IADC, German Embassy to the Holy See host “Music for A While” concert at Villa Malta
On May 2, 2023, at the Sala Curci in Villa Malta, the Institute of Anthropology (IADC) and the Embassy of Germany to the Holy See, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, hosted “Music for A While,” a concert to promote “healing through contemplation, empathy, and recognition of dignity.”
This concert was among several events in the coming weeks that aim to promote opportunities for growth in empathy and care toward those whose dignity has been wounded.
Featuring the talents of Laurence Gien, baritone; Angel Rossel, violinist; and Geoffrey Abbot, pianist, the “Music for A While” concert used the beauty and solemnity of music to bring a unique way of understanding the experiences of victims of sexual and other types of abuse in the Church.
In his welcoming address, IADC director Father Hans Zollner, SJ told participants that the concert aimed “to ensure that artistic language becomes an instrument of healing, that it fosters the opening of spaces for reflection on all those occasions of abuse, neglect and failure to listen that victims bitterly experience in the Church, as well as from authorities and the faithful, in institutions, in communities.”
“With their cry for help, victims and survivors appeal to us to do our part; not to remain deaf and indifferent to pain, but to acknowledge it and become an active part of a network that knows how to respond and act on that pain. Today, as we contemplate the artistic and musical experience, we listen to this voice and better understand our task,” Father Zollner said.
His Excellency, Bernhard Kotsch, German ambassador to the Holy See, thank Father Zollner and the Institute of Anthropology for their “valuable work in training experts in the constant search for new ways” to prevent sexual abuse.
The concert, Ambassador Kotsch said, shows that the creativity of the artists “represents their overcoming of abuse to forge their own path in life.”
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, religious superior of the Jesuit community at Villa Malta, welcomed the participants and expressed his gratitude to the IADC.
Father Lombardi said he was “happy that the institute uses other areas of this house for events, like this evening’s (concert), of a cultural and artistic character that have the same purpose: this fundamental cause for the church and society of fighting against abuse, of prevention and of protecting human dignity in all aspects.”
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Below is a translation of Father Hans Zollner’s welcoming address at the concert, which were delivered in Italian:
Your Excellencies, colleagues, students – good evening to one and all, and thank you for your presence on this special occasion.
With today’s concert, we inaugurate a series of events through which the Institute of Anthropology at the Gregorian University is committed to giving – literally – a “voice” to victims of abuse. Indeed, tonight we will have the privilege of listening to the voice of a singer who, through selected pieces of music and texts, will give us the opportunity to be able to understand, in a personal and existential way, the experience of being victims of abuse in the Church.
As indicated by the subtitle – Healing through contemplation, empathy, and recognition of dignity – today’s concert seeks to ensure that artistic language becomes an instrument of healing, that it fosters the opening of spaces for reflection on all those occasions of abuse, neglect and failure to listen that victims bitterly experience in the Church, as well as from authorities and the faithful, in institutions, in communities … In the face of this closure, against which victims of abuse too often come up against, today’s event and those to come are intended to promote opportunities for growth in knowing how to share the suffering of those whose dignity as a human person is wounded with empathy and commitment. With their cry for help, victims and survivors appeal to us to do our part; not to remain deaf and indifferent to pain, but to acknowledge it and become an active part of a network that knows how to respond and act on that pain. Today, as we contemplate the artistic and musical experience, we listen to this voice and better understand our task.
In today’s concert, and on the occasion of next week’s Theatrical performance “Pardon,” victims and survivors become authors and performers, and through art, they not only tell us their experience, but involve us in it, so that by listening to them, we see that we too must be an active part in their journey toward healing.
First and foremost, these occasions make us witnesses of remarkable examples of courage: the courage to respond to the failure to listen by telling the story of one’s suffering through the uncompromising power of artistic language. We can only be grateful, then, to Laurence Gien and his colleagues Geoffrey Abbot and Angela Rossel, for making their artistic talents available in order to literally “resonate” with their voice and music not only their own voice, but also that of all victims who, through it, speak to us and call to us.
I would also like to thank the German Embassy to the Holy See for its valuable support – the Ambassador will speak now -, and the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, for the substantial financial contribution which it has supported us for several years now.
Thanks also to the Jesuit community of Villa Malta, who have allowed us to host this event in its exquisite spaces. Fr. Lombardi, religious superior of the Jesuit community in this house, will address us before the concert begins.
And again, thank you to the Voices who remind us today how important it is to listen and to act.