Pope No Show – UPDATES

The other night there was a concert scheduled in Vatican City as part of the Year of Faith events sponsored by the Holy See in Rome.

Pope Francis was a no show. No compelling reason was given. It wasn’t for health reasons. There was no dire missile crisis involving re-phone conversations with nuclear powers. I suspect he just didn’t want to go, so he blew it off.

Perhaps this is part of his continuing deconstruction of the papal person: listening to concerts of classical music (this time, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony) is not what El Pueblo does, thus he doesn’t do it.

Or, maybe he doesn’t like the concert thing, which was clearly organized with Benedict in mind.

The other part of me, however, the Romanized part, is wondering if the Holy Father didn’t use an occasion when he knew where all of his “handlers” were going to be, and how long they would be there, to have a one-on-one meeting with someone who knows what is going on in the Vatican and where the reform is most necessary. After those years in Rome I have a conspiratorial streak.

Either way, the Pope is keeping everyone guessing, and – in the Curia – on edge.

The empty chair image is going to be remembered for a long time, though not in the way it is with Pres. Obama.

The Empty Chair


My spies tell me that the Holy Father did not meet with any controversial or knowledgeable person while everyone else was at the concert.  Moreover, the Pope does like classical music.

I was reviewing what the Fishwrap was saying about this and found an interesting paragraph by John Allen:

As a footnote, the empty chair sensation also illustrates how Benedict XVI can’t catch a break. Back in 2005, he withdrew from a planned Vatican Christmas concert, which led to a spate of angry interviews with musicians and singers as well as speculation that Benedict didn’t care for the pop culture feel of the event. In other words, his no-show was seen as a haughty gesture of disdain; with Francis, the same act has been praised as an evangelical statement of simplicity.

PS: I suspect that His Holiness was irritated that they left the empty chair out there, making the Pope more conspicuous by his absence.


You know… there is a “spare” Pope who likes concerts around… just a short golf cart ride away.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. markomalley says:

    Maybe he didn’t care for Schiller.

  2. acardnal says:

    Where’s Clint Eastwood when you need him?

  3. See…this kind of stuff I find hard to take, especially when it’s touted by the world as a mark of humility and solidarity with the little people. How must those musicians have felt who thought they were going to perform for the Pope, and looked forward to playing for him, only to get stood up by him?

    The world does not get humility. One thinks of Eugenio Pacelli and Josef Ratzinger: two humble men who became Pope despite their desire to live quiet lives. They submitted to the pomp and ceremony and incidentals of the papacy out of a sense of duty and because those came with the office, and — I would guess — out of consideration for their underlings, who went to so much trouble on their behalf. They knew perfectly well that all of the honors paid to them were for the sake of the office, and thus for Christ Who established the office. Pope Pius XII was heard to say that as a man, he was nothing. Everything Pope Emeritus Benedict did showed he thought the same about himself. Now we have a Pope who, every chance he gets, declines to act the part, and the world praises his humility. What are we to take from this? Does it mean that his holy predecessors who did act the part were not humble?

    Clearly, these are times when we must redouble our trust in God. I really hope Father Z is right about his speculation as to the reason for this concert incident, because otherwise this, coupled with all the other incidents of eschewing papal incidentals, shows a disturbing lack of graciousness and consideration for others that belies the reputation for humility. I really, really, really hope the Pater is right.

  4. Robbie says:

    I think there’s something to the concept of the continuing deconstruction of the papal person. In my view, that was on display when Francis was elected and he referred to himself as merely the Bishop of Rome. In other words, he’s just the first among equals.

    Time will tell just how Francis sees the papacy, but I’ll continue to hope Fr. Zuhlsdorf was correct to say Francis needed time to grow into the job. Having said that, I think he’s got a very different view of the papacy than Benedict or even JPII had.

  5. Ceile De says:

    Which is more like the action of a Renaissance Prince – to attend a concert one does not personally wish to attend out of duty and to respect those involved or to blow it off because of ine’s personal preferences?

  6. Mike says:

    I fear that the voting Cardinals got what they wished instead of what the Church needs. We need, I believe, a zealous, propery proud prince of the Church who will stop this train-wreck of the 1970s from going on and on and on and on. However, how can we not bow before the Lord, and say: even if the cardinals blundered, You still care for and guide your Church!

  7. mamajen says:

    He may have had a good reason. And, unless he backed out at the last possible minute, it strikes me as disrespectful to leave the empty chair in place, thereby emphasizing his absence. It would be cool if Father Z’s theory were correct, but really I don’t see why this should matter to most of us.

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    The main idea I get out of your post is that he could very, very easily have a very good and legitimate reason for not being there, and the judgment of him for missing the concert is not good. I have to admit if I were Pope (which, praise God, I never could be because in His great wisdom He gave His Church no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women) I would probably do things like that, and not because I am a philistine or don’t enjoy music of that kind. If you have a lot to do, which I can imagine might be true for the Pope, what is better to cut out of your schedule: a. prayer time or b. concert? On the other hand, if he stayed home to play Farmville, that is truly not cool.

  9. AnnAsher says:

    “Destruction of the papal person” or reformation of the Papal image in Christ Jesus ? I am actually encouraged by this sort of thing by His Holiness. He knows the world and the vatican are in dire straits. It is no time for frivialities; no time for pomp and circumstance; the ball is over. I also think that this image of the papal person is more likely to foster reunion with the Christian East which is of paramount importance to me personally; as well I believe it is of paramount importance to the Church and the world. After all, if you only had one lung with which to breath any infiltration would be that much more concerning.
    Pax Tecum

  10. torch621 says:


    The Holy Spirit is in charge, always has been and always will be. Don’t lose your faith.

  11. Captain Peabody says:

    I would not read anything into this. We have no idea what happened, and assuming the worst is no way to approach any public figure, let alone our Holy Father.

  12. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Eugenio Pacelli NOT wanting to be Pope? If ever a man was groomed for the job, it was he. Where did you see evidence to support him not wanting to be Pope? Very odd and new indeed.

  13. Lin says:

    I agree with Miss Anita Moore, O.P. The rejection of tradition is not necessarily an indication of humility. Perhaps some of these antics border on selfish?!? Thank GOD the Holy Spirit is in charge!

  14. I’d love to believe Father that he needs time to grow into the role, but I’m inclined to agree with Miss Anita Moore OP….The Holy Spirit is in charge, Kyrie eleison.

  15. John Nolan says:

    I can’t see the Queen acting like this, and she has to sit through performances far worse than Beethoven 9. Perhaps he might have turned up for a group of gauchos in ponchos strumming guitars. Sorry, that’s my elitist European idea of South American ‘culture’.

  16. Lin says:

    On a slightly different note, our progressive pastor is still enamored with Pope Francis. In his opinion, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI blocked the full implementation of Vatican II. Somehow he ended his sermon today praising the celebration of the anniversary of Luther’s leaving the Catholic Church. He (our pastor) could not be a Boy Scout because the meetings were held in a Luthern Church. Now we are all one! He is the most Protestant priest I have ever met! I know there is a priest shortage, but this might be why!?!?!

  17. pledbet424 says:

    Imagine getting a once in a lifetime chance to perform for the Holy Father, and he doesn’t even show up.
    I hope there is a valid reason for his absence.

  18. John of Chicago says:

    Wonder if Benedict had closed circuit access to the concert last night? Wonder if he watched alone or had a guest? Just asking.

  19. bourgja says:

    Unless there were some type of emergency that would justify his absence, this just seems like bad manners, and opposed to the graciousness that we have come to expect from a pope.

  20. Cheesesteak Expert says: Eugenio Pacelli NOT wanting to be Pope? If ever a man was groomed for the job, it was he. Where did you see evidence to support him not wanting to be Pope? Very odd and new indeed.

    New to you, maybe, but not really new. Just because a man is groomed for an office, doesn’t mean he aspires to it. Nor would any man in his senses have wanted to be Pope at a time when the world was teetering on the brink of another world war.

    Read Crown of Glory, a biography of Pius XII by Aldon Hatch (a Protestant, by the way). Eugenio Pacelli’s sole ambition to be a simple parish priest. However, his superior intellectual and linguistic abilities attracted the attention of the Vatican hierarchy, and he was not permitted to serve the Church the way he wanted.

  21. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The nature of live performance is that things happen. Good things, bad things, unexpected things.

    If the Pope had a good reason not to show up and not to say why, then he’s doing his duty. If the Pope didn’t have a good reason, that’s between him and God. There’s no point getting upset about something we know nothing about. I just hope he wasn’t sick.

  22. benedetta says:

    Well said Miss Anita Moore, O.P. I have found myself becoming increasingly scattered spiritually with every daily one liner pronouncement from a ferverino “The Christian is…” or “The Catholic must…” and miss profoundly the weekly audiences and the regular homilies of BXVI that gave me much to chew on and reflect on through the liturgical year. And all of the off the record quips and commentary, where is the humility in that. There is a dissonance that I am waiting out. I am curious to see what this new encyclical brings.

  23. Charles Schultz said that he kept Peanuts going on account of all the people who depended upon the strip at least for a part of their livings. Were it not for that, he probably would have retired the strip, as, for example, Bill Watterson did with his classic strip. Unfortunately, Peanuts grew stale in its last 10-20 years regardless.

    After a bad experience at Mass this morning in the diocese of Albany, NY, I hope that Fr. Z is right about Pope Francis secretly moving to begin the reform of the Curia (and the rest of the Church).

  24. Mike says:


    Not to worry, but thanks and you are right. More incentives to pray, is all this is!

  25. tcreek says:

    Never has the Church more needed clarity but from the beginning many of the words and actions of this pope have been very confusing. The Holy Spirit does not sow confusion. For 2 generations we have had plenty of that from many church leaders.

  26. Hank Igitur says:

    We do not know what he was doing. Didn’t he say he is tone deaf, i.e. has a tin ear? If so it could be relevant.

  27. alanphipps says:

    We do not know the details. Period. End of story.


  28. BillyHW says:

    Class act.

  29. robtbrown says:

    Papa Francesco was elected about 3 mos ago. I would assume that this concert was scheduled well before that.

    My guess is that something has come up, with smart money on the condition of his predecessor. .

  30. JKnott says:

    This photo of the empty papal chair brought to mind the sweet charity of dear Pope Benedict remaining seated in the raging storm during the last World Youth Day. And at that point he was already very frail and probably would have much preferred a more classical type of entertainment over the kiddie stuff.

    @ benedetta and Miss Anita Moore, OP – I agree with you both

  31. Giuseppe says:

    You know there were a dozen cardinals itching to move up to that chair.

    I’ve been fine with the mozzetta, the shoes, the Domus, etc. But not showing up for an event that your expected to be at without a good excuse is rude, regardless of your title. A “the Pope felt exhausted after a difficult week and did not want to detract from a beautiful concert” would have been perfectly acceptable.

    I hope that comfortable seat went to a good old, nice, kind, arthritic priest.

  32. Eraser says:

    @mamajen & Suburbanbanshee: Well put. Surely they were given some notice that the pope was not coming and they could have easily removed the chair.

