Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Elevator music

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 26, 2011

In the land of Bach and Beethoven, what sort of music would you expect to hear at a Mass celebrated by the Pope, with a congregation of about 70,000, in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium? Something magnificent, right? 

Definitely not elevator music—which is the charitable description that Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia gave to this atrocity. Who selected this music for this occasion?

  • Someone who hates the Pope?
  • Someone who hates the Mass?
  • Someone who hates music?
  • All of the above?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

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  • Posted by: FredC - May. 03, 2017 4:22 PM ET USA

    Several dioceses are good and strong. All bishops should imitate these dioceses and ignore the rest.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2017 2:19 PM ET USA

    In my parish, here in the heart of Phoenix AZ, we have a weekly rosary for vocations. I hope more of my fellow parishioners will join but we're hanging in there. Once a week, the parish offers Eucharistic Adoration for 2 hours.[We don't have a separate chapel] No time like the present to try it!!! Just takes a few to get going and we've been having the rosary now for about 7.5 years.

  • Posted by: grateful1 - May. 03, 2017 12:05 PM ET USA

    One thing we can do is cease funding the USCCB, whose leftist political initiatives are depleting us financially & spiritually, & instead donate to concrete parish projects, such as RCIA (books!), the altar boy program (youth activities!), & yes, parish maintenance (sustain and beautify your parish!). Strong, committed parish life is foundational -- we've got to rebuild from the ground up. It's called subsidiarity, folks.

  • Posted by: caaronbrown7083 - May. 02, 2017 11:13 AM ET USA

    Is it not possible that the church's paralysis on this issue reflects a deeper paralysis, a hidden but very real conflict over the nature of the priesthood and the clergy? For those who are critical of the traditional priesthood, and who would like to dramatically rethink how the Church is led and how its sacramental life is lived, the lack of vocations is a feature, not a bug. This is the crisis out of which a new kind of priesthood and Church could be born.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - May. 01, 2017 3:23 PM ET USA

    Our diocese had seven seminarians (total) when I first returned to the Church. We now have over 40, and if all continues, will bring our total of working priests to 70 in the next ten years. This is amazing. The reason? Eucharistic adoration. There are chapels all over the diocese, and many churches have Holy HOurs. If you can't do anything else, make a weekly visit for the intention of increased vocations. Then hold on tight.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - May. 01, 2017 1:48 PM ET USA

    The hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture used to interpret the Second Vatican Council is largely to be blamed for the current disaster. The use of this hermeneutic in combination with opening the windows of the Church to the secular culture resulted not in making the culture Christian, but in making large segments of the Church secular. Although nothing is impossible for God, the near future does not look good at all, given the direction Pope Francis is taking the Church.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - May. 01, 2017 11:17 AM ET USA

    I find myself in a situation similar to iprayiam5731's. My diocese forces us into silos and will not help us build a better Catholic school system. I know that this situation prevails in at least two other dioceses because last summer Catholics in these dioceses asked for guidance on how to start an orthodox Catholic CCD program. My privation is to be a member of a parish that is served by an order of priests who do not view Catholic education as a priority. Unfortunately the diocese loses.

  • Posted by: Terri11 - Apr. 30, 2017 4:29 PM ET USA

    I know at least four men, and I believe a fifth, who I met in Boston who became priests. I believe that 3 of the 5 heard their calling in Boston. But only one of them is in Boston right now. So, maybe the problem is less a faithfulness issue, but rather that men choose to go to seminaries elsewhere. All of them, btw, are in orders, not diocesan priests. Only one of the those orders trains their priests in Boston. So maybe the problem isn't quite what you think.....

  • Posted by: iprayiam5731 - Apr. 29, 2017 10:44 PM ET USA

    So... What do *we* the faithful laity do. I'm all for helping. I'll give my life to help. But im not sure how. It's a problem made by and perpetuated by the heirarchy, and I don't know how to help them help themselves

  • Posted by: tmschroeder2790 - Apr. 29, 2017 5:06 PM ET USA

    Thank you for your rather pointed article. Our Archdiocese of Detroit has had her share of rather grim statistics. And from my limited perspective, seeking personal holiness and cooperating with God has brought about fruit, good fruit. It does not negate the generalized apostasy, but it does provide a beacon of light to the many lost souls. Many beautiful apostolates are forming. I pray that they will all descend upon Boston and all places where the evil one has a stronghold. AMDG

  • Posted by: ALC - Apr. 28, 2017 5:54 PM ET USA

    And, yet, we have bishops and even a Pope who are more worried about climate change and illegal immigrants. Just had the Bishops of Texas issue a statement on how disappointed they were in the law that was just passed outlawing sanctuary cities. No word on how disappointed they are that most Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 28, 2011 5:57 PM ET USA

    Do not the have talks with the powers that be before they get there? I regret that nothing is changing in my diocese as far as music(sic) goes with the new translation. there will be no chanting. the words are being set to music for piano, drums and guitar.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Sep. 28, 2011 9:10 AM ET USA

    All of the above. Plus, I second AgnesDay's comment. I could only handle 38 seconds worth of it. Not sure what I would have done if I had been at that Mass. Would I have run out screaming with my hands over my ears like Munch's painting? Or would the draw of hearing the Holy Father in person been enough to retain me and I would offer the music up as so much "sweet" suffering? (That means the suffering one has after having had way too many sweets.) That's a hard call.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Sep. 27, 2011 5:55 PM ET USA

    Please, somebody! Let me off this x@!!) * elevator!

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 26, 2011 10:48 PM ET USA

    A collision course was set into motion decades ago. It is reaching a point of impact. The traditional Catholic mind is at odds with this "atrocity" and so much more that is so much more offensive. Holy Father, these people are not your friends. Martin Luther is not an historical ally. Holding hands with all faiths is not effecting the salvation of souls. Man-oriented liturgies do not afford God the praise that is His due, and statistics show irrefutably that Catholics are not interested.

  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 26, 2011 7:56 PM ET USA

    Sounds like yesterday's Sunday Mass to me except: after the priest made the opening blessing, we had to sing Happy Birthday to the music director; after he dropped his microphone, he decided to act as if he had been just shot; etc, etc. Bet the pope didn't do that!

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Sep. 26, 2011 5:09 PM ET USA

    It only got worse, Phil. Flipping back and forth between the Mass and a Red Sox debacle, I came across a group singing a hymn that's even cheesier than "Sweet Caroline"! The lowest point was when I asked my [Lutheran] wife, "Is that a nose ring she's wearing?" and she replied, "Yup." I wanted to say, "Honey, this isn't really my Church," but unfortunately she had already noticed the Pope. I wonder if B16 ever feels the urge to do a knock-over-the-tables-in-the-temple imitation during Mass?

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - Sep. 26, 2011 4:41 PM ET USA

    This was so absurd I laughed out loud - the Kenny G mass! But nothing could stop the incontestable truth of the Pope's words on this trip. If you want to see hoisting one's opponents by their own petard being elevated to an act of grace, read his "MEETING WITH CATHOLICS ENGAGED IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH AND SOCIETY" under Germany 2011 on The Holy See website. Benedict XVI perfectly merges the prophetic and the pastoral. I am so strengthened through him.