By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In giving priority to Gregorian chant and to classical liturgical music, the Catholic Church is not trying to limit anyone’s creativity but is showcasing a tradition of beautiful prayer, Pope Benedict XVI wrote.

Music at Mass should reflect the fact that the liturgy “is primarily the action of God through the church, which has its history, its rich tradition and its creativity,” the pope said in a letter marking the 100th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music.

In the letter, released by the Vatican May 31, the pope wrote that sometimes people have presented Gregorian chant and traditional church music as expressions “to be overcome or disregarded because they limited the freedom and creativity of the individual or community.”

But, he said, when people recognize that the liturgy does not belong to an individual or parish as much as it belongs to the church, then they begin to understand how, while some expressions of local culture are appropriate, priority should be given to expressions of the church’s universal culture.

He said music used at Mass must convey a “sense of prayer, dignity and beauty,” should help the faithful enter into prayer — including through use of music that reflects their culture — and should keep alive the tradition of Gregorian chant and polyphony.

Editor’s note: Here is the report of the Vatican Information Service on this letter which was sent in conjunction with the festivities around the 100th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Scred Music.  — awr