The Vatican may be more progressive than ever thanks to Pope Francis preaching tolerance for the LGTB community, but the institution clearly is not ready to embrace homosexuality with open arms — or even allow it in art that involves the Church.
The Catholic powers-that-be threatened to sue an Italian gallery over an exhibit featuring photos of same-sex couples kissing in churches. The exhibit, created by artist Gonzalo Orquín, was set to open at Galleria L’Opera on Wednesday night. But after the Church’s threat, the show will not go on.
Flavio Romani, president of Italian gay rights group Arcigay, spoke to The Local about the repressing behavior of the Vatican. “In the images in which the church have seen provocation, I see an exchange of love, a type of public worship that creates harmony, not contrast,” he said, “the indignation of the Catholic Church, therefore, is extremely grotesque.”
Grotesque or not, the Italian constitution does not hold the same protections for free speech as the US Constitution, so the Church may have fallen within its legal bounds by suppressing the exhibit.
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Said Vicariate Spokesman Claudio Tanturri, “Italian constitutional law safeguards an individual’s religious feeling and the function of places of worship. Therefore photos that are not suitable and do not conform to the spirituality of the place offend and infringe upon the advancement of man in the particular place for the expression of faith.”
The artist himself subscribes to the Catholic faith, and spoke out against Italian homophobia. He said, “There aren’t other countries in Europe or the West that are backward like this.”
Explaining how he created the exhibit, Orquín said, “We went to churches, took the photos at the altar and ran off...it’s a bit like a flash mob. A number of times we left because there were a people praying. It wasn’t easy.”