Saturday, December 7, 2019

Greetings for the Cinema-Sale Catholic Merchants Association

This morning, inside the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Cinema-Sale Catholic Merchants Association (ACEC) on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of their establishment.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
offered to members of the
Cinema-Sale Catholic Merchants Association

Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you and thank the Secretary General of the CEI (Italian Bishop's Conference) for his kind words. I am happy to share this moment of celebration for your anniversary together with the other organizations that deal with cinema and entertainment in the Italian Church. This anniversary is not a stop in itself, but an opportunity to renew the commitments made seventy years ago. For this, I would like to briefly entrust you with three tasks that I draw from the context in which you work.

The first one: communion. As we know, cinema is a great tool for gathering us together. Especially in the post-war period it contributed in an exceptional way to rebuild the social fabric with many specific moments. How many squares, how many halls, how many oratories, were animated by people who, in viewing the film, transferred hopes and expectations. And from there, with a sigh of relief, they resumed their daily anxieties and difficulties. Such films also contributed an educational and training moment too, to reconnect relationships consumed with experienced tragedies. How can we forget the great productions that recounted the adventures of those years? I like to quote - because I feel very familiar with this meeting - the film (I bambini ci guardano - Children are looking at us). It is a beautiful and meaningful work. But all the post-war cinema, those great ... all post-war cinema is a school of humanism. You Italians have done this, with your grown-ups, don't forget about this. And I don't speak from hearsay. When we were children, our parents took us to see those films, and they formed our hearts. These must be taken up again. I mentioned the one for the family, but there are many, many ... You are heirs of this great school of humanism, of humanity which is the cinema of the post-war period.

Even your associative realities are evaluated on the ability to gather or, better, to build communion: We Christians are called to manifest that communion that marks our identity as believers. Faith itself, in fact, is a relationship, a meeting; and under the impulse of God's love we can communicate, welcome and understand the gift of the other and correspond to it (Message for the 53rd World Communications Day, 24 January 2019). The invitation, then, is to build communion between you, but also communion between associations and organizations that deal with cinema in the Catholic world, to convey the beauty of being together in the events of which you are promoters. Without communion, the soul is missing from the community.

The second task: creativity. Film art, like any artistic expression, is the fruit of creativity, which reveals the uniqueness of the human being, his interiority and intentionality. When a craftsman models his work, he does it by integrating head, heart and hands according to a clear and defined design. I encourage you to give space to creativity, imagining and building new paths. Creativity is fundamental: we know very well how the new digital platforms represent a challenge for traditional media.

Even the cinema is questioned by the developments offered by modern technologies. Your associations and organizations, if they do not want to become museums, must take these questions actively and creatively. The audacity, as happened with your founders, once again calls for being at the forefront, but not in an isolated or random manner, but all together. What can you say about the change? We certainly need an integral conversion, which calls into question the richness and depth of each person. Audacity and creativity to move forward and not to remain on the margins of innovation.

The third task: vision. The vision of a cinematographic work can open up several glimmers in the human soul. It all depends on the emotional charge that is given to the vision. There can be evasion, emotion, laughter, anger, fear, interest ... Everything is connected to intentionality in the vision, which is not a simple ocular exercise, but something more. It is the look set on reality. Indeed, this gaze reveals the most diversified orientation of interiority, because it is capable of seeing things, seeing things inside. The look also incites our consciences to a careful examination. Let us question ourselves: how is our gaze? Is it a careful and close look, not asleep? Is it an overall look of unity? In particular, to you who deal with cinema: is it a look that arouses emotions? Is it a look that communicates communion and creativity? The answers are not obvious and require a great deal of inner work. The eye communicates and does not betray, engages in lifestyles and coordinated actions for a greater good than mere interest. This gaze is the foundation of community building. And you know very well how important it is to overcome the barriers of the past to project yourself into the paths of the future. All of you have an ecclesial feeling in your DNA. I urge you to live your passion and your competence with ecclesial meaning and style: it is the best medicine to avoid falling into self-reference, which always kills.

May the Lord help you to journey in communion, with creativity and with his attentive gaze.  I bless you; I am praying for you; and you, please pray for me.  Thank you!
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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