A minister in the Department of Transport has cited Benedict XVI’s comments on “the dictatorship of relativism”.

John Hayes was speaking at an event organised by the think tank ResPublica, as part of its Backing Beauty project.

In his speech, Mr Hayes said that we should value beauty because “Truth is an absolute. And beauty the means by which it is revealed to us in its most comprehensible form.”

He went on: “We have lost our faith in beauty, because we have lost our faith in ideals. As Pope Benedict lamented: ‘We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires.’ ” Mr Hayes said that he wanted “to challenge the character of what passes for acceptable design in much road and rail construction of recent times”.

Much of the ugliness of modern art and architecture, he said, comes from “the Nietzschean idea that the past is irrelevant and that we can create our own value system. It is not for nothing that the ‘hero’ of Ayn Rand’s despicable book The Fountainhead is an architect.”

Mr Hayes said that as a transport minister, he wanted to prioritise beauty, and would set out plans to make sure roads and railways would exhibit beauty “at every turn, every stop”.

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