Andrea Bocelli spoke with Włodzimierz Redzioch of the Polish weekly “Niedziela,” The musician spoke of his childhood, career, music, faith, and his relationships with the Popes, especially with John Paul II.
Here is an English translation of Part 2 of the interview. Read the first part here.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- For several centuries, the West has been trying to separate reason from faith. What is worse, it is believed that faith is incompatible with reason. You say you are a believer. Where is your faith coming from?
Andrea Bocelli- My faith was born in adulthood, when some existential questions became urgent. I realized that making any choice, we stand at a fork in the road – one path is leading toward the good, the second – in the direction of evil. To live in belief that a fate directs it is not only not appropriate, but also not very logical and reasonable. This is elementary reasoning which allows a person to make the right decision, and the first fundamental choice that we must make is: to believe or not to believe. I chose the path that seemed more logical, which my intelligence, though limited, identified as a path without alternative. Faith is truly a priceless gift that I try to maintain and deepen, and it supports me day after day. I don’t think that faith is contrary to reason.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- As an artist and as a believer, you are very devoted to Our Lady. Why this predilection for Mary?
Andrea Bocelli- Mary is the road that leads to the Father, our Heavenly Mother, Comforter and Mediatrix. It is no coincidence that over the centuries music was able to sing, to pray and call Her through the extraordinary work.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- In your long career, you have sung before millions of people – including four US presidents and three popes – not to mention the millions of albums sold. As a Pole, I’m especially interested what memories you retained about John Paul II?
Andrea Bocelli- Pope John Paul II is “an extraordinary spirit,” who for us believers, already during His lifetime, as pope, represented a shining bond between the earthly existence and Transcendence. Enlightened by a special grace was a charismatic figure. He was a saint, who knew how in a simple way to talk to people, who attracted to Catholicism new generations. A Pope who changed history. He was the driving force and the hero of the epoch-making changes, also geopolitical. I had several times the honor and pleasure of singing before John Paul II – I carry within me the memories of those moments. For me, his canonization was a great joy and brought a lot of emotions.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- Benedict XVI, who is a great lover and connoisseur of music, once said that real music is born from the experience of love, sadness, and encounters with the Divine. Maestro, do you agree with this statement?
Andrea Bocelli- It seems to me that this is a very beautiful reflection about music, deep and subtle, reflecting the sensitivity of the person who said it.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- Pope Francis is less devoted to music, but eager to hear singing. He recently said to the young singers form “Pueri Cantores” choir: “If I would sing, then I will resemble a donkey, as I cannot sing.” But there is something that connects you: sensitivity to the poor and needy. You, Maestro, even founded a foundation which bears your name. What exactly the Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF) do?
Andrea Bocelli- ABF’s mission is to help individuals or groups which are in difficult situations due to illness, poverty, social exclusion, as well as to support national and international projects which contribute to the overthrow of such barriers and help to extract human potentials. The balance of the first four years is very good. I will quote some figures: conversion of 3 street schools into functional and safe school facilities, which are used for free by 1.6 thousand children and where they also receive meals (these are schools in St. Augustin, Notre Dame du Rosaire and St. Philomene in Haiti); more than 20 million liters of water is delivered to the slums of Cité Soleil (Haiti); providing basic support to 360 families in refugee camps (Iraq); showers in Rome, which are used daily by 80 homeless people; financing 15 scientists who are working on a prototype device which would increase autonomy of the blind.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- Together, with the Pontifical Council for the Family you organized a series of concerts. This initiative is accompanied by the slogan: “The great mystery: the Gospel of the family as a school of humanity for our times.” Why it is so important to protect family in the world in which attitudes of individualism and selfishness are promoted?
Andrea Bocelli- I think that the family is the basic element of society – where we shape our emotions. This is a privileged place where we seek harmony and mutual respect. The family is the space where we learn – and teach others – to choose the good in every action; trying to implement in our lives these Christian values which our parents pass on to us and which we have a duty to pass to our children. The sense of family ties is what each of us experienced as a child, living in the family, if we were very lucky to have one. Those who think that they can live without family, that they can destroy it according to their own whims apparently are putting their own “I” in the place of God and have lost the memory of what he/she received as a child – a treasure of boundless and unconditional love. Thus, a family should be defended with a pure heart of the child and I’m also trying to do this will all my strength.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- From time to time you have concerts in Poland. With what feelings do you visit the country of John Paul II?
Andrea Bocelli- I love the country of John Paul II; I love its people, their sensitivity. I love great artists, which Poland has, extraordinary historic places and the stately churches adorning Polish cities. I appreciate the way you are experiencing music, the warmth with which you are always welcoming me. Whenever I come back from Poland, I’m full of positive energy and I bring back home fond memories. Thus, every time when I go on stage, I try to give everything, in a way, to express my gratitude and reciprocate love and kindness which I experience.
Part 1: https://zenit.org/articles/interview-the-voice-of-the-soul-andrea-bocelli-part-1/