Tuesday, 1 April 2008


I attended a Mass yesterday in which the celebrant lamented that the 'story of humankind' was deliberately distorted even by its name: History.

It should, he said, be called Herstory.

I have no further comment. Feel free, yourselves.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

For the curious

Some are wondering what I was burbling about in the last post: I had posted some time ago on the film; go here, and you can read more about my strange appearance in a scene with Natalie Portman.
It only goes to show the extraordinary things that come along in the life of a priest!

Monday, 17 March 2008

The Other Boleyn Priest

Well, did anyone spot Fr Justin in The Other Boleyn Girl? Contrary to my expectations, my scene did not hit the cutting room floor, and your own Fr Justin is to be seen there. However, I gather from those who have seen the film (and I haven't: too busy at this time of year) that the scene is rather dark, and my name does not appear in the credits at the end. But I hear my voice is recognizable.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Communion in the hand

The auxiliary bishop of Karaganda in Kazakhstan speaks about his new book Dominus Est, and his dislike of Communion in the hand. From Gloria TV (Thanks to GF for the link).

Click here.

Sorry I couldn't embed the video: for some reason the html script didn't work and I don't know enough about that sort of thing to correct it.

The Mass shown near the beginning is a curiosity; clearly a concelebration in very splendid vestments, yet all the concelebrants genuflect before the elevation.
Is this an old-rite ordination where the ordinati stand at the altar instead of using prie-dieus?
(I can't bring myself to write prie-dieux—it looks like polytheism) Or is it a rather tradded-up version of the novus ordo?

The answer will be found in the comments box: many thanks to Gregor.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

More on the Archbishop

I have rather moderated my views on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Sharia intervention after reading a couple of articles in last week's Tablet. They have some very interesting things to say, and things that one might be a little surprised to read in that publication. I was interested to note (as you can read in the second extract) that Rowan Williams gloried in precisely the thing I blogged on the other day; stating that he had a right to speak for other religions because of the Cof E's established status. Hm.

This is an extract from the article 'Quiet voice of modernity's enemy' by Theo Hobson.
Above all, [Williams] refused to combine Anglo Catholicism with a general liberal agenda. Indeed he revived the Anglo-Catholic suspicion of secular liberalism that dates back to Newman. The liberal state, in this view, offers itself as an alternative community of salvation; it tempts us into supposing that we can dispense with the Church, or at least water it down, and develop a more progressive form of Christianity. This leads to weak forms of Christianity that are unable to resist dangerous ideologies: most obviously, the liberal Protestants of Germany embraced Nazism. It is Williams' anti-liberal ecclesiology that is the root cause of the present controversy. In a sense it's not really about sharia law, or Islam: it's about the relationship between a Catholic conception of the Church and liberalism.
For Williams, authentic Christianity occurs within a clearly defined social body, an "ethical community" as he has sometimes put it. Without this, Christian culture will be dispersed by the cold winds of secularism. There is a need for strong resistance to the various negative spirits of the age: consumerism, celebrity, hedonism and so on, and this resistance can only occur within an alternative social world, walled off from mainstream culture.
Only from within a religious subculture can secular modernity be seen for what it is: dehumanising. He has referred to secularism's "unspoken violence", and to modernity as "an atmosphere in which people become increasingly formless, cut off from what could give their lives ... some kind of lasting intelligibility': He sees secular liberalism as a quietly nihilistic force that robs human life of full significance, as a demonically subtle tyranny that looks and feels like freedom.

This next bit is by Clifford Longley who these days (though perhaps not at certain times in the past) usually has something sensible to say and puts it well.

