Catholic World News News Feature
Pope urges recovery of traditional sacred music June 28, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI has called for preservation of the Church's heritage of sacred music.
Genuine renewal in Catholic music "cannot be achieved except by following the great traditions of the past, of Gregorian chants and sacred polyphony," said the Holy Father, speaking after a June 25 concert at the Vatican. This musical tradition, he said, is "a priceless spiritual, artistic, and cultural heritage."
The Pope spoke at the conclusion a concert that emphasized 16th- and 17th-century sacred music, held in the Sistine Chapel and presented by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation, directed by Msgr. Domenico Bartolucci. The Pope saluted that foundation, especially for its commitment to promoting the "Roman School" of polyphony-- which, the Pontiff noted, "has always been characterized by its focus on the pure voice, without instrumental accompaniment." Msgr. Domenico Bartolucci was named director of the Sistine Chapel choir by Pope Pius XII in 1956, and served in that role until his retirement in 1997. Although he was over 80 years old at the time of his replacement, the appointment of a new choir director (Msgr. Giuseppe Liberto) by Pope John Paul II was widely interpreted as a sign of the Pope's decision to de-emphasize the music of the "Roman School" at papal ceremonies. At the time, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was openly saddened by Msgr. Bartolucci's departure.