    To assign a bad motive to His Holiness is uncharitable to say the least, and the sarcasm is unnecessary and more than a little mean-spirited.

  33. RichardT says:

    I think it’s time I re-read Hadrian VII.

    (not equating the two, but there are definite echoes)

  34. ppb says:

    Although I’m an EF choir director, and also have extensive graduate-level training in music (in short, obviously I think music is very important – I live and breathe it), I really fail to see why this is a big deal. Sacred music at Holy Mass is of prime importance, and in a secondary way great classic works are important to the preservation of a healthy culture; but to suggest that the Pope is engaging in “continuing destruction of the papal person” because he decides not to attend an honorary concert? Sorry, that seems a big, big stretch to me.

  35. Ceile De says:

    The photo reminds me of the iconic of Princess Diana sitting by herself in front of the Taj Mahal.
    Surely not a sign that The chair is vacant but someone clearly was unhappy with the bruta figura nature of the no show.

  36. Lin says:

    Bad manners at best. In his position there is no excuse for not offering up an acceptable reason for not attending the concert. As someone previously stated, I cannot imagine the disappointment of the musicians! I, too, have been confused by Pope Francis’ comments and actions since becoming Pope. The Church will prevail!

  37. Lin says:

    Music is a part of all cultures and, we might say, accompanies every human experience, from pain to pleasure, from hatred to love, from sorrow to joy, from death to life. We see that in the course of the centuries and millennia, music has always been used to give a shape to what is impossible to express with words, because it awakens emotions otherwise difficult to communicate. It is not, therefore, by chance that every civilization has given importance and value to music in its various forms and expressions.

    Music, great music, relaxes the mind, awakens profound sentiments and is, as it were, a natural invitation to raise one’s mind and heart to God in every situation of human existence, both joyful and sad. Music can become prayer.
    Benedict XVI
    Address following concert at Paul VI Hall
    October 17, 2009

  38. This incident might not be such a big deal if it were not for the facts that (a) Pope Francis is the Pope, so more significance attaches to what he does or does not do than if he weren’t; (b) we are still trying to figure out who Pope Francis is and what he’s made of; and (c) it is just the latest in a lengthening series of novel behaviors that do not comport with what we expect out of a Pope.

    And it is not illegitimate to expect things out of the Pope, or to want a Pope to live up to his office. Everyone who holds an office, religious or secular, has a duty to live up to it, and that goes for the Pope just as much as for anybody else — maybe even more, because as Pope he has immense power either to edify or give scandal. This is one of the reasons we must pray for him.

  39. Traductora says:

    If I had been one of the musicians, I probably would have been disappointed. But since JPII slept through most of the concerts in his later years and BXVI was probably the only musician we’ve had for many a century, I don’t think this is that big a deal.

    It’s possible that something else came up, possible that he just regarded this as some formal thing where it didn’t really matter if he attended or not (like the normally vacant Royal Box in a European house) or possible that he just forgot about it because he had other obligations.

    Don’t forget that World Youth Day is only a couple of months away…and Brazil is in the midst of rioting.

    Whatever, I hope he will make some nice gesture to the musicians.

  40. Lin says:

    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.”

  41. Lavrans says:

    Well, if its any consolation, he was the pick of Cardinal Mahoney!

    I kid, I kid. To those troubled, as I have been from time to time as well, the Church has survived much, much worse. From persecutions to popes of “less-than-noble” character, she has marched on. Never to fall but not necessarily to look like she is winning. Its hard, because I do love Benedict XVI so very much. But this is the hand God has dealt us. Perhaps it will be a winner in time.

    Or perhaps we are simply called to “rope a dope” right now, like Ali vs. Foreman.

  42. Bill Foley says:

    I have ceased to be amazed at how many papal critics and know-it-alls comment on this blog. The Golden Age of the Papacy continues with Pope Francis–thanks be to God! Which of you has been give the Grace of State to evaluate and judge the Vicar of Christ? We would all do better to listen to him and to implement his teaching.

  43. majuscule says:

    I enjoy googling various versions of news stories.

    This one gives us headlines like this:

    “Pope misses Vatican concert due to other commitments” — Washington Post

    “Pope Francis ‘snubs’ pomp and ceremony of Vatican Beethoven concert” — Telegraph, UK

    What’s really interesting is all the extra words used to give a one line story the look of a real news article.

  44. majuscule says:

    The usual suspects are already claiming that Pope Francis’ comment about a Renaissance Prince is a swipe at Benedict.

    I’m gonna go off in a corner and pray.

  45. jhayes says:

    According to Vatican Insider, papal nuncios from around the world were in Rome for a meeting at which Francis spoke to the group. Many wanted to meet privately with him to discuss pressing issues in the countries where they were stationed, so he called off his attendance at the concert in order to continue meeting with them.

    Sorry, there’s no English version of this:

    “Non è andato al concerto in suo onore. Gli ambasciatori vaticani sono arrivati in Curia da ogni parte del mondo e tanti di loro hanno chiesto di parlargli, così Francesco all’ultimo istante ha scelto di proseguire i colloqui privati con loro e di disertare l’evento pubblico nell’aula Paolo VI. Ha continuato a ricevere i rappresentanti della Santa Sede per ascoltare i problemi più urgenti negli angoli del mondo. E i nunzi, ai quali in passato per un certo periodo furono negate le udienze papali, ne sono entusiasti.”


  46. jhayes says:

    Interesting explanation by Francis of the qualities Nuncios should seek in proposing a new bishop:

    “I would like to conclude by saying just one word about one of the important points of your service as Papal Representatives, at least for the vast majority: collaboration in providing bishops. You know the famous expression that indicates a fundamental criterion in choosing who should govern: si sanctus est oret pro nobis, si doctus est doceat nos, si prudens est regat nos – if holy let him pray for us, if learned teach us, if prudent govern us.

