Pope Francis chatted briefly with Sting after the General Audience on Wednesday — see the video above, courtesy Rome Reports — and the pop star had a lot to say to Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register recently about music, the Mass and faith:
Born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1951, Sting rose to fame with ‘The Police’ from 1977 to 1986, before launching a solo career in 1985. Both led him to becoming one of the world’s most successful music artists, selling over 100 million records.
Although not currently practicing the faith, he says he may seek out the sacraments at the end of his life. He also discusses his views of Pope Francis, and shares his opinion on Latin and the Traditional Latin Mass.
Sting spoke to the Register ahead of performing with Jamaican reggae singer Shaggy at the city’s Parco Auditorium della Musica. The Sting & Shaggy 44/876 Tour comes to the U.S. from September.
How much of a role does your faith play in your music, today and in the past?
It was both positive and also a little frightening. I was a very serious child so I used to get cosmic vertigo, ontological vertigo. The concept of eternity for me was really troubling, not only eternal damnation but eternal heaven — it just seemed like Mass that would never end. I thought: I don’t want either [laughs]. Eternity still horrifies me but at the same time being put into that conundrum — philosophical conundrum — was perfect to forge an artistic angst, an artistic struggle. Plus the history of the Church, you know blood and death and torture and all the rest of it, the Last Things. And the music and the liturgy fed this artistic soul. I’ve benefited from it, but I’ve also suffered from it.In 1983 you did an interview with Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol. Do you remember it?
God knows what I said!
It was a round table interview, you were all Catholics and you all agreed that you preferred the Mass in Latin. You said it was because it had mystery in it. Would you like to see a return to Latin in the Church’s liturgy because of that?
I can see why it was changed in the 1960s to the vernacular. I don’t think they should go back to the Latin Mass, but I think of it as something you can choose to do, or choose to hear if you like that. It’s rather lovely. The music of that language is important to me.