St. Stephen Cathedral Vienna

Hi there,

I was wondering if anyone knew if the St. Stephen Cathedral in Vienna is no longer part of the Church? What I mean to ask is, whether it is considered part of the Church and an actual Cathedral or was it something that has become public property for use like a Museum?

The reason I ask is that I saw this video

which seems to be happening inside the Cathedral. She also seems to be singing right in front of the altar. It seems inappropriate, at least to my sensitivities, to hold a concert in the place.

It this a case of abuse or simply a Cathedral that has been “decommissioned” and given to public use? Or is holding a concert inside a Cathedral, even by using the altar space, considered OK?

Yes, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is very much a Catholic Church. I am looking out my hotel rooom window at it right now. It is the cathedral church of Vienna. Cardinal Schonborn said Mass there yesterday at noon. They say Mass there many times a day.

Concerts are very common in the churches here in Vienna. I attended an Advent concert in St. Stephen’s Friday night as a matter of fact.

Lucky you!

Have a great trip.:thumbsup:

Austria (like Germany) has great liturgical music, great choirs and good traditional hymns and - unlike Catholics elsewhere - everyone sings.

Ok I see. I feel that this practice is very inappropriate though but I am not the Bishop of that area so…

But just curious, am I the only one that feels that such a concert was inappropriate in the Cathedral? :confused: It just feels very irreverent. We bow before we even enter the sanctuary where I live and you have this lady just prancing around the altar with her back turned to it singing her songs (no matter how beautiful they maybe) :shrug:

So looking around, it seems that Code of Canon Law 1210 says

“In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place.

Its from this site

So doesn’t holding concerts regularly in Vienna fall under a violation of Canon Law?


Cathedrals are a great place for concerts.:thumbsup:

Beauty points to the Divine too you know.

And Sarah Brightman singing “I Vow to Thee My Country” is totally appropriate in my opinion.

And we don’t bow to the sanctuary, we bow (or kneel) to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle. And I’m sure the Eucharist has been removed.

Finally the money from such concerts keeps the Cathedrals running.

Not where I am from good sir. We would consider it a lack of awareness of the sacred. It also seems like it contradicts Canon law.

I am not sure that is really a valid excuse. No?

She also sang Ave Maria with a rather distasteful video in my opinion.

Um, No. The Altar itself represents Christ’s body. Not to mention it is where the Eucharistic sacrifice is offered.

Good ends do not surely justify bad means. In this case, the means are very disrespectful to the sacred. I am not sure about your sensibilities according to that of Canada, but I am honestly offended by the idea of having a concert inside the Church. Reminds me of Jesus throwing out a group of merchants from a certain holy place.

LOL! I was just playing the video and once it got into the rock-like section of the performance at the 1:41 mark my little one said, “Mommy, I don’t like that music. Please turn it off.” (And she usually likes pop and rock music.)

As others have mentioned, concerts can be very common in cathedrals and regular churches, for that matter. Our cathedral holds a concert series throughout the year and several parishes around in our diocese do the same. One of the parishes I work at in another diocese also hold concerts. Others will also allow outside groups to have concerts there at a good price, which help with the upkeep of the churches and other things for the parish (many of the ones which do it in my diocese are much older as they have better acoustics than the newer built churches.) Granted, the concert series for all of them are usually classical concerts (some have been of other genres/styles), many of which are concerts of sacred music, although some are secular classical works as well.

Although I appreciate Sarah Brightman’s talent, I’m not a particular fan. I’ve always found her performances a little over-the-top with her movements, lighting, etc., which is ok at a secular venue, but for me, what she was doing in the cathedral seemed a bit inappropriate at a church… any house of God, actually. As a musician, myself, we were always taught to keep things much more reverent and low-key when performing in churches, synagogues, etc., so it goes against my sensibilities as a performer and how I was taught what is and is not appropriate for performing in houses of God outside of a mass or service.

I actually was more surprised about Sarah Brightman’s attire. It is a long-standing practice (almost a rule) that if you are to perform in a church, you should always be more covered up out of respect for the faith, the house of God and those who practiced that faith. This means that if your concert gowns had bare shoulders or too much cleavage, you needed to have a shrug, shawl, sleeves (short or long), etc. to cover up bare shoulders or any possible cleavage. It’s rare that you see musicians not cover up. When they don’t, something is always said and the musicians will be corrected.

An example of what I’m talking about is here. You can see how the musicians conduct themselves and how they are dressed. I chose this because it is on a “grand” scale such as what you saw with the Brightman concert, but there are differences in how it is conducted. The singers aren’t acting over-the-top and they are dressed how we were taught to cover up for performances in churches.

