Pope Says True Beauty Linked to Truth

Cautions Against Valuing Mere Appearances

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The search for beauty without truth and goodness can drive young people to fly toward artificial paradises that simply hide interior emptiness, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope affirmed this in a message sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, and directed to the members of the pontifical academies who are participating in a conference on "The Universality of Beauty: a Comparison Between Aesthetics and Ethics."

There is currently a "dramatic" separation between the "search for beauty, though understood in a reductive way as an exterior form, as an appearance to be sought at all costs, and the [search] for truth and the goodness of actions," he wrote.

This separation, the Holy Father cautioned, transforms beauty into "mere aestheticism, and above all for youth, into a path that leads to the ephemeral, into banal and superficial appearances, or even a flight toward artificial paradises, which disguise and hide interior emptiness and inconsistencies."

Faced with this, the Pontiff affirmed that Christians are called to "give reason for" not only the truth of the faith, but also its beauty, by way of "works that are at the same time beautiful and good," which point to "another beauty, truth and goodness that only in God have their perfection and their ultimate source."

Reason

In this sense, Benedict XVI affirmed, within the connection of beauty with truth and goodness, that it is needed to again "link beauty with reason," since "reason that would like to separate itself from beauty would be diminished, as also beauty deprived of reason would be reduced to an empty and illusory mask."

Beauty, he continued, has always been considered a "path to arrive to God" and particularly in last month's synod, bishops recalled the link between art and sacred Scripture.

The Pope invited artists to return again to Pope John Paul II's 1999 "Letter to Artists": "This is precisely your task, your mission: to stir up awe at and desire for the beautiful, form the sensitivity of souls and nourish the passion for all that which is an authentic expression of the human genius and a reflection of divine beauty."

Man of today, he continued, though "absorbed by a cultural climate that is not always adequate for welcoming beauty in fully harmony with truth and goodness," still has "a desire and nostalgia for an authentic beauty, not superficial and ephemeral."

Finally, Benedict XVI asked artists for their "passionate and creative efforts, above all in the artistic field, to promote in contemporary cultures a new Christian humanism, which knows how to walk with clarity and decision the path of authentic beauty."