Papal Address to Artists of Anniversary Exhibit

“Never Seek Beauty Far From Truth and Charity”

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday at the opening of an exhibit in his honor titled “The Splendor of Truth; the Beauty of Charity: Artists’ Homage to Benedict XVI on the 60th Anniversary of His Priesthood.”

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Friends,

It is a great joy for me to meet you and to receive your creative and manifold homage on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of my priestly ordination. I am sincerely grateful for your closeness on this most significant and important celebration for me. In the Eucharistic celebration of last June 29, Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, I thanked the Lord for the gift of the priestly vocation. Today I thank you for the friendship and kindness you manifest to me. I greet cordially Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the Sacred College, and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture who, together with his collaborators, organized this singular artistic demonstration, and I thank him for the courteous words he dedicated to me. I also greet all those present, in particular you, dear artists, who accepted the invitation to present a creation of yours in this exhibition.

Our meeting today, in which I have the joy and the interest to admire your works, is a new stage on that path of friendship and dialogue we undertook on Nov. 21, 2009, in the Sistine Chapel, an event that I still have engraved on my soul. The Church and artists meet again, to talk with one another, to support the need for a conversation that is and must be ever more intense and articulated, also to offer to culture, more than that, to the cultures of our time, an eloquent example of fruitful and effective dialogue, oriented to making our world ever more human and beautiful. Today you present to me the fruit of your activity, of your reflection, of your talent, expressions of the different artistic realms that you represent here: painting, sculpture, architecture, craftsmanship, photography, cinema, music, literature and poetry.

Before admiring them with you, allow me to pause just a moment on the thought-provoking title of this exhibition: “The Splendor of Truth; the Beauty of Charity.” In fact, in the homily of the Mass pro eligendo pontifice, commenting on the beautiful expression of St. Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians, veritatem facientes in caritate (4:15), I defined the “living of truth in charity,” as a fundamental formula of Christian existence. And I added: “Truth and charity coincide in Christ. To the degree that we come close to Christ, in our life also truth and charity unite. Charity without truth would be blind: truth without charity would be like a ‘clanging cymbal’ (1 Corinthians13:1).”

It is precisely from this union, I would like to say symphony, from the perfect harmony of truth and charity, that genuine beauty springs, capable of awakening admiration, wonder and true joy in men’s hearts. The world in which we live needs truth to shine and not be obfuscated by lies or banality; it needs charity to inflame it and not to be overcome by pride and egoism. We need the beauty of truth and charity to reach the depth of our hearts and make them more human. Dear friends, I would like to renew to you and to all artists a friendly and passionate appeal: never separate artistic creativity from truth and charity; never seek beauty far from truth and charity, but with the richness of your genius, of your creative impulse, be always courageous seekers of truth and witnesses of charity. Make truth shine in your works so that their beauty awakens in the sights and hearts of those who admire them the desire to make their existence, all existence, beautiful and true, enriching it with that treasure that never diminishes, which makes of life a work of art and of every man an extraordinary artist: [the treasure of] charity, love.

May the holy Spirit, architect of all beauty that is in the world, enlighten you always and guide you to the ultimate and definitive Beauty, the one which inflames our minds and hearts, and which we hope to be able to contemplate one day in all its splendor. Once again, thank you for your friendship, for your presence and for taking to the world a ray of this Beauty which is God. I impart to you wholeheartedly, to your loved ones and to the whole world of art my Apostolic Blessing.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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