Pope Francis: “I am not a Renaissance prince…”

Pope Francis decided at the last minute not to attend a Beethoven concert last evening, Fox News and others reported. Fox News comments, “Unlike his predecessor Benedict, who was well-known as a music lover, Francis has shown scant interest in music, liturgical or otherwise.” The concert, an event long planned for the Year of Faith, included Beethoven’s 9th symphony with choir and orchestra.

Pope Francis supposedly said “I am not a Renaissance prince who listens to music instead of working,” Vatican Insider first reported, later softening its report to preserve the general sense without quoting the pope directly. It seems to be a pattern that Pope Francis is often reported to have said something surprising, then it is taken as a sort of confirmation when the Vatican does not deny the report.

Whatever the exact words of the Holy Father, he is clearly intent on distinguishing the church and its leadership from the trappings of secular monarchy of past ages. Speaking to nuncios and apostolic delegates recently, Pope Francis said that a good prospective bishop will “love interior poverty as freedom for the Lord” and he won’t have the “mindset of a prince.”

Some have seen continuity between Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, in that both want the Church to be less worldly and more spiritual. When Benedict was in his homeland of Germany he called for an “entweltlichung” of the Church – a wonderful German word meaning something like “de-world-ification.”  Herder Verlag has a book by Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes and Manfred Lütz titled Benedikts Vermächtnis und Franziskus’Auftrag. Entweltlichung: Eine Streitschrift – “Benedict’s Inheritance and Francis’s Task. Desecularization: A Manifesto.”

There is a key difference between Benedict and Francis, however. For Benedict, the secular danger was located in the contemporary world with all its egalitarianism and informality and bad taste, and a large part of his response was to strengthen Catholicism by retrieving the beautiful, elegant trappings of yesterday’s European Catholicism.

The problem with this viewpoint is that it fails to see how much those trappings of traditional Catholicism are themselves a product of secularization, of the Church aping the power structures and court ceremonial of secular worldly powers. We generally call this “Christendom,” the culture that developed ever since Constantine, as the Church increasingly looked outside herself and her own traditions and Scriptures and toward secular models of leadership and authority.

Francis appears to be the most robustly post-monarchical or anti-monarchical figure to sit on the chair of Peter since the early Middle Ages. If there’s a contrast here, it’s not simply between him and his immediate predecessor Benedict, it’s between him and the whole string of popes before him, including the Piuses and all the rest, even John XXIII.

In naming the problem of monarchy, in decrying bishops acting like “princes,” Francis diagnoses “secularism” more radically than did Benedict. He goes to the heart of the issue, to problems endemic to the system which have long compromised the Church’s ability to witness to the Gospel. He doesn’t seem shy about throwing overboard anything which he thinks is an unhelpful distraction from the Church’s sacred mission.

For the record, I very much like Beethoven’s music, and I hope Pope Francis didn’t really make the flippant comment disparaging that and other things. But if he feels, in his heart of hearts, that much revulsion toward the trappings of monarchy, that makes me very happy.

Whether it leads to any real changes in governance remains to be seen. Time will tell. No predictions from me. Just hopes and prayers.

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48 comments

  1. Benedict and Francis are different people, and they enjoy different types of activities. Benedict would have gone to the concert because he would have enjoyed it. Francis might not appreciate it to the same degree, and he might prefer to do something else rather than attend out of obligation.

  2. He is called a low-brow pope, but he should not destroy the tremendous work of Paul VI and Benedict XVI in building bridges between the Gospel and one of the great spiritual heritages of humankind, namely classical music. If his idea of Beethoven and Mozart is they they are entertainment for renaissance princes he has not conception of how nobly and deeply they speak for all humanity. His flippant remarks are the sort of philistinism the Catholic Church does not need any more of.

    1. @Joe O’Leary – comment #2:
      Hear! Hear!
      and Amen! and Amen!

      Francis’ love of the poor is becoming the defining reality of his papacy. But there is an inherent fallacy at work here.The poor often means only the poor in means, the social outcasts, the needy, etc. But we all have poornesses and poverties and spiritual needs of one sort or another. Being care-ful for the poor often translates into a mindset by which only ‘the materially poor’ are thought of when one speaks of ministry to ‘the people’. Those of us who attend Beethoven recitals and painstakingly prepare fine music to grace holy mass are also people, but we don’t seem to be a part of the equation when certain types begin their speachifying about ‘the people’ or ‘the poor’. Francis showed by not attending this concert that he does not care for the people who were there, nor shares their loves and cares. This is truly sad. I want to hope that there is a truly genuine reason for our Holy Father to have deliberately bypassed this event. But, I have no reason to believe that it wasn’t a callous and curmudgeonly snub of the arts. I am fast becoming disenchanted. I had thought there was more substance, more maturity there – much more. Was I mistaken??

