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Pope Francis prays for artists amid pandemic

Pope Francis has thanked artists and prayed for them during Mass in the Vatican on May 7, saying they “allow us to understand what beauty is.”

The pontiff said he received a letter from a group of artists who thanked him for the prayers he earlier offered.

“I would like the Lord to bless them because artists let us understand what beauty is,” said Pope Francis during Mass in his residence at Casa Santa Marta.

“Without beauty you can’t understand the Gospel,” he said, urging the faithful to once again pray for artists.

Artists all over the world have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the closure of museums, including the one in the Vatican. An exhibit of Raphael’s work to mark the 500th anniversary of his death opened in March only to be closed after the Italian government declared a national lockdown.

On May 6, Pope Francis lauded artists during his weekly general audience for interpreting the “silent groan which weighs on every creature and is expressed above all in the heart of men and women.”

During his Mass the next day, the pontiff expounded on the concept of Christianity as “more than ethics and moral principles.”

He said one is not a Christian because of his or her ethical vision. “Christianity is more,” said the pope.

He said Christians are not an élite, adding that “being Christian means belonging to a people ‘freely’ chosen by God.”

He warned that if those claiming to be Christians are not aware that they belong to a people, “we will be ideological Christians, but not true Christians.” He called on the faithful not to lose their sense of belonging to God’s people, even as he noted that many times “we fall into these partialities.”

The pope invited the faithful to always be aware of being part of a people, to transmit the history of salvation, to preserve the memory of the people of God.

“Remember your ancestors,” he said quoting the author of the Letter to the Hebrews in the Bible.

“The most dangerous deviation of Christians is lack of memory of belonging to a people,” added that pope, warning that it is where dogmatism, moralism, elitist movements come from.

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