Music and Diplomacy

From Asia News Italy:

Everything began with the music, which in the words of both the pope and of maestro Long Yu, who conducted the performance, is a “privileged instrument for encounter and reciprocal knowledge and esteem between different populations and cultures”. And the pope – who loves to play the piano – paid homage to the music by going up onto the stage to greet the orchestra, which repaid the favour with a beautiful song from Turandot. But Benedict XVI also saw in the music the means to “understand better the history of the Chinese people, their values and their noble aspirations”. At the same time, he noted “with pleasure the interest shown by your orchestra and choir in European religious music. This”, he added, “shows that it is possible, in different cultural settings, to enjoy and appreciate sublime manifestations of the spirit such as Mozart’s Requiem which we have just heard, precisely because music expresses universal human sentiments, including the religious sentiment, which transcends the boundaries of every individual culture”.

It was a short step from this point to present the image that the Church wants Beijing to recognise, and, naturally without naming it, the right to religious freedom. “I should also like to say a word”, Benedict XVI said, “regarding this place where we have come together this evening. It is the great hall in which the Pope receives his guests and meets those who come to visit him. It is like a window opening onto the world, a place where people from all over the world often meet, with their own personal stories and their own culture, all of them welcomed with esteem and affection. In greeting you this evening, dear Chinese artists, the Pope intends to reach out to your entire people, with a special thought for those of your fellow citizens who share faith in Jesus and are united through a particular spiritual bond with the Successor of Peter. The Requiem came into being through this faith as a prayer to God, the just and merciful judge, and that is why it touches the hearts of all people, as an expression of humanity’s universal aspirations”.

And, before expressing a wish “for every good” in Chinese, the pope sent his “greetings, through you, to all the people of China as they prepare for the Olympic Games, an event of great importance for the entire human family”.

A General Audience Focused on Christian Unity

From Asia News Italy :

Benedict XVI, addressing the 40,000 people present in Saint Peter’s Square, spoke of his “joy” at the possibility of welcoming the head of the Armenian Church. “His presence”, he continued, “revives within us our hope for the unity of all Christians”. The pope then recalled “the unforgettable visit made” by Karekin to Rome in 2000, immediately after his election. “In meeting with him, John Paul II gave him an extraordinary relic of Saint John the Illuminator”, a “father” of that Church whose “commitment to dialogue” he emphasised. Benedict XVI said that he is “certain that the current visit will contribute to intensifying the relations that exist between our Churches”, and to “advancing hope along the road of ecumenism”. The Lord, he added, “never abandons us on our journey”, and in our “efforts to overcome every laceration in the living fabric of the Church”.

Benedict XVI then gave thanks “for the accomplishments reached in this journey that leads to the full communion of all the disciples of Christ”, and he finally repeated his exhortation to prayer for unity that he addressed to Catholics during his recent visit to the United States.

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