Thursday, August 31, 2006

Unwelcome controversies

Your Holiness, Please cancel these pop concerts also.

Vatican Drops Annual Christmas Concert

Vatican, Aug. 31 ( - The Vatican's annual Christmas concert has been cancelled, apparently at the wish of Pope Benedict XVI.

The simple
Vatican announcement on August 31, indicating that the concert would not take place this year, prompted Italian reporters to conclude that the decision came from the Holy Father. The daily Il Stampa announced: "Pope Ratzinger prefers Mozart and Bach to pop music and thus after 12 years the traditional Vatican Christmas concert comes to an end."

Pope John Paul II had instituted the annual concert, and shown his support by greeting the performers in a private audience. Pope Benedict, who has cut down sharply on the number of papal audiences, did not meet with the participants in last year's concert, nor did he attend the event in the Paul VI auditorium.

The Christmas concert has caused some unwelcome controversies at the
Vatican. In 2003 the American singer Lauryn Hill outraged some prelates when, instead of performing the hip-hop song that had been listed on the schedule, she launched into a harsh criticism of corruption in the Church. Last year the Brazilian artist Daniela Mercury was dropped from the show after she told reporters in Rome that she would use her appearance to promote the distribution of condoms.

The Christmas concert had been held each year in December, and recorded for a television broadcast on
Italy's Canale 5 network on Christmas Eve.

When it was first staged in 1993, the proceeds from the concert were used to build 50 new parish churches for the
Rome diocese. Last year, for the first time, the revenues were collected for missionary work in Asia, in recognition of the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis Xaiver, the patron of the missions.

Italian media reports indicate that Prime Time Productions, the firm that had organized the
Vatican concerts, will hold a similar event in Monte Carlo on December 9 of this year. No announcement has been made regarding the use of profits from the concert.


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