Part XIII: Does Art Need the Church?
13. The Church therefore needs art. But can it also be said that art needs the Church? The question
may seem like a provocation. Yet, rightly understood, it is both legitimate and profound. Artists are
constantly in search of the hidden meaning of things, and their torment is to succeed in expressing the
world of the ineffable. How then can we fail to see what a great source of inspiration is offered by
that kind of homeland of the soul that is religion? Is it not perhaps within the realm of religion that the
most vital personal questions are posed, and answers both concrete and definitive are sought?
In fact, the religious theme has been among those most frequently treated by artists in every age. The
Church has always appealed to their creative powers in interpreting the Gospel message and
discerning its precise application in the life of the Christian community. This partnership has been a
source of mutual spiritual enrichment. Ultimately, it has been a great boon for an understanding of
man, of the authentic image and truth of the person. The special bond between art and Christian
revelation has also become evident. This does not mean that human genius has not found inspiration
in other religious contexts. It is enough to recall the art of the ancient world, especially Greek and
Roman art, or the art which still flourishes in the very ancient civilizations of the East. It remains true,
however, that because of its central doctrine of the Incarnation of the Word of God, Christianity
offers artists a horizon especially rich in inspiration. What an impoverishment it would be for art to
abandon the inexhaustible mine of the Gospel!