(VitalNews.org) – Pope Francis has shocked many Catholics with his reception of around 200 artists to the Vatican, including a man who gained notoriety for photographing a crucifix submerged in a glass of urine. The Pope welcomed the avant-garde creatives to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vatican’s contemporary art collection. The Vatican is well known around the world for its extensive art collection spread across 26 museums and several galleries, some of which were collected by popes in the 15th century. The modern art museum was opened in 1973 and is the newest of the Vatican museums.
The Pope was complimentary to the invited artists in his address, comparing them favorably to the prophets of the Bible and speaking positively of what he described as a friendship between the Catholic Church and artists. The Pontiff praised his guests’ ability and desire to question the world and its false idols, including modern consumerism. He described the artists as his allies and referred to them as visionaries.
One of the assembled artists was Andres Serrano, a self-described Catholic and artist who famously gained notoriety when he created the work called “P*ss Christ” in 1987. At the time, Serrano claimed that he did not intend to blaspheme or insult Christianity, but instead wished to draw attention to the inhumane and cruel treatment suffered by Jesus Christ at the hands of his persecutors. Speaking after the 50th-anniversary celebrations, he reiterated this claim, adding that the papal invitation shows that the Catholic Church does not view him as blasphemous.
Pope Francis greeted Serrano in a playful manner, pretending to slap him on the wrist when Serrano asked for a blessing, and even giving him a thumbs up. Serrano, who said he was thrilled to be at the event, was not the only controversial guest to be selected for the celebration. The guest list included Abel Ferrara, a director who began his career by making a pornographic movie. He then followed this debut with a slasher horror flick in which Ferrara played an artist who murders people with a power drill.
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