Respect traditions of sacred music, Pope urges
May 31, 2011
Liturgical music should combine respect for tradition with steady development of the forms, Pope Benedict XVI said in a message to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
In his message—conveyed in a letter to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the chancellor of the Pontifical Institute—the Pope stressed: “It is not the individual or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God's action through the Church with its history, its rich tradition, and its creativity.”
The Pope observed that tradition is a “living reality,” and recalled that Vatican II had called for development of sacred music within the Catholic tradition, emphasizing Gregorian chant and polyphony.
Pope Benedict also included a reminder that the institution now known as the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music was set up by St. Pius X, then elevated in importance by Pope Pius XI as a key part of his effort to reform sacred music, “turning to the great tradition of the Church against the influence exercised by profane music, above all of the operatic type.”
The Pope's message, released by the Vatican on May 31, seemed designed to encourage a similar reform today--aimed not so much to counter the influence of operatic but of popular music.