One of the solos from the same concert to see how one of the “stars” conducted herself (one of my favorite sacred solos):

So, in short, I don’t believe there is a problem with concerts held in churches/cathedrals as long as the performers conduct themselves in such an appropriate way so that they are not being disrespectful with their movements, mannerisms, attire, etc. And I’m not saying only classical musicians can do this as I have seen musicians of other genres perform in churches and conducted themselves very appropriately.

I’m sure there will be people who disagree and that there may be differing ideas of what is appropriate, but it’s only my opinion based on my experiences as a musician and what is at least commonly expected where I’ve performed here in the States and abroad and what I’ve seen as an audience member.

No, because the local Ordinary permitted it as you pointed out he could in your bolded section. As you said, you are not a Bishop so you have to accept what the Bishop of that diocese allows in his Churches.

Where are you from: you don’t show your location.

And since the Bishop is the Chief Canon Lawyer, and Liturgist in His diocese I’m very sure no canon law was contradicted.

And I’m sure the sensibilities of Canadians are perfectly respectable thank you very much:thumbsup:

I live in Canada but I am originally from the Eastern part of the world.

To give you my opinion of living 10 years in Canada, I would consider the sensibilities of Canadians to be very lacking (I am only saying this because you brought it up). I find Canadians in general, including those beyond the second generation since immigration, tend to be very imprudent and are in general clueless regarding maintaining any form of sacredness.

Most Canadians who take their faith at least a little seriously tend to be what I would call “Conservative”. Conservative is really not ontologically grounded. So I really see this as very weak. They see no need to uphold values. They will accept gradual change and simply cling on to values their previous generation might pass down. Since Canada, including most of the West lost most of its cultural values around the 1950’s, all that is left and passed down are as bad as anything an Atheist could come up with as sensibilities.

You can correct me if I am wrong, but I find that even the clergy in Canada tend to only weigh issues in terms of morality. There is no sense of prudence. In fact, some would argue that there is not even a need for it. So in such a culture, I honestly do not know what sensibilities are based on.

Sensibilities are usually based on ones culture. In my experience of Canada, it has no culture. It’s “culture” is founded on the idea that there is no basis for a culture and all cultures are as good as any.

Since I do disagree with this view point, I hope you will understand my suspicion of Canadian sensibilities.

Again, I am only saying this because you mentioned it. I don’t mean to offend you but this is what I have come to realize through first hand experience of interacting with Canadians, especially the younger generations (I teach). I understand that I just condemned possibly the entire culture you have grown up in. I would love to provide a more details critic of your culture but the above highlights my main points of it.

I see. Well, I disagree with the Bishop’s judgement. If a Bishop feels that it is valid to hold a strip dance in church, I am sure you would agree that I can oppose that judgement.

So I feel it is my duty to do everything I can to oppose such a judgement by the Bishop to have a concert right where the altar is in the Church. Christ after all kicked out merchants from the Church grounds, right?

Not to quibble but you brought it up first:

Not where I am from good sir.

I am not sure about your sensibilities according to that of Canada, but I am honestly offended by the idea of having a concert inside the Church.

And since Canada is so lacking I wonder how you can bear to live here. It must be quite a let down. Let me give you a hug. We’re good at hugs in Canada:hug3:

Now have a nice day:thumbsup:

BTW teacher “it’s” is when you compound “it is,” and “its” is used for the possessive. And it’s “detailed critique,” not “details critic.” Just being helpful. We’re very helpful in Canada.

And… do you really think a Bishop will sanction a strip club in Church?:confused::confused:
Or are you implying that sanctioning a concert like this is tantamount to a striptease?

And… since you have no idea how the sanctuary was treated for the purposes of the concert you have no grounds to talk so disrespectfully about the Bishop.

Where I come from that is the height of rudeness.

This thread is bringing out my grouchy side. :blush:

I’m gone.

Of course, you are free to do so my friend.

As would I for that appears to be a clear use of the Church outside the Bishop’s power to grant.

You have no duty to oppose a decision of your Bishop that clearly falls within his authority to make. You do have a duty to bring to the Bishop those things which are clearly against the teaching of the Church. This is not. Sorry, it is not your call.

You are not Christ yet you are willing to pass judgement on a successor of the Apostles and compare the good Bishop to the Pharisees? Tread carefully my friend.

It is not an abuse. You may not agree with it but it is not your decision to make nor your place to question. Sorry if we disagree on this, but I will pray that you come to good terms with this.


I think you are mistaking DUTY with what I CAN do. These are two different things. I can, and will oppose bad decisions by Bishops or even Popes. I can do that and there is honestly nothing in Catholicism to contradict that.

Nice try friend. I do not need to be Christ to pass judgement on an act of an Apostolic Successor. I can evaluate the consequences of an action by an Apostolic Successor. In case you do not know this, the Orthodox themselves were created by decisions of Apostolic Successors who broke communion with Rome.

So your idea of unbridled assent to Apostolic Successors on matters of decision making is rather unfounded.

