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Artists seekers of the truth and witnesses to love

· Inaugurated by Benedict XVI an exhibition for his 60th anniversary of priesthood ·

The Church and artists should continue to dialogue with one another in order to make our world more human and more beautiful. The Pope said this on Monday, 4 July, inaugurating in the Paul VI Hall Atrium, the exhibition organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture for the 60 th anniversary of his priestly ordination. The following is a translation of the Holy Father's address, which was given in Italian.

Your Eminences

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood

Dear Friends,

It is a great joy for me to meet you and receive your creative and multiform tribute on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of my Ordination to the priesthood. I am sincerely grateful for your closeness on this anniversary, which is so significant and important to me. During the Eucharistic Celebration of June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I thanked the Lord for the gift of priestly vocation. Today, I thank you for the friendship and kindness which you have shown me. I cordially greet Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council of Culture who, together with his colleagues, has organized this unique artistic exhibition and I thank him for the courteous words which he addressed to me. I also greet Cardinal Giovanni Lojolo, President of the Governorate, and all present, especially you, dear Artists, who have accepted the invitation to present one of your creations in this Exhibit.

Our meeting today, at which I have the joy and curiosity to admire your works, is meant as a new step in that journey of friendship and dialogue begun on November 21, 2009 in the Sistine Chapel; an event which I still hold dear in my heart. The Church and artists once again encounter each other, to speak together and sustain a conversation which should and must become ever more intense and articulated, so that it also may offer to culture, or rather the cultures of our times, an eloquent example of fecund and effective dialogue, aimed at making this, our world, more human and more beautiful. Today, you present me with the fruit of your creativity, of your reflection, of your talent, expressions of the various artistic environments which you represent: painting, sculpture, architecture, goldsmiths, cinema, music, literature and poetry. Before I admire them together with you, allow me to stop for a moment and reflect on the evocative title of this Exposition: “Lo splendore della verita’, la bellezza della carita’.” (“The splendor of truth, the beauty of love.”) Precisely in the homily of the Mass pro eligendo Pontifice , I commented on the beautiful expression of St. Paul in the Letter to the Ephesans, “veritatem facientes in caritate” (4:15), and I said that to “make truth in love” was a fundamental formula for Christian existence. I added, “Truth and love coincide in Christ. To the extent that we draw close to Christ, in our own lives too, truth and love are blended. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like "a clanging cymbal" (I Cor 13: 1). It is precisely from the union, I would like to say from the symphony, of the perfect harmony of truth and love that authentic beauty emanates, capable of eliciting admiration, marvel and true joy in the hearts of men. The world in which we live needs the truth to shine brightly and not be obscured by lies or banality; it needs love which enflames and which is not overwhelmed by pride and egotism. We need the beauty of truth and love to strike us in the intimacy of our hearts and make us more human.

Dear friends, I wish to renew to you and all artists a friendly and passionate call: do not ever separate artistic creativity from truth and from love, do not ever search for beauty far from truth and love, but with the richness of your genius, of your creative leanings, be always, courageously, seekers of the truth and witnesses to love; let truth shine brightly in your works and make their beauty elicit in the gaze and in the hearts of those who admire them, the desire and need to make their existence beautiful and true, every existence, enriching it with that treasure which is never lacking, which makes life a work of art and every man an extraordinary artist: love, truth. May the Holy Spirit, author of every beauty that is in the world, always illuminate you and guide you towards the final and lasting Beauty, that which warms our minds and our hearts and for which we wait, one day, to be able to contemplate in all its splendor. Once again, thank you for your friendship, for your presence here and for bringing a ray of this Beauty, which is God, to the world. Truly from my heart, I impart on all of you and on those dear to you and on the entire world of art, my Apostolic Blessing.

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