Not Michelangelo

In his theology of the body, John Paul wrote that some works of art (such as the Sistine Chapel) portray the naked body in a manner that “allows one to concentrate in some way on the whole truth of man, on the dignity and beauty – even ‘suprasensual’ beauty – of his masculinity and femininity” (TOB 63:5). In contrast to this kind of authentic art, pornographic portrayals of the body raise objection, the Pope insists, not because they expose the human body per se. The human body in itself always retains its inalienable dignity. Rather, pornography raises objections because of the way in which the human body is portrayed (see TOB 63:5). Pornographers portray the body with the explicit intention of arousing lust – or, as theologians would say, “concupiscence” – in the viewer. This was not the intention of Michelangelo.