Cardinal Ratzinger, Rock Music, and the Liturgy: Is Christian Rock Appropriate for Liturgy?

Stefania Lista


At various points throughout its history, the Catholic Church has spoken out against different genres of music.  In recent years, Cardinal Ratzinger has openly condemned rock music on the basis that it promotes a notion of freedom irreconcilable with that of the Catholic faith.  This condemnation comes at an interesting time, given the growing popularity and use of Christian Rock music in liturgical worship in the West, particularly amongst younger generations.  In light of this seeming contradiction, one must ask whether this “Christianized” form of rock is as inappropriate to liturgy as its secular counterpart, or whether Christian rock presents a “redeemed” form of rock appropriate for Christian use.  In order to do this, we shall look first at Benedict’s condemnation of rock and at the particular characteristics of rock culture which make it unsuitable for liturgical use.  Then we will look at the ways in which Christian rock music differs from popular rock (if at all) in order to determine whether this genre is indeed suitable for liturgical use.   

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