Catholic Church and Tango?Cardinal and Nun by Egon Schiele


With the enthronement of Francis I, first South American Supreme Pontiff of argentine nationality, decided to look into an issue: what is the point of view of the Catholic Church about the Tango?

In 1913, when this Latin rhythm contaminated the dance floors of Paris, the French bishops condemned it fiercely, asking the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to consider banning it. In 1914 the Italian aristocracy longed to dance tango in Carnival, causing the Argentine embassy diplomats in Rome to feel pressured to prove to Pope Pius X that this dance was far from offending Christian customs, before the Italian armed forces prohibit the dance. To check the "dangers" of Tango, before Carnival, in February of the same year, the tango was danced to His Holiness Pius X in a lighter and harmless version, so as not to offend the moral standards of the Church, which the Holy Father found boring, endorsing it but recommending another peasant dance, the "furlana", which he considered livelier.

With this authorization tango broke new ground, expanding its musical expression with the slower rhythms, more cadenced steps and "returned" to its homeland, Buenos Aires, winning the middle class and giving way to the success of singers like Carlos Gardel.

Of course the bad reputation of tango didn’t completely disappeared in Europe, returning in 1924 to be questioned by Pius XI, who after watching the dancer Casimiro Aín dance to the sound of “Ave-Maria”, of Francisco Canaro, and ending it in a kneeling position, withdrew from the hall in silence, not speaking out more on the subject ever again, which led his reaction to be interpreted as a silent approval. Since then the Holy See hasn’t questioned the moral value of Tango.

Nowadays it is considered and recognised as an artistic expression of Argentina and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2009, reappearing in modern times all over the world, where schools and Tango balls (called Milongas) multiply.

And what’s the opinion of Jorge Mario Bergoglio regarding Tango? Apparently, in addition on being the first Pope Francis, fist Jesuit Pope and first South-American Pope he’s also the first Pope who danced tango in his youth. As noted in an interview published in the book "The Jesuit," the Supreme Pontiff used to dance tango while he was young with his group of friends, but had preferred to dance milonga. In the same interview he spoke of his preference of some composers such as Juan D'Arienzo, Carlos Gardel, Julio Sosa and Astor Piazzolla.

Heavenly or profane Tango might be compared to a good wine, which can both be blessed or inebriate.


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