Should a cathedral be used for a mere concert hall?

I channel surfed last night and came across a PBS airing of a Sarah Brightman concert at Saint Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna, Austria. This is one of those ancient masterpieces of architecture that seem virtually impossible to have built before the industrial revolution.

Now, the performance was magnificent, but I couldn’t concentrate on it. I was too distracted by how many seeming sacrilidges were taking place.

Did she just walk past the altar rail?
Is she standing on the altar mount?
Did they drape coverings on the high altar so as not to distract from the singer??
Where is the tabernacle and what was done with the host? (Either Christ was evicted to make room for the concert or he is still in there and NOT the focus of attention in an architectural masterpiece built for him.)

Anybody else see this concert? Were people bothered like I was?

It seems to me that these buildings were built over many generations and through enormous sacrifice in order to honor God and express the faith of the people. To even temporarily convert them to a place of mere entertainment just seems wrong to me.

Here’s SOME discussion on the matter, but I’d rather have CAF input.

I didn’t see this particular event that you have described.

I don’t know if I’d say Christ was “evicted”. Most cathedrals that I’ve been in have the tabernacle in a side chapel. If they do have the tabernacle front and center, there is still some sort of side chapel (which is where Jesus can be reposed on Good Friday and Holy Saturday).

I would guess that the altar was covered out of respect for the altar, not because it might distract from the singer.

I tend to share your hesitation at this sort of thing, but I don’t think there’s necessarily something inherently wrong with it. Anecdotally, I would hypothesize that using churches for events such as this was born out of necessity in time past. Cathedrals are large venues with good acoustics.

YES!!! I think I saw this…a few months ago. Was she a slender beautiful woman with long hair wearing a sleveless halter dress? Did she walk down the length of the altar while singing? And there was something in the crux of the cruciform building. With stairs. Didn’t she sing on that? It wasn’t at the back, but, it was St. Peter’s Basillica reminicent. I thought it was all very distasteful. There couldn’t have been a concert hall or something that could have been filled for this? A Banquet hall (sans food, of course). There are LOTS of beautiful structures that could have handled the crowd…and which could have been booked and tickets sold, if it’s the concert that I’m thinking of, I don’t think there was any reason for it. Do not profane the sacred.

…I don’t know who authorized this, though. The owner’s/priests of the church, whomever would be called, had to okay this. I was wondering, even, if this is still used as a church.

Some of big Hollywood sounds are recorded in cathedrals especially if it involves choir. Acoustically, nothing beats cathedrals. No reverb can reproduce sounds like a Gothic cathedral. Good choir can sound angelic or devilish in it. Voice of the Apocalypse (a film score writing tool) was recorded in that fashion. VOTA’s composers even hired some Catholic monks and had them chanted in a dark and Satanist melodic way inside a cathedral. The monks sound chilling scary. When you hear some of dark Gothesque Latin choir in a movie, it’s mostly recorded in a cathedral somewhere.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit