John Paul II's Address at "Concert of Reconciliation"

Jews, Catholics and Muslims Join in Event at Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2004 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave Saturday at the end of the «Concert of Reconciliation» in Paul VI Hall.

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1. With heartfelt emotion I took part in this evening’s concert dedicated to the theme of reconciliation among Jews, Christians and Muslims. I listened, participating interiorly, to the splendid musical performance, which has been for all of us an occasion of reflection and prayer. I greet and express heartfelt gratitude to the promoters of the initiative and to all who contributed to its concrete realization.

I greet the presidents and members of the pontifical councils who sponsored this highly significant event. I greet the personalities and representatives of the various international Jewish organizations, of the churches and ecclesial communities, and of Islam, who with their participation make this meeting of ours that much more evocative. My special thanks go to the Knights of Columbus, who offered their concrete support to the concert, and to RAI, represented here by its directors, which has ensured its proper transmission.

I then greet famous maestro Gilbert Levine and the members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as well as the choirs of Ankara, Krakow, London and Pittsburgh. This evening’s selection of musical excerpts has called to our attention two important points that, in a certain sense, unite all those who are called to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, even if their respective sacred texts address them in different ways. The two points are: the veneration for the Patriarch Abraham and the resurrection of the dead. We have heard the masterful commentary in John Harbison’s sacred motet «Abraham,» and in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, inspired in the dramatic poem «Dziady» of the famous Polish dramatist Adam Mickiewicz.

2. The history of relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims is characterized by lights and shadows and, unfortunately, has known painful moments. Today the pressing need is felt for a sincere reconciliation among believers in the one God.

This evening, we are gathered here to give concrete expression to this commitment to reconciliation, through the universal message of music. We were reminded of the warning «I am God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless» (Genesis 17:1). Every human being hears these words reverberating in himself: He knows that one day he will have to render account to that God who, from on high, observes his way on earth.

Together, we express the hope that men will be purified of the hatred and evil that constantly threaten peace, and that they will able to extend to one another reciprocally hands free of violence but ready to offer help and comfort to those in need.

3. The Jew honors the Almighty as «protector of the human person,» and God «of the promises of life.» The Christian knows that love is the reason why God enters into relationship with man and that love is the response awaited from man. For the Muslim, God is good and is able to fill the believer with his mercies. Nourished by these convictions, Jews, Christians and Muslims cannot accept that the earth be afflicted by hatred, that humanity be troubled by endless wars.

Yes! We must find in ourselves the courage of peace. We must implore from on high the gift of peace. And this peace will spread as oil that soothes, if we walk without ceasing on the road of reconciliation. Then the desert will become a garden where justice will reign, and the effect of justice will be peace (see Isaiah 32:15-16).

«Omnia vincit amor»!

[Translation by ZENIT]

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