    In the delicate task of carrying out inquiries for episcopal appointments be careful that the candidates are pastors close to the people, fathers and brothers, that they are gentle, patient and merciful; animated by inner poverty, the freedom of the Lord and also by outward simplicity and austerity of life, that they do not have the psychology of “Princes”.

    Be careful that they are not ambitious, that they do not seek the episcopate – volentes nolumus – and that they are married to a Church [diocese] without being in constant search of another. That they are able to “watch over” the flock that will be entrusted to them, take care to keep it united, “vigilant” of the dangers that threaten it, but above all that they are able to “watch over” the flock, to keep watch, imbue hope, that they have sun and light in their hearts, to lovingly and patiently support the plans which God brings about in His people.

    Let us think of the figure of St. Joseph, who watches over Mary and Jesus, of his care for the family that God entrusted to him, and the watchful gaze with which he guides it in avoiding dangers. For this reason Pastors must know how to be ahead of the herd to point the way, in the midst of the flock to keep it united, behind the flock to prevent someone being left behind, so that the same flock, so to speak, has the sense of smell to find its way.


  47. jhayes says:

    I added paragraph breaks to that quote from Francis’ speech

  48. Stumbler but trying says:

    “listening to concerts of classical music (this time, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony) is not what El Pueblo does”
    Nothing could be further from the truth! I am a proud member of “El Pueblo.” My parents are hard working, faithful Catholics who love music, singing, dancing, working, praying, living the faith. That label has grown old and tired by the way.
    Viva el Pueblo bajo el mantel de la Virgen de Guadalupe!

    As far as all the speculation and “know-it-all” commentary as to why Papa Francis did not make the concert…who knows? I will give him the respect his holy office is due and the much needed benefit of doubt after so much breathless “can’t wait to criticize and compare” negative commentary herein.

  49. Maria says:

    Dear JHayes,

    The Italian version is different from the English version on reason.

    The Vatican English radio (“previous commitment”) was also different from Vatican French radio (emergency) as to reason. I cant understand French. I just read from various comments.

    PBXVI last speech to the cardinals: ” there is also the future pope to whom today I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience.” — I will just follow PBXVI.

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    God bless,

  50. Lori Pieper says:


    I think I can translate:

    “He didn’t go to the concert in his honor. The Vatican ambassadors arrived at the Curia from every part of the world and a great many of them asked to speak to him, so at the last minute, Francis chose to pursue the private conversations with them and to miss the public event in the Paul VI Hall. He continued to receive the representatives of the Holy See in order to listen to the most urgent problems in their corners of the world. And the nuncios, who in the past had been deined papal audiences for a certain period, were enthusiastic about this.”

    There’s also this from the same story:

    Quando tutti aspettavano l’entrata del Papa, l’arcivescovo Rino Fisichella ha annunciato che per un impegno «improrogabile» Bergoglio non si sarebbe unito all’evento. Il Pontefice affida il suo saluto a un messaggio e il concerto si svolge. . .

    “As everyone was awaiting the Pope’s arrival, Archbishop Rino Fisichella announced that because of a commitment ‘that could not be put off,’ Bergolgio would not take part in the event. The Pontiff entrusted his greeting to a message and the concert took place. . .”

    It seems to me that the Pope did the right thing. Pressing business over pleasure. And he did not just leave people hanging without explanation. . . I don’t know exactly what the last sentence means, but I take it that the “message” with “greetings” was possibly the Pope’s apologies to the concert arrangers and musicians. I don’t know. If so, that was about all that was necessary. The nosy Nates in the rest of creation who might want to engage in mean-spirited speculation and gossip over the matter weren’t owed an explanation and should not feel slighted in not receiving one.

    In my reading of the Vatican Insider, I came across nothing whatsoever resembling the absurd statement by the Pope that Lin gave. The only comments I did find that even faintly resembled it were stories stating that the Pope had told the nuncios Friday that bishops were not to have “the mentality of princes.” It was not about himself.

  51. majuscule says:

    The Renaissance Prince comment may have come from:

    Although that site claims it came from

    And since the latter is in Italian I think you might find it in a translation of

    Un’incombenza che giustifica il forfait e uno «strappo» al protocollo: il contenuto prima della forma, le incombenze della missione sopra ogni mondanità. Da tre mesi Francesco dedica gestii e parole a indicare un modello pastorale al servizio della «Chiesa povera per i poveri» e ieri ha dato un nuovo esempio in prima persona, come quando rifiuta auto di lusso, privilegi, croci d’oro e pompa pontificia. E preferisce la stanza al residence Santa Marta all’Appartamento. Gli obblighi di pastore non consentono svaghi musicali in un momento delicato di riforma della struttura ecclesiastica e Bergoglio non si sente un principe rinascimentale.

    Translation anyone?

  52. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Thank you, Jhayes and Lori Pieper!

  53. Di says:

    We can only pray that the reason for the “empty chair” was that he was preparing for the Consecration of Russia.

  54. Panterina says:

    majuscule, I’ll give a quick crack at translating:
    For the last three months, Francis devoted words and actions to show a pastoral model of service of a “poor Church for the poor.” Yesterday he gave a new, first-hand example, as when he refused to use limos, privileges, gold crosses and pontifical pomp. And he prefers the room at the Saint Martha Residence to the Papal Apartment. The duties of a pastor don’t allow for musical entertainment in a time devoted to the reform of the Church, and Bergoglio does not regard himself as a Renaissance prince.

