The Catholic University of America

 Matthew Ernest

Final Examination of Rev. Matthew Ernest

For the Degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 10:00a.m., Caldwell Room 125


Rev. Msgr. Kevin W. Irwin, S.T.D.


The Mitre  and Crozier in the Post-Conciliar Liturgy In Light of a Renewed Theology of the Episcopacy: A Diachronic and Contextual Analysis

This dissertation examines the use of the mitre and crozier in the post-Conciliar liturgical rites in light of the Second Vatican Council's sacramental theology of the episcopacy. It does so by means of the method outlined by Kevin Irwin in his work, "Context and Text," which states that the liturgy is an act of theology. 

The work begins by noting that the immediate pre-Conciliar use of the mitre and crozier in many ways reflects a common understanding of the Mediaeval period in which these symbols came into use: namely, that the episcopacy was not a separate order in the Sacrament of Orders.  Instead, the bishop was often understood to be one prelate, among others, who had been given additional powers associated with canonical jurisdiction.  Through the use of both Conciliar documentation and the unpublished working papers of the Consilium, this dissertation offers a diachronic and contextual analysis of the Conciliar treatment and post-Conciliar reform of the mitre and crozier in light of the Council's teaching that the episcopacy is a distinct sacramental order with a unique participation in the three Christic munera.  By means of a detailed analysis of the particular liturgical symbolism of each of these items of the pontificalia, the work concludes that the symbols of the mitre and crozier were in many ways reformed in order to bespeak this renewed theology of the episcopacy.  It also notes the significant liturgical and theological implications of the retention of certain longstanding practices associated with the use of the mitre and crozier which do not always appear to clearly mark the bishop's role as sacramentally unique.  As well, this dissertation examines some of the ecclesiological and sacramental ramifications of the gradual application and development by the Consilium of the Council's statements concerning the particular liturgical role of the diocesan bishop in their reform of the mitre and crozier.

There has not yet been a study of the pontifical rites from the perspective of liturgical sign and symbol in light of the renewed understanding of the episcopacy enunciated by the Council. This dissertation aims to contribute to a more refined liturgical theology of the episcopacy through a study of these important symbols.