The Pope wants it a cappella!
VATICAN CITY, June 27 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI has demanded an end to electric guitars and modern music in church and a return to traditional choirs.
The Catholic Church has been experimenting with new ways of holding Mass to try to attract more people. The recital of Mass set to guitars has grown in popularity in Italy; in Spain it has been set to flamenco music; and in the United States the Electric Prunes produced a "psychedelic" album called Mass in F Minor.
However, the use of guitars and tambourines has irritated the Pope, who loves classical music. "It is possible to modernise holy music," the Pope said, at a concert conducted by Domenico Bartolucci the director of music at the Sistine Chapel. "But it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music."
His comments prompted the newspaper La Stampa to compare him with Pope Pius X, who denounced faddish classical and baroque compositions and reinstated Gregorian chants in 1903.
The Pope's supporters argue that the music played during Mass is a vital part of the communion between worshippers and God, and that medieval church music, with the liturgy, creates the correct ambience for perceiving God's mystery.
Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, the Archbishop of Ravenna, said:"Mass is the presence of Christ and the music adds so much more when the harmony allows the mind to transcend the concrete to the divine."
But Cardinal Carlo Furno, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, said it was "better to have guitars on the altar and rock and roll Masses than empty churches". The use of modern music was a "sign of the vitality of the faith".
The argument is part of a wider debate about the Latin Mass, restricted in the Vatican II reforms of the 1960s because it was seen to be putting worshippers off going to Church. The Pope believes that if Latin Masses are reintroduced, more Catholics will learn the words to the Gregorian chants that he advocates.