  55. Panterina says:

    Sorry, the first sentence didn’t come through my cut and paste:
    A commitment that justified a no-show and a “break” from protocol: [He chose] substance over form, and the responsibility of one’s mission before worldly affairs.

  56. Lori Pieper says:

    A translation of the quoted VI article with the suspicious “quote”? Here we go:

    A duty that justifies bailing out and a “break” with protocol; content before form; the duties of his mission before any kind of worldliness. For three months, Francis has dedicated words and deeds to indicating a pastoral model in service of the “poor Church for the poor” and yesterday he gave a new personal example, as when he refused a luxury privileged automobile, privileges, gold cross and pontifical pomp. And he prefers his room at the Santa Marta residence to the [Papal] Apartment. The obligations as a pastor to not permit musical diversion at a difficult moment in the reform of ecclesiastical structures.

    No, there is nothing like the quote there. Just this guy gassing on about what he imagines was in the Pope’s mind. Rorate Caeili now claims that the story originally had the quote they translated, but as soon as they (RC) expressed surprise at it, the author changed it to the above.

    I’ll. Just. Bet.

    First of all, from this author’s style, he seems to consider direct quotations of someone, that is, an attribution to an actual source, almost beneath him. He seems to be in love with the sound of his own voice.

    But even if RC is right, and he did give the quote originally, and had a source, I presume he would have stuck to it. If not, he should be ashamed of himself. If RC is wrong, and is making this up, as I suspect, they should be ashamed of themselves. For what it’s worth, the cached version of the VI story, or at least the only one I could find, had exactly the same wording as this one. Maybe someone with more time can find an earlier one.

    Second, this remark – not to mention the whole attitude portrayed in the article — just doesn’t comport with the Pope’s behavior. If he did consider going to a concert the act of the “Renaissance prince” and somehow beneath his lowly humility or whatever, then why RSVP and say he’d come to begin with, as we know he did?

    Let’s just attribute it to the most likely reason — a devotion to duty on the part of the Pope, who, we are told by those who actually know him, does love music, and who only bowed out of coming to the concert out of necessity.

  57. Kathy C says:

    I’ve read that Francis was elected specifically to clean out the Curia. My own opinion is that the problems consist of the Lavender Mafia and others who want the pomp and power. So, what if every bit of glamour and luxury were cleaned out of the papacy? If the Pope lived in a modest apartment and wore plain garments, or even lived in a cave and wore a hair shirt – would the they lust after that powerful position still? He might be doing the right things if his goal is to clean out the people who lust after the glory and trappings of power. Francis is driving me crazy, because I love the beauty of our traditions, but that may not be important in the long run.

    Also, I found an interesting picture at Creative Minority Report (http://preview.tinyurl.com/k8bj55s). I guess we need to trust God.

  58. Lori Pieper says:

    oops, left out the whole last sentence about the “Renaissance prince.” Glad someone got it. Now it makes more sense.

  59. AJS says:

    One of the most trying aspects of this pontificate is its lack of understanding of the reality of the situation. +++Benedict had a firm grasp of what we are facing. Western Civilization has been brought to its knees by two forces – creeping secularism and creeping Islam. Both of these groups deny one essential thing – the Incarnation. Christianity provides a perspective on Creation and existence that Secularists and Islamists cannot comprehend. When Christ became incarnate he divinized all things, uniting the Divine to the Created. Music, Art, Literature, etc is our participation in Creation and in the Incarnation. We need these things to truly be a healthy society. They are not vanities that distract us from Christ – they are the things that lead us to Christ and form us as whole and complete persons. Francis appears to have fallen prey to the old “cutting off the nose to spite the face” problem. He wants to oppose the evils of the world but he is neglecting the things that will win the war.

  60. Lori Pieper says:

    hmm, my last sentence should read: “. . . does love music; we can be sure it was only the Pope’s devotion to duty that led him to bow out, out of necessity.”

  61. Lori Pieper says:

    For those who didn’t quite pick that up from my last comment, I think the quote is totally bogus either way.

  62. Lori Pieper says:


    Who says that Pope Francis doesn’t have a healthy appreciation for music, art and literature? There is much evidence that he does. For heaven’s sake, missing a single concert for what looks like a good reason is not a sign of anything. It’s not time to get ready for the Apocalypse yet.

  63. Maltese says:

    Maybe he never agreed to go?

  64. Maltese says:

    Or, maybe something came on his desk that was of more import than a concert followed by two hours of glad-handing?

  65. AJS says:


    As an Eastern Catholic I have no affection for ultramontanism. How many utterly bizarre and novel things will His Holiness have to do before we can stop making excuses for such behavior and just call a spade a spade? One isolated thing does not a controversy make, but this is three months of one “isolated” thing after the other. People who think these displays of ‘humility and simplicity’ will lead to better relations with the Orthodox should really rethink that. He needs a harsh reminder – quickly – that he is no longer Jorge, he is Peter and that requires being led where he does not want to go.

    If the Papal Nuncio thing is indeed true then it still doesn’t excuse the injury done to those poor musicians. His Holiness isn’t going to save the world in one hour, but those musicians pour their entire souls into that hour long performance and I am sure it meant the world to them.

  66. Priam1184 says:

    I would love it if the Holy Father was holding a meeting to begin the reform of the Curia; I think that the Holy Spirit is working through time and history to meet that end. The world is moving through a dark and perilous age at present and there are so many blind corners we just don’t know where we are going. Is our civilization going to fall off the cliff of history into total darkness and barbarism or will there be some sort of repentance, penance, and renewal? The Church will show us the way, as always, so keep the Faith and carry our cross for this is all we can do.

  67. anna 6 says:

    I suppose that we will have to give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt and presume that there was something urgent that needed his care.

