There is quite a diversity of opinion being expressed about this photograph:
Taken on Sunday, June 22 just prior to a concert—a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony—to celebrate the Year of Faith, the Pope’s chair is empty “due to other commitments,” specifically, “commitments that could not be postponed.”
Unlike his predecessor Benedict, who was well-known as a music lover, Francis has shown scant interest in music, liturgical or otherwise.
Then, too, Sandro Magister has reported “papists” in the Curia attributing the following words to the Pope: “I am not a Renaissance prince who listens to music instead of working.”
That’s the stuff of papal palace intrigue that’s intended to communicate what Pope Francis really is thinking…or to impugn his character.
What if Pope Francis doesn’t want to live the lifestyle of a Renaissance prince? What if he personally abhors concerts of classical music? In the big scheme of things, none of that really matters, except perhaps for “Curiaistas” who have something to gain or lose if and when Pope Francis does reform the Curia.
Yet, let us not forget what the Pope’s absence communicated to the conductor as well as to all of those musicians and vocalists who practiced for hours precisely because he is the Pope and they admire him. After all, this is the Successor of St. Peter and Bishop of Rome, not Bishop Joe Schlub of some diocese located somewhere in Lower Slobovia. A lot of people watch and interpret a pope’s conduct for what it may signal about his and the Church’s intentions.
If there isn’t a better reason than the two already provided, The Motley Monk counts himself among those whom the Pope’s conduct “bewildered…even some of his most convinced admirers.”
The Pope has sent a message. Whether it has the grandeur of “a solemn, severe peal,” as Sandro Magister quotes Church historian Alberto Melloni observing, it is clear this pope believes some things are more important—and very well may be more important—than a concert of classical music where he is scheduled to be the guest of honor.
“Mind your manners,” The Motley Monk’s Mom used to tell him, especially when he didn’t want to do something he was required to do and for reasons he didn’t very much appreciate.
Hopefully, Pope Francis has written personal notes expressing his regret to all of those who were to perform for him. That’s what The Motley Monk’s Mom would make him do…“or else, Mister!”
To read the AP report, click on the following link:
To read Sandro Magister’s report, click on the following link: