DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     April 26, 1999     vol. 10, no. 81

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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VATICAN RELEASES POPE'S LETTER TO ARTISTS WHICH COINCIDES WITH HIS OPENING ART EXHIBIT HONORING PAUL VI

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In a letter to artists, released by the Vatican on April 23, Pope John Paul II writes that creative work should give rise to awe and enthusiasm for life, adding that these are qualities which "the men of today and tomorrow will need to confront and overcome the crucial challenges that loom on the horizon."

          The Pope's letter, which he officially dated and signed on April 4-- Easter Sunday-- says that artists can act as the voice of "the universal longing for redemption." That can be true, he observes, even when the artist's work explores "the most obscure depths of the soul or the most distressing aspects of evil."

          The 20-page document begins with the observation that the artist is "an image of the Creator God," and that this "special vocation" consists in "the service of beauty." The artist, the Holy Father writes, has a duty to use his talent "in service to his neighbors and to all humanity." If he does that, the Pope continued, then the artist can make enormous contributions to the common good.

          The arts have historically had a fruitful alliance with the Gospel, the Pope writes. He traces the history of Christian art, concluding that although many modern artists and thinkers are indifferent to faith, "religious art has never lost its vitality." In fact, he observes, contemporary art is often characterized by "the absence of God and often by opposition to him." But the highest forms of art, he argues, show the "profound affinity" between the creative world and the world of religious faith.

          The Church needs art, the Pope said; and art needs the Church. The faith offers artists "a world particularly rich in themes for inspiration," while works of art help the Church to transmit the message of the Gospels. The Pope issues an appeal to artists-- especially, but not exclusively, to Christian artists-- to rediscover "the depth of the spiritual and religious dimensions" of human life.

          Pope John Paul II presided at the April 23 opening of a Vatican art exhibit dedicated to the life of Pope Paul VI.

          The exhibit, which will be open to the public until June 12, contains 100 works of art which relate to the life and pontificate of Paul VI. It was organized in homage to that Pontiff's work as a patron of modern art. During his pontificate, Pope Paul added some 700 new works of religious art to the collections of the Vatican Museum.

          In opening the exhibit, Pope John Paul cited his letter to artists, which was released by the Vatican on the same day. The Pope spoke of the rich history of Christian art, and the fruitful cooperation between artists and pastors in service to the Gospel.

          The Pope said that the new Vatican exhibit should serve two important purposes: highlighting the role of Pope Paul VI as a patron of artistic endeavors, and demonstrating the alliance that it possible between artistic creativity and evangelical outreach.


Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

April 26, 1999       volume 10, no. 81
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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