No ‘Thriller’ – Michael Jackson said unlikely to sing pope’s prayers By Cindy Wooden, 2/7/2006
ROME -- Father Giuseppe Moscati said he never considered having Michael Jackson record all of the 24 prayers of Pope John Paul II he hopes eventually to set to music.
But, the priest told Catholic News Service, to have the pop star of “Thriller” fame sing one of the songs or to be part of a choir singing a song might have helped sales, reaching greater numbers of people.
However, when a Scottish newspaper published a story Feb. 6 saying there had been "secret discussions between the Roman Catholic Church and Michael Jackson to put the prayers of Pope John Paul II to music," the project began to fall apart.
"It would be very difficult for the Vatican to accept the project," said Father Moscati, director of Edizioni Musicali Terzo Millennio, a sacred music publishing and promotion company.
"Although he has been absolved by the courts" on charges of the sexual abuse of minors, it is clear Jackson's image "cannot be put alongside that of the pope," Father Moscati said.
The priest said he still would not mind the singer being involved on some level, but the furor created by the news reports makes Vatican approval doubtful.
"I did not go looking for him or for anyone else," the priest said.
He mentioned the project to an acquaintance who claimed to know Jackson "and I thought he had contact with other singers as well."
"I never met Michael Jackson or his representatives or his lawyers," the priest said. "And it was very inappropriate of them to tell the press."
Father Moscati said he went through dozens of texts of Pope John Paul's homilies, speeches and remarks for various occasions, paying particular attention to the prayers the pope often used to close his remarks.
"Many of them are prayers for peace, for young people, for the family or prayers to Mary," he said.
The priest obtained permission to use the prayers from the Libreria Vaticana Editrice, which holds the copyright to all papal texts.
However, he said, the final project -- including the music and the singers -- must be approved by the Vatican before publication.
Father Moscati has hired two Italian composers to set a few of the texts to music, although he said that if he finds some well-known singers who want to compose the music themselves that would be fine.
"At this point, I am hoping to find a producer, a serious professional, in the United States who would want to join the project and who has contacts with professional singers," he said.
Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops