Priests approving choir members?
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,065
    Well, I had a new experience today:

    One of my members didn't show for warmup, though I was told he was in the church. I didn't get too concerned; he's often trying to get to confession and missing it, so I thought maybe he was doing that; I'm not going to interfere in somebody's call on Mortal Sin Emergency. We got to the loft, and then he came up, right at the beginning of Mass, but sat far off, so I thought maybe he was sick. No time to find out, and I don't start conversations during Mass. So afterwards, I was going to go over and find out, but he was reading in the missal. One of my other peeps got to him first. It turned out that he had read somewhere on the net (his citation wasn't at all clear to me) that choristers needed to be approved by priests before they could sing in the choir, and he hadn't been, so he couldn't sing. Now, I'd never heard of such a thing, and I've been around here awhile, and poked in old docs, and if there was such a rule, I'm sure there'd be somebody on this forum arguing for it. I pointed out that it might apply to singing IN choir, in the sanctuary, "in which case [soprano] wouldn't be singing with us". Having heard this and none of us had been approved, he seemed mollified. It was an odd bit of scrupulosity.

    I went net-searching and came up empty-handed. Has anybody heard anything even vaguely similar to this? I want to find out how he came up with this, so we can be clear about what he can do.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I have decided an alien magnetic current flows from the ground underneath my parish and attracts every kook, nut, flake and oddball within 100 miles and draws them to the building like moths to flame. Crazy, but its the truth! Maybe you have something similar going on. LOL.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,777
    He might have been thinking of a background check like this. There seems to be a patchwork of different certificates for various USA dioceses, and little consistency in whether singers are 'volunteers' or what grace period is implied by the frequently used language "regular contact"; San Francisco and Oakland actually have different rules but there is different interpretation from parish to parish as well. The last time the subject came up on the forum everyone seemed to create new pseudonymous accounts.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,167
    I have heard the same from a colleague, not our parish. The priest insisted on permitting only Catholics in the liturgical choir, on the grounds that they were singing the proper texts, and were liturgical ministers.

    Not very similar, though.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    I've seen quite a few documents that are somewhat hazy and sound like you need to be certified in Virtus/Safe Environment (whatever your diocese uses) in order to be in any of the church "ministries;" sometimes choir is mentioned specifically, sometimes not. Back when I was asked to be a cantor (which was actually before joining the choir), I was asked to complete Virtus training and then come back when I had the appropriate completion forms. So, that choir director believed Virtus training to be necessary.
    Our current one (as well as our priest) doesn't seem to think it necessary. I assume she would have to require it of any member of the choir and/or parent that helps with the youth schola, though.

    I can see easily see it both ways. This could easily be something that your person read.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,912
    Yeah, the only thing that I can think of is what Cooze mentioned: having some sort of Safe Environment/Child Safety training in order to serve, which is specifically mentioned for everyone that may have contact with children under 18 in our Diocese. Even if there is a minute chance that they may have contact with them in the execution of their duties or "ministries," they must be certified. Even that is somewhat fuzzy: as long as two adults present are certified, that can minimally count, so that is often what is counted: the priest and the choir director are usually the only ones in the room that can be counted on to be there that can also counted on to have the requisite certification. Many in our parishes already have this, as they work in religious ed, or coordinate volunteers, etc. As far as I know, there is no Church-wide law or rubric, or document that mentions that chorus members must be approved specifically by the priest or they are not permitted to sing. I agree that if the chorus were singing in choir (in the sanctuary), then approval would be a good idea, but even then, I don't know if there's any requirement (other than the usual rules for who and what is permitted in the sanctuary).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I think Virtus is a CYA thing for the diocese and the insurance company. As one of my singers pointed out, "why should we have to go through this? We are not the ones who molested the altar boys." He had a point, but I do see the need to work in cooperation with the guidelines. I am Virtus trained, as are the regular, full-time members of the choir.

    We have some seasonal people who drop in for Christmas and other events. I see them so seldom I haven't bothered to check their certifications. I am not the parish Virtus coordinator and I don't get paid to keep up with everyone, not to mention, I don't have access to records to check anyone out in the first place. When we do have children in the choir, their parents bring them and stay with them. I don't think anyone can tell parents where they can and can't take their kids, and I wouldn't even attempt to do so.
  • In Charles's diocese one parish had a teenager running the criminal background checks for them on protective employees and volunteers. It's definitely a CYA insurance matter.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,065
    If I were to recruit HS kids, I'd have to go through that. Actually, our one female member may have been 17 when I started. Her daddy and big brother were standing in back of her.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I think Virtus is a CYA thing

