EWTN News

Sistine Chapel Choir director ceases duties
July 10, 2019
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Fr. Massimo Palombella has ceased his position as director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, according to the Vatican. The music teacher had been under investigation for financial fraud.

A July 10 statement said Pope Francis recently accepted Palombella's request to end his service and that the decision was made together with the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations and the Salesian order, of which Palombella is a member.

Palombella "is now available to the Salesian Congregation for the new ministry that will be entrusted to him," it stated.

The end of Palombella's 9-year tenure with the choir comes after news of a financial scandal involving the Sistine Chapel Choir broke in July 2018.

In September 2018, the Holy See press office confirmed the scandal, reporting that Pope Francis had authorized an investigation, still ongoing, into the "economic-administrative aspects" of the choir.

The allegations were of reported money laundering, aggravated fraud against the Vatican City State, and embezzlement, accusing the choir manager Michelangelo Nardella and Palombella.

According to reports, Nardella and Palombella allegedly transferred some concert proceeds to an Italian bank account and used the money for personal expenses.

No other information about the investigation, or whether it has concluded, has been made public.

In January, Pope Francis issued a motu proprio, which among other things, moved the Sistine Chapel Choir to be under the administration of the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations instead of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household and Nardella.

Fr. Guido Marini, master of ceremonies of papal liturgies, was tasked with the choir's management and with drafting its new statues.

It was announced by interim press office director Alessandro Gisotti July 10 that with the conclusion of Palombella's service, the interim leadership of the choir has been entrusted to Fr. Marcos Pavan, who is the director of the Pueri Cantores, or boy choir, section of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

Known officially as the Cappella Musicale Pontificia Sistina, the choir is comprised of 20 professional singers from around the world, as well as a treble section made up of 35 boys aged 9-13, called the Pueri Cantores.

With a 1,500-year history, the Sistine Chapel Choir is believed to be the oldest active choir in the world.

Palombella has conducted the Sistine Chapel Choir since 2010.