255 artists to meet pope to revive relations

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More than 250 artists including Ennio Morricone and Bill Viola will meet Pope Benedict XVI this month to revive the Church's relations with the art world, a Vatican official said Thursday.

The November 21 meeting at the Sistine Chapel will be "a representative moment showing the will to dialogue between the church and the art world", said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

All the arts will be represented, from painting, cinema, poetry and theatre to architecture, literature and music.

American video artist Bill Viola and British director Peter Greenaway will join a mostly Italian crowd of 255 artists that includes film composer Ennio Morricone and directors Nanni Moretti and Marco Bellocchio.

The talks come 45 years after a similar initiative, also held in the Sistine Chapel, when Pope Paul VI offered a mea culpa on the church's treatment of artists in the past.

The date also comes 10 years after Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to artists emphasising that the church "needs art".