Rorate Caeli

Take your concert and do whatever you want to do with it

Paul VI Hall
June 22, 2013
Pope misses Vatican concert due to other commitments
Published June 22, 2013

Organizers say Pope Francis didn't show up for a concert in the Vatican due to other commitments.

The pontiff was expected at a Beethoven concert, but Monsignor Rino Fisichella told the audience just before the concert was to start that Francis couldn't make it due to "commitments that could not be postponed." He did not elaborate.

The pope was smiling with no signs of tiredness when he greeted worshippers at a Mass in St. Peter's earlier Saturday. Unlike his predecessor Benedict, who was well-known as a music lover, Francis has shown scant interest in music, liturgical or otherwise.

Papal spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said he had nothing to add to Fisichella's statement, and that the pope has confirmed his Sunday commitments.
La Stampa's Vatican Insider adds that the Pope said the following:

For the entire afternoon, Francis did not leave his room at [Domus] Sanctae Marthae and simply told his associates: "I am not a Renaissance Prince who listens to music instead of working."*

[Several sources, including Fox News. It was a concert that had been long planned in honor of the Year of the Faith and in the presence of the Supreme Pontiff, with the Orchestra of the Italian public broadcaster, RAI, held in the Paul VI Hall, a few yards from the Domus Sanctae Marthae.]

*Rorate note: this was the exact text at Vatican Insider at posting time: "Per l'intero pomeriggio Francesco non si è mosso dalla sua camera a Santa Marta e ai suoi collaboratori ha semplicemente detto: 'Non sono un principe rinascimentale che ascolta musica invece di lavorare'." After our blog and an Italian blog expressed our surprise, the author, Giacomo Galeazzi, modified it somewhat, keeping its general sense - we saved the original article in our repository. We emphasize that the main news is the absence itself, and the empty chair, not the alleged comment.


  1. This Pope seems to dismiss all protocol...Kyrie eleison

  2. Besides that one reference awhile ago in a news article, is it confirmed that Francis is tone deaf?

  3. There is the protocol, of course. But there are also all the people involved. A musician, esp. a Catholic musician, might consider playing in the Pope's presence a great honor, and practice for it accordingly.

  4. One does not need to be a "Renaissance Prince" to love great concerts.

    I know of "Poor Moderns" that would love to be at a Beethoven concert.


  5. Anonymous6:23 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. My father, who barely completed grade school, and was self-educated because of the need to work to help his family, was not a Renaissance Prince. He loved classical music and concerts.

  7. Anonymous6:43 PM

    An anti-Renaissance Pope?
    Deo Gratias!

  8. If what has been reported to have been said, was in fact said, we have a very ungracious and uncouth bishop of Rome.

    I am getting not a little tired of this man's buffoonery.

  9. Truly a class act!
    I feel sorry for the performers who were snubbed. I wonder if St. Francis would have acted in this way?

  10. This man is far from humble. This was an insensitive rude act of a boor toward those performers that had planned and practiced for a chance to perform for the Pope (by the accounts it had been planned for a while). And further boorish behavior was the condescending remark he made to justify himself. This shows not only his lack of culture but seems to this humble pew sitter as a Direct swipe at B16!! Throw in the towel on this guy. He is our Pope but I will only give him strict obedience that is due a Pope. How bout that brick business now??

  11. For some reason, this brings to mind Don McLean's lyrics about "the day the music died" in the song American Pie. Sad.

  12. Sorry if a re-post not sure how this google account works,yet.
    This was a rude, inconsiderate act of a Boor toward those performers that planned and practiced for a chance to perform for the Pope. By all accounts this had been planned for some time. And his comment justifying his callous behavior not only makes him seems like a low brow plebe but seems to be a direct slap at B16.
    Time to realize the low caliber person that holds the Papacy (there have been several in the past). So much for the optimism and gymnastics of a certain traditionalist crowd. Time to realize that as this person holds the office, I will give him the obedience of he office as is due. But only that. Ignore his "unofficial " prattling.

  13. Chris, we never reported that comment because it was never mentioned by any serious page. Which is why your comment was blocked now. Not the case with this one, quoted in Vatican Insider, not at all a "sensational tabloid".

  14. Surely nobody doubts that he is quite busy, and one can scarcely fathom the weight of the issues that demand his attention. Perhaps these are the words of a man under immense stress. Otherwise, this looks like another case of ostentatious humility.

  15. "I am not a Renaissance Prince who listens to music instead of working." Another nice little swipe at Benedict from our über-humble Pontiff.

