Archbishop in Wollongong for conference

Pope Francis was profoundly committed to Vatican II's vision of putting the church at the service of the world, the Pope's Ambassador to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said in Wollongong on Thursday.

"The other day he gave a sermon where he was setting very high standards for the clergy," the Vatican ambassador said.

"He's trying to live a rhythm of life that's ... focused on prayer, on the Gospel and on the liturgy.

"I think there is a Francis effect. He's proven attractive to the media."

The Archbishop was attending a national four-day conference in Wollongong on Catholic liturgy, 50 years after Vatican II's major reforms.

More than 600 Catholics have gathered at St Mary Star of the Sea and St Francis Xavier Cathedral to explore the role of music in Mass and the liturgy's many changes over the years.

"The liturgy of the church has evolved over the centuries and will continue to evolve," Archbishop Gallagher said.

"My personal view is that music is to be used to assist and promote worship.

"It's not an end in itself, you don't go to church to go to a concert."

Keynote speaker, composer and theologian Father Jan Michael Joncas, said music had to be intimately connected but there was room for change.

"I would recover the best of our heritage and bravely explore new sounds that might help us pray better," he said.

These included synthesised sound, drums and a bell choir.

Incorporating local cultural traditions was important to the liturgy, according to Vatican II.

Phillip Hadley from Auckland said the Catholic Church in New Zealand's commitment to Maori is reflected in the liturgy.

"Our order of the Mass is translated into Maori ... we have a history of song that brings together Maori language into public worship," he said.

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