That’s the assessment of someone in a position to know, this year’s recipient of the distinguished Laetare Medal.
Faithful Catholics have all but disappeared from the arts in America — leaving the arts “spiritually impoverished” and undercutting the ways the church “speaks to the world,” according to Dana Gioia, Catholic poet and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Catholic artists today are virtually invisible,” Gioia observed in a lecture at Catholic University.
Gioia said he considers the lack of Catholics in the arts to be a “paradox,” given the Catholic Church’s long tradition as “patron and mentor” to the arts and the strength of the largest cultural minority in the United States. It is particularly ironic, Gioia added, in a nation where “diversity of culture and ethnicity are actively celebrated.”
But “contemporary American culture has little use for Catholicism,” said Gioia.
Anti-Catholicism, he noted, remains “the one respectable form of intellectual bigotry.”