What is a Papal inaugural Mass?

What’s the deal with Pope Francis’ inaugural Mass tomorrow?

He’s already the Pope – canon law tells us that the Roman Pontiff “obtains full and supreme power in the Church” as soon as he accepts his election and is a bishop, which Cardinal Bergoglio did and already was. So his inaugural Mass, being held tomorrow (March 19, the Solemnity of St Joseph), doesn’t make him Pope, he already is. Over at the National Catholic Register, Jimmy Akin has an interesting blogpost discussing the Mass. His take is that it is “a way of commemorating his entrance into office.”

Pope Francis will receive his Fisherman’s ring and a pallium at the Mass, which will be held at St. Peter’s Square.

Some, including myself, have been calling the Mass his “installation”; a term I’m not easy with, and perhaps is less good than “inaugural.” One, he’s already Bishop of Rome. Two, it isn’t held at St John Lateran, which is actually his cathedral.

The actual worship aid for the Mass refers to it as “Holy Mass for the beginning of the Petrine ministry of the Bishop of Rome Francis”. It’s interesting to note that the rites marking the beginning of his Petrine ministry actually occur prior to the beginning of Mass. And the Gospel and the dialogue surrounding it are proclaimed in Greek…who knew!

Anyway, interesting topics….talk amongst yourselves.