  16. If what is reported is true, this is a form iconoclasm.

  17. I remember walking with a seminarian, a fellow class mate, to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, And we got alking about the year of faith. What we both conculded was that it has sadly been overshadowed by the events of feb 11 and the conclave. This could have been a chance to get the pope back on to the year of the faith. Attending a year of faith event. He is about 100 days in office so there is no excuse that he could have broken commitments. Unless he was solving world peace and famine perhaps? God bless and protect the Pope, but when is he going to step up and act the part? Stop taking swipes at the previous pontificate! If he does not like things then he should be a man and be open and change, not slithering like a snake!

  18. Charles, no one, certainly not the reporter, spoke of a "hissy fit". The decision not to go, even though it was on the next building and in his honor, is the news - the words reported by La Stampa are something else. Since the entire comment flows from the "hissy fit" that wasn't, you must rewrite it.



  19. Well, my elderly Dad doesn't like classical music either. I still love him. Granted, he's not an office holder of this magnitude.

    Still, let's not pile on. Each Pope has his human imperfections and limitations. Part of the "scandal" of Catholicism is that Our Lord put His Church into very human hands.

    We still belive in Christ's promises.

    1. That's right! Everyone is extremely negative about every thing the Pope says or does. The empty chair looks pretty sad, and I can imagine how disappointed the audience and the musicians were, but the Vatican Insider might not be genuine. The comments are alleged.

  20. Patti, as said above, this is not the point of the story. As confirmed by the Vatican, the Pope was fine in his health (thank God), and did not show up. The words of the update are immaterial to the news itself.

  21. @New Catholic: I will re-write my comment with a different premise, but since you have publicly commented on my unpublished post, I wish to note (if you would be kind enough to post this) that in my unpublished comment I did not mean to imply that the article indicated a hissy fit per se. But surely the rumored statement which Vatican Insider passed along has the inference that the pope asserted his will over and against the considerable efforts employed to put on the musical program. We can call it what we want, but the inference by publishing the rumored quote is negative all the same.

  22. It's interesting to read the comment about the Year of Faith having been overshadowed. It does seem to have become almost forgotten really.

    As for Pope Francis, I just can't make my mind up overall. I want to like him because he is the Pope. But I have never been impressed by this supposed humility. And something has never quite felt right, right from the beginning on the balcony. I thought his disparaging off-the record comment about people praying Rosaries for him was very sad to hear. How can we not interpret tonight as bad manners? The empty chair speaks volumes sadly.

    I just can't work out the Pope. Some of his writing such as homilies and speeches have been really impressive and beautiful, especially about Mary. Some of it has not been so good.

    I thought his homily for the inaugration of pontificate was very poor, especially compared with Pope Benedict's magnificant homily for his inaugral mass.

    Strange times.

  23. If the comment attributed to him is genuine, then this is (to me – I don't expect others necessarily to agree) the worst thing I have yet heard of Pope Francis – worse than his liturgical ineptitude, worse than his confused and contradictory teaching, worse (even, perhaps, just) than his open contempt for everything pre-VII. Those are largely explainable, even if not justifiable, in terms of his own history. Bad manners are not – they show the true underlying nature of the person.

    To blow off a long-planned event of that kind without even the excuse of being indisposed is bad enough; to then accompany it with such an insult-to-injury comment … How can anyone take seriously any longer the much-vaunted claim to "humility"?

    I wonder if the reason is that, like a not very well organised parish priest, he'd left the preparation of his Sunday homily to the last minute? (I'm grasping at straws here …) And then compounded the problem by saying (as we've seen so often before) the first thing that came into his head.

  24. Just wait until next Saturday when this lot (link below) pitch up at St Peter's to be with His Holiness for the Feast of SS Peter & Paul. I wonder what the golden quote will be then? Prayers for its success, next week in Rome is crucial.


  25. Since the current Bishop of Rome desires to be of the common people, disparages the Throne of Peter, and seemingly wishes his tenure to democratic perhaps his subjects could foster democracy by a recall vote!

    Irony: it would be absurd and laughable if it wasn’t so heartbreaking.


  26. That empty chair speaks loudly (No, I am not making an Obama reference ;)

    I think--just an impression--that it would have been better to pull the chair, and not have a glaring witness to Francis' absence.

    Perhaps those in charge knew this, and left it to make a point? (Again, just speculating here...)

  27. Charles,

    But the pope DID assert "his will over and against the considerable efforts employed to put on the musical program"! There is no question about that. His motivations are not in question, his health is thankfully good, and was very good Saturday evening, and what he said or did not say is irrelevant to the fact that he really did assert "his will over and against the considerable efforts employed to put on the musical program".

