Vatican City, Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - To mark the 100th anniversary of Pope St. Pius X’s motu propio on the renewal of sacred music, “Tra le sollecitudini,” Pope John Paul II has issued a personal letter calling for the Church to embark on a profound renewal of liturgical and sacred music.
In the message, dated November 22, the feast of the patron saint of sacred music, St. Cecilia, the Pontiff says the anniversary of Pope Pius X’s letter provides “the opportunity to recall the important role of sacred music, which St. Pius X presents both as a means of raising the spirit to God and as an aid for the faithful toward the ‘active participation in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church’.”
Further on in the text the Pope reflects on the teaching of the Church during the last century on the nobility and importance of liturgical music, saying, “In this sense, guided by the teachings of St. Pius X and my other predecesors, and keeping in mind particularly the pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council, I wish to propose anew some fundamental principles” concerning the composition and use of music in liturgical celebrations.
Principles concerning liturgical music
The Pope then goes on to list a series of principles he considers fundamental for the appropriate use of music in the liturgy:
- “Above all it is necessary to emphasize,” he says, “that music that is intended for use in the sacred rites should have holiness as its point of reference.” “The genre of ‘sacred music’,” warns the Pope, “today has been so broadened that it includes material that cannot be included in liturgical celebrations without violating the spirit and norms of the liturgy.”
- “The reforms carried out by St. Pius X were specifically aimed at purifying the Church’s music of contamination by secular theatrical music, which in many countries had polluted the repertoire and praxis of liturgical music,” the Pope recalls. “As a result,” he says, “not all types of music can be considered appropriate for liturgical celebrations.”
- Another principle mentioned in the letter refers to the form and style of music. “Music that is intended for use in the celebration of the sacred rites must first be ‘true art’.”
- Nevertheless, warns the Holy Father, “that aspect alone is not sufficient.” “Liturgical music should in fact fulfill its specific requirements: complete adherence to the texts presented, consistency with that moment of the liturgy for which it is intended, appropriate correspondence to the gestures which the rites call for.”
- The Pope highlights the value of inculturation with respect to liturgical music, but he points out that “It is clear, however, that every innovation in this delicate material must respect specific criteria, like the search for musical expressions that respond to the necessary involvement of the entire assembly in the celebration and that avoid, at the same time, any concession to frivolity and superficiality.”
- “The sacred atmosphere of liturgical celebrations should never become a place for experimentation or the introduction of new compositions and styles that have not first been carefully reviewed,” the Pope adds.
- Further on the Pope says Gregorian chant “enjoys a special place” because “it continues to this day to be a unifying element” in the liturgy.
- In general, says the Pope, the musical aspect of liturgical celebrations “cannot be left to improvisation, nor to individual whims, but rather should be kept under careful guidance,” respecting the norms of the Church and reflecting a solid liturgical formation.
- Therefore, the Pope emphasizes “the urgency of promoting a sold formation both of pastors and the laity” in questions pertaining to the liturgy.
Popular Music and Gregorian Chant
The Holy Father indicates that “among the musical expressions that properly respond to the qualities required by the notion of sacred music, especially within liturgical music, Gregorian chant occupies an important place. The Vatican Council II recognizes it as ‘music of the Roman liturgy,’ which should be preserved in the first place for liturgical ceremonies with hymns that are celebrated in Latin.” “Gregorian chant, therefore, continues today to be an element of unity in Roman liturgy.”
John Paul II asks the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments “to pay closer attention to the sector of sacred liturgical music. … It is important that musical compositions used in liturgical celebrations respond to the criteria opportunely pronounced by St. Pius X and prudently developed by the Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Church.”
The Pope recognizes the value of popular liturgical music, but then goes on to say, “I make my own the ‘general rule’ formulated by St. Pius X in these terms: ‘The more a composition for the Church is based in its inspiration and taste on Gregorian melodies, the more sacred and liturgical it is, and the further away it is from this supreme model, the less worthy it is of belonging in the Church.”
John Paul II emphasizes that today “there is no lack of composers capable of offering in this spirit their vital collaboration in increasing the heritage of music at the service of an ever-increasing, intensively celebrated liturgy.”
The Pope recalls that St. Pius X, “addressing the bishops, instructed them to institute in their dioceses ‘a special commission made up of persons truly competent in questions related to sacred music’.” “In those places where the Pope’s instructions were put into practice the fruits were abundant,” says the Pope.
