By Robin Gomes
Besides being called to encourage encounter and dialogue in the local community, ecclesiastical museums also normally collaborate with museums of other religions in order to create a humanity of brothers and sisters.
This remark of Pope Francis came in his address to some 400 officials and representatives of the Italian Ecclesiastical Museums Association (AMEI) that brings together big and small ecclesiastical museums in a nation that has a rich cultural heritage of Christian art and history.
In this regard, he said that ecclesiastical museums have the shared mission of documenting "visibly the journey made over the centuries by the Church in worship, catechesis, culture and charity".
Building communities, harmony
Expressing concern that the historical, artistic and cultural heritage, together with the natural heritage, is threatened, he called for building a habitable city by integrating the history, culture and architecture of a given place.
One way of doing this is by making the technical language engage in dialogue with the popular language. He said that it is a question of helping people to live well and collaborate together.
The Pope said that museums contribute to the good quality of life of the people by creating open spaces of relationships between people, places of proximity and opportunities to create communities. Museums always help all to raise their eyes to beauty and enjoy it as an expression of people's lives, their adaptation to the environment, encounter and mutual assistance.
Good News for all
Pope Francis reminded AMEI members that they represent the face of the Church, her artistic and artisanal fruitfulness, her vocation to communicate the message of the Good News. This, he said, is not a message for a select few, but for all, especially the poorest and the least, who must enjoy it as a gift from God.
In conclusion, the Pope pointed out that ecclesiastical museums are also a resonance of the holiness of the People of God. Everyone in the Church is called to be a saint, he said adding, “holiness is the truest beauty of the Church”.