Friday, March 07, 2008

The New Italian Lectionary: the debate heats up

Illustration by Margareth Dorigatti in the Lectionary where it accompanies the readings for Epiphany in year C.

Detail from the cover of the Lectionary. The artist is Mimmo Paladino.

The Italian bishops' conference, CEI approved a new liturgical lectionary that went into use last Advent.

The new Lectionary was illustrated by thirty contemporary artists, with their more or less abstract styles, instead of with the masterpieces of the figurative art of past centuries, as was done – for example – for the new Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Lectionary has been the subject of strong criticism from the start. Many do not like the images as too "modern," too "abstract."

Some pastors have reacted in a drastic way: by tearing the illustrated pages from the Lectionary.

Sandro Magister presents the pros and cons of the new lectionary.

Fr. Timothy Verdon, an American, a professor at Princeton University but also the director, in Florence, of the diocesan office for catechesis through art defends the works of the modern artists that accompany the passages from the Sacred Scriptures. Professor Pietro De Marco, Professor of the sociology of religion at the University of Florence and at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy, severely criticizes both the artists and the patrons.

Then in "Abstract Art, Too, Can Help Explain the Scriptures" Archbishop Giuseppe Betori and secretary of the CEI wrote to www.chiesa to defend the new Lectionary for the Sunday Masses, illustrated by contemporary painters. "It is the tearing down of a wall, the overcoming of a lack of dialogue between today's art and the Church"