Online Edition – Vol. V, No. 3 – May 1999
Pope Presents Letter to Artists
On April 23, the Holy See issued a pastoral letter from Pope John Paul II addressed to artists in all fields.
The document, called Letter to Artists, was presented during a meeting of artists with the pope, presided over by Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
The Letter to Artists focuses chiefly on the visual arts and music. The pope gives a brief historical background of the Church’s role in providing inspiration for works of art, from the earliest times to the great flowering of art during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the present. He asks contemporary artists to recognize the current cultural conflict and to realize that their vocation is to serve the truth in beauty.
The day before the letter was issued, an art exhibit opened at the Holy See’s Press Office. This exhibit, Paul VI: A Light for Art, highlights Pope Paul’s interest in the relationship between the Church and art. He had sent Michaelangelo’s Pieta to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, and commissioned many new works of art, including a bronze door for Saint Peter’s Basilica.
The Letter to Artists reconfirms Pope John Paul’s esteem for art and constitutes an invitation "to renew the useful collaboration between art and the Church that has given such splendid fruit in the past", said the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
The religious new agency Zenit said that the Pope is writing about his own "first love," since he was a member of an underground theatrical troupe during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
Information from EWTN News and ZENIT was used in this story.