Pope Francis to Cinema Artists "It is evangelical work." "Beauty is that work of the Holy Spirit which creates harmony out of everything..."

Clementine Hall
Monday, February 20, 2023
Off the cuff speech by the Holy Father
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank the President, Don Davide Milani for his words – thanks for what he said – and I greet all of you, with whom I am pleased to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo. Of the things I've written here, he said many of them, and I think it's better to give him the text so that he can make it known.
I like the work you do, the work of cinema, the work of art, the work of beauty as a great expression of God, which has always been left aside, or at least in the corner. Theology books talk a lot about the verum, about the truth; they talk about the bonus; of beauty, of beauty, not so much: beauty is like the “ancilla”. It seemed that reflecting on beauty had nothing to do with theological-pastoral reflection. That beauty that will save us, as someone said; that beauty which is harmony, the work of the Holy Spirit.
When we see - and I go on to this - the work of the Spirit, which is to create harmony in differences, not to annihilate differences, not to standardize differences, but to harmonize, then we understand what beauty is. Beauty is that work of the Holy Spirit which creates harmony out of everything: opposites, opposites, everything... Let's think – this says a lot to me – of the morning of Pentecost, when all that problem arises, everyone talks, no one understands what is happening, a great mess… It is the Spirit who creates a harmony of all this: everything is different, everything seems contradictory, but harmony is superior to everything. And your work goes on the path of harmony.
And then, if we want to qualify the great works of cinema, we can say that a good reason are the actors, yes, but only the works that have managed to express harmony, both in joy and in pain, human harmony, they are the ones that go down in history. For this I thank you for your work. It is evangelical work. Also a poetic work, because cinema is poetry: giving life is poetic. And I thank you so much for your journey: go forward, go forward, behind the greats. You, as Italians, have a glorious story about this, a glorious story. Keep going. Thank you.
Speech of the Holy Father delivered
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank the President, Don Davide Milani, for his words, and I greet all of you, with whom I am pleased to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo.
In Italy the Catholic world has given rise to a multiplicity of experiences linked to social communication and in particular to cinema. Starting from the first decades of the last century, Catholic Action established centers of commitment in the radio, theatre, cinema and later television fields. Those were years in which even the magisterium of the Popes dealt with the impact of the new art of cinema on people and society in a timely manner. It was precisely a Milanese Pope, Pius XI, who indicated the need to set up «a permanent national review office, with the aim of promoting good films, classifying all the others and making their judgments reach the priests and the faithful» (Vigilanti Cura, 1936 ), an office which today is the National Film Evaluation Commission of the Italian Episcopal Conference. The commitment of parishes and oratories gave life to the Community Halls, which I met in December 2019, on the occasion of their 70th anniversary. Then I think of the great season of cineforums - I also remember those of the Jesuits - and, today, of research centers in universities.
The activity of your Foundation also fits into this picture so full of initiatives and associations. Thinking of you, the first page of the Bible came to mind, the account of creation. In fact, we see it flowing almost like a film, where God appears as author and spectator at the same time. He begins to compose his work by setting up everything: the sky, the earth, the stars, living beings and finally man. It is a story of involvement, of beauty and of passion: of love. But at the end of his creative actions, God performs a surprising gesture: he becomes a spectator of his work, contemplates what he has accomplished and expresses his judgment: "he saw that it was good" (Gen 1:12.18.24). But for man, made in his image and likeness (cf. v. 26), the "review" is even more passionate: "it was very good" (v. 31). In this sacred page, dear friends, directors, actors, women and men who work in cinema, we can also find the meaning of your cultural work. On the one hand there is the creative action, on the other the contemplation and evaluation. It seems to me that you can reflect yourself in this wonderful biblical fresco, which has fascinated many artists and never ceases to amaze and stimulate imagination and reflection.
There would be many suggestions that could be drawn. I take one, that of amazement. It seems that God himself feels amazement, marvel at the beauty of creatures, especially when he contemplates the human being. I would like to tell you: let's start again from here, from art as amazement, first of all for those who make it, for the artist. I think of that masterpiece which is Tarkovski's Andrej Rublëv: the artist remains silent due to the trauma of war. It makes one think of what is happening in the world today too. Rublev no longer paints, he no longer even speaks. He wanders around lost in search of meaning, until he witnesses the casting of a bell. And at the first toll of that big bell, his heart reopens, his tongue loosens, he starts talking again and will start painting again. And the screen fills with the colors of his icons. The sound of the bell, which comes out of the earth and bronze, as if by a miracle, fills the artist's soul with amazement and in a certain sense he hears in it the voice of God, who whispers to him: "Open up". As Jesus had said in the Gospel: "Ephphatha" (Mk 7:34).
Dear friends, the world, troubled by war and so many evils, needs signs, works that arouse amazement, that allow the wonder of God to shine through, who never ceases to love his creatures and marvel at their beauty. . In an increasingly artificial world, where man has surrounded himself with the works of his own hands, the great risk is to lose the amazement. I share this reflection with you and, entrusting you with the task of reawakening wonder, I would like to thank you for what you do in an essential aspect for evangelization, because there is no faith without wonder.
Thank you, then, dear friends, and good luck! I ask the Holy Spirit to always accompany you with his gifts. I bless you from my heart and ask you, please, to pray for me.
Source: Vatican.va