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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - An Italian street artist is facing charges of blasphemy for depicting Jesus as a pedophile on a Rome bus shelter.
The poster, titled "Ecce Homo Erectus," portrays Jesus with a conspicuously erect penis blessing a male child. The boy is kneeling in front of Jesus and staring at the erection in an obvious state of excitement.
Jesus' right hand is raised in benediction and his left hand laid in prayer on the boy's head. Both hands bear the nail-piercing marks of the crucifixion.
At the bottom of the picture, the anonymous artist who goes under the moniker Hogre, inscribed the word "Erectus" in italics.
Hogre claims his depiction was a response to sexual abuse charges against Australian Cdl. George Pell, who, in a controversial judgment, was sentenced in March to six years' imprisonment for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in 1996. Pell has vehemently denied the allegations and is appealing his conviction.
Hogre also believes the outrage caused by his work will draw attention to the absurdity of artists being subject to an archaic religious defamation law in the 21st century.
Police arrested Hogre while he was checking his email at an Internet café in Rome and charged him with a public offense to religion under Article 404 of the Italian penal code. He faces a fine of up to 5,000 euros or a prison sentence of up to two years.
Hogre's blasphemous depiction of Jesus was combined with a second poster by his anonymous collaborator, doublewhY, profaning the Madonna in a parody of Botticelli's "Annunciation."
The image is titled "Immacolata conception in vitro" and shows two women in a lesbian-like suggestive post holding a baby. The text and image suggest a parallel between in vitro fertilization for lesbians and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The posters were displayed June 1 at bus stops outside the Macro di Roma, Museo di arte contemporanea della Capitale — the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome.
Police acted after Fabrizio Ghera, councilor of the City Council of Rome, and Andrea De Priamo, vice president of the Commission for Culture, issued a statement against the posters:
It is unacceptable that such material should be exposed to the public in an important museum of the city supported by public funds and frequented by families. We ask the mayor to urgently remove the poster, which is blasphemous, unworthy and offensive not only to Christians but also an unprecedented disgrace to Rome.
The studio drawing of "Ecce homo erectus" was sold in the WAR Gallery show. Hogre is planning to produce the receipt for this sale in court to establish the artistic value of the work.
While Hogre is awaiting trial, his collaborator doublewhY has not yet been identified.
Italy's Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) has been campaigning for the repeal of the blasphemy law.
Meanwhile, Norway's Postal Service has angered Catholics with a Christmas advertisement portraying an adulterous relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the postman.
The video ad for Posten, produced by Oslo creative agency Pol, shows the postman delivering mail on his donkey. When he comes to Joseph's house with a letter, Mary greets him at the door. Her eyes light up suggestively and the postman reciprocates her sexual innuendo.
Nine months later the baby Jesus lies in the manger. Mary dodges Joseph's glances as she looks at the baby and thinks of the postman; the video suggests that the baby looks like the postman, his real father.
The ad ends with a disclaimer: "Well, maybe that's not quite how it happened in those days! No one knows Christmas better."
We don't want to offend anyone. The purpose of the advertisement is to show that the Norwegian postal service has always been a part of Christmas by using comical means in the well-known history of the birth of Christ. The gospel of Christ's birth has been rewritten, parodied and adapted for the screen many times in history. Our little contribution is connecting the character who "most probably is a mailman" with the Christmas gospel. In our opinion the Christmas gospel is part of the Norwegian Christmas tradition which is a point of departure for our film. Connecting other religions (e.g., Islam) with Christmas is therefore not proper in this case.
Last week, Catholic Action League blasted a blasphemous Christmas skit named "Tom Brady Fitzgerald from Seekonk," featured on the Jimmy Kimmel late-night show depicting a foul-mouthed baby Jesus.
The infant Jesus in the play referred to his diaper as the "shroud of urine," a reference to the Shroud of Turin, which many Catholics believe Jesus was wrapped in after his crucifixion.
"Jimmy Kimmel's profanity-laced skit demeaned, trivialized and exploited for a commercial purpose — ratings — the principal event in the history of salvation, the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity," Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle said Friday in a comment to The Sun Chronicle.
It is also one more tawdry example of the mean-spirited culture of contempt which characterizes the attitude of affluent Hollywood elites towards the beliefs and sensibilities of ordinary Christians. Nor should we overlook the grotesque hypocrisy of those elites in the self-serving double standard which they apply. Christians, particularly Catholics, are made an object of scorn in ways that would never be permitted with other groups.
Church Militant reported on thousands of Catholics canceling their Netflix subscriptions last week after a blasphemous film was shown in Brazil portraying Jesus as having a homosexual relationship with Satan.
Bishop of Palmares Dom Henrique Soares da Costa blasted The First Temptation of Christ as "extremely disrespectful" to the Christian Faith and urged Catholics to cancel their subscription to Netflix "as a gift to Our Lord."