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Online Edition - April 2006

Vol. XII, No. 2

News & Views

Pope Not “Patriarch of the West”? | Czech Bishop Bans Secular Concerts in Churches | Steady Progress, But No “Ecclesiastical Hammer” | CMAA Summer Music Colloquium

Pope Not “Patriarch of the West”?

One of the traditional titles for the pope, “Patriarch of the West”, did not appear on the list of papal titles in this year’s edition of the pontifical yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, when it appeared in print in February.

Until now, the papal titles were, in order: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Chief Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of Vatican City State. The title had appeared in the Annuario Pontificio since 1863.

The title “Patriarch of the West” has been understood to signify the pope’s authority over the liturgy and discipline of the Latin Church.

As there was no notice or explanation of this omission prior to the title’s disappearance from the 2006 Annuario, it predictably led to speculation about its significance, especially in light of recently intensified ecumenical activity toward the Orthodox churches -- the Patriarchates of the East. The title “Patriarch of the West” has been explained as signifying the pope’s role in overseeing the Latin Church, as distinct from his role as supreme pastor of the universal Church.

One early explanation for the deletion of the title -- that this could be an ecumenical gesture toward the Orthodox churches -- seemed doubtful, as this was one of the roles of the pope that was most acceptable to the Eastern patriarchs -- heading one major division of the Church (i.e., the “West”). Some experts suggested that the deletion of this title may have been the opposite: a rejection of Eastern Orthodox attempts to impose their views of governance on the Catholic Church.

In a communiqué on March 22, a brief official explanation was given by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper. The communiqué noted that the title “Patriarch” for the pope, though very ancient, was “obscure”; the meaning of “the West” was vague, and the title “did not have a clear meaning”.

The communiqué also said, “The title ‘Patriarch of the West’, never very clear, over history has become obsolete and practically unusable. It seems pointless, then, to insist on maintaining it. Even more so now that the Catholic Church, with Vatican Council II, has found, in the form of episcopal conferences and their international meetings, the canonical structure best suited to the needs of the Latin Church today”.

The communiqué did not say that the deletion of this papal title was intended to diminish the pope’s personal authority over the “Latin rite”; nor did it explain how national episcopal conferences could be understood to substitute for the pope’s authority over the Latin Church.

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Czech Bishop Bans Secular Concerts in Churches

The diocese of Brno, in southern Moravia, has banned concerts of secular music in churches, according to a February 28 report of the Czech News Agency (CTK).

The diocese based its decision on the Vatican directive “Concerts in Churches” (1987), which said that only liturgical or religious music may be performed in churches.

At issue is an annual September concert of Gustav Mahler’s music in a church in Jihlava, south Moravia, where the composer (1860-1910) grew up -- and the city officials’ promise to subsidize repair of the church. Town councilor Jaroslav Hnik told the newspaper Lidova noviny that he thinks the diocese should help organize the Mahler concert rather than hindering it. Concerts of secular music are frequently held in churches in other Czech municipalities, the paper wrote.

A spokeswoman for the Brno diocese, however, insisted that “only the works composed to celebrate God’s glory can be staged in churches”.

The document “Concerts in Churches”, said, in part:

The principle that the use of the church must not offend the sacredness of the place determines the criteria by which the doors of a church may be opened to a concert of sacred or religious music, as also the concomitant exclusion of every other type of music. The most beautiful symphonic music, for example, is not in itself of religious character. The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content. It is not legitimate to provide for the execution in the church of music which is not of religious inspiration and which was composed with a view to performance in a certain precise secular context, irrespective of whether the music would be judged classical or contemporary, of high quality or of a popular nature. On the one hand, such performances would not respect the sacred character of the church, and on the other, would result in the music being performed in an unfitting context.

The complete document is is accessible on the Adoremus web site: www.adoremus.org/concerts.html.

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Steady Progress, But No “Ecclesiastical Hammer”

Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said he expected Pope Benedict to move carefully, gently but firmly, to correct liturgical abuses, according to an interview by John Thavis of Catholic News Service, published February 10.

“I do not expect an aggressive correction of abuses. I don’t think the pope is going to use the ecclesiastical hammer”, Cardinal Arinze told CNS.

“Pope Benedict has very clear doctrine and convictions”, the cardinal said; and pointed out that many liturgical abuses are “based on weakness of faith or ignorance”, or on a wrong idea of creativity; so it is important to identify and talk about them, but without harming the people involved, CNS reported.

Cardinal Arinze mentioned that the translation of liturgical texts is a priority, and that Pope Benedict is letting the translations of the Missal “proceed quickly, because the people are waiting”. He said that much depends upon the attention the bishops’ conferences give to the translations, as they can adopt, amend or reject the translations by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

The cardinal told CNS that the Congregation’s oversight of the translations (i.e., the Vox Clara committee for English-speaking conferences) does not mean that the Vatican wants to take over the process, but that it might give its views on a translation as it is being done so that the new texts can receive the Holy See’s confirmation and approval with the least delay. It is hoped that the English translation of the new edition of the Missal will be completed within two years.

Source: Catholic News Service

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CMAA Summer Music Colloquium

The Church Music Association of America (CMAA) announces its 16th Summer Music Colloquium, “Liturgical Music and the Restoration of the Sacred”, June 20-25, 2006, at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

Organizers say that “with Gregorian chant scholas starting up in parishes around the country and world, and a rising sense of optimism about the prospects for sacred music in the future, we expect great things to emerge from this year’s meeting”.

The CMAA, organized in 1964, is affiliated with the Consociato Internationalis Musicae Sacrae in Rome. Its educational efforts, such as the Liturgical Music Colloquium, aim to assist church musicians to maintain high artistic standards and preserve the treasury of sacred music, especially Gregorian chant; to encourage composers to write superior music; and to foster participation by the people.

For information and online registration for the colloquium, see www.musicasacra.com.

The CMAA’s quarterly journal Sacred Music (www.musicasacra.com/sacredmusic.html) is the oldest continuously published music journal in the country. Membership in the CMAA includes a subscription to Sacred Music. Information online, or contact:

William Stoops, Treasurer
12421 New Point Drive,
Harbour Cove
Richmond, VA 23233

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