Are you Catholic and fond of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony? Good news at last! Something can help you stay in high spirits: good times are coming back again. But let’s try to be methodical.
Benedict XVI, who is highly competent in the area of sacred music, is also known as severely critical of what he considers the degradation of music following the Second Vatican Council. The Pope has written on a number of occasions that he wants to restore to the Catholic liturgy the great music that “from Gregorian chant passes through the music of the cathedrals and polyphony, the music of the Renaissance and the Baroque, to Bruckner and beyond.”
In a message to the participants at the congress of the Vatican Congregation for Worship, hold onDecember 5 2005, he encouraged them “to reflect upon and evaluate the relationship between music and the liturgy, always keeping close watch over practice and experimentation.” In turn, in the same occasion, cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Worship, criticized the musical fashions found in many churches, which he characterized as “chaotic, excessively simplistic, and unsuitable for the liturgy.”
As Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister reported, during that congress
But one could gather this above all from the applause that punctuated and concluded the address by monsignor Valentino Miserachs Grau, president of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, the liturgical-musical “conservatory” of the Holy See, which has the task of training Church musicians from all over the world.
With concise and concentrated arguments, Miserachs argued forcefully on behalf of the revival of Gregorian chant, beginning with the cathedrals and monasteries, which ought to take the lead in this rebirth.
And he called upon the Church of Rome finally to act “with authority” in the area of liturgical music, not simply with documents and exhortations, but by establishing an office with competency in this regard, as it did for example with the pontifical commission dedicated to the Church’s cultural heritage.
“This is the opportune moment, and there is no time to waste,” Miserachs concluded, clearly referring to the reigning pope.
With this concert, Benedict XVI has symbolically restored the Sistine Chapel to its true maestro. Because the famous chapel is not only the sacred place decorated with the frescoes of Michelangelo, it also gives the name to the choir that for centuries has accompanied the pontifical liturgies.
Bartolucci’s replacement was the finishing stroke of the almost complete elimination of Gregorian chant and polyphony as desired by the authors of the postconciliar liturgical reform.
His positions then were isolated. But with his election as pope, Ratzinger immediately indicated his intention to proceed, in the liturgical and musical field, with what he calls “the reform of the reform.”
Norman Geras propone una “risposta” interessante al discorso di Benedetto XVI, quella di una lettrice del Times che, nella rubrica Letters to the Editor, argomenta in questo modo il suo garbato “dissenso” (uso le virgolette perché in realtà non è tale, come dirò più avanti):
But it didn’t happen. Benedict XVI didn’t talk speak of these two matters.
Nor did he repeat the usual interpretations of the Holocaust.
On the contrary, he made an interpretation of the slaughter of the Jewish people that no pope had ever made before him.
By annihilating that people – Benedict XVI asserted – the architects of the slaughter “wanted to kill God.” The God of Abraham, and of Jesus Christ. The God of the Jews and of the Christians, but also of all humanity, for whose sake “on Sinai he laid down principles to serve as a guide, principles that are eternally valid.” By destroying Israel, the authors of this extermination “ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful.”
È questo il passaggio chiave del discorso pronunciato da Benedetto XVI domenica 28 maggio ad Auschwitz e Birkenau.
Segnalo, infine, che Sandro Magister riporta nel sito WWW.CHIESA il testo integrale del discorso di Birkenau e un’antologia di brani particolarmente significativi tratti dagli altri discorsi e omelie pronunciati da Benedetto XVI durante il suo viaggio in Polonia.
While the pope is asking Islam for dialogue based on culture, human rights, the refusal of violence, he is asking the West, at the same time, to go back to a vision of human nature and rationality in which the religious dimension is not excluded. In this way – and perhaps only in this way – a clash of civilizations can be avoided, transforming it instead into a dialogue between civilizations.
Benedict XVI on the Bible and the Qur’an, on Pius XII, on women in the Church, on Africa, on ecumenism, on the interpretation of the Council. A spontaneous dialogue with the Roman priests.
The European Jewish Press reports that a Muslim cultural institute in Germany, the Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv-Deutschland, has dared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp.
"In this place of horror he can again deny the Holocaust, if he has the courage," a spokesman for the institute told the German Catholic press agency KNA. “By denying the Holocaust,” he also said,
“Ahmadinejad not only denigrated the Jewish victims of the genocide but also the 200,000 Roms and Arabs murdered in the "gypsy camp" of Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps.”
Repeating Nazi anti-Semitism, he added, was harmful to the image of Islam and "a disgrace for all the world’s Muslims."
The Berlin-based institute—aimed to preserving the community’s archives since the 18th century and fostering relations between Muslims and other religions—is the oldest Muslim body in Germany, having been founded in 1927.