Thursday, June 3, 2010

Liturgical Query: Should a coadjutor sit on the cathedra?

I watched this CNA video on YouTube of the Mass welcoming or officially starting the ministry of Archdiocese of Los Angeles coadjutor archbishop Jose Gomez.  He was led by Cardinal Roger Mahony (without the 'e' as Michael corrected me.) to sit on the cathedra even if he has not formally taken possession of the archdiocese.  In principle, he does since he is co-coadjutor or co-ruler of the archdiocese.

Archbishop Gomez seated on the LA Cathedra.  Cardinal Mahony is to the left vested in the pallium.  Cardinal William Levada is immediately to the right of Archbishop Gomez.

I am not sure this is liturgically correct.  Usually, the Ordinary gets to possess his diocese during the Mass of Installation where he is given the crozier and is seated on his cathedra, obviously in his Cathedral.

I once read that a cardinal enjoys the right to sit in the cathedra of any bishop if he so decides to sit during the Mass which he celebrates.  A papal legate also enjoys this privilege.  A metropolitan archbishop, once he receives his pallium, meaning he has received his authority to govern over his metropolitan province, can sit on the cathedra of his suffragan diocese.

Only the pope can sit on the cathedra of any Roman Catholic bishop without seeking the permission of the bishop, accounting for his universal jurisdiction as shown on the photo below.  The arms on the cathedra are those of New York Archbishop-Emeritus Edward Cardinal Egan

Here is the video I mentioned above.


  1. I don't know. It seems to me that if other bishops -- such as cardinals and papal legates -- can sit in the chair then it is most likely a practice or tradition but not a hard-and-fast liturgical rule. Of course, you are talking about Cardinal Mahony here who is not known for being a liturgical purist, to say the least. Just look at the new cathedral.

    Was this during mass or after? You say that a cardinal can sit if he "decides to sit during the Mass which he celebrates". Perhaps this all happened after the mass.

  2. Bruce, this happened during the Mass. Cardinal Mahony took the opportunity to have Archbishop Gomez sit on the cathedra to "see if it fits".

    If a cardinal says Mass he may ask the permission of the ordinary and sit on the cathedra.