Saturday, April 12, 2008

Will Pope Benedict appreciate his own rock concert?

Karin Zeitvogel touches on something that I've beem mulling over as well -- the glaring discrepancy between Benedict's own musical tastes and the musical program planned for the youth rally ( Pop meets pope: US readies rock star welcome for Benedict XVI Associated Press, April 10, 2008):

WASHINGTON (AFP) - When Pope Benedict XVI visits the United States next week, the conservative octogenarian will be regaled with a welcome befitting a rock star, which is odd, considering his well-known distaste for pop culture.

Teens at a Virginia high school have produced a video for the papal visit that opens to flashes of photographs of the pope and Rome, underpinned by a staccato drumbeat.

The students' video will be shown on a big screen at a mass, expected to be attended by 47,000 people, in Washington's new baseball stadium on April 17.

Benedict particularly dislikes rock music, which he denounced at an international conference in 1986 when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, as a "vehicle of anti-religion."

In 2000, he slammed rock music as "the expression of elemental passions" which "assumes a cultic character, a form of worship in opposition to Christian worship" at rock concerts.

"People are released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects."

Yet the mass for 55,000 people that Benedict will preside over at New York's Yankee Stadium on April 20, the last day of his tour, is being produced by Stig Edgren, who has put together concerts for the likes of pop icons Cher, Gloria Estefan, and Earth, Wind and Fire.

The article's criticism is a bit harsh, but I think it also raises a legitimate point -- as we've seen in prior postings to this blog, not all are happy with the chosen musical selection at the Washington National's Mass, which they believe runs counter to Benedict XVI's own preferences and opinions of what ought to constitute liturgical music as conveyed in his many writings on the subject. The notion of a "rock concert for the Pope" -- or perhaps more accurately, a rock concert for Catholic youth, with the Pope in attendance? -- does raise similar concerns.

To what extent will the 20,000 youth attending get an understanding of Benedict's own thoughts on (and appreciation for) music?