MANILA, Philippines—Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales condemned on Monday the art exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) depicting a crucifix with a wooden penis and a picture of Jesus Christ with the ears of a rabbit.
Speaking on Church-run Radio Veritas, Rosales said the exhibit of Mideo Cruz “abused” freedom of expression and urged the faithful to “rise up” in protest against it.
“It’s an abuse of freedom because the use of freedom must respect responsibilities. There’s a responsibility not to destroy culture, civilization or the good conduct of persons,” Rosales said.
“Those who are like that, I don’t know what he learned from his parents, from his school, from his friends. It’s a complete betrayal of what is right and the knowledge of what is wrong,” Rosales said.
The cardinal said the exhibit, which the CCP has defended, was a “big insult, disrespect” to “right-thinking persons.”
“Let me just ask, can he (Cruz) do that to his own father (or) to (national hero Jose) Rizal? …you will never do that to somebody you respect (like) your parents or to a hero like Jose Rizal. Why did you do that to the Son of God?” Rosales said.
The Manila archbishop urged the laity to rise up and correct the perceived blasphemous exhibit at the CCP.
“The lay persons should rise up, especially the parents, teachers and institutions. I hope you don’t allow this to be done to your children. I leave it to you to act,” Rosales said.
“This is highly offensive and not the act of a good man. It’s a shame that a Filipino did this. There are good works of artists but this is offensive and is disrespectful to God. There’s punishment for that. That is not artistic freedom,” Rosales added.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said it was wrong for a person to “play” with objects considered holy by a religion.
“Art should enhance life…Freedom of expression has a limit because that freedom involves our duty to respect the stand, the opinion and the culture of others,” Pabillo said.
“Who will be happy if an artist plays and desecrates the culture and holiness of faith of a religion? I don’t know but if they do that to Muslims, will our Muslim brothers be happy? Freedom of expression has a corresponding responsibility. It should not be abused,” Pabillo added.
Pro-life Philippines president Eric Manalang said that they would file criminal charges against Cruz and the leadership of the CCP.
“It’s going to be a criminal case at the Ombudsman because members of the CCP board are government officials so they are liable for public trust. We will file a case (against) both of them,” said Manalang.
He said that if the CCP exhibit was not stopped, others might follow and also degrade other religions, not just Christianity.
Tagbilaran bishop Leonardo Medroso said CCP officials and Cruz should be charged if they did not relent.
“What we’ll do is have a dialogue with the CCP. Talk with CCP. Again, if nothing is being done, then we go to a higher office or a higher court. We will charge them,” said Medroso.