      AND, our musical heritage is for far, far more people than renaissance princes. What a cheap and boorish thing to say (if he really did say it).

      Our Western musical heritage is a miracle of creation. It, and the people who compose it, perform it, experience it are a gift of God, and are, all of them, God’s beloved creatures. It takes a certain cultivated callousness and POVERTY of spirit to calculatedly shun it and its performers and lovers.

    2. @Joe O’Leary – comment #2:

      It is said that Pope is tone-deaf, which would explain the lack of appeal of a concert for him. And he certainly hasn’t been heard to sing. The old adage “Jesuits and music don’t go together”, while sometimes disproved, may be true in his case.

      If his idea of Beethoven and Mozart is they they are entertainment for renaissance princes he has not conception of how nobly and deeply they speak for all humanity. His flippant remarks are the sort of philistinism the Catholic Church does not need any more of.

      I think it’s worth remembering that Mozart wrote much of his church music in an avowedly secular style. I think we can over-elevate the “nobility” of Mozart’s output in this regard, since it is quite certain that it was written for the entertainment of princes. Without their patronage, someone like Mozart would never have survived.

      The princelings, counts and who knows how many other hangers-on who attended Mass in the cathedral at Salzburg, to give one example, were there in order to be seen (by others), and they wanted to be entertained on Sunday morning by music in the same style that they had enjoyed in the theatre or opera house the evening before. Mozart was a past master at serving this up for them. It was only towards the end of his tragically short life that we can see a stylistic change towards something more serious in his church music as he encountered the music of Bach and allowed it to influence his writing.

      I was always uncomfortable with Benedict’s love of concerts with the Coronation Mass, etc, for precisely this reason. He did make himself look like a Salzburg prince or duke. The empty white throne at the latest papal concert was eloquent in its very emptiness. I am quite sure that Francis did not need to say any words at all in addition, but Tornielli is very good at making things up and seems to delight (as one would expect) in inflaming people’s passions.

  3. What if his sciatica just flared up that afternoon?

    Regardless of how he dresses and talks, the fact remains that Francis is a monarch both outside of the church as sovereign of Vatican City, and as the Supreme Pontiff (lip service to collegiality notwithstanding). So far his papacy hasn’t been much more than a massive PR campaign and unless he takes action soon, that’s what it will remain.

  4. I wonder just what the pope said and what the context was. Did he mean that all art that is the product of patronage is non-religious? He’d have to throw out the Gothic Cathedrals and other notably religious artifacts if he thought that.

    Surely some “secular” music is, as Fr. O’Leary notes, spiritual in nature. Many of us find that some music points beyond itself to the Transcendent, and I would go so far as to say that in some cases, conversely, the music makes us aware of the immanence of God in the music itself. Just how it does this is no doubt mysterious, but that doesn’t make the experience unreal or less valuable.

  5. It’s hardly philistinism, Joe, or a repudiation of the classical musical heritage of humankind, to decline to attend a concert. By the looks of the chair provided for him, those in attendance were more likely to have been as much spectators as an audience. He has already said that listening to classical music with his mother is one of his enduring and fond memories from childhood.

    He may have annoyed Rino Fisichella, but I’m sure he can live with that.

    I agree with Anthony.

  6. To sit on a throne and have Beethoven performed for him would have been princely behaviour. Aversion to events and rituals like that isn’t equivalent to aversion to Beethoven’s 9th, nor could it remotely be called philistinism. Moreover (@Joe O’Leary #2), building bridges between the Gospel and one of the great spiritual heritages of humankind is a bizarre image, to the point of absurdity. There’s a Gospel imperative to reach out to the sick, the poor, the suffering. But to classical music??

  7. I suspect the removal of so called monarchical trappings is all a smoke screen disarming those who have thwarted the work of the previous popes and the proper implementation of VII. He’s about to be the most monarchical pope in the recent past by cleaning out the Vatican hothouse and continuing the call to fidelity to the Magisterium which has been his most consistent theme. He’s doing it more like a truck driver than a refined conductor and the king knows he has no clothes for he himself has removed them thus reversing that old saying as his action will be the royal apparel. Traditionalists and progressives entrenched in their ideologies will be brought to the center.

