The Catholic Church should function like a choir where every member contributes his or her unique part to create a harmonious whole, Pope Francis said.

Just as, in a choir or an orchestra, ‘one needs the others’ to create harmony, each person in the Church ‘is called to do his or her part well for the benefit of the whole community’, the Pope told choir members on 8 June.

Pope Francis met in the Paul VI Audience Hall with scores of members of parish and diocesan choirs, choir directors and musicians gathered in Rome for an international meeting of choirs to mark the 40th anniversary of the choir of the diocese of Rome.

Music ‘creates harmony’ through its impact on people, the Pope said, such as by ‘consoling those who are suffering, restoring enthusiasm to those who are discouraged and making bloom within each person marvellous virtues like beauty and poetry, a reflection of the harmonious light of God.’

He said that music is a ‘universal and immediate language that has no need for translations nor conceptual explanations.’

Engaging with music helps people develop a sense of attention by ‘elevating their emotions, feelings and thoughts, taking them beyond the whirlwind of haste, noise and a merely material view of life,’ Pope Francis said.

The Pope extolled music as a way of helping people ‘better contemplate themselves and the reality around them’.

That’s why Pope Francis said that those who make music have a ‘wise and calm gaze with which divisions and animosities are more easily overcome’ by being able to adjust dissonances into a harmonious composition.

The Pope praised liturgical choirs as ‘repositories of art, beauty and spirituality’ and urged the choir members not to let their minds be polluted by ambition, jealousy and division, which he said make the community life of a choir ‘sad and heavy’.

To combat such a tendency, the Pope encouraged them to ‘keep up the spiritual tenor of your vocation with prayer and meditation on the word of God,’ telling the choir members to participate in the liturgies they perform ‘not only with your voice but also with your mind and heart’.

By enthusiastically living out the content and message of their music every day, their performances may increasingly become a ‘happy elevation of the heart to God,’ the Pope said.

Banner image: Pope Francis greets participants in an international meeting of parish and diocesan choirs in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican on 8 June 2024. (Photo: CNS/Vatican Media.)