The late, Cardinal Ambrozic published a series of laws on concerts in churches. This has never been abrogated: it is the law of the local Church in Toronto. To violate it is an act of disobedience. Though the late Cardinal's letter was recently sent to parishes (due to the Chancery receiving numerous calls and letters on inappropriate concerts), it was not published on the Archdiocesan website as I was informed it would be. Laws should be open, clear and accessible to all. I am aware of a number of up-coming planned concerts in churches in the Archdiocese of Toronto that flagrantly violate the universal norms, canon law and the Policy of Caridnal Ambrozic.
An example of a clear policy is that of the Archdiocese of Denver: if Denver can have one, why can't Toronto? Follow-up emails on the state of Cardinal Ambrozic's Policy were not answered. We have a problem. The law of the Church is not being obeyed, the result is confusion and disobedience.
February 1, 2006
Recently, the Office of Liturgy has received numerous inquiries regarding the issue of concerts in churches. Many clergy, directors of music and lay faithful call to ask questions about this issue and the guidelines that should be followed. At the request of senior staff of the Archdiocese of Denver, I have been asked to clarify this issue.
In 1987, the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments produced a document regarding this issue and the norms contained there are still the guiding principles for concerts. In addition, the Pastoral Handbook has established particular law for the Archdiocese of Denver.
While the Church has a long history of supporting the arts, including music in all forms, it is also necessary to ensure that churches, consecrated and set apart for divine worship, are in no way compromised by the performance of music that does not elevate one towards God.
Therefore, I bring to your attention several important points regarding concerts in churches.
- Requests for a concert must be made in writing to the Archbishop of Denver from the pastor. The Archbishop will grant permission on an individual concert basis.
- Entrance to the church must be open to all and the sacred space respected.
- Tickets can not be sold, but rather a suggested donation can be established.
- Musicians and singers should not be in the sanctuary, with great respect shown to altar, ambo and the presider’s chair.
- The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a side chapel or other suitable place.
- Music must be of the Christian tradition and secular music is not allowed.
For a complete listing of the law of the Archdiocese I ask you to refer to the Pastoral Handbook section 5.11.4. Remember this applies only to concerts in churches and not other venues within the parish.
Additionally, the Denver Catholic Register will only accept advertising for concerts in churches after the concert has been approved by the Archbishop of Denver.
It is hoped that by clarifying the issue and setting forth these guidelines a balance may be established between works of sacred music being accessible to the faithful in this format and the church remaining sacred space and a dwelling place of God.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Reverend Monsignor Thomas S. Fryar, V.G.
Moderator of the Curia
Moderator of the Curia