    No one's posterior is covered if litigation goes beyond discovery. All bets are off, just like in real life.
  • I have been subjected to Virtus training (and its Episcopalian equivalent) several times (several times because, unlike baptism, it isn't permanent and is required to be renewed every few years). One of course knew that there were such people in existence in and out of holy orders. However, the only things I got out of being subjected to these 'trainings' was stuff in my mind that I didn't want there and would never have thought of. We don't deserve this!
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,155
    Every volunteer in our diocese is required to undergo Ethics & Integrity training and a criminal background check, which has to be renewed every 3 years. When we first started, some people complained, but almost no one complains about it now.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • Jackson,

    You neglected to mention two other things you got out of it:

    1) The idea that anyone -- anyone, mind --- is a potential molester.
    2) The idea that, now that you've been trained, everyone else who has been trained is automatically sure that you're not a molester.... except, see #1.
    Thanked by 2Ben ClergetKubisz
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    Look on the bright side. How many psychiatry and psychology hacks are employed by these programs? It's good for the economy.

    1) The idea that anyone -- anyone, mind --- is a potential molester.

    Anyone who has ever taught school for a number of years wouldn't even think of touching one of these gifted, super-bright, and talented children.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    ... with anything other than a ping pong paddle or cricket bat.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    In the Diocese of Birmingham, we do it online through the "Shield the Vulnerable" program, but I believe it is only required for those who will work in the vicinity/with children.

    It seems odd to require it for choir members unless you have a blended choir of all ages. Also, any paid singers at parishes here are almost always W9/1099 even in Protestant contexts. I was pretty surprised last week to learn one Catholic who sings two services and a rehearsal in the rich folks' UMC parish in town is consider a W2 employee. That's shocking, as it means there's probably 15 other singers there at the church who are W2'd. Crazy!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    I was pretty surprised last week to learn one Catholic who sings two services and a rehearsal in the rich folks' UMC parish in town is consider a W2 employee. That's shocking, as it means there's probably 15 other singers there at the church who are W2'd. Crazy!

    Technically, this is how it is supposed to be. If you specify that people are can only do their job at a certain time, in a certain location, under specific supervision, then they are W2 - even if they only work a few hours.

    Of course, most churches don't do that. Most churches are committing tax fraud.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    Of course, most churches don't do that. Most churches are committing tax fraud.

    Yep! A time honored practice. It generally gets them out of withholding taxes and social security and dumps the bookkeeping on the recipient.
    Thanked by 1kevinf
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    Adam, you're preaching to the (literal) choir ;)

    At least we 1099 them...that doesn't even happy many places.

  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    At least we 1099 them...that doesn't even happy many places.

    Inadvertently funny, Bruce. 1099 is our lifeblood out here. I have six on staff.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • In a certain sense, it is a good and commendable thing for a pastor to screen singers. Since choristers (even if it is not a clerical choir) fulfill some liturgical function (even if not one exclusive to them, but on behalf of the congregation), they should be of good reputation as citizens and catholics, lest it be a cause for scandal (e.g., living in 'irregular' situations). The traditional Pontificale Romanum has a rite for a bishop appointing (and removing) a psalmist (likely a tonsured cleric). Mutatis mutandis it could go in a parish, too.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    The traditional Pontificale Romanum has a rite for a bishop appointing (and removing) a psalmist (likely a tonsured cleric).

    If you get a chance to scan it, please share!
  • This is a link to the transcribed Pontifical:

    To see how it looks in the book you should find an old pontifical in or Google Books
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,065
    I am, per the letter of canon law, until a tribunal says otherwise, living in an irregular situation with my bride of 11 years. Should I quit my church job?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,188
    Should I quit my church job?

    Depends on the diocese. In light of some questions posed recently by men in same sex relationships and declaring publicly their intention to marry, some places are beginning to place people in "irregular" situations under the microscope and asking them to either "get right" or step down from positions.

    In my current job search, that is very often a question in the course of the discussion. Because we are quite "public" in our work, that can often be a point of contention. As a passionate advocate of tribunals, I always encourage anyone to seek out their services if they are in need. As a matter of record, I speak from experience.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    "irregular situation"?

    But if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let
    him glorify God in that name. For the time is, that judgment should begin at the house of God.
    And if first at us, what shall be the end of them that believe not the gospel of God? And if the
    just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let
    them also that suffer according to the will of God, commend their souls in good deeds to the faithful Creator.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    "Irregular situations" can vary from parish to parish. I work in a very conservative, straight-laced parish that accepts next to nothing that is irregular. Musicians in other parishes who lead quite interesting lives would not be accepted where I work. There have been individuals asked to leave the parish, but they were readers and such. Thankfully they have not been musicians.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn