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Papal Party Pooper?

June 27th, 2006
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The Pope has indicated he wants to see traditional Roman Catholic styles at Roman Catholic Masses. The liberal chatterati will no doubt bemoan this as akin to starting up the Spanish Inquisition. It is interesting indeed.

Link: Pope Opposes Guitar Riffs At Church – June 27, 2006 – The New York Sun.

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Categories: Roman Catholicism
  1. Jim Roemke
    June 27th, 2006 at 19:22 | #1

    The poor pope! He doesn’t realize who he’s dealing with! We are Americans, we can do whatever we want! We aren’t part of any bigger body than ourselves and what WE want.

  2. david
    June 28th, 2006 at 07:56 | #2

    The Pope is no fool. Once I belonged to a Lutheran congregation where a good share of the members were former Roman Catholics. It was remarkable how many of them cited “folk masses” and similar phenomena as critical to their decision to leave the Catholic Church. Our pastor one time admitted to a small group that he himself would not have a problem with a worship service accompanied by guitars rather than the organ if it was done properly. But none of the ex-Catholics in the congregation would tolerate even the very idea.

  3. Rev. Al Bergstrazer
    June 28th, 2006 at 10:13 | #3

    Rev. McCain, I recall a few months ago you posted an article by Chuck Coleson expressing his weariness over the insipid lyrics and repetition of the music used in his church. Also, I believe there was a tongue in cheek society to rid the church of music by Marty Haugen-perhaps the holy father is a member of that group!
    I also recall that Pope Benedict is an accomplished musician as well, which is an interesting combination for an ecclesiastical superior, i.e., a man who not only knows his dogma but knows his music, and won’t be swayed by the evangelical sophistry of ‘style doesn’t matter just so long as we’re singing about Jesus.’
    But Jim is right, Americans will be more upset about being told what to do, than about what they’re told to do.

  4. Frank Marron
    June 28th, 2006 at 12:14 | #4

    As a young undergraduate student I tried to regularly attend Mass(I was born and raised RC). The service near campus accessible to me was always a “folk mass”. I hated this type of service and gradually stopped attending completely. There just seemed something irreverent in the entire “folk” service, as if the Church was attempting to conform to young society rather than present the liturgy centering on the forgiveness of sins in Christ. I always thought that I was attending a Christian fireside guitar singing festival rather than anything sacred and holy. I hope my current church home, the LCMS, does not go the way of the “folk mass” as I detect from surveying many internet service schedules of LCMS churches!
    Frank Marron

  5. June 28th, 2006 at 12:25 | #5

    The trouble is that the sort of people who insist on mindless guitar choruses at Mass are exactly the same ones who think the pope is irrelevant. The Catholics who actually pay attention to Benedict have been calling for traditional music all along, to no avail.
    Peter Kreeft said it well: God saw that the American Church lacked persecutors, so He created liturgists.

  6. June 28th, 2006 at 13:51 | #6

    I’m with Jim. It would surprise me if the cafeteria Catholics over here even blink at such a pronouncement.
    The tentacles of American Evangelicalism seem to wrap around even Rome’s outpost here – to some degree, at least.

  7. June 29th, 2006 at 09:47 | #7

    Is the Pope Catholic?

    McCain at Cyberbrethren gives a link to a NY Sun post which reports that Pope Benedict XVI now wants Catholic churches to worship like.Catholics, if you can believe that. That means no guitars, folk masses or any of the silly thin…

  8. Dan
    July 1st, 2006 at 15:31 | #8

    While it is important to remember our roots both theologically & musically, we should not reject music simply because it is new. Rather we should consider 1) Is the content theologically correct? 2) Is the style acceptable to the congregation? 3) Is the style appropriate for the event? what would work on a retreat would not always be appropriate for a regular service. and vice versa. and 4) Is it singable? I find too many arrangements in the blue Lutheran Worship are not singable & I have been singing in the choir for years.

  9. Holger Sonntag
    July 2nd, 2006 at 18:28 | #9

    First, all who can read Italian can read the whole speech of Benedetto XVI to practice for your next visit to Bella Italia: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/june/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060624_fondazione-bartolucci_it.html
    The key sentences, in my mind are: “Un autentico aggiornamento della musica sacra non può avvenire che nel solco della grande tradizione del passato, del canto gregoriano e della polifonia sacra. Per questo motivo, nel campo musicale, come anche in quelli delle altre forme artistiche, la Comunità ecclesiale ha sempre promosso e sostenuto *quanti ricercano nuove vie espressive senza rinnegare il passato*, la storia dello spirito umano, che è anche storia del suo dialogo con Dio.”
    See also the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/06/27/wpope27.xml, if you’re not a subscriber to the New York Sun.
    What the pope is saying here is exactly right: “authentic updating” of church music needs to take *the past and the present* into account. Music is a living tradition too, just like the liturgy.
    If we ignore the rich musical traditions of the past, we become isolated in our little present today, in the now; we’re not connected with those who’ve gone before us — and we’ll also not be very interesting to those who come after us.
    If I understand the pope correctly, it’s not that he doesn’t want anything new at all. He just wants something new that does not deny its heritage.
    As in theology so in music so in liturgy: it’s never just what makes sense to us, to our generation, to our congregation, to me. We always think in larger contexts. Chesterton’s worn expression of the church as a democracy of the dead comes to mind as still quite fitting illustration of the point.
    Concretely, we want to learn from Bach, from Brahms, from Schuetz, not to copy them, but to say, musically, what we’ve learned from them in today’s musical idioms.
    Guitars in the church came up in the 1960s as a conscious break with tradition (Jesus Freaks making Jesus Music), not just musically, but also theologically (rejection of formal theology; emphasis on “gifts of the Spirit”).
    I don’t see why we should legitimize this break with, and rejection of, tradition now, 40 years later. In fact, this break has brought into the church this individualistic, historically unconscious (ignorant?) mindset that plagues the church today on various levels (me and Jesus; me and the bible; and my friends) — or at least it’s a new stage in the ongoing “democratization of American Christianity” N. Hatch wrote about a few years back, complete with “biblical” house churches and all.
    This unhistorical cultural revolution is as alien to the Lutheran church as it is to the Roman.

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