A row has broken out over the arrival of a digital organ in St Peter’s Basilica.

An online petition signed by nearly 10,000 people has asked Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgy chief, to intervene, saying the instrument is “inadequate” for the space.

The organ, donated by the American Alleyn Organ Company, was first used for Mass on Christmas Eve, replacing the Basilica’s main pipe organ, which officials believe is unsatisfactory.

But the petition, issued by the Italian Association of Organ Builders, appealed for a solution to be found involving a functioning pipe organ.

The digital organ, it said, “awkwardly tries to imitate the sonority of the real instrument without, however, succeeding in any way”. It said its use had “aroused disbelief” among organists and music lovers and it asked the “whole cultural world to express its regret for the presence of the surrogate of an authentic musical instrument within the most important home of Catholicism”.

Fr Anthony Ruff, editor of the Pray Tell blog and teacher of liturgy at St John’s University School of Theology-Seminary in Minnesota, was among the signatories.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection