Shawn Tribe tells us that the pope’s is wearing a cope embroidered in gold that was John XXIII’s together with a mitre of Pope Benedict XV… the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing will be given with the papal cross, namely [that with] three arms [or bars] that dates back to Leo XIII.
Why does Benedict XVI wear all the old fancy gear? Does he just like dressing up? Does he like to display the power and pomp of his office? In fact, it is all part of his commitment to what he calls ‘the hermeneutic of continuity’ that is to say, that the Church today is built on the past, and what we do today, liturgically, pastorally, politically, spiritually, is empowered and enabled by our faithfulness to the past. This is not to turn the clock back. The Pope is not one of these arch traditionalists who want to return to the 1950s. Instead he believes that the past rightly informs the present, and that there must be a continuity in the tradition so that the faith that we have received from the apostles can continue to thrive.
So, in wearing vestments and using a crozier from three earlier popes Benedict XVI makes visual the continuity of his office and the continuity of his teaching.