LA archdiocese says don’t sing Haas hymns

CNA Staff, Jul 31, 2020 / 10:15 am (CNA).- The largest Catholic archdiocese in the United States has requested that its parishes and schools stop playing music composed by David Haas following the recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Parishes, schools, and ministries of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are asked to refrain from using music composed by musician David Haas out of respect for those who have reported sexual misconduct by Mr. Haas,” said an email sent July 30 to employees of parishes and schools.

While there have been no further allegations of misconduct against Haas within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since June 2020, the singer/songwriter was a frequent performer at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, which is hosted by the archdiocese.

“As part of the current investigation, the Archdiocese is looking into a past complaint of inappropriate interaction and/or communication by Mr. Haas with adult women,” said the email.

Haas, 63, is the composer of several songs included in the “Gather” hymnal published by GIA, which is among the best-selling and most used hymnals in American Catholic parishes. He has denied any misconduct.

Allegations against the composer first surfaced in May concerning serial spiritual manipulation and sexual misconduct. The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis has also received multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the composer.

As a result of the allegations against Haas, which concern inappropriate interactions with adult women dating back decades, two music publishers have cut ties with him. Haas has been banned from performing in both the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and his home diocese, the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, until an investigation can be completed.

“The Archdiocese stands against any sexual misconduct and is resolute in our support for victim-survivors of abuse,” said the email. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is requesting that anyone who has any information regarding Haas’ misconduct to come forward to the Office of Victims Assistance Ministry.

Haas is a central figure in the “contemporary liturgical music” movement that began in the 1970s. Among Haas’ better known songs are the contemporary standards “Glory to God,” “You are Mine,” “We are Called,” and “Blest are They.”

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  1. If (Arch)Bishops begin to “cancel culture” all composers who have sin in their past or don’t have perfect personal histories, we’ll have very little music left to play in church… None in fact! Isn’t the clergy attacking laity musicians the pot calling the kettle black, considering all the sexual abuse allegations made against priests??? Why not just let the secular courts deal with Mr. Haas? Just as a priest’s personal piety doesn’t affect the efficacy of the Eucharist, a composer’s personal peity doesn’t affect his sacred music compositions.

    • Haas is not just a random composer, who quietly went about his business writing music; he is well-known, and was looked upon as an authority figure. He portrayed himself as a spiritual leader, through his music, and used his organizations and parish sponsored workshops to groom his victims, many of whom were minors at the time. That hardly makes his ministry a “safe environment.” This is a prudent stance for Bishops to take out of respect for those who suffered, because any time his victims (and now, we) hear his music at Mass, it will draw attention to itself and remind us of what he did. Not exactly the best thing to focus on during the Liturgy.

      I think his music was already unsuitable for Mass, since much of it can hardly be classified as sacred. That, along with his openly dissenting views regarding Catholicism, which, like the abuse, were also public and widely known, should have disqualified him from having any influence within our parishes.

      It is true that Mass said by a predatory priest is still valid, and doesn’t usurp the sacredness of the Eucharist. But music by David Haas is neither vital nor necessary for worship, so we’re not really comparing the same things here. In fact, it can become cultish to attribute to Haas special status, through some sort of devotion to his music, as though it’s integral to the liturgy. It’s not. He’s not. Sacred music is. And I do believe that composers, as well as poets and authors, do write things that are reflective of their personal lives. It was about a year ago that Haas composed a song, based on a psalm, for “Pride Week,” something that the Church opposes. We can do better, and our pastors and bishops need to lead.

  2. Yes, but isn’t it nice to be rid of his “religious music” ? There’s a lot more of the same type that we could happily live without.

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