Vatican: Tiara on Pope's coat of arms unintentional

The Catholic blogosphere has been abuzz this week over the possibility that Pope Benedict may have changed his coat of arms to include the papal tiara, a symbol of the pope's temporal and spiritual authority that harks back to days before the Second Vatican Council.

height="200" width="130" Our own Jerry Filteau weighed in on Tuesday, reporting on the distinct differences between the coat of arms the pope has used since his election and the one he used Oct. 10 at the weekly Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square.

Now, it seems, the Vatican is acknowledging some of the reactions the new crest has spurred.

In an interview with Catholic News Service this morning, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the new tapestry with the changed coat of arms was a gift to the pope, and was used "without any intention of changing the crest" or adopting the tiara.

From the report:

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"The pope’s coat of arms has not changed. It is what was explained at the beginning of his pontificate,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service this morning.
Father Lombardi said Sunday’s tapestry -- the one with the tiara -- was a gift, hung "without any intention of changing the crest."

He also said, "If it is used again, it will be modified" to match the pope’s official coat of arms, featuring the mitre.

Makes you wonder: Shouldn't the Vatican's PR staff be on top of this kind of stuff?

For those of us outside the Roman curia's inner circle, a new coat of arms that uses the papal tiara seems like a pretty significant change. It entails a completely different understanding of the papacy from the one the Vatican espoused when Benedict first chose his coat of arms in 2005.

To the Roman curia and the Vatican PR staff: For the sake of those of us across the world who look to you to help us understand our faith, can you please try and get the message right next time? Thanks.

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