Who would have thought that a light show could cause such a stir! Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who oversees the Council on the New Evangelization, made the decision to use the façade of St. Peter’s basilica as a projection screen for a show about “our common home,” as Pope Francis termed the earth and the environment in his encyclical. The show was timed to coincide with the Paris climate change talks which continue to inch towards some hopeful agreement to reduce toxic emissions.
My colleague David Gibson at RNS has done most of the heavy lifting on the negative reactions, from traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli to the inimitable Fr. Zuhlsdorf. The charges against the show range from “sacrilege” to “profanation.” This sacred space, they argue, should not have been used to show images drawn from nature even though, obviously, the same God whom we worship inside the basilica is the Creator of all the images that were displayed in the show. Nor do I recall the critics raising any objection to what is, arguably, a true profanation of the façade of St. Peter’s, the name Borghese inscribed in large letters, a tribute to Pope Paul V who oversaw the construction of the façade. (The construction of the façade itself was a different kind of profanation, an architectural one, destroying Michelangelo’s original plan and obscuring the view of the dome from the square.)
At LifeSiteNews the charge is deeper and darker than profanation. They discern a conspiracy at work. Pete Balinski, pardon the expression, unearths connections that might be opaque to the rest of us. Did you know that the funding for this show came from some very shady sources. First there is the World Bank. Now, I have my issues with the World Bank, to be sure, but the idea that they represent a step towards “world government” is a bit odd when, in fact, the Bank works entirely through the nation-state system that predates it by a couple of centuries. There is worse. He writes:
Other partners include Vulcan Inc., a private company based out of Seattle, Washington, that “strives to create a new kind of future” by “upend[ing] conventional thinking.” The company was deliberately named after the Roman god Vulcan, the deity of destructive fire, whose earliest known shrine existed in Rome at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, close by the Vatican.
Ah-ha! Paganism! And paganism “close by the Vatican.” I have walked from the Vatican to the Capitoline Hill many times and I am not sure I would describe it as close, but never mind. The key is that this company “deliberately” named itself after a pagan deity. My friend drives a Saturn. I wonder if she is in on this anti-Christian conspiracy too!
LifeSiteNews is also upset that some of the artwork on the screen came from Andrew Jones who, according to Balinski, dabbles in pagan deities and even mind-altering drugs to create his art. Even if this is true, I would suggest that Mozart is a great artist even though his morals were inexact, and Wagner wrote some great music even though he was an anti-Semitic nut. and I could watch Elizabeth Taylor in any movie, every night of the week, even though she had more husbands than Kim Davis.
Yesterday, Robert Dear, the man who shot three people at a Planned Parenthood Clinic, had his first day in court. His lawyer had trouble keeping him quiet as he announced he was a “warrior for the babies.” The man is clearly disturbed and, regrettably, pro-choice groups will try and make him the face of the pro-life movement throughout the coming trial. Regrettably, the editors at LifeSiteNews seem to be only marginally less deranged. The leaders of the pro-life movement need to think long and hard about how they proceed when that movement is so easily overtaken by people inclined to believe crazy conspiracy theories. It might have occurred to the people at LifeSiteNews that environmental degradation has its most immediate harmful effect on fetal life, that if our commitment to human life is indeed the “foundation” of Catholic morality, climate change threatens the whole neighborhood, and that Laudato Si’ is, by any fair reading, a profoundly pro-life text. Nah. Don’t ya know. It is all part of a pagan plot!