Inviting Artists: Why Only The Pope?

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.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Inviting Artists: Why Only The Pope?

  1. Fr SB says:

    I agree. This is why we recently began the St Lawrence Institute for Faith and Culture at the Saint Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at Kansas University. Through the institute we hope to engage faith and the larger culture, including the arts.

  2. Sam Schmitt says:

    I like your list.

    Thomas More College in New Hampshire, for one, has an “Artist in Residence” who teaches studio classes and continues to work as an artist. A step in the right direction.

  3. I for one am hoping to be there on the 21 st of November to meet with the Holy Father and the other Artists. I am a sculptor, and the sculptor who created the Corpus et Spiritus sculpture in Aurora Ontario. I am thrilled with what is happening. We should all go into this with our eyes and hearts open and our professionalism in high gear. What is happening here is of the highest importance. Regards, Farhad Nargol-O’Neill. Toronto, Canada.

    • Sherri Ellerbe says:

      I am a graduate student earning a Master of Arts degree in Religion and the Arts at a seminary. Would you mind scanning the invitation you received from the Pope and emailing it as an attachment? I am interested in the wording.

      Do you know of others who have received an invite?

      Thanks in advance for your response.

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