    But here is what really bothers me about this scenario…It isn’t necessarily what Pope Francis did or didn’t do. We simply don’t know the facts. My concern is in how the story is reported.

    Vaticanistas are once again bending over backwards to put this potentially embarrassing event into a positive light. “Pope Francis is putting the needs of the Church first”…the new Pope has his priorities in order”. We don’t know if Tornielli’s version about meeting with the nuncio’s is accurate. After all, it has been reported that he spent the afternoon in his bedroom. Is that where the pope meets nuncio’s?
    I only wish they were this generous when dealing with Pope Francis’ predecessor. Instead, once again, they are using this as an opportunity to bash Benedict XVI, who has suddenly become the poster child for worldliness, irresponsibility and pride.

  68. anna 6 says:

    I should have made it clear that I am very happy that Pope Francis is being treated well by the media. It is a refreshing and well-deserved change.

    However, by contrast, some may recall the terrible reactions to Pope Benedict’s decision to cancel (well in advance) the 2005 Christmas pop concert at the Paul VI Hall. The event had apparently turned into a circus and the new pope wished to maintain a strictly religious celebration of Lord’s nativity. The media interviewed pop musicians who expressed their outrage and disappointment in the cancelation. Benedict XVI was not praised for his sobriety or his renunciation of worldliness. He was roundly criticized as a party pooper.
    Somehow, with this event, the exact opposite has happened, and once again, Benedict is the bad guy.

    It still hurts.

  69. Ryan says:

    What an apalling lack of charity in these comments. Disgusting.

    –Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.–

  70. In a way, assuming the explanation about the visiting nuncios is accurate, I am glad he skipped the concert. He is obviously a man who takes his work seriously. If there is anything that is needed in the Vatican it is people who take their work seriously. If this is an example of (unintentional) leading form the front, the good for him!

    In addition, there is a sense that he takes his job seriously, but does not let that make him take himself too seriously. This might be a good antidote to the (no offence to my family) Italian tendency to do exactly the opposite.

  71. frjim4321 says:

    After watching the man in public for three months I’m trying to picture him sitting in that chair and the image does not fit. He seems too gregarious and kinetic to sit still and passive for so long.

    Did JPII attend such concerts or was this a recent invention that resulted from the personal tastes of B16?

  72. Today’s announcement:


    Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – At 5:30pm Saturday afternoon in the Paul VI Audience Hall, a concert sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization as part of the Year of Faith was given. After Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of that dicastery, greeted those present on behalf of the Holy Father, who couldn’t attend because of an “urgent task that cannot be put off but must be dealt with at the present moment”, he read the Pope’s words of thanks to the organizers, singers, choir, and orchestra. Then the Italian Symphonic Orchestra of the RAI, conducted by Juraj Valcuha, performed Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 in D minor op.125, accompanied by the Choir of the National Academy of St Cecilia.

    Is it relevant that this was not a program of sacred music? Would the concert program have been more appropriate for the Year of Faith if it had been sacred music?

  73. donato2 says:

    This bothers me but not as much as some other things. It is one more irritating thing in what has become a long string of irritations. Although it is a bit off topic, I can’t help but vent about past things that have bothered me, such as:

    1) The reported comment that religious should not worry about a letter from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The message: right practice is more important than orthodox belief. This directly contradicts what Benedict taught. Pope Benedict pointed out that without correct belief we cannot know what correct practice is.

    2) The foot washing. It is an arrogance to disregard the rubrics.

    3) The lack of support for those in the trenches on the issues of abortion and marriage. Yes, Pope Francis has alluded to these issues a few times, but it always has been in a very veiled manner. His attitude appears to be that these issues should be put on the back-burner because they alienate non-Catholics and liberals from the Church. This is utterly wrong-headed in my opinion. Thousands of unborn children are killed every day and the family is in full meltdown, and the Church should smile and hum a tune so as to not annoy those who are promoting these things?

    I do believe that Pope Francis is a devoted disciple of Christ. This however does not ipso facto make him a good pope.

  74. John Nolan says:

    Actually B XVI did have problems with Beethoven’s Ninth (not on a musical level, but with the Deist and too obviously Enlightenment connotations of Schiller’s verse). However, he maintained that Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis was the ultimate expression of the composer’s faith. A fitting way of marking the Year of Faith would have been a liturgical use of Beethoven’s Mass in D in one of the Roman basilicas (it would have to be EF of course) celebrated by a cardinal but in the presence of the Pope. With a German orchestra and the choir of Regensburg cathedral conducted by Mgr Georg Ratzinger. Having seen this, I think I could die happy.

  75. Robbie says:

    I must admit, I find it somewhat amusing and depressing some posit that by stripping the Church of its pomp, tradition, and power, all that afflicts it might well be cured. What is the evidence of that? What does one have to do with the other? If Francis sold the Vatican and donated the money to charity, wore a burlap sack, and said Mass under a bridge, then things would be better? Then only truly worthy men would be available for the position?

    On its own, not attending a concert matters little to me, but I think, when coupled with other actions, it makes me wonder about Father Zuhlsdorf’s contention we may be seeing the continued deconstruction of the papal person. That is certainly what eliminating the pomp and circumstance of the office means and it could well be what Pope Francis mean when he chose to refer to himself as simple the Bishop of Rome.

  76. Fr AJ says:

    Talk about over reacting to something. Oh my, Pope Francis wasn’t interested in this concert so he’s the worst Pope ever! Some people posting need to get a grip on reality. This nonsense makes traditionalists look very bad…and they wonder why the claim is made that trads are not charitable.

  77. mamajen says:

    with Francis, the same act has been praised as an evangelical statement of simplicity.

