Director of the Vatican Museums Antonio Paolucci has rejected rumors that they are now renting the Sistine Chapel, adding that beauty is always an occasion to grow in charity and generosity. “In the last few days I've read that someone thought we are renting the Sistine Chapel to those who have money to spend,” Paolucci said in an Oct. 20 statement released by the Vatican Museums. “It is nothing of the sort, because the Sistine Chapel is a sacred place: it's certainly not able to be rented on request, nor will it ever become a venue for private parties!” Rumors surrounding the Sistine Chapel began following the Oct. 18 launch of the museum’s “The Art of Charity” initiative, which consists of a series of exclusive events that include a guided tour of the museums with a private concert inside the Sistine Chapel, as well as a dinner inside the museums. The Rome-based Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, was the group selected to play during the launch event. They performed Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle.” The Porsche Travel Club was the first to take advantage of the new project, with members paying up to $6,000 per person for the concert-tour combo, which would yield a ballpark total of $200,000, a Vatican source confirmed. Up to 70 people are expected to participate in such events. In his statement, Paolucci lamented the confusion that has arisen out of the event, explaining that the Vatican Museums have always accepted groups for private tours after hours, during which a visit to the Sistine Chapel is customary. This, he said, is “a natural part of the Museum tour, so this is not 'news;’ we are not doing anything that different, (only adding) an additional pretense which is the novelty of the project.” Paolucci noted that as the museums belonging to the Vatican, they seek to channel the energy and resources they receive from these events in the name of “the beauty of the arts” toward the always-present and ever-increasing needs of the poor. “The insight that we give is simple: art is charity and love. It gives so much to man, it recalls the sense of his existence, without asking anything in return other than a glance and an open heart.” For those who still maintain the “contemptuous audacity” to ask the Pope why he doesn’t sell his art if he is so interested in the poor, the museum director said that the museum’s response is simple: “because man would be poorer in every sense” for it. When art and the generosity of businesses and individuals come together so much more can be done, he said, and expressed his hope that the Oct. 18 launch of “The Art of Charity” will only be the first of many other such events that “many others” will support in the future. In the statement, the museums also emphasized the “daily actions of solidarity” practiced by the Church throughout the world, which are executed “silently but effectively, without clamor, without making any noise, and for which there is always a need for new resources.” “It is, therefore, a unique opportunity aimed at those who want to embrace initiatives of high cultural and social value,” the statement closed.