  28. We should be clear: The Pope is under no obligation to attend any concerts. Indeed, if he really does manage to clear out the Curia, and appoints good bishops at least at the rate that Benedict XVI did, some us might count ourselves ahead of the game.

    But if such is his intention, it would be best to simply announce this up front, so that no false expectations are built up, and no such future concerts are scheduled.

    In the meantime, more confirmation of what we knew: our new Pope is a Jesuit, and not at all the aesthete that his predecessor was.

  29. Indeed, he himself made clear he is no aesthete with the withering "not a Renaissance prince" remark. Forgive me, but I find the Pope's behavior in this instance churlish and prideful. But I'm a poor sinner. I wish I could have been at the concert! I'm pleased that the organizers left the vacant chair in plain sight. I'm sure many an eye was cast upon that emptiness throughout the evening... Nuff said.

  30. When I awoke ( NE US time) to hear the truly incredible news that Benedict XVI had renounced the Papal Throne for what are essentially personal reasons I was stunned.
    As it sank in a deep conviction formed in my mind that nothing good would come of that decision.
    Nothing that has occurred from that day to this has changed my mind.


  31. Oh, the empty chair. Someone was not pleased he didn't show...

    that comment is quite snarky, yes. if true, it's consistent with the eye rolling about rosary bouquets.

  32. Marie-Jacqueline,

    I agree, very very sad. That picture of the empty chair makes my heart so heavy.

    I think this is the third time, at least, Don McLean has come up this week. I quoted part of this verse earlier; here's the entire verse. It seems so appropriate, in its own way:

    I met a girl who sang the Blues,
    and I asked her for some happy news,
    but she just smiled and turned away.

    I went down to the sacred store
    where I'd heard the music years before,
    but the man there said the music wouldn't play.

    And in the streets the children screamed,
    the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed,
    but not a word was spoken - the church bells all were broken.

    And, the three men I admire most: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost,
    they caught the last train for the coast
    The day the music died.

  33. I sometimes wonder if it would be good for the Holy Father to speak to someone like Queen Elizabeth. She could explain a few things around etiquette and sacrifice. If he wasn't fond of the music, he, in the interest of acknowledging the work that went into this, could have shown real humility by attending; perhaps offering up his pain for a worthy intention.

  34. Where's Clint Eastwood when you need him?

  35. Someone remarked he is tone deaf. Even worse, it seems very likely he is deaf to Cardinals and Bishops who arrogantly promote erroneous teaching.

  36. The Humility and love of St. Francis of Assisi? Where is it? St. Francis of Assisi was kinder and practiced more humility to the animals he loved so much.

  37. Read Newman's essay on being a gentleman.

    I am disappointed, but he is Pope and I have to pray for him. Class has nothing to do with poverty or riches, but charity and all the virtues.

  38. Anonymous6:30 AM

    I think he was afraid of falling asleep.
    Nothing to worry about.


  39. Uncle Claibourne,

    I didn't realize Don McLean had been mentioned other times recently. Interesting.

    Thank you for putting up some of the lyrics. It seems like the whole song could be viewed as a commentary on the destruction of V2 -- even "I can't remember if I cried When I read about his widowed bride".

  40. My heart goes out to those who must have paid huge amounts for the seats near the Pope. They look so disappointed, especially the little girl.

  41. We have had many popes. This one will die as we al will and there will be another.
    Luckily being Anglo Saxon I cant take this pope seriously at all!
    He is a product or his environment and is unable to see beyond it!

  42. Hopefully it is a good sign of things to come. His comment of "The Carnival Is Over" before he came out on to the loggia should have warned people that he is going to no pushover.
    Pope Benedict seemed to be worn down by all the politics that went on in the Vatican.
    He is a Jesuit who Works and Prays and he is not going to be told what to do by a discredited curia.

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Empty chair, huh? Maybe they're trying to tell us something.

  45. Wow.... the rumor mill around this amazingly uncharitable. Worse than a sowing circle...

  46. I really don't want to make of this but even if he did not personally like Classical Music he still should have gone. If what the remarks he is said to have mad about being a "Prince" is true it seems to me not only a put down of Benedict (whose respect I thought he wanted) but also of the office of Pope itself. Remember the remarks he made about the rosaries said for him. To me he wants to do his own thing regardless of what others think. I think he his taking his own hype seriously.

  47. @SPWang. Too good!

    I was chatting with a friend of our community, a priest who is involved with the holy father due to his work in the secretary of the sate. He said the comment made was invented, but that the holy father acted without prudence. No comment on what was the pressing engagement that could not be broken.

