Monday, October 15, 2007


My emphasis and comments

VATICAN CITY, OCT 13, 2007 (VIS) -

This morning, Benedict XVI visited the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, the headquarters of which has recently been completely refurbished, at the initiative of the Holy See (!) and thanks to the support of various benefactors including the "Fondazione pro Musica Sacra e Arte Sacra."

At his arrival, the Pope was welcomed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, and by Msgr. Valentin Miserachs Grau, president of the institute. The Holy Father paused a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament in the institute's church before moving on to the library, which has also been restored recently.

In his brief address Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that sacred music, as Vatican Council II had made clear, "is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a
necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy." (Note the Vat. II reference immediately... this is intentional)

John Paul II, said Pope Benedict, "observed that today, as always, three characteristics distinguish sacred music: its 'sanctity,' its 'true art,' and its 'universality,' in other words the fact that it can be presented to any people or assembly. (This in itself calls for a music radically different from the status quo...and now he cites the words of a previous Pope... he's going somewhere with this...)

"Precisely for this reason," (Ahaa!) he added, "the ecclesial authorities must undertake to guide (I think we can conclude from this that B16 was NOT pleased with the "Directory for Music and the Liturgy" as a response to the directives in Liturgiam Authenticam)... the development of such an important form of music, not by 'freezing' its heritage (Again, I think the approach the Bishops took in the Directory has been rejected at the highest level...) but by seeking to combine the legacy of the past with the worthwhile novelties of the present (ouch!), so as to achieve a synthesis worthy of the exalted mission [sacred music] has in the service of God. (This has been Benedict's view expressed consistently in his writings, that modern Sacred Music must develop from within the tradition of the Church's past Sacred Music: Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony. This synthesis would begin with the establishment of a canon of liturgical texts as was called for in Liturgiam Authenticam, and would continue with the establishment of formal standards to be used for liturgical compositions. This approach was rejected by the Bishops in the "Directory", and it is clear that the alternative they proposed was not satisfactory to Benedict. )
"I am certain, "Benedict XVI concluded, "that the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, in harmony with Congregation for Divine Worship (this is something new...!!), will not fail to contribute to an 'aggiornamento' ... of the precious traditions of which sacred music is so rich." (Could we perhaps see a document coming from the CDW with the assistance of the Pontifical Institute concerning Sacred Music... this would be a MAJOR repudiation of collegiality.)
With the revision of Music In Catholic Worship due to be presented at the November General Assembly of Bishops, this appears to be a strong suggestion of the direction that needs to be taken in all future documents concerning music. I have been looking for some evidence that the Directory for Music and the Liturgy is a dead letter... I think I have found it here! Pope Benedict has made it very clear that music is central and of primary importance in the liturgy. This is an issue that is close to him personally and he will not let it "slide"...


Dad29 said...


First off, I agree with you that the BCL document may well be a 'dead letter,' but of course, it's not public yet, so...

But if B-16 has just dropped a 2,000-pounder on the document, the language of this address is certainly triple-deep-dark-code for that.

Chironomo said...

I disagree... here's why... why would he make a statement like ""the ecclesial authorities must undertake to guide the development of such an important form of music, not by 'freezing' its heritage but by seeking to combine the legacy of the past with the worthwhile novelties of the present so as to achieve a synthesis worthy of the exalted mission [sacred music] has in the service of God." This is a pretty specific summary of what the mandates of Liturgiam Authenticam were meant to do, and this would seem to indicate that, up to this time, the ecclesial authorities have NOT done this. Also, the comment about "freezing" the heritage would seem to be referring to the so called "common repertoire" of traditional music that would be included in all hymnals, again from the proposed Directory for Music and the Liturgy. All of this said at what should be a routine visit to the Pontifical Academy to celebrate it's renovation. Did you not also find the comment that "I am certain that the Pontifical Institute and the CDW can work together towards an "aggiornemento" (updating) of this tradition for the benefit of the whole church" a little out of the ordinary? Since when does the CDW work with the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music work together?

Dad29 said...

See my blog today's date OR Magister.

May well be that B-16 will deep-six the BCL document.

Far MORE interesting is the remark from Magister that he's contemplating adding a "sacred music" slot in the Curia.

Chironomo said...

Already been there... that is a distinct possibility now. Perhaps B16 is getting tired of "collegiality"?