    1. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #9:
      Francis’ humility is really hubris. His simplicity is covert sophistication. His turning away from monarchical symbols is a subtle turning towards the ideal of being “the most monarchical pope.” His desire for company, shown by his choice of living quarters is really an indication that he’s a closet Carthusian. His love of God is really love of self. That’s why he was elected.

    2. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #9:
      Fr. Allan – lots of predictions from you about the future, I see. What is all this grand forecasting based on? It appears to me that you’re making things up – is this damage control borne of discomfort with Francis’ style?. Or is it based on any evidence you can point to?
      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #13:
        I am basing my projections on his consistent call to fidelity to the Magisterium, the pope and bishops in union with him–meaning our local bishops, yours and mine. He also laments that there really can’t be Christian unity without our own Catholic unity sorerly lacking when we fail in fidelity to the Magisterium. Fidelity means fidelity to the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium of the Church. How do you interpret fidelity? I’m speaking of course in the areas of Faith, morals, canon law, not to mention Scripture and Tradition to include obviously natural law.

      2. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #15:
        “How do you interpret fidelity?”

        The question wasn’t addressed to me, but I’ll answer anyway. By the virtues: faith, hope, and love.

        I’m generally suspect of definitions of fidelity to Christ that involve too multi-syllable words (in any language), too many hoops on the way to Christ, and too little direct action.many

        The truth of it is that we have a pope who hasn’t ordained women, let priests marry, or lifted any excommunications on abortion providers. Yet a lot of liberals are hopeful about Roman Catholicism. And some conservatives have joined them on the bandwagon, as it were.

        Fine. They are welcome. But clearly, the supposedly “dead” Catholics are excited without the oft-feared liberal rollback conservatives have been telling everyone we’re agitating for.

        Punditry and predictions: another nod to the modern secular age. First politics. Then pro football. Now popes.

        But keep the laughs coming. By all means.

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #16:
        And if he ordains women or returns us to the 1973 English translation, fidelity works for all and if he doesn’t, the same. I’m shocked you can’t appreciate humor as it can soothe the uptight heart. We have a saying in Georgia, “loosen up snapper head!”

  8. I feel like I need to file my dispatch from the “sometimes-a-cigar-is-just-a-cigar” region of the world today.

    Stanislaus said, in comment #3, that the this is simply a massive PR campaign, and that time for real change is running out – I’m not sure that I agree with that. It has taken the Church a long time to get the way it has, it will not be changed with immediacy, in my humble opinion.

    Perhaps Francis, with his low brow and ordinary ways will be like the roots of a maple tree. The sidewalk next to that tree is intact, yet one day the cement heaves, just a little. It could be years later that the whole thing just pulls apart the walkway, but it does happen.

    The constant need to put Francis in contrast with Benedict, in the overly used linear good/bad sense, seems to be the worst part of the secularization of the Church. For goodness sake, if we are not about a kind of dynamism that eschews the simplistic good/bad, we have made very little progress. That to me, is the most frustrating thing of all. And yes – we are all guilty of it at some time or another, including me. Right now. *sigh*

    Perhaps he is, like a cigar, just being who he is. Now there’s something to think about in reference to comparisons; Joseph Ratzinger became Benedict… Jorge Bergoglio became, well, you see where I’m headed. Just something to consider.

  9. The pope emeritus didn’t show up for the concert, either. And this event was most certainly planned before the Resignation. Maybe it’s time to take the white throne out of the concert hall. I vote we just give the man a little extra leg room and move on.

    #9, thanks for the humorous spin. As they say in the secular world, “I’m lovin’ it.”

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #12:
      Thanks to Todd and Fr. Anthony – Allan is shooting from the hip again. In his kerfuffle blog he posts a long rambling *attack* on this very subject ending with his usual *clairvoyant* take with the word – *YIKES*.

      Suggest that his framing it this way prepares for future papal decisions that will probably diminish if not turn back the restoratianists. Then, he can *allege* all sorts of things when he doesn’t like what the decisions are. How clairvoyant is that!

