What amazement to read the tribune of Mr. Arnaud Join-Lambert, asking nothing more or less to “disappear the works of Marko Rupnik”. This under the pretext that “the Church” would thus do the work of reparation and that “the victims would be effectively remembered”. We do not at all see how the destruction of works of art, whatever judgment we may pass on their aesthetic value, and even less on the man who designed them, will bring the slightest satisfaction to people injured for life and that no remedy will ever deliver traumas which will not be erased. Only just reparations will be able, if possible, to compensate for such disasters, but it is unlikely that they will make us forget a past that does not pass. Necessary and insufficient.
The price to pay
But what is serious in this forum is that the price to be paid for the arts is irreparable, if one were to follow the inappropriate suggestions of their author. We must remember that totalitarianisms of various persuasions strove to “disappear” works that bothered them: Buddhas for the Taliban, churches or statues for the French Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks in the USSR, etc.
And this according to a terrible devastating logic, because behind the works thus banned, it is a whole ideological purism which is concealed, a whole conception of good and evil which is displayed, a whole Manichean political vision which lets itself be sensed (that one thinks of the disastrous “socialist realism”). Such a purism, if obeyed, should eliminate from our museums the Caravaggio who was a thief and an assassin, but also censor and banish from our libraries a Gide, who fed on young boys in Morocco or elsewhere, or even Colette , scandalous in her time for her inappropriate provocations, or Céline, grossly anti-Semitic and supporting a regime that collaborated with Nazism.
The list would be long of those whom moralizing purism should eliminate. Their lives were scandalous, their work also in many ways, but are we so prudish that we are incapable of judging for ourselves and dismissing what bothers us personally?
art and morality
Of course, we touch here on the delicate problem of the relationship between art and morality. But one should not sacrifice one (the art) to the other. If an artist commits crimes, it goes without saying that it is on him that the responsibility rests and that justice must be exercised. And it would be quite inappropriate, under the pretext of moralism, to conceal, let alone destroy, these works. These may be lacking in morality by the spectacle they represent or by the characters they stage, but are we going to condemn Phèdre by Racine on the pretext that this play shows more than ambiguous loves, and are we going to get the splendid paintings of Caravaggio in Saint-Louis des Français (Rome) because he committed a crime?
As the forum suggests, should we refrain from going to pray in the church that houses such masterpieces? It is advisable to be wary of purists who, under fine pretexts, reconnect with traditions hostile to the arts, a hostility which the Catholic Church has also unfortunately experienced, which nevertheless did not fail to support the homosexual Michelangelo, in entrusting him with the famous wall of the Sistine Chapel… Horresco referens!