DAILY CATHOLIC TUESDAY September 28, 1999 vol. 10, no. 184
NEWS & VIEWS
ART ATTACKING VIRGIN MARY DECRIED BY NEW YORK CARDINAL, MAYOR
NEW YORK (CWNews.com) - Cardinal John O'Connor of New York called on Catholics in the archdiocese on Sunday to register their disapproval of a piece in a Brooklyn Museum that depicts painting of the Virgin Mary with elephant dung smeared on it.
In his Sunday sermon at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Cardinal O'Connor said: "I'm saddened by what appears to be an attack not only on our Blessed Mother ... but one must ask if it is not an attack on religion itself and in a special way on the Catholic Church." He also reserved words of praise for city officials he also condemned the display.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had pledged to cut off the Brooklyn Museum of Art's $7 million in annual funding from the city -- one-third of its budgets -- unless the painting was removed before the exhibit opens on Friday.
The painting, "The Holy Virgin Mary," depicts Mary with dark skin, African features, and flowing robes and includes a shellacked clump of elephant dung and two dozen cutouts of buttocks from pornographic magazines. The artist, Chris Ofili, 30, a black Catholic who was born in England and lives there, has said he used the pornographic images because classical images of Mary are often "sexually charged."
New York Civil Liberties Union director Norman Siegel said
the mayor's threats to cut the funding "violates the First
Amendment. His assertion that New York City can withdraw
all funds for the museum based on a single exhibition that
he finds offensive illustrates a serious misunderstanding
of the Constitution." But Giuliani defended his statement,
saying: "There is nothing in the First Amendment that
supports horrible and disgusting projects. If you're going
to use taxpayers' dollars, you have to be sensitive to the
feelings of the public."
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NEWS & VIEWS