  48. I am seeing a consistent strain of pride rather than humility. Though I am grateful for the Pope's economic outlook I see remark after remark that indicates this man possesses the externals of humility as a badge of honor, but it is pride that makes him feel good of his 60s and 70s upbringing. Recall, that he refused to live in the papal apartment because its too "rich", but he is renovating a place that will cost over a million euros to bring it up to where he can live in it. Then not showing up to a music performance because "he is not a renaissance prince". Apart from a slam against Benedict, this is ridiculous. Humility is sitting through it to the honor of the office, the devotion of those who have made practiced and prepared to perform, as well as the public glory of the Church. Pouting in your room is the height of arrogance and effrontery.

  49. The Pope's thoughts and opinions on music are in no way De Fide and infallible. He does have the power, as the supreme pontiff to strip beauty from the Vatican and all tradition, but I think he knows that history would judge him to be a barbarian. He probably thinks its better, just to ignore it.

  50. "He does have the power, as the supreme pontiff to strip beauty from the Vatican and all tradition, but I think he knows that history would judge him to be a barbarian. He probably thinks its better, just to ignore it."

    What would TRULY be better is for the Holy Father to LOVE the beauty of the Vatican (an inheritance entrusted to him in a unique way, since he is the Pope), and to LOVE tradition, and to LOVE the faithful who indeed pray rosaries for him and for his pontificate.

    Heading off to Mass, will pray for the Holy Father, and for us all.

  51. I have two observations and one question:

    1. The Holy Father should not have done this.

    2. None of us can read his mind.

    3. What does Beethoven have to do with the Faith?

  52. "A form of Iconoclasm" Oh please, stop overexaggerating and saying boogeymen every which way.

  53. I was just on the official Vatican News site News.VA and saw a small item on how the Pope had published a message to all the participants of the concert including the musicians and others who were there. He thanked them for their wonderful performance and remarked how Music lifts up the soul in prayer. I don't know if this was a form of damage control since he did not attend but it was brief.

  54. Perhaps, to clean up the Curia, we need a Pope who is no gentleman.

  55. @Mike I agree, for that is my hope and prayers also!


  56. “The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.”

    ― Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

  57. "I am not a Renaissance Prince who listens to music instead of working."

    Perhaps he shall be too busy for World Youth Day as well then, not being a rock-star or captain of a space-ship either.

    A little late I know. Only thought of it while cleaning the house. The vacuum cleaner had a piece of plastic caught in it - sounded like a post-modern maraca. Maybe I can perform in Brazil?

    Really though. This Franciscus hurts my heart and worries my head.

    Some Silvestrov might make me feel better.

    - adulescens

  58. . . . and to think Pius XII was listening to Beethoven as he was dying.

  59. Mike said " think he knows that history would judge him to be a barbarian"

    I think he is a barbarian.

  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

  61. Francis a barbarian? Yss, indeed. Attila has finally taken Rome.

  62. Let’s all be Charitable towards the Holy Father Pope Francis. Some thoughts are best kept to oneself, and if you are inclined to think that Pope Francis is unfit for his office, there is always the Holy Spirit and our Lady to whom you can take your complaints. Obviously; God allowed Pope Francis to be Pope.

  63. @Deoacveritati

    I did not use the word barbarian. Gerald May used that term in his comment preceding my own. I was quoting his comment (in full) in order to make my own point.

    Not clear if you are referring to me or the Holy Father in your comment, but I do wish to clarify that here. I did not, nor would I, call the Holy Father a barbarian.

  64. The supposed comment sounds a bit to me like a fit of pique in response to somenoe who booked his attendance without asking first. If the new Pontiff is fighting for control with entrenched Vatican interests, this might have been considered a safe, and public, place to start.

  65. @Ropati

    Really? The Holy father does not need to get involved in inuedos. Just send the people he needs to send back to their home diocese\parish etc back.

    Vatican interests are there becouse the Holy Father wishes them there.

    True, its that simple.

  66. Anonymous12:07 AM

    Someone has appropriated my moniker. The "Mar" of 23 June, 2013 09:21 is not the Mar who has been a long-time regular poster on Rorate. Because the method of signing in was changed recently I now sign in with yahoo and they do not "allow" me to sign in as Mar, but only as "apis"; However, I am still Mar which BTW is my real name (shortened version).

  67. Look at those useleess digesting bellies in bishops' garb! I'd export them to Iraq and Syria. H.H. mentioned something like work. What did he mean?

  68. Ok Mike my mistake, it was Gerald May who used that term in his comment preceding your own.

    And yes, I still stand by my comment I think HE IS A BARBARIAN and no, I'm not afraid of calling him that.


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