Page 1, 8th September 2006

8th September 2006
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Page 1, 8th September 2006 — Pope pulls the plug on a decade of Christmas concerts with the stars
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Organisations: Charlotte Church
Locations: Monte Carlo

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Pope pulls the plug on a decade of Christmas concerts with the stars

FROM NICK PISA IN ROME POPE BENEDICT XVI has cancelled the Vatican's traditional Christmas concert.

The German Pontiff has decided that St Peter's is not the right venue for the festive gig that was started by his predecessor Pope John Paul II more than 10 years ago.

In the past dozens of international singers have performed at the concert, including Tom Jones, Bryan Adams, Ronan Keating, Charlotte Church, Lionel Ritchie and Dionne Warwick.

But the Vatican has confirmed that this year's concert will not be held in St Peter's but in Monte Carlo, Monaco, instead, with the Pope unlikely to attend.

Pope Benedict's musical tastes are known to be more on the classical side. His favourites are fellow German composers Mozart and Bach and he even has their pieces

on his iPod. But a Vatican source said: "Pope Benedict has decided that the traditional Christmas Concert at the Vatican will not be held here this year.

"It will be moved to Monte Carlo and will take place in early December and it's not definite he will go.

"It's a shame as it was always such a popular event and attracted lots of international stars. The official reason is that the concert has run its course but Pope Benedict is not a fan of popular music at all.

"Pope John Paul II began the concerts in 1994 and every year they were packed out. It's very sad and it's another part of John Paul's legacy that has been lost."

The concert raises hundreds of thousands of pounds in ticket sales and the performances are also recorded and released on CD, generating further cash for needy causes.

Speculation has been rife that Pope Benedict would cancel this year's performance because last year, his first Christmas as Pope, he failed to attend or even send a video message, leaving many stars disappointed.

He was said to have been angry after learning that one of the singers, a Brazilian woman called Daniella Mercury, featured in a condom advertising campaign.

Ronan Keating and Simply Red were due to appear at the fundraising concert this December.

Editorial Comment: Page 11




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