Pope Francis receives a gift from a participant June 20 at the Vatican during a meeting with Catholic charitable and funding agencies that assist the Eastern Catholic churches and Catholics throughout the Middle East. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Saturday, June 22, 2013, at 5:30 p.m., the Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra (RAI)
performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. The concert was organized by Archbishop
Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New
Evangelization, as part of the Year of Faith celebrations.
But the Pope did not attend.
is usual with such events, thousands of people had requested tickets. Such a large crowd was expected that,
by way of exception, St. Peter’s Square had been transformed into a parking
lot. But the Holy Father remained
at the Casa Santa Marta.
the performance, Abp. Fisichella read a message from the Pope, offering his
apologies to the public, citing “urgent commitments”. The message also made it clear that the Pope would keep all
his scheduled appointments the following day, in particular the Angelus and an
audience at the Vatican train station with hundreds of children who were to
travel from Northern Italy to see him.
Pope Francis did in fact attend all the events on Sunday, so speculation
that he missed the concert on Saturday for health reasons was baseless.
commentator Frédéric Mounier, in the French newspaper La Croix, observed that “For the
first time in more than ten years, all the apostolic nuncios of the worldthe
pope’s ambassadorsare present in Rome.
It is easy to imagine that, given such an opportunity to meet them, the
pope quickly understood that it would be more useful for him to listen
attentively to one or another nuncio from a troubled country than to attend a