Back to Bach as Benedict cancels Christmas concert

Italian and international pop stars will have to hold their Christmas concert in Monaco this year after Pope Benedict, who prefers Mozart and Bach, abolished the annual Yuletide event held at the Vatican every year since 1993.

"Pope Ratzinger prefers Mozart and Bach to 'pop' music and thus, after 12 years, the traditional Vatican Christmas concert comes to an end," the Italian daily La Stampa said according to an Agence France-Presse report.

The event originated under John Paul II in 1993 and every year the late Pope either granted an audience with the performers or prepared a video-taped message.

However, the 2005 edition was marked by the absence of Benedict XVI, who had been elected eight months earlier.

"It is impossible not to notice a change under the new pontiff," the ANSA news agency said.

"Benedict XVI is a very sober Pope and is not inclined toward variety shows. He is more concerned about leading the faith of Catholics to its spiritual essence."

La Stampa also suggested that Benedict XVI's reluctance to continue the Christmas concert tradition stems not only from the German-born Pope's preference for classical music, but also his desire to avoid a series of small scandals that have plagued the event.

Pope abolishes Vatican's Christmas pop concert (INQ, 31/8/06)

US singer uses Vatican stage to criticise Church (CathNews, 15/12/03)

St Francis was a playboy, Pope says (ANSA, 31/8/06)

1 Sep 2006