RIO DE JANEIRO (ChurchMilitant.com) - As churches and other Catholic holy sites fall victim to a growing spate of desecrations worldwide, a Brazilian bishop has halted a perverse profanation — a sacrilegious spectacle masquerading as pop music meant for broadcast on American television.
Cardinal Orani João Tempesta O. Cist, archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, has refused a permit for filming a music video starring Brazilian singer Anitta on the premises of the famed Christ the Redeemer statue.
A Rio native, Anitta is widely known for her LGBT activism, sexually explicit songs and lewd performances. Scheduled to present her latest single "Me Gusta," featuring Cardi B, on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, she aspired to perform beneath the statue — one of the world's most iconic monuments — for one of her most important international appearances to date.
According to Brazilian magazine Veja, the Christ the Redeemer statue was Anitta's first option for the video, but her presence was vetoed by the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro as the singer's work was deemed "inconsistent with the image of Christ."
The monument belongs to the archdiocese and is part of a sanctuary (the first open-air sanctuary in the world) inaugurated on Oct. 12, 1931, the Feast of Our Lady of Aparecida. A chapel built into the podium of the monument permanently displays the Blessed Sacrament, and therefore visitors and tourists must act accordingly. The request form for the use of the statue's image in the sanctuary's website even specifies that while it's great to use the image of the monument in campaigns, movies and tributes, the archdiocese "must know more about the project."
The archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro has received much praise on social media for its firm stance. Though Cdl. Tempesta hasn't released an official statement about the resolution, the archdiocese's position was the subject of much discussion on the web, with many Rio Catholics applauding the cardinal.
Father Gabriel Vila Verde, for instance, expressed gratitude to the cardinal in a widely shared Facebook post:
I'd like to pay a simple tribute to Rio de Janeiro's cardinal, his Most Reverend Eminence Cdl. Orani Tempesta, for his holy attitude in banning Anitta's video shoot in Christ the Redeemer. Some might be unaware that the monument belongs to the archdiocese of Rio and that at the feet of the statue there's a sanctuary with the presence of Eucharistic Jesus, where I have had the honor to say Mass. We know that the aforementioned singer is fond of sensual and pornographic performances, therefore that place [the monument of Christ the Redeemer] isn't appropriate for this event. May Cardinal Orani's gesture be known to everyone so that the world learns to respect our religion and our sacred spaces. In the name of a so-called tolerance, we've become intimidated and muzzled. As long as we don't occupy our place in society, the Church will become less and less respected. ... The time is now!
The Brazilian edition of Catholic news outlet Aleteia also commended the cardinal:
No sensuality in Christ the Redeemer. Cardinal Orani Tempesta doesn't approve shooting of sensual music video. ... [T]he cardinal's decision is consistent. The monument is, after all, openly Christian. The cardinal reminded us of something very simple with this decision: Christ the Redeemer represents the Faith and the love of millions of Brazilians for Jesus Christ. ... [T]his Faith and this love aren't compatible with mundane forms of entertainment, which already have numerous other settings at their disposal. ... The essence of the cardinal's message is simply this: respect.
Acidigital, the Brazilian branch of Catholic News Agency, described the cardinal's ban as a "reaffirmation of Christ the Redeemer as symbol of the Faith and the love ... for Jesus Christ, as opposed to the tendency of its trivialization as mere touristic spot." Their article also includes a comment from a Catholic studies center from Rio: "The sanctuary was spared from an inevitable profanation. The support [for the cardinal's decision] shown on social media reveals how the faithful yearn for pastors who protect the Faith fearlessly."
The video did air on Sept. 23, as originally planned. In it, the singer is shown performing in the mountains ringing Rio — but Christ the Redeemer, atop Mount Corcovado, is nowhere to be seen.