Google News reports the first papal invitation in 45 years to convene artists for a meeting. Nice locale: the sublime setting of the Sistine Chapel.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Roman Catholic Church’s relations with artists had been good in the past but the two worlds were currently in a “divorce.”
So we’re getting a meeting instead of an annulment process. This is good. The previous pope wrote a letter. Have you read it?
More from Cardinal Ravasi:
We would like for this meeting to be followed by a series of concrete achievements. The pope is opening the dialogue, saying the Church needs to have ties with art. The artists should start responding through their work.
How many bishops have cultivated these ties? Sadly, the Church turns to artists most often when it needs something: a new building designed, music or art commissioned (which is rare enough–most often pastors and parishes just go to a publisher or goods dealer). In this instance, does Pope Benedict find the Church “needs” something–more of a religious sensibility in the secular arts? A short list of possible “responses” I’d like to see from the hierarchy:
- Perhaps an official disapproval of mass-produced art used in churches.
- Composers commissioned to set the texts of the liturgy, with the results placed in the public domain for any parish to use.
- Artists approached to reside and teach at schools, especially seminaries and parish elementary schools.
- Ongoing meetings without the explicit expectation of artists toeing the ecclesiastical line.
Overall, though, this is a good first step. If only bishops would imitate the pope on this.