In a major shift in direction, it was announced yesterday in Catholic San Francisco that the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship in the Archdiocese of San Francisco is expanding its focus from sacred music to a wider scope including Catholic art, music, architecture and literature. The newly-named executive director is conservative political commentator Maggie Gallagher.
San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone says of the new development:
This is a broadening of the institute’s mission to include the complete beauty of the church’s rich patrimony.
The Institute’s website, which as of this writing has not been updated for a good long time, says that the Institute
supports pastors in their efforts to form lay people for liturgical ministries, including music directors, parish musicians, acolytes, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
Sacred music will remain among the points of emphasis in the new setup. It is foreseen that at least one annual lecture will be on chant, among at least four annual lectures on art, music, architecture and literature. The Institute will continue to promote the work of Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, who originally set up the Institute.
Weber, a monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey, teaches at the seminary in San Francisco where the Institute is housed. Alongside the stress on traditional sacred music, the Institute will give some attention to musical ethnic diversity, with outreach to the diverse cultures present in the Bay area.
The newly named Executive Director of the Institute is Maggie Gallagher. According to the archdiocesan newspaper cited above, Gallagher’s educational background consists of a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Yale in 1982. She is best known as a conservative voice in the so-called “culture wars,” fighting against gay marriage, for example, or defending then-governor Mike Pence’s signing of a controversial religious freedom bill in Indiana.
Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project in Washington DC, which says of itself:
We educate and advocate for public policy solutions that respect and affirm: human life from conception to natural death; the union of one man and one woman as the definition of marriage; the freedom to practice and proclaim religion; authentic economic progress for working Americans; education in service of the comprehensive development of the person; and, the legacy of immigrants in contributing to the American story.
was formed to promote honesty in politics. Concerned with all the misinformation across traditional and social media channels, our team came together before the 2016 presidential primary process.
The National Pulses says that it offers
conservative political analysis, investigative reporting and Capitol Hill insights. Our diverse team features commentary from some of the best minds in the conservative movement.
Gallagher founded and formerly served as president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which was a strong public voice defending traditional marriage but is no longer in existence. She is also founding president of the National Organization for Marriage, for which she remains on the board of directors.
Gallagher is widely published, for example in the National Review, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal, and she is a frequent presenter on various conservative issues. Among the books she has authored are The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love and Enemies of Eros: How the Sexual Revolution is Killing Family, Marriage, and Sex and What We Can Do about It. She has co-authored The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially and Debating Same Sex Marriage.
In October 2013, Pray Tell first reported on the founding of the new liturgical institute in San Francisco, citing an article from Aleteia titled “Restoring the Liturgy.” “Will it make a difference?” that story asked.
Check back next year. In the meantime, serious Catholics in California can only be heartened by the momentum engendered by the new generation of leaders.
In January 2016, Pray Tell reported that the institute was seeking a new executive director after the departure of Fr. Samuel Weber from that role.
Gallagher will perform her new role from her home in Virginia, travelling regularly to California for local Institute work. Her role will include fundraising and promoting the institute nationally.
Gallagher said of her future work, drawing on the pope who for whom the Institute in San Francisco is named:
For me, Benedict XVI is about opening the door of beauty to God to as many who want to enter by that path. The Mass, the liturgy and sacred music are indispensable. But encouraging a culture of Catholic art and storytelling is another closely connected goal. San Francisco’s amazingly ethnically diverse parishes provide many doors to beauty I’m excited to explore and promote.
This post was updated on July 28 to reflect the information from Maggie Gallagher in a comment below about internet sources on her past work which are outdated. Pray Tell kindly thanks her for this assistance.