      Finally, would suggest that if you are a pope from the slums of Argentina, that this concert would have appealed to him if it had been moved to the Plaza, if the families of nearby neighborhoods had been invited at no cost – then, would suggest that Francis would have passionately been involved and present. Think we miss his direction and charism too often in *old* fights about European/US ways of thinking (does it really have anything to do with *Mozart*; with secularism, with high brow music, etc.)
      Francis is wary of aligning himself with *customary* ways of doing things that (intentionally or not) separate and divide people into classes, economic tiers, etc. This is why Allan and some others’ comments are so outrageous and off the mark!

  10. There is a key difference between Benedict and Francis, however. For Benedict, the secular danger was located in the contemporary world with all its egalitarianism and informality and bad taste,

    Francis diagnoses “secularism” more radically than did Benedict. He goes to the heart of the issue, to problems endemic to the system which have long compromised the Church’s ability to witness to the Gospel

    Agreed but perhaps it is even far more radical than at first appearance. It is more than the infiltration of love of secular forms of wealth, status and power into the church.

    Father Anthony did not post the term “spiritual worldliness” which was in the address to the Nuncios and which is probably the key to Francis thought. Perhaps Anthony like myself has puzzled over the word.

    There is always the danger, including for churchmen, to give into what — borrowing an expression from (the late Jesuit Cardinal Henri) De Lubac — I call ‘spiritual worldliness’: giving into the spirit of the world which leads to acting for one’s self-realization and not for the glory of God,” he said.

    I don’t know much about its use in De Lubac, but I suspect that it is an expansion on the concept of spiritual pride which occurs when we begin to think that everything that God has given us and has done through us is because we are better than others.

    Francis (or may be it was De Lubac) seems to have expanded the idea to a social concept, that Christian communities both individually and collectively can do this and therefore we become absorbed in ourselves, i.e. self-referential, rather than seeking the honor and glory of God and the good of others.

    In other words we can become worldly about spiritual things, i.e. taking spiritual riches, spiritual status, and spiritual power and using them to promote ourselves and against others. Francis seems to regard this as the worst evil possible. The fact that the goods are spiritual does not make the sin any less but actually much worse.

  11. Sede vacante! The commentariat, here and on the traddie blogs, have made much of the empty chair. One commenter applauds Pope Francis for being “anti-Renaissance” – after all, the Renaissance was the point at which everything started to go to hell in a handbasket. Quite a few dismissed him as a “boor” or a “buffoon” or a “barbarian” for supposedly disrespecting Beethoven’s music, though there is no evidence that he said anything about Beethoven, positive or negative. Others interpreted the empty chair and the “Renaissance prince” comment as a direct slap at Pope Francis’s predecessor.

    Who knows what he really said? Who knows what happened and why? Perhaps he didn’t like the idea of sitting in a huge white throne in the midst of a concert hall. Perhaps he was behind in his work, or had important people to see. A single-minded focus on work is every bit as much a Jesuit characteristic as is an alleged distaste for fine music and liturgy.

    We should give this pope room to work, without constantly second-guessing his motivations.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #19:
      I suspect the 77 year old Pontiff was tired and watched it on TV with Pope Emeritus Benedict, or he just chilled out and went to bed and decided at the last minute which prevented the removal of the chair.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #19:

      Quite a few dismissed him as a “boor” or a “buffoon” or a “barbarian” for supposedly disrespecting Beethoven’s music, though there is no evidence that he said anything about Beethoven, positive or negative. Others interpreted the empty chair and the “Renaissance prince” comment as a direct slap at Pope Francis’s predecessor.

      I heard similar comments after Solemn EF Mass last Sunday. For all their ultramontane posturing, many trads truly hate Pope Francis. This hatred in turn demonstrates their rejection of life in the Body of Christ through the Church.

      I try to rationalize my attendance at the EF by not socializing with my fellow parishioners. Sadly, that incident has only reinforced this tendency. The barbs trads fling at the Holy Father reminded me that Catholic traditionalism is often quite immature in charity, mercy, and tolerance, despite the ability of some traditionalists to memorize the rubrics of the Pontificale Romanum down to the precise angle of the thurible swings during the incensation of an altar.

      The vibe I get from trads is that Pope Francis is “stupid” or “inept” simply because he is “popular with the people”. I never would have thought that the Pope’s compassion for and genuine interest in people from all walks of life would demonstrate “stupidity”. Even if he were “stupid”, the Holy Father would be in good company. How many saints patiently bore insults about their intelligence?

