Press title for full AP story:
Away with the manger? Nativity scene at Vatican generates controversy16 DecBy Cindy WoodenExcerpt where the victims of this trash are blamed by those who know art:
Many of the negative reactions are simply the result of not understanding the Nativity scene, Angelo Bottone said. Others thought “this was something that Pope Francis commissioned. And obviously, the whole anti-Francis brigade went berserk.”
“It’s important for people to know that this was made by teenagers in 1965; it was not made today by some mad artists,” he said. “If people don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s a piece of art, and we have different tastes.”
Whether St. Peter’s Square was the best place to exhibit the Nativity scene is another question, he said. “But I’m not seeing any effort to go beyond the first reaction and try to express a more charitable judgment.”
"It’s a piece of art, and we have different tastes." In other words, the Modernist expression of separating beauty from art is at work here, because preference in terms of beauty is thought to be merely an outcome of taste.
The problem with this is that the beauty of things is not relative because it comes from God who created everything and Who shares his Glory through the Beauty of His creation. That is to say, every "thing" is beautiful insofar as it is a "being". Beauty is convertible with being as the Schoolmen would say. It is taste, rather, that is relative, because it is conditioned particularly by the socio-cultural milieu in which the individual forms his preferences for values such as beauty. It is the role of the Church to teach the faithful what is properly beautiful in the eyes of God.
If this Modernism is now at work throughout the Vatican, the Church is in deep trouble and needs a reformation that may require an ecumenical council, because this relativistic thinking on beauty indicates just the surface one's Modernist world view.
Perhaps common sense and pastoral sensibilities should have prevailed here. In another setting, with something to guide those who are viewing, a more meaningful experience regarding the student's work is possible. In St. Peter's Square, it would seem this isn't the case.
This has been a horrendous year for many, particularly in Italy with COVID, so much suffering and death and let's not forget the economic impact to those who have lost their jobs. Like comfort food at your favorite local diner, a traditional manger scene decorated, cheerful, familiar and lacking the need for an explanation would have been just what a weary people needed. This, to me, serves no greater good, is a bit tone-deaf for the reasons that I mentioned, is causing the work of the students who created this display to be maligned (perhaps unfairly) and would have been better suited for an exhibition hall.
My objection wasn't of the art, but the instillation. It just didn't fit that space. I did think it better than the homoerotic statement of last year. I do think knowing its history does take some of the sting out of it. The astronaut isn't objectionable once someone knows it's history. If it was created by teenagers in 1965, those teenagers are probably are in their 60's. Might it be one of the first creches of Vatican II ?
How is it possible for the Vatican hierarchy not to know beforehand that choosing to put this particular nativity scene on display was, at minimum, going to sadden and confuse the vast majority of Catholics, millions of believers, around the world? I believe they had to know that beforehand, they simply could not be so naive, so stupid and out of touch to not know; and the fact that they knew that BEFOREHAND and to not care, and to not be concerned, and to go ahead anyway with this particular display, just further saddens and confuses me.
And it is just so terribly insulting and patronising and arrogant to claim or insinuate that the millions of Catholics who are saddened and confused by this nativity scene are just simple, rigid, narrow, unsophisticated plebs who are unwilling to be challenged.
I have heard before of weaponised ambiguity. Is this weaponised ugliness? Is it possible there are members of the Vatican hierarchy that want to demoralise us?
I wonder if it’s possible this nativity scene fiasco is serving as a distraction? Yesterday, Cardinal George Pell was quite candid in an interview broadcast in Italy. Cardinal Pell for the first time has confirmed that he believes senior Catholic Churchmen conspired to frame him on pedophilia charges in Australia due to his work trying to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances. Cardinal Pell further stated that, historically, every senior figure who has attempted to reform the Holy See’s financial management system has been subjected to reputation attacks - and worse. Cardinal Pell said his family and close friends have said it would have been preferable for the Mafia or the Masons to have attempted to destroy his reputation than for him to have been attacked internally, from inside the Catholic Church at its highest levels; so much worse having people high in the Catholic Church wishing and acting to destroy him. Cardinal Pell also claimed that major criminals have been reported to have said: “Pell is out of the game now and we’ve got a clear highway ahead!”
Such a shame this interview is not getting more coverage.
I have noticed that when a senior Catholic bishop is financially corrupt it often seems to be combined with being at least quasi heretical on core Church teaching and often, or at least at times, combined with a weakness for substance abuse or a weakness in personal sexual morality.
I can imagine the senior Vatican churchman who pushed for and or signed off on this bizarre nativity scene being also the type of leading Catholic Church figure who could stoop to involvement in a seriously immoral attempt to destroy the reputation of an honest Cardinal trying to investigate and clean up the Vatican’s murky financial activity.
The Church of “nice” ain’t so nice!
I have read there were other people in the Vatican apart from Cardinal Becciu who were equally terrified what an honest, thorough investigation of Vatican financial mismanagement and corruption could reveal.
This nativity scene madness could be a distraction. Every article written about that is another one article that does not give coverage to everything from Cardinal Pell’s very recent interview and his bombshell claims, to the astounding revelations in Joseph Sciambra’s “Spiritual Abuse in the Catholic Church” which details how pervasive homosexuality has now become in the priesthood, and more.....
If anyone in the Vatican was to join Cardinal Becciu in denying or dismissing the claims made by Cardinal Pell I think it likely I will again recall the famous quote by Otto von Bismarck and how it often can equally apply to Church politics......
“Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”
And back to the 2020 Vatican nativity scene, I am sorry to say I disagree with anonymous @5.46PM, knowing the history of this monstrosity does not really take the sting out of the whole business for me.
Art with a capital F.
Thank goodness we have Vatican taste-makers to help us "get our minds right"!
I already mentioned if I were to put this out front of my church in Richmond Hill, my parish would be the laughing stock of all of Richmond Hill as we are on the Main Street, its busiest and most of Richmond Hill passes it each day. But what if I made it my personal Christmas card and sent it to all my parishioners and friends? They would certainly think it was a joke and I was mocking the nativity and making light of it and removing the human aspect which by the way is the reason for the nativity, God becoming Man!!!! I would say this nativity in this regard is heretical.
I did not know this was the work of children many years ago. If that had been featured in the presentation responses may have been more tempered.
Agree. I still don't care for this set but, with context, my opinion of it has slightly softened.
What about the Vatican people who beforehand both knew this was the past work of teenage art students AND also knew the likely reaction to it from millions of people worldwide, but went ahead anyway and put it on prominent display in the lead up to Christmas apparently not caring how the artists now in their 60s, and their families, and people from their art school, would feel having their attempt at sacred art mocked, laughed at and ridiculed around the world.
Isn’t that what art is about, Causing a reaction in the observer? If I had to set a standard for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art it would be that the artist has some idea of the sort of reaction he is attempting to incite. A good artist can do that. A great artist can do that across cultures. Pseudo artists only illicit a response, like a profane comedian. In this case the curator may have thought the work was thought provoking and not known it was the product of adolescent perspectives. If it had been displayed as a nostalgic exhibit it could have been a big sentimental hit. It may actually be illuminating to see how this display seems so representative of that era and the resulting renovations to churches, volumes of wretched music, experimental liturgy, and edgy doctrine. Intentional or not, the revelation that this is composed by immature minds while fitting in so well with other artifacts of the same era produced by older, if not more mature, people may cause a more profound response than mere laughter.
Thanks rcg for what you wrote above. Probably the best comment I have read on this blog or any other blogs on this matter.
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