"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Modern Catholic churches resemble museums, says Vatican

Modern Catholic churches resemble museums and are built more with the aim of winning design awards than worshipping God, the Vatican has said.

Cardinal Ravasi said a church built in 2009 in Foligno, inset, has been 'highly criticised' Photo: AP

By Tom Kington in Rome

9:09PM BST 02 Jun 2013

Opposition is mounting in the Holy See to a spate of recent, ultra-modern churches, in Italy and abroad, by high profile architects.

"The lack of integration between the architect and the faith community has at times been negative," said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican's Pontificial Council for Culture. "Sometimes it goes wrong."

Cardinal Ravasi said a church built in 2009 in Foligno, Italy by the celebrated Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, which resembles a monolithic concrete cube, has been "highly criticised".

In his native town of Merate in Lombardy, Cardinal Ravasi said the local priest needed to bring his own image of the Madonna to mass, because Mario Botta, the architect who designed the church, had not installed one.

"The problem is that in Catholicism, unlike Protestantism, things like the altar, the images, are essential, while architects tend instead to focus on space, lines, light and sound," said Cardinal Ravasi.

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The last architects to work closely with the church were back in the 17th century Baroque era, he added.

Cardinal Ravasi's attack was backed last month by Antonio Paolucci, the head of the Vatican museums, when he spoke at the launch of a book celebrating the building of dozens of new churches in the suburbs of Rome since the 1990s.

Instead of praising the churches, Mr Paolucci lashed out, claiming that: "At best, these are like museums, spaces that do not suggest prayer or meditation."

Cardinal Ravasi conceded that one of Rome's most controversial new churches – Richard Meier's Jubilee Church, which resembles a yacht with spinnakers hoisted – had won over locals, but complained that "the building materials were the focus of pre-construction meetings, not the liturgical life".

Cardinal Ravasi was speaking after inaugurating the Vatican's first ever art exhibit at the Venice Biennale on Saturday, which focuses on the Book of Genesis through photography and paintings by a Los Angeles artist, Lawrence Carroll, who uses melting ice in one work.

Vatican officials believe the show can help heal what they call a century old "fracture" between religion and art, and Cardinal Ravasi said the Church now had its sights on commissioning modern liturgical art, for installing in churches.

"The Venice Biennale exhibit has been the first step on a journey," he said. "Further down the line could come liturgical art, meaning we could commission modern artists to create altars, fonts, tabernacles, lecterns, pews and kneelers," he added.

But after letting modern architects push the envelope too far, the Church will keep a wary eye on liturgical art commissions, he said.

"We will need to build up dialogue with artists before we commission any liturgical art," he said.


  1. why you did not post my comment.....are you 'for false flattery' or 'against Truth'.......God forbid!

    Viva Cristo Rey!

  2. Without Faith.........these so-called artists, architects, are doomed. The Holy Ghost does not work, nor, does He inspire those who do not love God, love the holy Tradition of the holy Church. In every century, we see the fruits, of such truth.

    The true Beauty in 'art' of holy Tradition, is against 'modernism'.

    Viva Cristo Rey!