While Benedict XVI was expected to trim the Vatican bureaucracy, in keeping with his preference for institutional minimalism, the Curia may be set to expand by an office–one that would set limits on liturgical music. Before his election, Joseph Ratzinger advocated for such a Vatican office, and in ways large and small, since his elevation to the papacy he has sought to restore Gregorian chant and “traditional” and classical (i.e., his personal faves) music to center stage.
This week, Monsignor Valentín Miserachs Grau, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music–a non-curial office dedicated to teaching sacred music–ramped up the volume. In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, (reprinted by Zenit), Grau called for a centralized Roman authority over liturgical music, which he said has been the arena of greatest abuse since Vatican II:
“How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music, that is, of true liturgical music,” he lamented. “How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?”
It is a great error, Monsignor Miserachs said, to think that people “should find in the temple the same nonsense given to them outside,” since “the liturgy, even in the music, should educate all people — including youth and children.”
No doubt there’s been plenty of dreck out there, and I’m sure folks will want to hammer than point home. But a CDF for liturgical music? Interestingly, the US bishops are set to debate (and likely approve) an updated document on liturgical music next week at their fall meeting in Baltimore. It is expected to reflect the trend back to a solemn, Latinate, Occidental worship.