ORANGE, Cal. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An "art exhibit" at a California cathedral has co-opted the Stations of the Cross to highlight the plight of illegal immigrants.
The exhibit, "Migrant Stations of the Cross," is on display at Christ Cathedral Cultural Center during Lent from February 21– March 6. The cathedral is located in the diocese of Orange in Southern California, headed by Bp. Kevin Vann. The bishop's Twitter account retweeted photos of the exhibit February 26.
The Migrant Stations were assembled by Deborah McCullough from what she calls "sacred artifacts" she found along the U.S.-Mexico border, including dirty, worn-out, bloody tennis shoes, letters, pictures, messages, toothbrushes, blankets, school bags and other items discarded by those illegally migrating from Mexico to the United States.
At a 2013 immigration summit hosted by the diocese of Tucson, McCullough was asked to create an exhibit for the cause. Aided by three attendees from the diocese of Los Angeles, McCullough made an exhibit called "A Journey of Hope: Via Crucis," patterned roughly after the Stations of the Cross. Its first showing was at the 2014 Religious Education Congress in Tucson.
McCullough is a member of the Tucson Samaritans, a group that ventures into the desert looking for refugees. explains,
I hope my art provokes discussion around the issue of immigration, of the why, the how and the human factors involved. It is my objective to create a bridge between the rhetoric and the politics of a political issue and the human faces and the human ordeals people actually face on a daily basis. I hope to change hearts and to provoke action.
McCullough's stations focus less on the Passion of Christ than on the plight of illegal immigrants. For instance, the First Station, "Jesus is Condemned to Death," is co-opted by McCullough into "Poverty Imposes the Cross of Migration."
The Second Station, "Jesus Carries His Cross," becomes "Stranger in a Strange Land." The Third Station, "Jesus Falls the First Time," is retitled "Human Rights Ignored." The 10th Station, "Jesus is Stripped of His Garments," is called "Another Fall."
Some Catholics may resent the depiction as politicizing the Passion of Christ, with its focus on man instead of God, on political activism instead of prayer and the grace needed to fix such problems.
To learn how the mission of alleviating poverty has overshadowed the Church's mission to save souls, watch "The Download—The Seamless Garment Strikes Back."