The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, noted this week that during Pope Benedict XVI’s most recent meeting with artists, several specifically asked for the Church to renew her partnerships with artists.
“Meeting with numerous artists from different continents, we clearly saw their desire and will to come together with the Church and her spiritual, model, and cultural patrimony.” The archbishop added in comments to the Chilean daily “El Mercurio,” that Church-artist dialogue “has been interrupted and fragmented in recent times.”
Today Christians are less present in the artistic world in comparison to other historical periods, due to two main reasons, he explained.
“On the one hand, if we think about the last two centuries, the Church has sometimes appeared closed in on herself, unconcerned with the cultural phenomena and tendencies that intensely move people and consciences. And on the other hand, there has been and is no lack of philosophical, political, economic and cultural currents obstructing the actions of the Church and acting to marginalize and deprive her of any possibility of communication and intervention in society,” the archbishop said.
He went on to underscore the importance of decorum in art and liturgy explaining that “in the history of the Church and of Christian art we find two fundamental currents, both of which are important and are certainly complementary: a first current holds that the beauty and richness of works of art reflect the beauty of God, while the other proposes the essentiality and simplicity of the forms so that the absolute beauty of God emerges even more.
“Evidently, the two possibilities correspond to different sensibilities and cultural and artistic contexts,” the archbishop concluded.