[The Archbishop] defended his intervention by de¬claring it to be the privilege of the established Church to represent the concerns of other faith communi¬ties. Clearly many of his critics inside the Church of England think his only business is to stand up for its own interests, indeed to act as a brake against the inroads of Islam rather than as a lubricant. But the real clash visible in the media this week was not Christianity versus Islam, but religion versus secularism. If Dr Williams analysed carefully much of the press comment, he would have observed that the rule of thumb was something like "the more Islamic they are, the more dangerous". To the secularist, however, this is just an ex¬ample of a more general principle - that all religions are dangerous; the more so, the more seriously their adherents take them. So the real question for Dr Williams is not how does British Islam live with British secularism, but how does the Church of England do so?
From Lambeth Palace the apparatus of the Anglican establishment may look solid and enduring. Establishment shelters Anglican¬ism from the full force of the secular prevailing wind. But the Catholic adoption agency issue last year was a significant straw in that wind. It signified that it is secular values, not those enshrined in the common law, that are be¬coming the dominant cultural determinant of British society. Those values are utilitari¬an. It is a world where ends justify means, where talk of the sacredness of life is scoffed at and human rights are the subject of mere fashion, human autonomy in the pursuit of pleasure is the only worthwhile value and no one is neighbour to another. It is indeed the job of religions - Anglican, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and the rest - to be a threat to those values. And not to apologise for it.
Good stuff, eh?

Monday, 18 February 2008


Archbishop Marini being taken into liturgical rehab.

Thanks to Owl of the Remove.

Life Matters

There is a substantial petition to the Prime Minister to allow MPs to vote according to conscience and not according to the party whip on the forthcoming Human Fertilization and Embryology bill.

UK citizens may sign it here.

Please do consider doing so.

Saturday, 16 February 2008


Magari is a good Italian word; it means 'if only it were true', or something like that. I wanted to say magari when I read on Catholic News Agency about one Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, who looks to be a young man, (that's his picture on the left; does his crown look rather like an upended fancy flowerpot to anyone else?) who courageously addressed a major ecumenical gathering in Switzerland on the subject of the drawbacks of liberal Christianity. Hoping that CNA does not mind, I'll quote the short article in full.

Russian Orthodox bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, the Moscow Patriarchate’s delegate for international relationships, said on February 15 that liberal Christianity is on its way to extinction.
"Liberal Christianity will not survive long and political correctness within the Christian environment is destined to die," said during a conference addressing the Ecumenical Council of Churches at Geneva, Switzerland.
The Orthodox bishop also criticized the words of the Anglican primate, Rowan Williams, regarding the "inevitability" of introducing the "sharia" (Muslim Law) in England.
"I would like to warn you about the perils of liberal Christianity," a trend, he said, that has sharply divided the Christian community in the last decades.
"Today we can't talk about Christian morality because the standards of 'traditional' and 'liberal' Christians are dramatically different and the abyss between these two branches of Christianity is growing," he added.
"We are hearing from some Christian leaders that marriage between a woman and a man is not the only possible option for the creation of a Christian family, that there can be other type of couples and that the Church should be 'inclusive' by recognizing such lifestyles and grant them a solemn blessing," Hilarion also said.
The Orthodox bishop also said that "we have heard that the human life is a negotiable value, to the point that it can be aborted in the mother's womb." "What has happened with Christianity? In a confused and disoriented world, “Where is the prophetic voice of Christians?" he asked.
Finally in a veiled criticism to the Anglican primate, Hilarion said that "it is not our duty to defend sharia, promote alternative lifestyles or secularized values. Our mission is to announce what Christ himself announced".
I think that it is certainly true that liberalism is sterile; I have very rarely found somebody converted to liberal Christianity; usually they have slid there from a more orthodox position. What I fear is that the liberals currently in charge would rather pull the house down around them than permit a more orthodox position to prevail.
We have a new Dean (=Vicar Forane) locally, and I have heard him speak perhaps half a dozen times during the last few months. On each occasion, whether preaching at a 'Penitential Service' or simply speaking to fellow clergy, the burden of his talk has invariably been about how universally awful everything was before Vatican II, and the only problem since is that we haven't wiped out the pre-V.II mentality nearly thoroughly enough. He's a kind man—he has even celebrated the Extraordinary Form, which he detests, for people who have requested it, and I've got to credit him for that. In fact on a personal level I quite like him (I don't think the compliment is returned, though). But I really would not want to live in a Church according to his design.
Certainly Pope Benedict has done wonderfully well to reverse the trend, but I suspect that the liberals are simply doing what I fear; they know that they are, for the most part, younger than the Holy Father, and that all that they have to do is wait……
Will Pope Benedict have safeguarded his most welcome reforms for the future? I pray and hope so. It has been so wonderful in these last couple of years finally to have hope and see things coming alive once more.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Lenten Fare