For this reason, he encourages bishops to follow the example of those commissions in their own dioceses today. “I also trust that the Bishops conferences will carefully review the texts of songs intended for liturgical use, and that they will pay special attention to the evaluation and promotion of melodies that are truly apt for sacred use,” the Pope concludes.
Boston, Mass., Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston officially announced on Wednesday that it is about to sell the Archbishop's grand residence located in the upscale Bostonian neighborhood of Brighton.
Last summer, the recently appointed Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley decided to leave the residence where Boston's Catholic Church leaders have lived for 75 years and move into a small rectory behind the city's cathedral.
On Wednesday, Fr. Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the Archdiocese, announced Archbishop O'Malley's decision.
“The Archbishop had said that in order to pay for the settlement he would not use any present parish assets, or money from the Catholic Appeal or from the capital campaign,” said Father Coyne.
”That left him very few assets to use, and the only big one that was left was the residence. He did what needed to be done.”
The residence is located within the premises of a 60-acre property that includes St. John's Seminary and the chancery buildings.
Some 28 acres would be put up for sale, including the residence, other facilities and fields around the residence.
In the recent past, Boston College, which is located across the street from the residence, expressed its interest in acquiring the property.
Vatican City, Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II has sent a message to Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, and Cardinal Marian Jaworsky, Archbishop of Lviv of the Latins, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-33, instigated by Joseph Stalin in the Ukraine aimed at killing Catholics.
The Soviet regime took control of all agricultural production and foodstuffs in order to impose forced collectivization in the country. This method provoked the genocide of entire populations.
Although the regime hid the information, it is now known that millions of people, mostly Ukranian Catholics, died during the famine.
With his message, written in Ukrainian, the Pope wanted “to spiritually join everyone in the Ukraine in recalling the victims of this tragedy and inviting young people to remember past events so that similar suffering is never repeated again.”
“The memory of the past,” writes the Holy Father, “acquires a value that transcends the borders of a nation, reaching other peoples who have been victims of events that are equally devastating and, therefore, are comforted by sharing their experience.”
The Pontiff says that the scheduled commemorations “do not go against other nations, but intend rather to instill in everyone’s soul the sense of dignity of all people, regardless of which group one belongs to.”
“The awareness of past aberrations results in a constant stimulus to build a future more suitable to man, in contrast to all ideology that profanes life and the just aspirations of man,” he adds.
“The experience of this tragedy,” the Holy Father also says, “must guide the sense and activity of the Ukrainian people today toward peace and cooperation. Unfortunately, communist ideology has contributed to furthering division in social and religious life.”
But the Pope says that “the sentiment of Christian prayer for the souls of the dead” must be accompanied “by the desire to build up a society where the common good and the rights of the people are constant guides.”
“Reaching this noble goal depends, in the first place, on Ukrainians who are entrusted with safeguarding Western and Eastern Christian heritage and the responsibility to turn it into the synthesis of culture and civilization.”
“In this task lies the specific contribution that Ukraine is called to offer in building the ‘common European house’ in which all peoples may be accepted with respect for the values of their own identity,” he concludes.
Vatican City, Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II received on Thursday members of the committee that organized his pastoral visit on June 22, 2003 to Bosnia Herzegovina, and called on the Church in the country to promote a spiritual renewal to bring peace and prosperity.
Addressing the delegation headed by Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka, President of the Bishops’ Conference, the Pope recalled that in Banja Luka he beatified lay scholar Ivan Merz and urged that “his bright example of holiness inspire lay Catholics to commit themselves to bear witness to the Gospel, the criterion and fundamental guide for Christians in all times.”
Referring to entries from Blessed Merz’s diary in 1918, when Europe was at war and he was on the frontlines, the Holy Father recalled his words: “‘Never forget God! Always seek to be one with Him!’ These words have special meaning to your country which is working to overcome much suffering which is the consequence of an oppressive regime and a long war.”
The Pontiff said it is always necessary “to cultivate an authentic spiritual renewal which will lead to forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual respect for the cultural and religious identity by all.”
He concluded by saying: “These are the ways that lead to the creation of a prosperous and peaceful society, one that is free and solid; this is the way that makes the long anticipated return of refugees and exiles to their homeland possible, in an atmosphere of safety and total freedom.”
Vatican City, Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - On Wednesday afternoon, Pope John Paul II received in audience His Beatitude Emmanuel III Dely, the new Patriarch of Babylonia of the Chaldeans, Iraq, who was elected at the end of the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church, which took place on December 2-3 at the Vatican.
The new Patriarch succeeds His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid who died this past July.
