Pope Benedict has refused to wear specially designed vestments with Australian motifs - hailed as "chic clergy couture" by organisers - for his World Youth Day final mass.
The Australian reports that the "earthy-red" coloured vestments feature the Southern Cross constellation on the front and an indigenous feature titled "Marjorie's Bird" on the back.
But the pope may wear some variation on the vestment design, a WYD spokeswoman told the paper.Melbourne author and John Paul II Institute Dean Dr Tracey Rowland said she had not seen the WYD vestments, but the Pope would think it was very important that any symbols featured on the clothing were "explicitly and unequivocally Christian".
According to Dr Rowland, author of a recently published book about the Pope titled Ratzinger's Faith, Pope Benedict was totally opposed to what he called "utility" music in the liturgy.
"Pope Benedict believes it's unacceptable to use pop music as a carrot to get people to go to church," she said. He was critical of rock music outside the mass as well, she said.
The vestments are now being produced in Bergamo, northern Italy, by Solivari, a company specialising in liturgical vestments. Seven hundred chasubles, the outer garment, will be produced for cardinals and bishops, and 3,000 stoles - the strip of cloth worn around the neck - for priests and deacons.
WYD spokesman Jim Hanna said he had not heard of any difficulties arising from the Pope's conservative preferences.
"I have seen no evidence of controversy brewing about the liturgy," he said.
Australians better organisers: Pell
Meanwhile, Cardinal George Pell has hinted that Australians are better organisers than Germans.
"We believe in Australia that we are pretty competent organisers. I have said a number of times in
Australia that our bigger challenge is for WYD to be a spiritual success," Cardinal Pell said.
"We organised a successful Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 but WYD is not a success just because it is well organised.
"Cologne was a big success both spiritually and religiously but certainly some of the organisation did not match the stereotype of Germany efficiency," he said, describing some of the arrangements at the last WYD in Germany during 2005 as somewhat 'chaotic'.
Pope knocks back Youth Day vestments (News.com.au, 12/4/08)
Australian cardinal urges young to attend WYD08 (Total Catholic, 12/4/08)