The Papal Inauguration Mass is a liturgical service of the Catholic Church (celebrated in the Roman Rite but with elements of Byzantine Rite) for the ecclesiastical investiture of the Pope. It no longer includes the millennium-old Papal Coronation ceremony.
Pope Paul VI, the last Pope to be crowned or use a Papal Tiara, abandoned the usage of the tiara in a ceremony at the end of the Second Vatican Council, and gave his personal tiara to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the City of Washington as a gift to the Catholics of the United States. However, more than 20 other tiaras remain in the Vatican (see List of papal tiaras in existence) One of these is still used to symbolically crown a statue of Saint Peter on his saint's day every year. The first pope for centuries to inaugurate his pontificate without a coronation was Pope John Paul I.
Replacement of the coronation
Though Paul VI decided not to wear a tiara, his 1975 Apostolic Constitution Romano Pontifici Eligendo continued to envisage a coronation ceremony for his successors. However, Pope John Paul I, elected in the August 1978 conclave, wanted a simpler ceremony, and commissioned Virgilio Noè, the Papal Master of Ceremonies, to design the inauguration ceremony that was used. Taking place in the context of a "Mass of Inauguration", the high point of the ceremony was the placing of the pallium on the new pope's shoulders, and the receiving of the obedience of the cardinals.
His successor, Pope John Paul II, followed suit, maintaining the changes made by his predecessor, though with additions, some of which echoed the former coronations. He had the Mass of Inauguration celebrated in the morning rather than in the evening like that of John Paul I. Referring in his inauguration homily to coronations with the papal tiara, he said: "This is not the time to return to a ceremony and an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes."
In his 1996 Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, John Paul II laid down that a "solemn ceremony of the inauguration of a pontificate" should take place, but did not specify what form it should take, leaving it open for each pope to decide.
The modern inauguration
The modern Papal Inauguration, developed from the form used for John Paul I, takes place during Mass (usually in the piazza outside Saint Peter's Basilica) and involves the formal bestowal of the pallium, the symbol of the pope's universal jurisdiction, on the newly elected pope by the senior Cardinal Deacon.
Pope Benedict XVI maintained those changes and introduced yet another one: the oath of obedience, which the cardinals would have made, one at a time, during the Mass, was replaced with a symbolic oath during the ceremony, as is explained below (The cardinals had all previously made their oaths of obedience at the time of the pope's election, according to the normal rules governing the conclave).
The modern ceremony does not, of course, include the Papal Oath that some traditionalist Catholics claim, without evidence, to have been sworn by the popes before John Paul I. They criticise its absence, and some sedevacantist groups refuse to accept the legitimacy of the modern popes due to the absence of both the alleged oath and the symbolic tiara.
Inauguration of Benedict XVI
The day after his election, Pope Benedict XVI approved new procedures for the inauguration. He was formally inaugurated as Supreme Pontiff on April 24, 2005. The ceremony began with the Pope and the cardinals kneeling at the Tomb of Saint Peter beneath the high altar of Saint Peter's Basilica — Saint Peter is considered to be the first Pope — to give him homage, and ask his prayers. Pope Benedict said, "I leave from where the Apostle arrived." The Pope and the cardinals then went in procession to Saint Peter's Square for the Inauguration Mass, while the Litany of the Saints was chanted, asking their help for the new Pope.
Receiving the pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman
The Pope then received the pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman. The pallium that was imposed upon Benedict at his inauguration was different from that of his predecessors: he reverted to an earlier form practically identical to the ancient omophorion (still used to this day by Eastern bishops). It was wider than the standard archiepiscopal pallium, though not as wide as the modern omophorion. It is 2.4 metres (2.6 yards) long, and is made of wool with black silk tips. It has five embroidered red silk crosses instead of the six black ones of the normal archbishops' pallium. He has since started using a new pallium, much like the one used by the Popes before, except with a longer, wider cut and six red crosses.
Swearing obedience to the pope
Instead of having each Cardinal kneel before the Pope to swear loyalty to him, which they already did right after his election, twelve people, lay as well as clerical, knelt before Benedict to swear obedience: the senior Cardinal Bishop, the senior Cardinal Priest, the senior Cardinal Deacon, the bishop of Benedict's former suburbicarian diocese of Velletri-Segni, the priest serving as pastor of Benedict's former titular church when he was a Cardinal Priest, a deacon, a religious brother, a Benedictine nun, a married couple from Korea, and a young woman from Sri Lanka and young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had been recently confirmed.
After the ceremony
After Mass, Pope Benedict greeted inside St. Peters Basilica, before the main altar, various delegations present for his inauguration, including kings, queens, princes and heads of state. In the days following, he visited the other major basilicas of Rome. The day after his inauguration at St. Peters, he paid homage to the other founder of the church of Rome by visiting St. Paul outside the Walls. Then on May 7 he took possession of St. John Lateran —his cathedral church. Later that evening he venerated the Salus Populi Romani icon of Mary in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
The future of the inauguration ceremony
While the rituals used for the inaugurations of Popes John Paul I and John Paul II were provisional ad hoc rites, the one used for Pope Benedict XVI was not. Under Pope John Paul II, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff prepared a draft version of a permanent rite, to be submitted for revision and eventual approval as a definitive ordo by John Paul II's successor. Pope Benedict approved this new rite on 20 April 2005. It was then published as an official liturgical book of the Church with the name Ordo Rituum pro Ministerii Petrini Initio Romae Episcopi (Order of the Rites for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome). This new ordo is intended to be a permanent version of the rite of inauguration and, in a press conference held shortly before Pope Benedict's inauguration, Archbishop Piero Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies, described it as part of the application to papal rites of the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council. Of course, a new Pope would have full authority to alter this inauguration rite, if, for instance, he decided to include a coronation ceremony.
The Ordo Rituum pro Ministerii Petrini Initio Romae Episcopi thus approved in 2005 contains not only the rite of the Mass of the Inauguration, but also that of the Mass of the Enthronement of the new Pope on the Cathedra Romana, the chair of the Bishop of Rome, in the Lateran Basilica, Rome's cathedral and the Roman Catholic Church's primary Basilica, outranking even the Vatican Basilica. Popes usually take possession of the Lateran Basilica within a few days of the inauguration of the pontificate. Pope Benedict XVI did so on 7 May 2005. This rite, known in Latin as the incathedratio, is the last ceremony marking the accession of a new Supreme Pontiff.
List of Papal Inaugurations 1978-2005
List of all papal inauguration between 1978 and 2005 :