Pope to attend concert marking WWII
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Pope to attend concert marking WWII

ROME (JTA) — Pope Benedict XVI will attend a concert to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, the Vatican announced.

The concert, scheduled for Oct. 8 in a major Rome concert hall near the Vatican, is being organized by the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the German Embassy to the Holy See and a German cultural association.

A German youth orchestra will perform pieces by the Jewish-born composers Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelssohn. In addition, according to the Catholic news agency Zenit, poetry will be recited, including works by Holocaust survivor Paul Celan and children held prisoner in the Terezin ghetto-concentration camp near Prague. 

The concert is part of a series of Vatican events to mark the anniversary.

"We cannot forget the dramatic events that led to one of the most terrible wars in history that caused millions and millions of deaths and so much suffering," the pope said earlier this month in a sermon given in Viterbo, Italy. The war, he said, was "a conflict that saw the tragedy of the Holocaust and the extermination of throngs of other innocents."

The pope added, "The memory of these events impels us to pray for the victims and for the people who still bear the wounds in their body and heart. May it also be a warning to all never to repeat such barbarities and, in our time still marked by conflicts and opposition, to redouble efforts to build lasting peace, passing on especially to the new generations a culture and lifestyle marked by love, solidarity and esteem for the other."