    By whom? I’ve only seen criticism based on an alleged quote. Granted, I don’t frequent liberal Catholic blogs. It’s funny how some traditional types get all defensive about Benedict, but it’s A-OK with them to treat Francis with the same lack of respect.

    Question for those of you who think it’s important to analyze things like this to death: Let’s say that after all of your analysis, you understand exactly who the pope is, and it isn’t good. What would you do with that information? Follow-up question: So why bother?

  78. Imrahil says:

    Dear @mamajen,

    while I do not think it is important to analyze things like this to death… still for the others to whom this is perhaps an innocent hobby…

    What would I do with that information? Know what awaits me, obey the Pope’s actual orders in all what is not obviously against the Faith, otherwise be critical.
    Why bother? Because even knowing to have a bad Pope is better than suspecting the Pope to be bad and be in confusion, without the knowledge.

  79. Is this going to change the face of the papacy? What will happen if the next pope chooses to use a tiara? We’ll probably all be around to pontificate.

  80. Cantor says:

    What a shame that in a purportedly Catholic blog so many people are willing to decry the Pope as a liar.

  81. maryh says:

    First of all, for those who fell for the “I’m not a renaissance prince” excuse, come on. We found out the day he became Pope that people were putting (uncharitable) words in his mouth.

    Secondly, let’s also stop falling for the “it’s all about humility” and being attuned to “el Pueblo”. Certainly, Pope Francis has said that humility and care for the people are important. What he has NOT said is that every time he does something differently from his predecessor, it’s because he’s being humble. That, as far as I can tell, is a fiction totally created by the MSM.

    Thirdly, the way this whole thing was handled by the people in the Vatican sounds really screwy to me. There is absolutely NO reason to assume that Pope Francis missed the concert for a trivial reason, or because he was “not being a renaissance prince”, or because he didn’t take his obligations as Pope seriously. He had an “urgent task” and sent word and apologies before the concert. Sheesh, people, what more does he need to do? Wouldn’t that have been good enough for Pope Benedict XVI?

    So how come we’re hearing there “was no good reason”? That he “had more important things to do than the ‘diversion’ of a concert”? Why was the “empty chair” left there – quite an insult? Sounds to me like any competent “handlers” would know how to handle this non-event. Instead, it seems they deliberately played it up to make it look like Pope Francis was purposely disdaining the concert, which they connected with Pope Benedict’s “love of pomp”.

    Someone’s doing some spinning and it’s not just the MSM.

  82. anna 6 says:

    “It’s funny how some traditional types get all defensive about Benedict, but it’s A-OK with them to treat Francis with the same lack of respect.”

    I am not sure what you mean by a “traditional type”, but I doubt that I would fit that description. In my “defense of Benedict” I am most certainly not being disrespectful of Pope Francis who has already received overwhelming worldwide support in the first 100 days of his pontificate. I am however, disgusted by the constant comparisons in various media that attempt to diminish the Pope Emeritus, who is most undeserving. I can’t imagine that Pope Francis appreciates this either.

    In Fr. Z’s update he refers to the very concert that at mentioned in my earlier comment. Even John Allen of NCR notes that “Benedict XVI can’t catch a break”.

    I will continue to “defend” Pope Benedict from unfair criticisms with gusto, despite the fact that his extraordinary contributions to the Church don’t need my paltry accolades.

  83. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I’m no veteran of the halls of the Vatican, and I don’t know Pope Francis, but I really do have the sense that I’ve seen this before somewhere. It’s in a play by William Shakespeare, involving tennis balls, St. Davy’s Day, and a man whom noblemen would have executed for a loose tongue while he was drunk. The King, as I recall, freed the drunkard and refused mercy to the noblemen – who had urged no mercy.

  84. THREEHEARTS says:

    There isa great lack of knowledge about the Jesuit Order in the Church today. Even more about Ignatian Spirituality of vocation,discernment and obedience all done in simplicity. The Pope since he joined the Jesuits has probaly never live outside his community and even more likely cannot personally. I cannot believe the talk of Jesuits not being liturgically capable. Remember too that the Jesuits do admit to seniority in the priesthood and if three jesuits offer the liturgy the senior jesuit presides. As for liturgically inept, brought up in the UK and attending Jesuit high mass at St Mary’s on the Quay in the 1950’s why did so many flock there. It was the liturgy and the music of Mozart, Hayden and Palestrina and the presentation on the altar of the full beauty of the tridentine rite. The Vienna Boys Choir came to sing with us in the parish choir. A tongue in cheek after thought read the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,,-1767,00.html. This pope is very simple in his thoughts and actions

  85. Bill Foley says:

    The following is from Holy Souls Hermitage by Father Byers:

