Pope Benedict XVI invited artists, sculptors, architects, musicians, film directors and even an Italian prima ballerina to meet with him in the Sistine Chapel for a new dialogue between the Catholic Church and the arts. (Jacob Zuma held his meeting with artists, three days earlier in Sandton, by the way) Five hundred invitations were sent and more than 250 accepted. Included in the list are sculptor Anish Kapoor, Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid, Polish-born American architect Daniel Libeskind (winner of the competition for the reconstruction of the World Trade Centre) and F Murray Abraham, the American film star of Syrian descent who won an Oscar for his role in the film “Amadeus” in 1985. There are more Italians than all foreigners put together on the list, which includes film composer Ennio Morricone and opera star Andrea Bocelli. Benedict's new outreach to the arts is organised by his newly-appointed cultural commissar, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, a Biblical scholar, archaeologist and author. Imagine, a commissar in the Vatican! For more, follow this developing story on the BBC
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