      I have long ago separated myself from “trad culture”, which is often obnoxious and highly judgmental. I have learned that many EF adherents do not attend because of a love of Latin, but because the culture which surrounds EF celebration fosters a very false, daresay toxic, sense of community. Even so, I thrive intellectually on Latin prayer. I do not necessarily understand or agree with the liturgical model of “assembly”. However, a highly atomized and antagonistic worship model is dysfunctional and intellectually bankrupt. One wonders if it is worth suffering socially out of a love for the words of prayer themselves.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #23:

        Hello Jordan,

        For all their ultramontane posturing, many trads truly hate Pope Francis. The vibe I get from trads is that Pope Francis is “stupid” or “inept” simply because he is “popular with the people”.

        I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: Let’s be careful about painting with a broad brush. It’s simply not *my* experience that “many” trads “truly hate” Pope Francis. Are there some out there that really dislike him, or even suspect his orthodoxy? Sure, and they exist online in disproportionate numbers. I don’t need to tell you where to look.

        The great majority undoubtedly preferred Benedict to Francis (as I do myself, I will confess), and likely had some disappointment when it was announced that Bergoglio had been elected. But such is hardly a shooting offense (or an unprecedented one – we all have our preferences), and does not amount to “hate.” Sometimes the reactions are unexpected: One SSPX adherent of my acquaintance prays five decades of the Rosary daily for him, and I don’t sense that it’s in a “prayer as a weapon” sense, either. I fear you’re perpetuating old stereotypes to an audience here that is only too keen to believe them.

        Yes, charity remains the theological virtue that is most challenging for some (not all, but some) traditionalists, even as they possess the other two in abundance. But not all traditional communities are alike. I am sorry to hear that the one near you seems so problematic.

      2. @Richard Malcolm – comment #32:

        Richard, you are right. “truly hate” were strong words. Then again, I was dismayed by the lack of charity for our Holy Father which has seeped into traditionalism.

        I fear you’re perpetuating old stereotypes to an audience here that is only too keen to believe them.

        I speak only of my experiences, even if my writing is only bluster.

        I have been traditionalist for the majority of my life, and I am yet in my early 30’s. I am utterly alienated by the lack of intellectual probity and simple piety among trads. This alienation has been building for years, and trad mockery of Pope Francis has stretched me to the limit.

        PTB participants, and especially my “progressive” (for lack of a better term) brothers and sisters on this blog, display a wide range of intellectual talents. Disagreement is frequent, and yet disagreement is the crucible of spiritual and intellectual development. PTB participants have developed complex hermeneutics within this blog’s “walls”. This is a testament to cooperative enrichment of minds.

        In my own experience, unlike the marked curiosity of not a few adherents of the ordinary form, traditionalism is often a intellectual desert parched from a drought of earnestly inquisitive piety. Missale Romanum 1962 contains a profound universe of syntax and semantics. The Canon alone is a magnificent prose poem filled with an amazing literary dynamism. I have offered to teach Latin to trads. Flatly rejected. Do traditionalists wish not to know what is said in their name? Rather, is traditionalism and the EF merely an environment to raise children in religious fundamentalism, a cult which offers a strict rule for life, or an opportunity to fuss about the design of buskins from 17th century Preßburg?

        I view Pope Francis’s desire not to live as a Renaissance prince as a wonderful chance to brush the last clods of monarchy from the boots of the Church. Sadly, some trads would rather Pope Francis fake an almost defunct monarchical style rather than lose their fragile beliefs.

      3. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #33:

        I could not agree more. I know there are trads who say the Roman Breviary, but the majority frowned when I tried to give away the 1962 Short Breviary — because it was from St. John’s Abbey. So I moved on, still with a love for the EF and fulfilled my teenage dream and migrated to the Byzantine Rite, supplementing with the 1960 Roman Breviary and the Office of Readings. In fact, I have built up quite a collection of the propers of religious orders and man, my Office of Readings is now chock full of extra goodies, like the Feast of the Precious Blood, the Feast of Elijah, Edmund Campion, Dominic Savio, etc. That being said, I enjoy coming to this blog occasionally to read, and what interesting things I do read. Some things irritate the hell out of me, other amuse, some annoy, and others makes me think. I still recall fondly Father Ruff’s discussion on liturgy that included more incense, no Benedictine arrangement, masses ad orientam in the OF, etc. Then the article by Father Joncas on Area 51 of SC was most enjoyable. My prayers to all and a Franciscan hug too.