Running out of ideas for suitably penitential lenten recipes? The Diocese of Arkansas has come up with a quantity of suggestions, which you can sample here.

Having looked at the recipes with more attention today, I can confirm that most of them are truly penitential: I wasn't aware that Americans are still quite so attached to canned food. All but a few recipes seem to involve combining one can with another. There is a recipe for chowder, which involves combining a can of potato soup with a can of salmon. Now that's penitential!

It reminds me of my aunt's (God rest her soul) story of an American visitor to her home; this would be in the 1960s, I should think. She went down the garden to pull some carrots, and her visitor accompanied her. Up came a fine carrot, which she placed in her trug. She heard an intake of breath at her side, followed by an appalled 'you're gonna eat that?'.

Meanwhile, in Algeria…

A Catholic priest in Algeria has been sentenced to a year in prison for praying with Christians in Cameroon.
Middle East Concern reports that Father Pierre Wallez is the first victim of legislation approved in March 2006, prohibiting anyone from leading a religious ceremony anywhere without permission from the government in Algeria.
Algerian Archbishop Henri Teissier told Vatican Radio: "the most surprising thing is that the conviction was issued simply because the priest visited a group of Christians in Cameroon. He had not celebrated Mass, but was only joining them in a prayer. It was December 29, a little after Christmas."
A tribunal has now modified the sentence to parole. But Christians in Algeria are concerned that their religious freedom is under threat.
Freedom of worship is purportedly guaranteed by the constitution of Algeria, but in recent months Christians there have faced increasing harassment and a hostile campaign in the media. In the same trial that sentenced Fr Wallez, a Muslim doctor was sentenced to two years imprisonment for using medications supplied by the Catholic Church's Caritas charity.
On 12 February three believers accused of insulting Islam were due to appear in court for sentencing. The case has been postponed to a later date, but delays often happen in such cases. The group been told they will be sentenced to three years in prison and fined 5,000 Euros.
Recently the government cancelled residency permits for Latin American Catholic priests working with Portuguese speaking African Christians in Algeria as migrant workers. Further requests made by the Catholic Church for visas for priests and other staff to visit Algeria are being systematically refused.
Middle East Concern say that Algerian Christians have requested readers' prayers
H/T Independent Catholic News

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Rowan Williams and Islam

I can't help feeling that most people have rather missed the point in the recent controversy about Rowan Williams and Sharia. Damian Thompson isn't one of these; in his typically acerbic style he has compared the Archbishop with Prince Charles, especially in the light of the latter's desire to be a defender 'of faith' rather than 'of the faith'.
Now, let's establish that I am not one of those who follow the tabloid line about the ArchImam of Canterbury. That's plainly nonsense and in some cases amounts to malicious misrepresentation. But there must have been some purpose behind what he said, and, entertaining though it may be to think it, I don't think that he is trying to deflect attention from the bigger issues at the up-and-coming Lambeth Conference.

