I suspect those who ask this question are unfamiliar with the Holy Fathers writings or speeches. From the very beginning of his papacy he has stressed "continuity". When taking possession of the Lateran he said that the role of the Pope was to present nothing of his own, but to be like the wise scribe, "who brings out from his store room things both old and new".
I have always considered "Dominus Jesus", written whilst the pope was still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 2000 as being the blueprint for this papacy. There he stresses the continuity of the Church from Christ to the present day.
The vestments and the furniture stress the continuity of recent history, the use of the Pope Leo XIII's throne, which was used by the Blessed John XXIII and Paul VI whilst presiding over the Second Vatican Council, is the most obvious example. His Wednesday catechises have stressed the continuity of the Church with Jesus, he began with the Apostles, continued with the first Fathers of the Church who knew the Apostles and now we are up to the Fathers of the sixth century.
As far as the liturgy is concerned, his concern is that Ordinary Form of Mass was, in his words, "created by a commission ex nihil". He wants to give the liturgy "roots", the easy short term way is to use the ornaments of the past. Long term of course he expects the Extraordinary Form to have an effect. For him disaster would be that every fifty years we decide to re-invent the liturgy and the Church too. As one liberal English bishop said to me four or five years ago, "We have moved beyond the Council -Vat II- we have to find the new Church", the exact opposite of all Pope Benedict stands for.
CNS -- The Vatican's Christmas liturgies and rituals include a mix of old and new to demonstrate continuity with the past, said the master of papal liturgical ceremonies.
"The vestments used, like some of the details of the rite, aim to underline the continuity of today's liturgical celebration with that which characterized the life of the church in the past," said Msgr. Guido Marini.
In an interview published in the Dec. 24-25 edition of the Vatican newspaper, the master of ceremonies spoke about Pope Benedict XVI's decision to use older miters and vestments at his Christmas events and the decision to place a crucifix on the altar in St. Peter's Basilica.
Under Msgr. Marini's predecessor, a crucifix was carried into the basilica during the entrance procession and placed alongside the altar.
The newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, asked Msgr. Marini to explain why the crucifix, the symbol of Christ's death, was being given such prominence even at midnight Mass when the church was celebrating Christ's birth.
"The position of the cross at the center of the altar indicates the centrality of the crucifix in the Eucharistic celebration and the exact orientation the entire assembly is called to have during the eucharistic liturgy: We do not look at each other, but at the one who was born, died and rose for us, the Savior," he said.
"Salvation comes from the Lord. He is the east, the sun that rises, the one whom we all must watch," Msgr. Marini said.
In his 2000 book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy," Pope Benedict argued that facing the east while praying is a physical expression of turning toward God, toward the sun that rises for the salvation of all men and women.
"Where a direct, common turning toward the east is not possible, the cross can serve as the interior 'east' of the faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community," he wrote.
As for Pope Benedict's use of older, much taller miters, Msgr. Marini said they are a sign of how the church moves forward in history without ignoring or forgetting its past.
"Just as in his documents, a pope cites the pontiffs who preceded him in order to indicate the continuity of the church's magisterium, so in the liturgical sphere, a pope uses the vestments and sacred furnishings" of previous popes, demonstrating a continuity in prayer, he said.
Celebrating Mass, presiding over prayer services and giving his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world), "the pope will wear his own miters, as well as those belonging to Benedict XV, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II," the master of ceremonies said.