  12. Here you go – from John Allen – it does correct the absurd Allan comments and reinforces the fact that the concert was originally to be outside in the plaza:

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/recipe-overinterpreting-pope

    Some key points to shed light on above unfactual comments:
    – The piece was Beethoven’s Ninth, and all the vocalists chosen to perform from Italy’s Academy of Santa Cecilia were German. (nothing to do with Mozart, JOL)
    – As a footnote, it was originally conceived as an open-air popular event, but in the end it was moved indoors to the Paul VI Audience Hall.
    – Papal ambassadors, or nuncios, from around the world were in Rome last week for a conference, including a session with Francis on Friday. Since he does not come out of the world of Vatican diplomacy, Francis apparently felt his time Saturday evening would be better spent getting to know these guys, given that many of them were returning to their posts Sunday afternoon or today. That familiarity is especially important given that some of them may be in line for other Vatican positions that Francis shortly will have to fill, including the all-important role of Secretary of State.

    In other words, his withdrawal from the concert may actually illustrate his work ethic more than a rejection of Renaissance ostentation.

    Suggest that Allan might want to emulate Francis in terms of his work ethic vs. blogging – and NO, he didn’t watch TV or just go to bed and it had nothing to do with *THE CHAIR*.

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #21:

      While the music and the Renaissance Princes may have been over-interpreted, the CNS story about the Nuncios and what Francis wants in bishops is reliable.

      It is even sharpened by John Allen’s report that the Pope wanted to spend more time with the Nuncios.

      Benedict had cut back upon the traditional direct access that Nuncios had to the Pope when they visited the Vatican. And, of course the diplomats were also disturbed by Benedict’s appointment of Bertone as Secretary of State since Bertone was from CDF not the diplomatic service. Some have even suggested that most of Benedict troubles and the leaks may have come from the diplomatic service. We know some diplomats, e.g. the guy who now is nuncio to the US, were at the center of Vatican disagreements.

      So it looks like Francis is “courting” the diplomats much like he has been “courting” the Vatican employees. In fact it is very possible that giving up the concert in order to spend more time with diplomats, especially ones eligible for promotion might have sent a strong signal to the diplomats that Francis values their advice and service.

      He might also have wanted to alleviate any concern that his “gang of eight cardinals” would be a way of bypassing the input of the Nuncios in bishop appointments. When the appointments of the eight had been announced the pope’s press secretary took care to note they were for “extraordinary” not “ordinary” advice that has its established channels, e.g. the appointment of bishops.

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #22:
        Agreed and thanks for responding. That is why I ended with this:

        “In other words, his withdrawal from the concert may actually illustrate his work ethic more than a rejection of Renaissance ostentation.” (J. Allen)

        Suggest that Allan might want to emulate Francis in terms of his work ethic vs. blogging – and NO, he didn’t watch TV or just go to bed and it had nothing to do with *THE CHAIR*. (my comment)

        From True and False Reform in the Church, by the French Dominican Yves Congar, drawing 8 principles from that work by which we might assess reform principles, concluding:

        “The idea of reform is as old as Christianity itself. Reform is by definition a good thing, and frequently is needed both on the personal and on the institutional level. But history teaches that reform can be misconceived and indiscreet. The only kind of reform that the Church should consider is one based on authentically Christian and Catholic principles. Holy Scripture and Catholic tradition give the necessary parameters. All who propose ecclesial reform should make it clear at the outset that they sincerely embrace these principles. Otherwise they should not be invited to participate in the process.

        Where existing institutions prove clearly inadequate, institutional reform has a claim on our consideration. But it is less important and fruitful in the long run than personal reform, which requires purification of the heart from pride, sensuality, and lust for power. Where there is a humble and loving spirit, combined with firm faith and stringent self-discipline, institutional reform will be at once less urgent and easier to achieve.”

  13. Goodness…So much verbiage over thirteen words which Pope Francis “supposedly” said. It all sounds like a sacred cow has been pinched.

  14. I doubt B16 would have gone either.
    The throne wasn’t elevated enough nor was it separated far enough from the group.

  15. So John Allen knows exactly why the Pope was not present at Saturday evening’s concert. Speaking of infallibility.

  16. jrf – agree about John Allen. OTOH – posted because I will accept John Allen’s thoughts long before the dribble from Allan McDonald and John Allen, at least, provided more reasonable explanations than most commenters here – fred moleck might have said it best.

