Although the world is immersed in images, it can be empty of beauty, Pope Benedict said today in a message he sent to the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Literature as it explores the relationship between aesthetics and ethics. .-
Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is hosting a public event with the theme—"The universality of beauty: a comparison between aesthetics and ethics," and to contribute to the discussion, Pope Benedict has sent the archbishop a message.
The topic chosen by the academy reminds us of the "urgent need for a renewed dialogue between aesthetics and ethics, between beauty, truth and goodness," the Pope writes.
This need to reconnect beauty with truth and goodness is not just limited to the "contemporary cultural and artistic debate," but extends to daily reality, the Holy Father argues.
Today we can see "a dramatically-evident split" between the pursuit of external beauty and the idea of a beauty that is rooted in truth and goodness. Oftentimes, society only understands the search for beauty as an "exterior form, as an appearance to be pursued at all costs," he explains.
"Indeed," the Pope writes, "searching for a beauty that is foreign to or separate from the human search for truth and goodness would become (as unfortunately happens) mere asceticism and, especially for the very young, a path leading to ephemeral values and to banal and superficial appearances, even a flight into an artificial paradise that masks inner emptiness."
Pope Benedict also calls on contemporary reasoning to rediscover the link between beauty, truth and goodness. "And if such a commitment applies to everyone," the Pope asserts, "it applies even more to believers, to the disciples of Christ, who are called by the Lord to 'give reasons' for all the beauty and truth of their faith."
When Christians create works that "render glory unto the Father," the Pope continues, they speak of the "goodness and profound truth" that they are portraying, as well as the integrity and sanctity of the artist or author. To this end, Benedict XVI encourages believers to learn how to "communicate with the language of images and symbols ... in order effectively to reach our contemporaries."
The Holy Father also mentions how at the Synod on the Bible the bishops noted that knowing how to "read and scrutinize the beauty of works of art inspired by the faith" can lead Christians to discover a "unique path that brings us close to God and His Word."
Finally, Pope Benedict cites John Paul II's Letter to Artists, "which invites us, to reflect upon ... the fruitful dialogue between Holy Scripture and various forms of art, whence countless masterpieces have emerged." His message closes by appealing to academics and artists "to arouse wonder at and desire for beauty, to form people's sensitivity and to nourish a passion for everything that is a genuine expression of human genius and a reflection of divine beauty."