Though I would identify myself as being rather a traditional Catholic, I have always had an abiding affection for the old C of E: I have never been a member of it, so my affection can come without cost or pain: evensong in a dark cathedral, the choirs, the dignified presence on state occasions, and many other things.
As my Anglican friends will know, however, there is one thing that gets right up my nose, and that is the Anglican claim to pastoral responsibility for all people living within their territory, irrespective of whether they belong to any other faith. When I was a curate (ah me! I was a pale young curate then!), the local vicar went as far as to describe my boss and me as his 'delegates for the Romans in Xville'.
With Damian, I think that the Sharia comments of the Archbishop were aimed along these lines. Since he thinks of himself as the spiritual leader of the whole country and all people here, of whatever faith, he feels that British Moslems, too, are put by the Establishment (and therefore God?) into his tender care, and therefore he should do his best for them, as for any other members of his flock.
There are times when I think that as Catholics we continue to live in something of a ghetto, for many good historical reasons; we tend to restrict our work to our own people a bit too much. But I think that the Archbishop, and the same principle down the line into the parishes, goes too far in the other direction.
I really do not see that 'Establishment' confers, by law, on all Anglican clergy the right of entry to all peoples homes. This point of view was advanced to me by a vicaress of my acquaintance. I do not see that it confers a sort of universal pastorate on the C of E clergy, which comes across as at best patronising and at worst infuriating.

Finally, I wonder whether the Moslem clergy find this intervention on the matter of Sharia touching or irritating.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


How about this for a screensaver?

A touch of the surreal, to make you wonder whether you've been overdoing the fasting……

H/T to The Deacon's Bench

I'll be posting again soon, D.V.

p.s. Doglovers of the world unite!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A fortuitous discovery

I'm rushing round like a mad thing at the moment (hence the thin posting—sorry) and trying to cope with not being terribly well. But I had to post this particular discovery—Wikipaedia in Latin! You'll find it here.

How about this?
Insidiae hamatae (Anglice phishing) informationum privatarum sicut tesserarum fraude accessionem significat, dissimulando quasi homo vel societas fida cui vero hae informationes necesse sunt, praecipue per litteras electronicas.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Pope Leo XII, the Quirinal, and other matters.

Pope Leo XII
No doubt largely as a result of my visit to Venice, I have begun reading about Pope Pius VII and his wonderful Secretary of State, Cardinal Consalvi.
John Martin Robinson wrote a very good biography of Consalvi, which I have read, and is now lying on the pile to be read again. But at the moment, I am reading Cardinal Wiseman's Lives of the Last Four Popes (=Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI). They have all got rather lost behind the popes of the 'modern era' beginning with the Pope reigning when Wiseman was writing, Bd Pius IX.
The book is occasionally confusing, but always fascinating. I am learning so much that I cannot imagine why it has taken me so long to read this book, considering that it has been sitting on my shelves for at least twenty years.
For instance, I knew that the Papal elections before 1870 took place in the Quirinal Palace, and had heard that to this day in the attics there are all the partitions and paraphernalia necessary for a conclave. What I did not know was that the conclaves only began there in the nineteenth century; Pius VI and his predecessors were elected in the Sistine Chapel, as we are familiar with. Nor did I realise that each cardinal had had his apartment for himself and his entire staff, nor that a wicket gate was kept open in the conclave for each Cardinal to have his own meals prepared outside (usually from his own palace) and sent in, and for late arrivals to enter. Nor did I realize that the white smoke/black smoke is a recent thing. Even in the 19th century, any sort of smoke from the chimney outside the chapel was a sign that a particular ballot had been unsuccessful. The sign of a successful ballot was no smoke at all, followed by an opening of the bricked-up balcony window (which must have taken a while). Sometimes the Senior Cardinal Deacon announced the election to very few people indeed gathered in the Quirinal Piazza below.
Again, I did not know that until Bd Pius IX, who was buried in San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura and nearly had his body thrown into the Tiber getting there, it was customary for deceased Popes to be initally buried in a simple monument near the Choir chapel in St Peter's, with only their name marked on it. It was only when their successor died that they were moved to their permanent tomb and their successor took their place in the same temporary grave.
And how about this account of how Leo XII narrowly escaped death mere months after his election:
All Rome attributed the unexpected recovery to the prayers of a saintly bishop, who was sent for, at the Pope's request, from his distant see of Macerata. This was Monsignor Strambi, of the Congregation of the Passion. He came immediately, saw the Pope, assured him of his recovery, as he had offered up to Heaven his own valueless life in exchange for one so precious. It did indeed seem as if he had transfused his own vitality into the Pope's languid frame. He himself died the next day, the 31st December [1823], and the Pontiff rose, like one from the grave.
I'll post more if I find more worthy of posting. That, I think, is nearly certain.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Lost in translation…

I found this plaque pinned to the front of the Patriarchate building right next to St Mark's:
Mm: how to translate la vastitá ecumenica e i fermenti innovatori?