I am not sure what you are praying for.

The altar is a sacred place. You have a woman dressed in scanty clothing prancing around the altar singing. If that does not feel scandalous to you, I will keep you in my prayers that you come to see what is wrong with the act.

I think this comes down to the issue that you want to give unbridled assent to your Apostolic Successor. A brief look at history, as I mentioned the issue of Constantinople, should make you realize that your position is flawed.

We are only required to give assent to faith and morals. Even then, only when it is in communion with the Pope and does not contradict it. With actions themselves, they can be outright sinful and imprudent and no Bishop or even Pope is protected against it.

So I suggest you stop using a false position and assume that I cannot oppose a decision by a Bishop. I can very much do so.

Oh of course. Canada has its good hugs and other things. I never said Canada is Hell.

But if you are asking if its a burden to bear, it certainly IS. I am honestly sick of a country where people need to be argued and debated with to convince them that Same Sex Marriage or Cohabitation and Sex before marriage or Divorce are wrong things.

Not to mention the summers where women just seem to want to wear clothes as short as possible, love to get drunk and dance away in clubs, have zero sense of modesty and finding a virgin (from among unmarried women over 20 who have been born and grown up here) is like finding a needle in a haystack. Oh did I mention that people actually allow Gay parades and call them pride parades? Where I am from, that sort of stuff cannot happen and even non-Catholics will rise up if it did happen. If you want to hear more, I would certainly be glad to write a list out for you about why living in Canada is a burden for someone who wants to live a moral life and raise a family.

So yes, as much as I appreciate some of the good things of Canada, it is a country I very much think is on the verge of self imploding. It just seems to be kept afloat by constant immigration and influx of some cultural values.

Thanks. Perhaps it would help if I clarify what I teach. I teach Engineering courses at the University. I do not teach English and that is hardly my expertise. I know well enough to speak fluently and make sure my students enjoy and learn what I want to teach. I am more interested in conveying difficult mathematical and physics concepts to them rather than writing since well, its not my area of expertise. But I welcome this knowledge and I can assure you I will take it to heart and try my best to not repeat this error.

Anyway, I think my point stands. Canada has its pluses. Sadly, none of it really matters when the society is in such moral decline. Parents who don’t teach their kids values, probably not out of neglect but because they don’t have time for them. The ones who teach values, don’t have any values to teach because all of the good stuff was lost generations ago. Clergy (apart from the occasional priest that visits or is an immigrant) who wants to be politically correct, pander to the wealthy and would rarely take the time to even raise concern over high divorce rates, threats to marriage, contraception etc. Did I mention that the good bishops of Canada waive almost all days of obligation like Solemnities that they are not days of obligation? I guess they feel that Canadians are spiritually very advanced compared to countries like where I am from :shrug:

I truly think its a disaster. So I am sure you are feeling upset but it is really the state of your country Canada ( and mine too which means now I have a duty to do what I can to change this sorry state of affairs ). I hope you are getting most of what I am saying though my grammar and spelling might not be on par.

I am interested to know why you are so reluctant to say where you are from? Could it be because you know in your heart of hearts that there are good and bad points in every country. Surely, if not, you would have remained in your own country.

I think her manner of dress and movements were more of the problem with the performance for me than anything else. As I mentioned in my previous post, musicians (at least all of the musicians I work with and have seen who have done performances in churches) know better than to dress the way she did and move the way she did in any house of God. It’s a standard practice and a basic unwritten rule to act and dress with respect when in a house of God… even if you don’t practice that particular faith. So, I was more surprised about that, than a concert, since I’ve seen/participated in numerous concerts held in Catholic churches here in the States and in Europe which were done appropriately and respectrfully. Again most concerts I’ve been part of or have seen in houses of God were for religious/sacred music and people always dressed/moved respectfully and appropriately. She was not the norm.

As for the the Bishop allowing it, he may not have known what she was going to do. Even a rehearsal may not have given it away since it was really just her moving around and she could have just walked through it without all the over-the-top bells and whistles. They could have just typed the list of music they were doing such as “I Vow to Thee My Country” (a hymn) and “Ave Maria”, etc. and that there would be an orchestra and choir. It appeared to be a religiously-based concert of music. Most people would not assume anything inappropriate would occur. In a concert of religious music, especially when it’s billed with an orchestra and choir usually does not scream prancing around and being scantally dressed.

On top of that, he may not have even been that privy to the concert “schedule” at the cathedral. I doubt that a bishop would be the one reviewing the requests. I probably wouldn’t be surprised if complaints were made and wouldn’t be surprised if she will no longer be allowed to perform there or at another Catholic church in that diocese again, especially if enough complaints were made and the bishop viewed the concert and found it inappropriate. Or new rules could be made up to inspect attire and see the performance in full before the actual show.