The Papal Concert To Commemorate The Shoah
A key moment in Catholic-Jewish faith relations
On April 7, 1994, was the first official event held in the Vatican dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews murdered in World War II. Pope John Paul II, Rav Elio Toaff, the Chief Rabbi of Italy, and Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of Italy, jointly presided over the event. Around 7,500 invited guests attended the event, including several hundred survivors of the Holocaust, from around the world. A Candelabra was lit in the concert hall by six Holocaust survivors and their descendants. The concert followed the recognition of the State of Israel by the Holy See, about three months earlier, in December 1993. The New York Times reported that in light of the concert, "[s]ome Jews said the Pope had revived the revolution in Catholic-Jewish relations set in motion by Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council."