Pope tells artists beauty can be a path to God

Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:13am EST
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By Daniel Flynn

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict met artists from around the world in the Sistine Chapel on Saturday and urged them to inject spirituality into their work, saying contemporary beauty was often "illusory and deceitful."

The Pope told the gathering of hundreds of painters, sculptors, architects, poets and directors, held beneath the vaulted ceiling of the chapel painted by Michelangelo, that he wanted to "renew the Church's friendship with the world of art."

"Beauty ... can become a path toward the transcendent, toward the ultimate Mystery, toward God," Benedict said.

The Vatican said it invited some 500 artists to the event, regardless of religious, political or stylistic allegiances.

More than 250 accepted, mostly from Italy, including singer Andrea Bocelli and award-winning film composer Ennio Morricone.

Amongst the other guests were Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid, whose Maxxi modern art museum has just opened in Rome, and F. Murray Abraham, the American actor who won an Oscar for his role as Salieri in the Mozart film, Amadeus, in 1985.

The Pope told them that in a world lacking in hope, with increasing signs of aggression and despair, there was an ever greater need for a return to spirituality in art.

"Too often ... the beauty thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful ... it imprisons man within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy," he said.   Continued...

<p>Pope Benedict XVI leads a special meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican November 21, 2009. Picture taken with fish-eye lens. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano</p>