I had a correspondence briefly with one of the people behind this fairly well-known project:
I am sure that the music they are making, which includes by the way several chants sung by the Pope himself, will be a) beautiful and b) a solace to many catholics.
I was asked by a person from UMG involved in this project who was not anonymous, but I find it fairer to make him anonymous as I did not agree the blogging of it in this particular way, to talk about the music on my blog, and in a sense I am – by repeating the correspondence I had with him.
I have no beef with UMG, by the way – I like the solution they have found with YouTube. It’s not a perfect solution, but then again I don’t know what a perfect solution would be. If anything I would go the extra mile for Universal, but what I told him and am now sharing with you is my theological problem with collaborating with his project. I hope you will find that my response was duly gracious to a brother who is from the Catholic Church outlining our differences. I found his response to me at the end which I will also give was perfectly gracious.
Here goes, first the initial letter from him to me:
Greetings, Viktor Dmitrievich!
My name is P*** ******, I am a practicing Catholic and I am currently working on a music project on behalf of Geffen/Universal. The project is called Music From The Vatican http://www.musicfromthevatican.com
The album is entitled Alma Mater and is recorded in the honor of the Virgin Mary.
We would like you to talk about it in your Blog!
If the project is something you could indeed imagine writing about in your blog then you can access more information including music and articles here:
User name: **** Password: ****
To find out more about this project immediately, please view this Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/musicfromthevatican
Please let me know if I can send you more information.
My response to this letter:
It is nice of you to invite me, but as a practicing Protestant I do not personally believe that it is the will of God for worship to be directed to even the best human beings, with the single exception of Jesus Christ, as He, apart from being a perfect human being, is, was and ever shall be God.
According to most Protestant theology, Mary the Mother of Jesus is probably the most admirable woman ever to have lived. But we do not see in Scripture itself people being commanded to accord her worship, instead there are commands in scripture only to worship and pray to God.
The Church included the ability to worship Mary and pray to her and other saints by doctrines such as supererogation, and also the immaculate conception that are post-Constantine. In many cases, they were the result of people wishing to increase the appeal of the Church to pagans, who were used to things like gods and goddesses, and who indulged in tree worship, pilgrimages to special places, and had holidays at solstices and at times of the year determined by nature. The syncretism of these things by the Church may have been perfectly well meaning, or it may have been the result that the question of political power in the Church after it became insitutionalised was competing with importance with the Gospel of Christ, or both – as the one does not exclude the other at the level of consciousness priests and missionaries had at the time. I personally do not accept that apostolic succession lasted beyond the acceptance of Christianity as Rome’s mainstream religion. I believe that Christians, especially in this age of great education and information, have an obligation to re-refer to those things which were already set down, by the time the Church was institutionalised and politicised (and at the same time automatically subverted from Christ’s original purpose) and that means to examine in the light of the Bible and the Nicene Creed all other matters of faith and practice and to treat matters such as prayer to saints, prayer for the dead, priestly celibacy and other later doctrines with a certain skepticism.
Above all, we should, as Christians, be, in the words of Paul “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith”. Jesus is the one who unites all Christians together and unites us to God. Not the local priest, not the Pope, not saints, not ritual, not even beloved Mother Mary. We are not even asked in the Bible to worship the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, who testifies of Christ to us and comforts us. We are not besought to pray and worship to any of these. Only Jesus. None but Jesus. We cannot go wrong, with Jesus.
This is just my personal view and not that of the people who work with me, where all individuals have their own views on these matters and probably most of them are Catholic. I have no agenda to try and turn Catholics into Protestants – as salvation is nothing to do with denomination, (and to be honest a good many Protestant churches seem to have lost the plot far worse than Roman catholicism, and it’s no surprise to see Protestants becoming Catholics) but through faith in Jesus – but to always, whatever the theology is, put the focus back onto the One who is hanging on the cross, rather than those who are kneeling beside. I also feel that Benedikt XVI also is much more in this direction than was the previous Pope, Jean Paul II, who was very focussed on the cult of Mary.
Nevertheless, I thought it was better to explain my reasons, rather than just say no. You are welcome to argue back if you want to.
As for the music, I am sure that it is beautiful, but I can never hear a beautiful piece dedicated to Mary without some regret at the fact that it was not rather dedicated to her Son. Maybe she feels the same.
Viktor D. Huliganov
Well, the response of my Vatican friend to this was, as I said, very gracious. Whatever he thought of the theology – and he wasn’t drawn on that – he gave an exemplary reply:
Dear Viktor Dmitrievich,
your email made some interesting reading. Thank you for your opinion and I understand your decision.
So, there we have it. Same theological arguments as 400 years ago, but this time no war, no burnings at the stake, no kneecappings, no coersion, no veiled threats – only polite conversation.
The world has moved on. Well, at least the Christian part of it has…