View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Condom Mary and a "bigoted" comment

Poor America magazine.

Earlier this year, it lost an editor.

Now, there is the “ad.”

It seems an artist somehow got the magazine to print an ad depicting a statue of Mary sheathed in a transparent condom.

The ad got by the editors, and appeared in print in the magazine’s December 5 issue.

America has since apologized. Repeatedly.

From a CNS account:

"We were embarrassed to have readers call our attention to the offensive advertisement that escaped our unknowing eyes," it said. "We have taken several steps to tighten our advance review of advertising and express our outrage to the artist."

The advertiser, who identified himself as "sculptural artist Steve Rosenthal," told a reader who contacted him that his work was intended to be "an assault on Catholic faith and devotion," America editors said in their disclaimer.

Meanwhile, the ad prompted Vittorio Messori (“who has co-authored books with Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II“) to comment in print in an Italian publication:

"All of this in a church like the American church, reduced to economic bankruptcy and the unanimous abomination of a clergy that too often, it seems, likes to fondle seminarians' genitalia," he wrote.

Phew. The ad - and the "artwork" - are offensive. But so is this response, which, given Messori's status is perhaps even more offensive.

He apparently did not do his research and take into account that America ran the ad by mistake and had apologized. Bad journalism.

If he wants to take anyone to task, he should go after the artist.

I also think he should also apologize to American Catholics – clergy and lay – for such a blanket and odious statement. I would expect mea culpa’s at least on the order of America’s for having running the ad in the first place.

Maybe he should take a more prophylactic approach to his commentaries.

As for running the ad, I really believe it was just a dumb mistake on the part of the America.

I suspect some members of the staff got lumps of coal this past Christmas.

It reminds me of something I saw when I worked for a Catholic newspaper.

As part of my job, I regularly read the secular newspapers from the part of the diocese I covered.

One April 20, I noticed in the personals section one of those birthday greetings with a picture.

It said “Happy birthday to our favorite uncle.”

I looked at the picture. It was old. World War I old. Then I recognized it (I am a history teacher): It was Adolph Hitler in his World War I uniform. April 20 happens to be Hitler’s birthday.

A birthday tribute to Hitler in the 1990s.

The town in which the newspaper is published had, at that time, a neo-Nazi group (who later sparked a near riot when they staged a rally. The Nazi’s needed police protection!)

I called the newspaper’s editors to let them know what they had run.

They were embarrassed.

Mr. Messori should also be embarrassed.

Stereotyping a whole group of people is bigotry – something for which the Nazis were famous.


Blogger ShadowMayhem said...


Thank you, one of the few sane voices on this matter.

10:01 AM  
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