By Robin Gomes
“Beauty unites us. It invites us to live human brotherhood, countering the culture of resentment, racism and nationalism which is always lurking.” Pope Francis made the point Friday evening while inaugurating the “Anima Mundi” Ethnological Museum and the Amazonia Exhibition at the Vatican Museums.
“May this Ethnological Museum preserve its specific identity over time and remind everyone of the value of harmony and peace between peoples and nations,” he wished, hoping that its art collection will “make the voice of God resound in those who visit this collection”.
The inauguration of the museum and the exhibition were timed for the October 6-27 Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region, currently taking place in the Vatican.
Home for all
Commenting on the words “Anima Mundi”, the Latin for “The Soul of the World”, the Pope said the Vatican Museums are called to be a living "house", with doors open to the peoples of the whole world, where everyone feels represented and where the gaze of the Church leaves no one out.
The Pope said that those who enter the “Anima Mundi” Ethnological Museum should feel there is room for them, their people, tradition and culture. The European, the Indian, the Chinese, the native of the Amazonian or Congolese forest, of Alaska, of the Australian deserts or of the islands of the Pacific, he said, are all represented in the shadow of the dome of St Peter's, close to the heart of the Church and the Pope. This is because art is not something uprooted but is born from the heart of peoples. It is a message from the heart of peoples to the heart of peoples.
The Pope said that at the Ethological Museum, a person’s art is accorded the same passion and care as the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the Greek or Roman art which attract millions of people every year. Here, there is a special space for dialogue, for openness to the other and for encounter.
Spirit of openness
The Pope underscored transparency as an important value, especially in ecclesial institutions. Since works of art are the expression of the spirit of the people, he said, we must always look to each culture, to the other, with an openness of spirit and benevolence.
In this regard, he recalled that a few months ago, some Chinese artworks from the “Anima Mundi” Ethnological Museum were sent to Beijing, and before that, other artworks had been sent to some Islamic countries. Through arts, the Pope said, initiatives can be carried out, and barriers and distances can be overcome.