Francis sent a message for the event, which was read by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
Here is a translation of the message.
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To live a moment of spiritual elevation in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, through musical art of the Latin Church and of the Russian Orthodox Church, is an interesting and profound experience. In fact this Basilica was born to celebrate in the West the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, which had recognized Mary, Theotokos, Mother of God. Therefore, this Basilica unites two ecclesial traditions that recognize one another in the same faith, enriching themselves with their cultural diversity.
Evaluating the history of Christianity in its age-old dimension, we can observe that what was separated by historical events, imposed by the different ways of understanding Revelation, meanwhile maintained a profound unity in art. Today this artistic unity can find continuously fecund points of encounter in the intelligent frequentation, study and reflection of the common sources. This means true and mutual understanding, respect and enrichment for both.
In the Church in fact art in all its forms does not exist having only as its end a simple aesthetic fruition, but that through it, in every historical moment and in every culture, the Church is the interpreter of the Revelation to the People of God. Art exists in the Church essentially to evangelize and it is in this perspective that we can say with Dostoyevsky: “Beauty will save the world.”
Today the Church can and must breathe with her two lungs: that of the East and of the West. While we have not succeeded in doing it entirely, in keeping with the measure requested by Jesus in his prayer to the Father, we can do so in other ways, as for instance through the great patrimony of art and culture that the different traditions have produced in abundance for the life of the People of God.
Music, painting, sculpture, architecture, in one word, beauty unites to make the celebrated faith grow, in prophetic hope, and in witnessed charity. Seeking to anticipate in history that unity desired that we all seek and that by the grace of God one day we will achieve.
[Translation by ZENIT]