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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pope Francis receives the president of Austria

Vatican City, 13 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Austria, Heinz Fischer, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, after emphasising the positive bilateral relations between Austria and the Holy See, the Parties focused on themes of common interest, including the importance of promoting religious freedom and human rights, and commitment to interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

Finally, various issues of an international nature were examined, especially regarding the situation in the Middle East.

“Habemus Papam”: first historical documentation of the music of a Conclave

Vatican City, 13 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the CD “Habemus papam”, a compilation of the music of all the celebrations of the 2013 Conclave performed by the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir under the direction of the maestro Msgr. Massimo Palombella, S.D.B. and issued by Deutsche Grammaphon. The speakers at the conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Msgr. Massimo Palombella, S.D.B., director of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir; Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director general of Vatican Radio, and Mirko Gratton, director of the Classical Division of Deutsche Grammophon Italia.

Maestro Palombella explained that in September 2014 an exclusive agency contract was signed between the record label Deutsche Grammophon and the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir two produce two musical collections. The first, “great ecclesial events”, which opens with the CD “Habemus papam”, is dedicated to live recordings by Vatican Radio of celebrations at which Pope Francis has presided. The second consists of studio recordings by the Sistine Chapel Choir of its characteristic repertoire, music composed throughout history for papal celebrations.

The double CD “Habemus papam”, on sale in Italy from 11 November and in the rest of the world from 28 November, contains all the music performed during the celebrations of the Conclave in 2013 (Mass for the election of the Roman Pontiff in St. Peter’s Basilica, entry into the Conclave, Mass with the Cardinal Electors in the Sistine Chapel and Mass for the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry in St. Peter’s Square), along with the “Habemus Papam” announcement and Pope Francis’ first address from the Loggia of the Blessings. This publication is presented as the first historical documentation of the music of a Conclave”, commented Msgr. Palombella. “They are all live recordings, with the qualities and limits that this entails. Indeed, one perceives the freshness of “authenticity” along with the background noise, coughs, the clicks of cameras and even a helicopter circling above St. Peter’s Square”.

The prelate remarked that the Pontifical Choir is the oldest choral institution in the world and is composed of 20 permanent adult singers and around 30 child choristers. The Choir normally performs at Celebrations presided at by the Pope, providing a primarily ecclesial service. Its concert activity is therefore directed exclusively towards evangelisation and to the promotion of ecumenical dialogue. To this end, on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Choir sang alongside the Anglican Choir of Westminster, in 2013 with the Leipzig Thomanerchor, and in 2014, with the Orthodox Choir of the Patriarchate of Moscow. In September 2014, the Choir made an historic tour in China, performing in Hong Kong, Macao and Taipei.

“For the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir, the agreement with the prestigious German record label Deutsche Grammophon is a tangible response to its mandate, which requires it on the one hand to safeguard the great musical heritage of the Church, and on the other, especially in the liturgical sphere, to participate in fruitful dialogue with modernity”, concluded the maestro.

The director of Vatican Radio, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., spoke about the experience accumulated by the radio station in the field of sound recording and broadcasting of numerous concerts in the Vatican, especially in the Paul VI Hall. “We all recall the concerts of exceptional quality during the pontificate of Benedict XVI”. He offered the example of the extraordinary Christmas 1937 concert in the Hall of Blessings, broadcast live to 23 countries. “A concert directed by the Maestro Lorenzo Perosi, Msgr. Palombella's predecessor, with the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir, recorded by Vatican Radio and broadcast with the help of German technology”, as during that year the new Telefunken transmitter was inaugurated.

Fr. Lombardi also highlighted the activity of Vatican Radio in the production and exchange of quality recordings within the framework of the EBU/UER, the European Broadcasting Union, which brings together the public broadcasters of all European countries. Vatican Radio offers on average around ten high quality recordings per year as part of the EBU concert exchange circuit. Vatican Radio is also engaged in research and experimental activities in the field of sound recording, using new generation microphones, in collaboration with the Centre for Technological Research and Innovation of the Technological Strategies Directorate of the RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana).

Catholics and Muslims, working together to serve others

Vatican City, 13 November 2014 (VIS) – The third seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum was held in Rome from 11 to 13 November, on the theme “Working Together to Serve Others”. Three specific issues were considered: working together to serve young people, enhancing interreligious dialogue, and service to society.

The Catholic delegation was headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, co-ordinator of the Muslim side, was unable to attend the event for health reasons. The assembled participants sent him a message expressing their good wishes. The Muslim delegation was therefore headed by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D.C., U.S.A.

The delegates acknowledged many examples across the world of active Catholic-Muslim collaboration in educational, charitable, and relief efforts. After the presentations of the papers and the discussions, which ensued in a cordial and fraternal atmosphere, the participants agreed on the following points:

1. The delegates recognised that their gathering took place in a time of severe tension and conflict in the world, underlining the vital importance of enhanced service and mutual cooperation. In this context the delegates unanimously condemned acts of terrorism, oppression, violence against innocent persons, persecution, desecration of sacred places, and the destruction of cultural heritage. It is never acceptable to use religion to justify such acts or to conflate such acts with religion.

2. The education of young people, be it in the family, school, university, church or mosque, is of the utmost importance for the promotion of a well-rounded identity which builds respect for others. To this end, school curricula and textbooks should portray an objective and respectful image of the other.

3. The participants affirmed the importance of the culture of interreligious dialogue for deepening mutual understanding. This is required to overcome prejudice, distortions, suspicions, and inappropriate generalisations, all of which damage the peaceful relationships we all seek.

4. It was felt that dialogue should lead to action, particularly among young people. The participants encouraged Christians and Muslims to multiply opportunities for encounter and cooperation on joint projects for the common good.

On Wednesday, 12 November, Pope Francis received the participants in audience, encouraging them to persevere on the path of Christian-Muslim dialogue, and he expressed his approval of their shared commitment to the selfless service of society.

Finally, the delegates expressed their satisfaction at this fruitful encounter and their hopes for the next meeting of the Forum.


Vatican City, 13 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has received in audience:

- Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;

- Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”;

- Archbishop Joseph Marino, apostolic nuncio in Malaysia and East Timor, apostolic delegate in Brunei.

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