Saturday, May 27, 2023

Pope Francis felt well enough to attend this meeting Saturday


File photo: Pope FrancisFile photo: Pope Francis  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope to poets and artists: You often say what others cannot

Pope Francis addresses participants at a Conference entitled “The Global Esthetics of the Catholic Imagination", attended by artists and writers from across the globe, whom he urges to continue expressing, through their work, what others often cannot.

By Francesca Merlo

Pope Francis on Saturday, 27 May, addressed participants in the conference “The Global Esthetics of the Catholic Imagination” sponsored by “La Civiltà Cattolica” with Georgetown University. In his address to the poets, writers, scripwriters and directors from various parts of the world- amongst them award-winning film director Martin Scorsese and his family - Pope Francis noted that he has “loved many poets in his life”, and revealed that he  himself taught literature when he was young.

The lessons literature brings

“The words of those authors helped me to understand myself, the world and my people, but also to understand more profoundly the human heart, my personal life of faith, and my pastoral work, even now in my present ministry”.  Literature, he continued, “is like a thorn in the heart; it moves us to contemplation and sets us on a journey”. 

Eyes that see and dream

Pope Francis then chose to share some personal experiences with the participants. “First, let me put it this way: You are eyes that see and dream”, he said, recalling a Latin American writer who once said that we have two eyes: one of flesh and the other of glass. “With the eye of flesh, we see what is in front of us; with the eye of glass, we see our dreams”.  

Artists are those who with their eyes both see and dream.  They see in greater depth, they prophesy, they show us a different way of seeing and understanding what is before our eyes.  Indeed, poetry does not speak about reality beginning with abstract principles, but by first listening to reality: work, love, death and all the little big things that fill our lives.  In this sense, it helps us to “pluck the voice of God even from the voice of time”. Today the Church has need of your gifts, stressed the Pope.

The 'restlessness' of the human spirit

Pope Francis then went on to note that “You are also the voice of the 'restlessness' of the human spirit”. He explained that they are well aware that “artistic inspiration is not only consoling but also disquieting, since it presents both the beautiful and the tragic realities of life”. He explained that he is referring to social criticism, but also to the “deep struggles of the soul”, the complexity of decision-making and the contradictions of our human existence.

As poets, stroytellers, filmmakers and artists, the Pope continued, your task is to give life to the things we are often unable to describe. “Never stop being original and creative, never lose the wonder of being alive”, he added.

Shaping our imagination

Pope Francis turned to his third and final point, noting that “You are among those who shape our imagination”, as your “work has an impact on the spiritual imagination of the people of our time, especially regarding the figure of Christ”.  In fact, as he has said before, the Pope stressed that “we need the genius of new language, powerful stories and images, writers, poets and artists capable of proclaiming to the world the message of the Gospel, allowing us to see Jesus”.

Finally, Pope Francis thanked those present for their service. “Continue to dream”, he urged them, “to be restless, to conjure up words and visions that can help us interpret the mystery of human life and guide our societies towards beauty and universal fraternity”. 

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