Controversial crucifix outrages churchgoers.

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Controversial crucifix outrages churchgoers.

Postby barracuda » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:08 pm

Image

Controversial crucifix creates rift at Warr Acres church
Some parishioners say icon is obscene

Churchgoers are outraged over a crucifix in a Catholic church that they say shows an image of genitalia on Jesus.

The controversial crucifix has caused a deep divide among members of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, where it hangs above the main altar.

"There are a couple people who have left the parish,” said the Rev. Philip Seeton, the church’s pastor. "There are people in the parish who don’t like it and have stayed.”

Critics of the crucifix take issue with what appears to be a large penis covering Jesus’ abdominal area. Seeton said the portion of the crucifix in question is meant to be Jesus’ abdomen "showing distension” — not a penis.

Seeton said, "I’ve had people who have vocally said that that’s what they see there. I’ve had people who have been just as vocal who said that’s not what they’re seeing there.”

Janet Jaime, a local iconography artist who designed the crucifix, had no comment.

"I think it was painted according to the certain specific rules of iconography and church art,” Seeton said of the crucifix.

The crucifix is about 10 feet tall. It has been hanging above the altar since Feb. 21.

Seeton said the crucifix doesn’t concern him, and there are no plans to remove it.

Monsignor Edward Weisenburger of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese also said he has no problems with the crucifix. He said the archdiocese has received no complaints about it.

However, numerous current and former church parishioners contacted The Oklahoman this week expressing outrage at what many called a "pornographic” depiction of Jesus. Many asked that their identities be withheld.

Parishioner Rita Cook said the crucifix is one of many recent decisions by Seeton, who has been at the church since 2008, that longtime parishioners are concerned with.

"The crucifix is the straw on the camel’s back,” said Cook, who has attended the church for 35 years. "I think it’s an embarrassment to our Lord. I think it’s an embarrassment to our parishioners. And I think it’s an embarrassment to our visitors.”

Molly Jenkins, who is not a member of the church, said she attended a funeral at the church recently and immediately noticed the crucifix.

"I was appalled at the sexualization of Christ,” said Jenkins, who is not Catholic. Jenkins said she contacted a Catholic friend to ask whether such crucifixes are common.

Her friend, Seannene Smith, said she visited the church Friday and also was disturbed.

"I was horrified,” Smith said. "I believe in freedom of expression. I believe in artistic freedom. I believe that a church is a holy place, and I certainly don’t want people telling anyone how to worship, but I was shocked, stunned, and if I hadn’t been prepared already, I think I would have just been ill.”

Smith said she grew more concerned upon learning that students from the neighboring St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School regularly attend Mass in the church.

"I’m already very sensitive because of the pedophilia issue,” Smith said, referencing sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church in recent years.

Smith said she stopped going to church because of those scandals.

"This doesn’t make it any better,” Smith said.


Crucifix is a Catholic icon

Jaime, a local iconographer known for her religious artwork, was commissioned by the church to design the crucifix. Seeton wouldn’t disclose whether Jaime was paid.
Jaime’s husband, Reggie, said his wife will not discuss the crucifix publicly until she meets with officials from the church and Oklahoma City Archdiocese to discuss the controversy it has caused.

Reggie Jaime said critics of the crucifix probably aren’t aware of its history and meaning to the Catholic Church.

"This isn’t just a subjective drawing. This is a historical icon of the church,” Reggie Jaime said.

"I can’t help what you see in things, or she sees in things, or anyone.”

The crucifix in question is a San Damiano cross, a common Catholic icon that originated in Italy in the 12th century and is widely associated with St. Francis of Assisi and the order he founded, the Franciscans.

The original cross is in Assisi, Italy.

The San Damiano cross is considered an icon because it depicts biblical figures.

The crucifix hanging at St. Charles Borromeo resembles other San Damiano crucifixes except for Jesus’ abdominal area, which is noticeably more pronounced than on similar crucifixes.

Seeton said he and Janet Jaime reviewed numerous San Damiano crucifixes to decide how the crucifix should look.

Several parishioners have since come to Seeton with complaints about how the crucifix looks. Seeton said he tries to alleviate their concerns by explaining the history of the crucifix and pointing them to places where they can learn more about it.

He said most parishioners are OK with the crucifix once they learn its history.
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Re: Controversial crucifix outrages churchgoers.

Postby barracuda » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:11 pm

To end Warr Acres church controversy, artist will modify crucifix

WARR ACRES — The local artist who designed a crucifix some say shows genitalia on Jesus plans to modify the piece in effort to end the controversy it has caused.

Janet Jaime, an Oklahoma City iconographer, came under fire for a crucifix she designed that since February has been above the main altar at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Warr Acres.

Church officials now plan to remove the crucifix so Jaime can modify it.

At issue is Jesus’ abdominal area, which some say looks like a large penis.

The church’s pastor released a statement to parishioners Friday announcing the crucifix would be modified.

"It certainly is not the intention of the artist or myself that the cross of Jesus Christ be a source of division or result in disrespectful statements,” the Rev. Philip Seeton wrote.

Parishioners welcome the news.

"It is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Rita Cook, who has attended the church for 35 years.

"Any attempt by Father Seeton to bring closure to this issue in some part will bring hopefully good intentions to show that as the pastor of St. Charles he is willing to work with his parishioners.”

The crucifix has been divisive for parishioners, some of whom left the church because they were offended by it.

Jaime’s husband said Friday his wife remains too distraught over the controversy to speak publicly about it.

"She’s a sensitive person,” Reggie Jaime said. "It’s just bothering her to pieces.”

Mark Gilmore, a local artist and friend of Janet Jaime, said it appears the iconographer put too much contrast on Jesus’ abdomen, making it appear like a penis rather than an abdomen.

"It was entirely accidental,” Gilmore said.

"She is very serious about her religion and wouldn’t in the slightest possibility ever imagine wanting to sneak a pee-pee on to Jesus.”

Gilmore, who helped Janet Jaime move the 10-foot tall crucifix out of her studio at her home near The Paseo Arts District before it was taken to the church, said it is difficult to tell while painting how contrast may appear from far away.

"She was maybe a foot away from it all the time she was painting it, and the only way you can see this is when it’s up and you’re 20 or 30 feet away, and then you get this gestalt of, ‘oh, look,’” Gilmore said.

Gilmore said he and Reggie Jaime have a "loose” business partnership in a graphic design company.
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Re: Controversial crucifix outrages churchgoers.

Postby jingofever » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:56 pm

I think I found the problem: above Jesus it should say "The King of Glory Holes", right?
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Re: Controversial crucifix outrages churchgoers.

Postby barracuda » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:04 am

There is actually a small but wonderful tradition of portraying the crucified Christ or the mystical "Man of Sorrows" in such a way as to focus attention on the tumescent penis. This may have been due to a somewhat unusual interpretation of the New Testament references to the "risen body" of Christ.

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Maarten van Heemskerck, Ecce Homo, ca. 1550
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