Question: My parish has a cross with the resurrected Christ next to the altar table. They say it is OK because Pope Francis has one. Is the use of a “resurrexifix” now liturgically acceptable, if not a new norm?
— Andres Wong, via email
Answer: The pictures you included feature the pope’s crozier, not the altar crucifix. The crozier is the pastoral staff that bishops carry like a shepherd’s crook. There are fewer norms for the crozier, and recent popes, including Pope Francis, have used a number of different styles. Some feature Christ crucified, others are simply a cross, still others closer to a shepherd’s crook. Further, the picture you supplied of one of Pope Francis’ croziers does not seem to be a “resurrection cross.” Though its design may contain rays of light, the hands and feet do have nails. At best, it is ambiguous.
All that said, if someone seeks to justify a resurrection cross in the sanctuary based on Pope Francis’ crozier, they are confusing the crozier with the crucifix. What should be our guide is what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says of the cross in the sanctuary: “There is also to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, either on the altar or near it, where it is clearly visible to the assembled congregation. It is appropriate that such a cross, which calls to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of the Lord, remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations” (No. 308). Hence, a cross with a figure of the resurrected Christ floating in front of it does not fulfill the requirement of the liturgical norm. The norm explains that the Mass is directly connected to the saving passion of the Lord, and that this saving action is made present to us at every Mass.
Pope Francis observes this norm and, even if in a few instances in locations outside the Vatican such a norm may not have been observed, this does not amount to a new norm. The current norm is clearly stated in missal and should be what we follow in parish churches.