The Holy Father granted ecclesiastical communion to the new patriarch in accordance with the established canons.
According to Eastern rite traditions, Chaldean top Church leaders or patriarchs are elected by majority in a council of Chaldean bishops. If bishops cannot elect the patriarch, then the Pope elects one. If one is elected, the Pope accepts him by granting the ecclesiastical communion.
In brief remarks to members of the synod, John Paul II asked them to convey to the faithful of their communities his “affection and prayers.”
“The Pope is close to all Iraqis and knows their aspirations for peace, security and freedom.”
“Peace is so necessary if we look at your land, which needs more than ever authentic peace and tranquility. Work to ‘join the efforts’ of all believers for respectful dialogue that fosters building up a stable and free society at all levels,” the Pontiff concluded.
Springfield, Ill., Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in Illinois, which includes the Archdiocese of Chicago, is challenging a new state law that grants more time for lawsuits to be filed over sexual abuse cases, stating that the new law bears “no rhyme or reason.”
The law was signed this summer, after the yearlong sex-abuse scandal in the U.S. Church, at the urging of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and others. These groups said abuse victims need more time to understand what had happened to them and decide whether to sue. The new law is currently at issue in three abuse lawsuits.
According to Catholic officials, quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times, there is no conflict between combating sexual abuse within the Church and making a legal argument.
''I think we're going to assert our right to defend our position in a court of law,'' said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.
The deadline for suing abusers had been two years after the victim turned 18 or two years after the victim realized that sexual abuse had caused injuries, such as psychological disorders.
The new statute of limitations is 10 years after the victim turns 18 or five years after the victim makes the connection between abuse and injuries.
In one lawsuit, a man is suing the Catholic Church's Springfield Diocese over abuse he suffered as a teenager in the 1980s by a priest who was later sent to prison. In two other lawsuits, teenagers are suing St. Laurence High School and the Chicago archdiocese over allegations of abuse by a school counselor in the 1990s.
The defendants maintain that applying the new statute of limitations to their cases would be unconstitutional. They also argue the new law, with its two-part statute of limitations and additional language on discovering the connection between abuse and injury, is unconstitutionally vague.
''There just doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason,'' Kevin Martin, an attorney for the Springfield diocese, said during a court hearing Tuesday.
The sponsors of the new law are Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) and Rep. James Brosnahan (D-Evergreen Park.)
, Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - The California Supreme Court has made no immediate decision in the appeal of the local Catholic Church to be exempted from a state law requiring employers, who offer prescription drug plans, to include coverage for contraceptives.
Arguing that contraception is against Catholic doctrine and core Catholic principles, the Church wants to be excused from having to provide contraceptives for the 50,000 people who work in Catholic charity and medical facilities in California.
"The Church teaches that the practice of artificial contraception is morally unacceptable," said James Sweeney, an attorney for Catholic Charities of Sacramento, which offers social services.
Sweeney also said that the law, passed three years ago to combat gender discrimination in the workplace, violates the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom because it forbids the Church from practicing what it preaches.
In the California Supreme Court debate, Justice Carlos Moreno wondered whether Church workers have a right to contraceptives regardless of Catholic doctrine. "What about the rights of the employees?" he asked.
Justice Joyce Kennard appeared unconvinced that requiring coverage for contraceptives was necessary, demanding: "What is the compelling interest of the state law?"
Deputy Attorney General Timothy Muscat said that before the law, about half the state's employers, who offered prescription benefits, did not provide contraceptives.
Justice Janice Rogers Brown, whose nomination to a federal appeals judgeship by President George W. Bush is being filibustered in the Senate, asked whether California could demand the Church end its ban on women clergy. "Could the state of California say that's not a good idea?" she asked.
A decision is expected this week.
Madrid, Spain, Dec 4, 2003 (CNA) - Archbishop Lluís Martínez Sistach of Tarragona, Spain, is warning Catholics that the enormous amount of consumerism that is prevalent in the days before Christmas leads to an agnosticism that “pushes having and not being.”
The Spanish prelate emphasized in his weekly Sunday letter that it is easy to see the influence money, extravagance, and comfort have on people, and that “this is why a practical materialism has overtaken society.”
This materialism, he added, “leads to religious indifference and agnosticism.”
Archbishop Sistach warned that “our society does not lead us to authentically enjoy life” and that “the emptiness and disillusionment that people feel inside is growing every day.”
He said he was hopeful because of growing signs of a “reaction against this that seeks to build and rejoice in a culture of life and love,” which he identified with a true celebration of the season of Advent and Christmas.