    I took a peek on the internet to see what people were saying about the Holy Father not being at the concert in the Paul VI Audience Hall. I was really taken aback at the fury of the hatred I saw. What’s happening?! People are falling away from the faith, into their own little hells. What’s going on that this is taking place?!
    • Preparing to announce Vatican Council III with Orthodox Churches
    • Averting World War III with world leaders
    • Assisting at the death of Benedict XVI
    • Cutting the “Lobby Gay” off at its roots
    If for any of those reasons or others you can imagine (and that last one on the list is not unlikely) you can surely bet that those who hate Pope Francis would still criticize him for what they call an abandonment of the papacy, that is, the concert, that is, the red shoes, that is, blah blah blah.
    All this criticism is hatred.
    Saint Thomas Aquinas says that the only reason for division is hatred.
    These people want division, in the end, to be with themselves, condemning all others, for eternity, in hate.
    Such is not humility.
    The same people mock the Holy Father’s humility, every chance they get, in their filthy pride.
    It was reported that the Holy Father had things to do which could not wait.
    But those who are filled to overflowing with hatred call him a liar, that he couldn’t possibly have anything to do, so that the image is that he is just an old fool, a damned fool, an irrelevant fool. Instead, they speak of themselves.
    You know, I think that people who are so quick to be full of rancor in this fashion are risking making the weak into bitter cynics, twice the children of hell as themselves. Instead of speaking of Jesus, they speak for Satan, author of all division.
    Such is not appreciated by our Lord. They should go to confession.
    And that’s maybe where the Pope was, hearing confessions, perhaps in prison. Great!
    • Should the musicians play for the Lord as they were going to do anyway, in all humility, whatever about the Pope being there or not? Sure! And I bet they did so in all solidarity of spirit with him, whatever he had to be busy with.
    • Should the crowd rejoice in the musical abilities given to mankind as they were going to do anyway, in all humility, whatever about the Pope being there or not? Yep! And I bet they did so in all solidarity of spirit with him, whatever he had to be busy with.
    But to think that the musicians and the crowd thought that the presence of the Pope was the be all and end all of the value of their very existence, to think that is to cast oneself in the darkest of existential peripheries, into such bitter cynicism and hatred and self-referentiality that one will have to expect, in all irony, Pope Francis to be there to rescue them from themselves, because that’s what he does, because he’s the Father of the Family of Faith on this earth. That’s what Fathers do.
    Thank God.
    I’m so happy to have our wonderful Pope Francis.
    Thanks, Pope Francis, for all that you do for us, for the Lord. Whatever it is you had to be busy with, we’re with you in all solidarity, Holy Father!
    We pray that people won’t lose the faith because they won’t go to confession with humility.

  86. Kathleen10 says:

    As usual, all of this leaves me utterly confused about what is going on. All I know for sure is how much I dislike uncertainty.

  87. CrimsonCatholic says:

    It’s funny how some traditional types get all defensive about Benedict, but it’s A-OK with them to treat Francis with the same lack of respect.

    Nailed it. There is a lack of charity in a lot of comments here, and they are doing the same thing the liberals always do.

  88. Fr_Sotelo says:

    There have been times when, after a certain onslaught of work in the parish, in the evening I just go to my room and crash. I don’t do anything, because I’m wiped out. If I’m not physically tired, I am mentally and emotionally wiped out, like when a horrifying tragedy has fallen on a family I have just visited. And I am still in my 40’s.

    The clergy do not run on nuclear power, and the Pope is at the age where I see nothing wrong with him not showing up for something.

    I think people need to put aside the attitude and mindset that he can just bounce up and do another 15 hour work day with smiles and wise things to say. It’s not like you can be honest and say, “I’m burned out and need to just retire to my room” because that would set off its own crisis. Pope Francis is doing a fine job, and has more than proved his sincerity, love, deep faith, and desire to shepherd.

    In this instance, he’s just committing the crime of being a limited human being.

  89. Bea says:

    A new take on……

    Sede Vacante?

  90. Legisperitus says:

    Had the same thought about the “spare Pope”! :D

  91. I too had wondered if anyone had considered the “spare” Pope, though I suspect that such appearances would be inconsistent with the Pope Emeritus’ stated plans and intentions. However, it would have been a perfect solution to what appears to be a thorny problem. We might also pray for the “main” Pope, given that the Vatican has never been particularly forthcoming about the Popes’ medical conditions. Today I was wondering if perhaps Pope Francis had to have some emergency surgery that no one wanted to discuss. Of course, as Mr. Hengist said, I am “engaging in sheer speculation.”

  92. I think the problem is that we have grown coldly utilitarian in the church. We want to feed the poor man’s belly and care not for things like art and music, beauty which feeds his soul. How concerned are we for the poor when so many artists and musicians have become poor because the Catholic Church no longer supports them?

  93. Bea says:

    Interesting quote found in Rorate Cæli

    “told his associates: “I am not a Renaissance Prince who listens to music instead of working.”*”

    He spent the afternoon in his chamber.
    It is possible, you know, that (though his health is good) even with people with the best of health may sometimes have intestinal problems that requires of them to be close to certain “facilities” after all it is summer in Rome and not everything we eat goes well with the heat.

  94. wolfeken says:

    Lori Pieper pretty much accused Rorate Caeli of lying when she wrote: “If RC is wrong, and is making this up, as I suspect, they should be ashamed of themselves.”

    Those are some pretty strong words, sadly posted without moderation or comment. Is there any evidence Rorate Caeli has ever lied about something? By that I do not mean evidence the blog has reported something that is difficult to swallow, but rather evidence that RC has actually made something up.

  95. robtbrown says:

    The Renaissance Prince comment was a headline in Corriere della Sera. Italian Journalism often doesn’t suppress the creative instincts.

  96. mamajen says:


    Yes, there is. But I don’t think they fabricated the quote.

  97. Pingback: On the Empty Papal Chair Conspiracy | Crisis Magazine

  98. Mexico semper fidelis says:

    Maybe it is time for the good Fr Z to wrap up his studies and get a real assignment in a parish, preferably in the inner city, so he can speak about “el pueblo” at least with some knowledge. I can assure him that many of us who he would place as members or ” el pueblo” do attend concerts and other high culture events when they are available.
    Such experience may also help Fr. understand that not everybody has the time or energy for leisure activities, so he can be less harsh and snarky in his judgements.
    Around where I live there is a great need for priests, our pastor is over 60 and has a lot of work. I for sure can’t see him traveling to Rome a few times a year, or enjoying fine dining .
    I think this is out of proportion and maybe the critics are the ones trying to deconstruct the papacy?

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