I can only think 'the ecumenical enormity and the innovatory ferments of his glorious pontificate' just about sums it up.

Though I have to confess a sneaking yet considerable affection for old Bd Pope John XIII.

Please don't try and post any comments about him being a Freemason, a Rosicrucian, a Protestant, whatever—I've heard them all, and I won't dignify them by publishing them on my blog. Imprudent, maybe, he was, even catastrophically so.

S. Giorgio Maggiore and Pope Pius VII

A visit across the Giudecca Canal on the no 82 Vaporetto (shortly about to become the new no 2) to the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, a lovely Palladian building, reminded me about one of the more interesting sidelights of Church history.
Napoleon I, you will remember, took Pope Pius VI prisoner in an attempt to finish off the Church, or at least control it. The poor man died in captivity in Valence, August 29, 1799. Rome at that time was being fought over between the Neapolitans and French, so it was inconceivable to hold a new election there. The Austrians had got hold of Venice in 1797, and many of the cardinals had taken refuge there, including the now penniless Cardinal Henry (King Henry IX) Stuart, Duke of York.
Rather generously, the Hanovers eventually provided a pension for him (kindness or bad conscience?).
Anyway, Venice seemed the obvious place to hold the new conclave, under the circumstances.
The Holy Roman Emperor (in the last throes of that ancient institution) was happy enough to agree to the conclave taking place in what was now his territory, and actually coughed up 24,000 scudi for the expenses. Naturally he assumed that this would give his candidate a certain chance of success; important, because Austria had nabbed some of the Papal States for herself and wanted to hang onto them.
Thirty five or so of the 46 extant cardinals entered the conclave. It didn't go well. Herzen, the Viennese Cardinal, and Albani, another pro-Austrian Cardinal, tried hard to get the other Cardinals to elect Mattei of Ravenna, who was known to be pro-Austrian. This scandalized the electors, and, exceptionally, the conclave was suspended for 11 or 12 days while a messenger was sent to Vienna to consult with the Emperor. It was not unknown (indeed it was a recognized right of a Catholic sovereign) to exercise a veto in a conclave. It last happened in 1903. But actually to break a conclave to consult a sovereign in mid-course was unheard of. There was deadlock.
Finally Cardinal Chiaramonti of Imola was elected as a compromise candidate, and took the name Pius VII. He was known to have been sympathetic to the French Revolution; he had had printed on his writing paper 'liberty' and 'fraternity', and under the Cisalpine Republic had described himself as Citizen-Cardinal. Despite differences, heated arguments, and an imprisonment, once Pope, he actually got on personally rather well with Napoleon.
The conclave had begun on 30 November 1799, and finally the new Pope was elected on 14 March 1800.
The Emperor, furious that his candidate had not been elected, refused permission for the coronation to take place in St Mark's Basilica, so it happened here in Palladio's church of San Giorgio, with the overflow congregation assisting in gondolas from the Giudecca canal. There was, of course, no tiara, since Napoleon had confiscated all the treasures from Rome, and so, I seem to remember, they manufactured one out of papier maché.
Palladio's façade of San Giorgio.

The view from San Giorgio across the Giudecca canal.

The interior of San Giorgio, where the Coronation Mass took place. These days it seems pretty much abandoned to the tourists. There is a notice saying that Mass and all the offices take place in another chapel, and not in the lovely choir stalls behind the high altar.

Pope Pius VII

A tiara given by Napoleon to Pius VII. I quote in full from this site, whence I got the pic.