  17. I grew up around classical music and have an appropriate appreciation for Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and the many other composers of like greatness. Francis also grew up around this music. But he is clearly not a music “lover” and simply didn’t want to sit on a throne like chair while everybody watched him listen to the concert. This pope is not into pro-forma events. The other week he was expected to deliver a five page talk to Catholic school students. He changed it into Q & A to the delight of the students and their teachers and parents. The RC crowd and folks like Fr. Allan are incredulous that there reform of the reform has been stopped dead in its tracks. They either can’t or won’t believe it and/or are deeply resentful. I don’t see Francis as a progressive or conservative. I see him as one who seeks to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ which is at once both simple and radical. If he succeeds in reintroducing servant leadership to the structures of governance we would all do well to prepare to go out and meet Christ as he comes again!

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #30:
      Hello Jack,
      If he replaces the present structures of governance (and all the trappings that many traditionalists love) with servant leadership wouldn’t that make him a progressive? If he has stopped the reform of the reform “dead in its tracks” as you state, doesn’t that *not* make him a conservative but rather a progressive?
      It seems to me that just about everything he has done, including washing the feet of women, is a headache to many die hard conservatives but has delighted progressives. He certainly seems to behave like one…. and we’re only 112 days into his pontificate.

  18. Joe O’Leary : He is called a low-brow pope, but he should not destroy the tremendous work of Paul VI and Benedict XVI in building bridges between the Gospel and one of the great spiritual heritages of humankind, namely classical music. If his idea of Beethoven and Mozart is they they are entertainment for renaissance princes he has not conception of how nobly and deeply they speak for all humanity. His flippant remarks are the sort of philistinism the Catholic Church does not need any more of.

    I agree with what Jo O’Leary says here – wonders will never cease – although I will add the caveat given by Fr. Ruff that we really do not *know* if the Holy Father said these remarks – remarks which are, whoever might say them, truly “flippant.” Indeed, charity demands that I assume he had worthier motives for missing the concert.

  19. Regret to say- the are many ways of acting like a prince and not showing up at the last-minute for a concert which many artists had worked hard on, and many were looking forward to in the presence of the Pope is one of them. The Queen may dress once in a while more regally than Popes have for decades, but she is a servant through and through.
    When to hold ’em, when to fold ’em – it’s hard to know. I so admire and applaud his instincts, so he’ll just have to get better at choosing when to insist and when to do as asked.

  20. @Jack Feehily – comment #30:

    The RC crowd and folks like Fr. Allan are incredulous that there (sic) reform of the reform has been stopped dead in its tracks. They either can’t or won’t believe it and/or are deeply resentful. I don’t see Francis as a progressive or conservative. I see him as one who seeks to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ which is at once both simple and radical.

    Father Jack, in my travel across cybercatholicism in the five months, I can’t say, other than one singularly subjective blog, that your analysis that RotR folks’ disagree with your assessment of the Holy Father. That would include Mr. Tucker and virtually everyone I know in CMAA with whom I’ve spoken. And don’t you think it a bit premature and ill-conceived to declare RotR is “dead in its tracks?” All politics are local, which you know well. Brick by brick re-orientation will continue, slow and steady the pace, so that the reforms explicitly outlined in the three major post conciliar canonical documents are at least acknowledged to remain unfulfilled, such as cantillated orations by celebrants and responses by PiPs, respect provided the broad spectrum of plainsong chant styles, whether vernacular or Latin, etc. We’re still Big Tent, Fr.

  21. Simply because of the fact that he is an educated adult in Western culture, it is statistically almost impossible that Holy Father Francis does not regard Beethoven 9 as profoundly sacred. Therefore, in my humble opinion those who are criticizing his actions here are betraying a pretty obvious agenda.

    1. @Jim Waldo – comment #39:
      The number of ‘educated’ adults in Western culture who are contemptuous of Beethoven (and our musical heritage in general), or who never heard of Beethoven and wouldn’t regard his 9th as sacred are legion. Our universities churn them out, even granting them doctorates, by the tens-of-thousands. There is no obvious agenda here to betray.

      It is, of course, possible that Holy Father Francis was indeed prevented from attending this concert for genuine and pressing reasons. The renaissance prince remark, though, would seem not to lend credence to that possibility. If he did say that (IF he really did), one can but be disappointed in such a cheap and immature remark from such a man. As someone noted above, it was not only the prelates and the audience who were stood up by their honoured visitor, it was the musicians themselves, who without doubt could not but have been disheartened and hurt by such a scornful attitude. Not only those musicians, but musicians and music lovers everywhere.

