Pope seeks to encourage musicians silenced by coronavirus

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Pope Francis celebrates a Mass with members of religious institutions on the occasion of the celebration of the World Day of Consecrated Life, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, pool)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Thursday offered encouragement to musicians who have been silenced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, acknowledging many have lost work and the ability to practice together due to closed concert halls and social distancing norms.

In a video message to a conference on liturgical music organized by the Vatican’s culture ministry, Francis recalled the importance of music to the life of the church, citing in particular its prominent role in indigenous Catholic liturgies.

He said he hoped that once the pandemic passes the church’s musical life can be reborn “and we can resume singing and playing and enjoying together music and song.”

Unlike Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who is an accomplished pianist and liked to attend classical music concerts in the Vatican, Francis has never showed a particular passion for musical performance though he is known to be a big fan of the tango and milonga of his native Argentina.

Francis ended his message to the musicians with a question, asking them if the silence imposed on them as a result of the pandemic isn’t actually a sign that something new is coming.

“Is the silence we’re living in an emptiness or are we just in a phase of listening?” he asked. “Will (the silence now) let a new song emerge afterward?”

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