"Most Holy Father, in This Era of Irrational Barbarism..."
An appeal to Benedict XVI "for the return to an authentically Catholic sacred art." The main signatory is the great German writer Martin Mosebach. And in the meantime, the meeting between the pope and artists in the Sistine Chapel is drawing near
by Sandro Magister
ROME, November 5, 2009 – A few days before the meeting announced for November 21 between the pope and artists in the Sistine Chapel, an appeal anticipating its principal motivation has already come to Benedict XVI's desk.
The appeal is "for the return to an authentically Catholic sacred art," and was signed not by artists, but by scholars and other figures who are passionately concerned, for various reasons, about the fate of Christian art. Among all: Nikos Salingaros, Steven J. Schloeder, Steen Heidemann, Duncan G. Stroik, Pietro De Marco, Martin Mosebach, Enrico Maria Radaelli.
Mosebach is an established German writer whom Joseph Ratzinger knows well. His latest book: "The heresy of the shapeless. The Roman liturgy and its enemy" was published this year, including an Italian edition by Cantagalli. And it is a stunning apologia on behalf of great Christian art, and more than that, of the Catholic liturgy itself as art. With biting invective against the iconoclasm that reigns today within the Catholic Church itself.
Radaelli, a disciple of the great Catholic philosopher and philologist Romano Amerio, is a sophisticated scholar of theological aesthetics. His masterpiece is: "Ingresso alla bellezza [Entryway to beauty]," released in 2008, a magnificent introduction into the mystery of God through his "Imago," which is Christ. Beauty as the manifestation of the truth.
The appeal was born also from seminars held in recent months in the library of the pontifical commission for the cultural heritage of the Church, hosted by the vice-president of this Vatican commission, Benedictine abbot Michael J. Zielinski. Participants in the meetings included Fr. Nicola Bux and Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, consultants for the office of papal liturgical celebrations. Fr. Lang is also an official at the congregation for divine worship. But no clergyman figures among the promoters of the appeal, not to mention any Vatican official. The signatories are laymen, of various competencies and professions.
After a brief introduction, the test unfolds in seven small chapters dedicated to the causes of the current fracture between the Church and art, to theological references, to the commission, to the artists, to the sacred space, to sacred music, to the liturgy.
And it ends with the appeal itself, which is formulated in this way:
"For all the reasons set out above, we are eager to receive from Your Holiness a fatherly listening and the merciful attention of the Vicar of Christ. We beseech you, Holy Father, to read in our heartfelt appeal our most pressing concern for the appalling conditions of contemporary sacred art and sacred architecture, as well as a modest and most humble request for your help so that sacred art and architecture can once again be truly Catholic. This so that the faithful can again enjoy the sense of wonder and rejoice once again at the presence of the beauty in God's House. This so that the Church can be once more regain her rightful place, in this era of irrational, mundane and malforming barbarism, as a true and attentive promoter and custodian of an art that is both new and truly "original": an art that today as always flowers in every age of progress, which reflowers from its ancient roots and eternal origin, faithful to the most intimate sense of Beauty that shines in the Truth of Christ."