-Hungry World Tests Venerable Traditions

No Western institution is older or more swathed in tradition, pomp and circumstance than the Roman Catholic Church, and few are more wary of the post-modern world of round-the-clock media, hyper-technology and intimate disclosure. The church is wrestling with issues as varied as stem cell research, use of condoms to combat HIV infection, and celibacy in the priesthood.

But seldom have the collisions and the compromises between tradition and modernity been so palpable as during the events surrounding this pope's death.

Some of the changes represent concessions to modern science. The ritual method of determining if a pope has died -- three taps on the forehead with a small silver hammer -- was eschewed this time for an electrocardiogram administered to John Paul for more than 20 minutes.

I loved this line:

A similarly small but telling alteration is that once a new pope is chosen, not only will the traditional white smoke rise from the Sistine Chapel, but bells will ring. "This way even journalists will know," said Archbishop Piero Marini, the master of papal liturgical ceremonies, with no apparent irony.

This is unfair but a touch amusing:

At times church officials appear to have a love-hate relationship with modernity. On Wednesday, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington decried the spiritual damage "caused by the television world we live in, which presents heaven as being as rich as you can be, as powerful as you can be, as beautiful as you can be, as skinny as you can be -- all those things -- and not as kind as you can be, as courageous as you can be, as generous as you can be."

McCarrick was speaking to four television crews at the time.

Urban Legends has more about the silver hammer tradition

Here's on the silver hammer

The silver hammer is also used to smash the Pope's ring to prevent forgery

At the end of the day, since the Pope is the rock, it would make sense to hit him with a hammer according to regular down-to-earth Catholic logic, right?


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