      I admire Holy Father Francis and hope that he will rectify the shortcomings in church governance, ethics, and morality that plague our times. I hope, as well, that these emphases will not have a negative effect on improving the sorry liturgical praxis that also plagues our time. Being concerned for the poor is not the opposite of resplendent liturgy. And, only those who are devoted to sloppy liturgy unworthy of the poor or God will think that it is. It is not for nothing that the Oxford movement and high church Anglo-Catholicism enjoyed much of their early successes amongst the poor, the very poor. There is a lesson here for those who are sharp enough to perceive it!

      Everyone needs to realise, much as they are pleased to think otherwise, that our musical heritage belongs to all of us, including the poor; and most people who love it are far, very far, from being renaissance princes or their equivalents in our modern society. (And, a good many of them would be surprised were they to be called educated.)

    1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #42:
      Agreed. Or maybe he could have gone and just not sat in the white chair. The earlier remark about the poor musicians who worked hard to prepare to perform for the Pope, only to have him bail on them at the last minute, was very perceptive. This strikes me as an ill-considered decision on his part. I guess even infallible pontiffs make mistakes.

  22. I heard that Francis used to listen to Beethoven with his mother and developed a great appreciation of it.

    It is sad that he had to disappoint the musicians et al, but he probably does not want people to feel they are preparing something for him. ‘All the attendees deserved white thrones’ is probably the underlying idea, but that does not always work.

    Cardinal Pell, one of Francis’ eight advisors on reform, has said Francis does not want the Vatican to be seen as a Renaissance court, according to Vaticaninsider. This is quasi confirmation of the sentiment, if not the quote, but it is possible it was misapplied in this situation.

  23. Geez, you guys.

    He’s spent most of his “career” in Argentina among the poor in the slums. He’s been at the Vatican only a little over 3 months
    and may not be refined like many in the vatican or any of us.

    When was the last time we comforted someone who was so poor that they could only affort dung to burn as fire to cook their limited meals?

    Give him a break, he’s a bit “rough around the edges” and may behave like a bull in a china closet but we would too if we has his experiences.

    I for one am willing to cut him some slack, he missed a concert, so what.

    The princes of the church forgot all about it while they rode back to their residences in their chauffered Mercedes limos.

  24. Dale – had the same reaction. Find Deacon Ftritz’s opinion about the German playing group & a gesture of rudemess to be a stretch and invents his own narrative.

    Facts:
    – this was planned and scheduled over a year ago and was designed to be outdoors and with Benedict in mind (thus, Beethoven and in German)
    – It was moved indoors (why?); and why didn’t Benedict attend?
    – two other opinions have been floated that, IMO, are much more significant than some *imagined* insult or dissing by Francis’ no show or imagined rudeness.
    First, unfortunately this concert coincided with the global nuncio meeting – IMO, Francis needed to be with the nuncios much more than attending some concert (and how often do you think these types of events are planned with the pope in mind and he can’t attend?) and if you were a nuncio, how would you react to Francis saying he had to be present for long planned concert event?

    Second, doubt that Francis said or used the Renaissance Prince line (in fact, this appears to have been corrected and clarified – this was a media line). OTOH, Francis has made it very clear that this all consuming focus on the pope and what he does or does not do needs to change. My guess is that they could have rescheduled this event or made modifications after the election of Francis – and, again, an event outdoors open to the local neighborhoods probably would have been closer to the mind of Francis.

    Finally, given the demands and complexity around papal events, how many folks had a hand in this event and with better planning, internal communication, etc. could have avoided putting Francis in this position. Do you really think this came down to Francis only?- seems a little naive?

  25. While I attend Pgh Symphony concerts,my appreciation for resetting the table of religiosity by FRANCIS meeting the leaders of South America on the side of poor people against the monied interests ,who exploit them is more important than any pope sitting on any throne listening to classical music. We all appreciate and enjoy our music but our understanding and work to make a more just world is the true message of JESUS and the work of FRANCIS. HABEMUS PAPAM who seems to understand that lesson clearly and is using his boombox to say it to the world.

  26. When I saw the empty chair, I had to laugh. Who put that there and hasn’t the message this pope been clear? Of course, he would not go and sit in that chair to listen to music. Maybe he would bump one of the cardinals and sit with everyone else. Like in the van after his election.

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