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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A controversial light show at St. Peter's Basilica was intended to "inspire change around the climate crisis," according to organizers of the event.
The show, titled "Fiat Lux," or "Let there be light," was an unprecedented event during which images of "the earth and all of its living creatures" were projected on the main façade of St. Peter's Basilica.
Tuesday night's three-hour show was scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which is to run until the Feast of Christ the King on November 20, 2016.
Fiat Lux is the brainchild of several activist organizations, including Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc., charity organization Li Ka Shing Foundation, digital projection group Obscura, and environmentalist tech company Okeanos. The project was spearheaded by Connect4Climate, an activist campaign founded by World Bank Group — a conglomerate of social justice organizations — and the Italian Ministry of Environment.
Organizers cite "the messages on climate and species in the encyclical 'Laudato Sí'" as the inspiration for Fiat Lux, which was intended to "call on all citizens of the world to join and celebrate a global movement to protect Our Common Home, the Earth, and all of its living creatures."
"We are honored to be working with the Vatican to raise awareness of an issue so critical to our shared goal of ending extreme poverty," said president of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim.
According to Abp. Rino Fisichella, secretary for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the presentation showed images "inspired of mercy, of humanity, of the natural world, and of climate changes." The event, the archbishop claimed, is "intended to present the beauty of creation, especially on the occasion of the twenty-first United Nations Climate Change Conference." The Paris conference, with many world leaders in attendance, began November 30 and will last until December 11.
The event, which claims to have drawn approximately 1.5 million people to St. Peter's Square, featured larger-than-life photographs and footage of a variety of animals, wildlife and humans from across the globe. It marked the first time images have been projected onto the papal basilica.
While some praised the "historic moment" for telling a "powerful visual story," many criticized the event for its lack of Catholicity, noting its location and occurrence on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the most important celebrations in the liturgical year.
Vatican journalist Edward Pentin tweeted that while the photographs were impressive, there were no explicit references to the Faith, other than doves and candles.
Apart from the various animals and wildlife, among the featured images were fans of German soccer club Borussia Dortmund (BVB), rows of aircraft, a mound of cell phones and burning oil platforms. Buddhist monks were also shown toward the end of the show.
Preceding the event was an announcement from Cdl. Peter Turkson that if the international talks on climate change in Paris come to a standstill, Pope Francis may intervene. Turkson, who helped write the papal encyclical on global warming, affirmed that the pope has a "deep trust" in the Paris negotiators to successfully work together, but if need be, the Pope may step in to send a message of encouragement and move things along. The Vatican has pledged to reduce emissions in Vatican City, and also supports limiting global warming by two degrees Celsius.
The entire light show at St. Peter's Basilica can be viewed below: