A new composition, "Vater Unser" by Arvo Part
The Pontifical Council for Culture promotes a pastoral care of musical culture in all its various articulations and ramifications, aware that the art of music expresses the diverse nature of every culture, arouses ideals of beauty and enters as an element of glorification of God.
At the heart of the dicastery's activities in the field of music, attention is paid to the long relationship between worship and culture, between music and liturgical ritual, and to the development of the immense heritage of sacred music, both instrumental and vocal, in its various forms throughout the world.
At the same time, given the massive interest in music in general, especially among young people, and considering its opportunities as a formative and educational reality, the dicastery also deals with contemporary musical cultural movements.
It is in keeping with the mission of the dicastery to promote an interpretative pedagogy aimed at understanding the evolution of music in different epochs and places, observing the natural context of the origin of compositions; to encourage the knowledge and study of ancient music for quality performance and the search for unpublished works in the archives; to encourage the use of sacred music (particularly Gregorian and polyphony) in the liturgy, in non-liturgical spiritual celebrations and in concerts; to facilitate the presence of the pastoral in contemporary music.
The approach to the topic of music sees special collaboration with various Vatican bodies, including the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Musical Chapel 'Sistine' and the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music.
In addition, a group of experts meets regularly at the dicastery to offer an advisory service to the pastoral care of music culture.
Among the initiatives followed in a particular way we recall the 2014 Survey to photograph the situations of sacred music in the world. The survey was partially carried out through a questionnaire sent to bishops' conferences, religious institutes, academic institutions and various music lovers. The responses showed a very varied situation in the different cultures, reflecting the multiplicity of approaches and priorities adopted by pastors and in dialogue with devotees.
In addition, a series of international conferences have been organised with qualified participation and the publication of the proceedings: I. Church and Music 50 years after Musicam Sacra (March 2017); II. Church and Composers (September 2018); III. Church, Music and Performers (November 2019); IV Church, Texts and Contexts (February 2021). The theme of the 5th conference is Church, Music and the Social.
Together with the attention to the music collections in the archives and libraries, the dicastery accompanies and enhances the new era of musical creativity with a Christian religious sense, in the diversity of languages or in Latin, through competitions and other initiatives that stand out for their high aesthetic quality. Pastoral care for artists also takes the form of participation in dialogues, conferences, meetings, publications, workshops, etc. For special initiatives, the dicastery can also grant patronage.
Since 2020, the Holy Father Pope Francis has entrusted the Pontifical Council for Culture with a collection of musical items from various sources. The special catalogue lists more than 1,500 items, mostly CDs, of different genres: sacred music, liturgical music, renaissance, baroque, romantic, contemporary, pop, Latin American etc.