"A gift from Napoleon Bonaparte to Pope Pius VII in 1805, the irony is that the tiara was made of treasure looted from the Vatican eight years before when French troops invaded the Papal States. Ostensibly, the gift was a gesture of atonement from Napoleon for the plunder nearly a decade earlier, but the base was so small Pius VII could not wear it--an intentional slight by Napoleon. Most of the original jewels adorning the tiara were replaced with cut glass during the 19th century, but the huge milled emerald supporting the diamond-studded cross at the top--the Emerald of Gregory XIII--remains (and had actually been mounted on several different tiaras used by Pius VII's predecessors). Also stripped from the tiara were three engraved bas-reliefs that depicted scenes of Napoleon's coronation as Emperor of France, re-legalization of public worship in France and the signing of a treaty between the Vatican and France. I think it's safe to say that even without the original jewels and engravings, this is still an overwhelmingly opulent piece. Even if nobody ever got to wear it."

Monday, 14 January 2008

San Marco and Sunday Mass

St Mark's Basilica is, of course, one of the most wonderful of the churches in the world. Until Napoleon ended the Venetian Republic, it was, essentially, the Doge's private chapel—the cathedral was elsewhere. But now it is the Cathedral, and famous for many events in history. It has been served by many famous musicians, too, including Claudio Monteverdi and Gabrieli. So one might reasonably expect that the liturgy and music here would be something special—it still was until as recently as the 1960s. But no more, I am told. Such splendours are considered elitist. There is one 'big' Mass on a Sunday, at 10.am, and I was warned to expect guitars. I toured St Mark's a couple of days before, and although the High Altar has fairly sensitively been arranged to make a versus populum celebration highly possible, this clearly wasn't good enough. A little table had been put at the opening of the iconostasis with a high chair about two paces behind and a lectern about two paces to one side. That told me all I wanted to know about the liturgy in St Mark's. I wasn't going to risk it. Now perhaps some of you reading this might tell me that the table in front is all for show, and they carry it off on Sundays and in fact perform the most glorious music, but somehow, I don't think you will.

There has been some effort to make the sanctuary pretty. I suppose they use the High Altar when the Patriarch presides, having removed the stupendous Pala d'Oro and ferial reredos several feet back to enable versus populum celebration. The entire sanctuary, though, has been carpeted over—I presume it has one of those magnificent cosmati pavements underneath—with a pretty vile carpet. This pic is one I took with my phone showing the carpet, and the steps behind the altar.
If you'd like to see some more pics of St Mark's, there is a good selection here, though the site is a bit slow. Anyway, my friend and I decided to go elsewhere for our Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany. We found our way at 11.00am to the little church of S. Simeone Piccolo near the railway station, where the Fraternity of St Peter celebrate the traditional rites each Sunday, and had advertised it here as being 'with gregorian chant'.
Now I have 'feelings' about gregorian chant. When it is sung well, there is nothing better. When it is sung badly, there is nothing worse. In parish churches, it's usually sung badly. So I was a little apprehensive. I needn't have been. Two baritones sang the chant absolutely beautifully, and supplemented it with a Venetian Mass in two parts sung, again, beautifully, one of the singers also playing the continuo on a little chamber organ. The Mass was a solemn one, the MC being a priest I have known slightly in the past. What a treat for the Epiphany!
I took a couple of pics, but trying to be discreet (not using flash, for instance) resulted in rather a blurry outcome. Sorry.

The servers interested me a bit; the MC was a priest, as I have said, but the other two both wore cassocks with Roman collars and fascias with blue tassels. They aren't clergy—by some accident we saw them later having lunch in the same pizzeria, in lay dress. Perhaps they are members of some confraternity or other. The collar doesn't necessarily imply clerical status in Italy: I gather that even the carabinieri wear the Roman Collar when in formal attire.

