"Sacred polyphony," the Holy Father said Saturday after a concert held in his honor by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation, "especially the so-called 'Roman school,' is a legacy that must be carefully conserved, maintained alive and made known."
It will be of "benefit not only to scholars and enthusiasts, but to the ecclesial community as a whole, for which it represents an inestimable spiritual, artistic and cultural heritage," the Pope said, after the concert in the Sistine Chapel.
"An authentic updating of sacred music cannot occur except in line with the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian Chant, and of sacred polyphony," the Pontiff added.
"This is why," Benedict XVI said, "in the musical field, as well as in that of other artistic forms, the ecclesial community has always promoted and supported those who investigate new expressive ways without rejecting the past, the history of the human spirit, which is also the history of its dialogue with God."
Pope Benedict is not trying to confine liturgical music to that written centuries ago. However, he is giving the people in the pews more credit than many of our current music directors. Most congregations really are capable of appreciating liturgical music with more depth and complexity than a Peter, Paul, and Mary sing-along. Those who disagree are very much like those who opposed the new translation of the Mass because it used too many big words.
I really like these comments from the Australian press:
Melbourne Vicar-General Les Tomlinson said he did not believe the Pope intended to ban any particular music, he just wanted greater depth. Just as the church did not aim for the lowest common denominator in the language of worship, so the same desire was at work in its music.
Leading Melbourne Catholic singer and songwriter Juliette Hughes sympathised with the Pope. "There's lots of dreadful guitar music that is a stumbling block to people who want to come back to church — that dreadful 'I want to have a beer with Jesus' music," she said.
When I come to Mass, it is not about me and my feelings. I am not looking for catchy little ditties to uplift my spirit. The Mass is about Christ. His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. His Sacrifice. His True Presence. I am at Mass to focus on Him. To Praise Him. To Worship Him. The music should reflect this.
So will guitars be banned? I don’t think so. However, music that turns the attention towards the congregation and away from Christ should be banned.