VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict was opposed to Bob Dylan appearing at a youth event with the late Pope John Paul in 1997 because he considered the pop star the wrong kind of “prophet,” Benedict writes in a new book issued on Thursday.
Benedict, who was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the time of the concert in Bologna, Italy, makes the disclosure in a new book of memoirs about his predecessor, who died in 2005.
“There was reason to be skeptical, — I was, and in a certain sense I still am, — to doubt if it was really right to let these types of prophets intervene,” Benedict writes, only mentioning Dylan among the stars who appeared.
At the 1997 concert, Dylan, the anti-conformist troubadour of the 1960s and one of the 20th century’s greatest influences on popular music, sang three songs before the Pope as part of a concert that included a number of other, mostly Italian artists.
Dylan sang “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” his 1960s anti-war classic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and “Forever Young,” a song of hope and courage.
In his new book, Pope Benedict does not explain why he does not like Bob Dylan or why he considers him a false “prophet.”
Benedict is a lover of classical and sacred music, and an accomplished classical pianist. Last year, he canceled the Vatican’s traditional fund-raising Christmas concert, which was a magnet for pop stars.
Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman into a middle-class Jewish family in Minnesota, has been at times agnostic, Jewish and a born-again Christian during his musical career.
At the 1997 concert, John Paul referred to what is perhaps Dylan’s most famous song, “Blowing in the Wind,” which became an anthem for young people seeking meaning in life in the 1960s.
John Paul told the crowd of some 300,000 young Italian Catholics that the answer was indeed “in the wind” — but not in the wind that blew things away, rather “in the wind of the spirit” that would lead them to Christ.
After Dylan sang, he took off his beige cowboy hat and went up to a podium to greet John Paul.
Benedict’s new book, called “John Paul II, My Beloved Predecessor,” is mostly a reflection on John Paul’s personality and his religious writings.