It was a good pizzeria, by the way. Good and reasonably-priced eating is hard to find in Venice. This place, Ae Oche, not far from the church of San Giacomo dell'Orio*, has its decorative theme centred around American Baseball. We were much amused to see that they didn't quite know their stuff, for although they had collected quite a lot of authentic-looking paraphernalia in one corner, the pride of place was given, naturally, to the baseball bat. Only, er, it wasn't a baseball bat, but a cricket bat! I tried a photo, but it turned out even more blurred than the above.

* St James of the Black-and white American biscuit†


I've been to Venice!

Having spent an afternoon there when I was sixteen, I have long determined to make a return. Well, it was January, and so the weather was mostly Januaryish (we arrived in a flurry of snow as we crossed in a vaporetto from the airport), but it was lovely to avoid the crowds, and everything was open for business as usual.

Thursday, 3 January 2008


I won't be posting for about ten days now.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Please Say a Prayer

My mother spent Christmas with me, as usual now that my father has died. I took her home yesterday, and her house had been burgled. She hadn't got much of value, but it was all taken, including all the little bits of jewellery that my father had bought her through their 48 years of marriage.
I suppose I can be grateful that there was no 'unneccessary' damage in the house. Other than what the burglar took, there was no malicious destruction.

Monday, 31 December 2007

Noble Simplicity

Robert 'Misery' Mickens, the Tablet's Rome correspondent, has been no stranger to controversy since the election of Pope Benedict. In the Tablet Christmas/New Year issue, he comments that he had received an invitation to the reception in the Westminster Throne Room for Abp Piero Marini on the publication of his new book. Misery has this to say:
Several bishops were on hand… Their presence was not only a fitting tribute to Archbishop Marini—a liturgist who has long been unfairly and mercilessly pilloried by neo-Tridentines for his attempts to apply the Second Vatican Council principle of "noble simplicity" to modern-day papal ceremonies—but it was also an endorsement of the council's liturgical reform itself.

The phrase 'noble simplicity' is often quoted by those who love the Pauline reforms (I think it is inaccurate to claim that the reforms which actually happened were entirely mandated by the council). I remember many years ago when I was a seminarian visiting Fr Ray Blake, himself then just newly ordained, in St John the Baptist's Church, Brighton, there was an Italian Salesian staying there, and he commented to me:
You Anglo-Saxons misunderstand this word 'simplicity'. In its latinate context it does not mean 'plain' or 'sober', but rather 'unified', 'harmonious'. So plain vestments in a plain church building are 'simple'. Baroque vestments in a baroque church are 'simple'.

This would have been about 1980, and I think he was amused to find a seminarian who was not quite as wholeheartedly enthusiastic about the reforms as most others at the time. But he was very kind, and once even celebrated Mass for me in Latin (new rite: I remember struggling to make sense of the responsorial psalm, which I had to read to him as he sat on a dining room chair by the altar, him gravely making the response in Latin).
But, back to the point. Archbp Marini has been complimented with achieving 'noble simplicity' in his Papal ceremonies. But honestly I can't see it.
The sacristies of the Vatican are full of beautiful vestments that have been gathering dust there for thirty years and more. Someone in Rome told me that for every major Papal Mass in the last pontificate, an entire new set of vestments for celebrant and concelebrants was commissioned, often from top-ranking couturiers, with matching mitres, collars and cuffs and probably socks. All overseen by Archbishops Noe and then Marini. These new vestments are never seen a second time. Imagine the cost of this; and yet there are drawers full of stuff that could be used. Problem? Those vestments in the sacristies are preconciliar; the wrong shape, they 'convey the wrong message'.
And again, a funny thing: it is precisely the people who would take out these Roman-shape chasubles, copes, mitres and use them that would be called 'tat-merchants'; people obsessed with fabrics and shapes of vestments. Surely it would be more 'simple' just to dig them out and use them until they wear out.
So, for all sorts of reasons, I was pleased to see Pope Benedict using Blessed Pope John's cope and Pope John Paul I's mitre. Now that's noble simplicity.