SIGNED BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE,
CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO, TO THE PARTICIPANTS
IN THE 23rd MEETING FOR FRIENDSHIP
AMONG PEOPLES HELD IN RIMINI
Holy Father's message, signed by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to Bishop Mariano De Nicolò of Rimini, Italy, for the 23rd Meeting for Friendship among Peoples of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation.
Dear Bishop De Nicoḷ,
On the occasion of the 23rd Meeting for Friendship Among the
Peoples, the Holy Father invites you to offer the participants his cordial
greeting and to express to them his deep appreciation of this important
initiative, which in the last few years has become an important event in the
Italian Catholic world.
The beauty of nature, things and people, seen as they are, can be stunning. How can we not see in a mountain sunset, in the immensity of the ocean, or in the features of a face, something that both attracts us and invites us to want to know more about the reality in which we live? This observation impelled Greek thought to give rise to the idea that philosophy is born from the wonder that is inseparable from the fascination of beauty. Even what lies outside the tangible world has its own deep beauty that impresses the spirit and gives rise to admiration. Think of the powerful spiritual attraction of an act of justice, a gesture of forgiveness, a sacrifice made with joy and generosity for a great ideal.
In the beautiful what we find shining forth is the truth which draws to itself with the unmistakeable fascination that great values exercise. Thus, sentiment and reason are radically united in an appeal that is made to the whole person. Reality, with its beauty, allows us to experience the beginning of attainment and whispers to us: "You will not be unhappy; your heart's desire will be fulfilled, indeed, it is already being fulfilled".
Beauty can sometimes seduce and corrupt, but this degeneration, as the Gospel recalls, represents the bitter fruit of an evil choice born in the person's heart, since "there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him" (Mk 7,15). Here the person's sight stops at appearances; by denying the invitation present in every beautiful thing to go beyond it, he denies its value as sign and seeks to possess it, thus gradually losing every trace of beauty.
St Augustine refers to this sorrowful experience in the Confessions
when he admits: "I threw myself on the beautiful things you created. Your
creatures, which would not have existed except in you, kept me apart from
you" (X, 27,38). The Bishop of Hippo recalls, however, that it was
precisely beauty that reunited him with God: "You called me, you
shouted, and you overcame my deafness. You sent a bright light, you shone and
dispelled my blindness. You spread your fragrance, I inhaled it and now I long
for you" (ibid.)
The Supreme Pontiff fervently hopes that the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples will
contribute to spreading the new way of looking at things that Jesus teaches us.
In this way, art can become a means of evangelization and can help promote a
renewal of missionary outreach.
To this end, he assures you of his remembrance in prayer, and invoking the motherly intercession of Mary, Tota pulchra (All Beautiful), he imparts a special Apostolic Blessing to you, to the sponsors, the organizers and to all who will be taking part in the Meeting.
I add my own good wishes for the success of the event, and take this opportunity to confirm, with deep respect, that I remain
Devotedly yours in the Lord,