Walking through the long corridors of the Vatican museums filled with Roman mosaics and timeless works of art, we arrived at the fantastic Sistine Chapel where Pope Francis held his audience for artists last Friday, June 23.
The audience is part of a series of papal meetings dedicated to artists, the first of which dates back to 1964, when Paul VI asked to renew the friendship between the Church and the artists themselves.
Invitees included 200 of the most distinguished contemporary creatives: painters, sculptors, architects, writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers and actors from around the world. Including Ken Loach, Anish Kapoor, Caetano Veloso, Rem Koolhaas, Mimmo Paladino, Andres Serrano, Mogol, Ludovico Einaudi… and many others.
Pope Francis proved to be particularly modern and surprisingly advanced in his discourse celebrating the work and life of artists, extolling their creative freedom and valuable contribution to the construction of a sense of collective humanity. At a time when everything seems to tend toward ideological homogenization, according to increasingly intrusive logics of power and economic mechanisms that generate inequality, he sees in the artist’s creativity an opportunity to escape the deceit of artificial and superficial beauty.
It was a strong political message which calls for social justice – as Ken Loach declares after the audience “If the Pope was in the Labour Party in Britain, he would probably be expelled for what he said.”
Here is the full papal speech which I invite you to listen to (in Italian only):