ROME – A public official in Pope Francis’s former diocese of Buenos Aires was forced to publicly apologize for participating in a modern art exhibit that saw him sampling a cake in the shape of a life-size crucified Jesus.
A video showing a laughing Enrique Avogadro, the Culture Minister of Buenos Aires from the government of President Mauricio Macri, went viral on Monday, with thousands expressing rage and disappointment on social media.
The Christ-shaped cake was part of a show on contemporary art, which also included a crucifix hanging on the wall.
In the images seen on the video, shared through Facebook and Twitter, the government official is seen trying the cake, which was created by two Argentine artists. Their design includes a “Byzantine icon” representing Jesus as one of the Thundercats cartoons, and sheep plush toys with the heads of Jesus and Judas, the latter being the “black sheep.”
According to their website, the representation is an “extensive and disruptive work” that attempts to capture Christian iconography as if it were created by millennials when they were kids.
Millennials, the artists argue, don’t understand metaphors and “naturalize the religious figures as part of their game.”
Hence, they write, kids don’t conceive the martyrdom of Jesus, they want to “enjoy with him. They represent Christ’s body and blood in their own way: eating a cake and drinking hot chocolate,” which becomes their Mass and their sacrament.
Christianity through the eyes of millennials when they were children, the artists said, leads them to “invite you to have fun, to feel joyfully, to think in colors, to create other rites.”
Avogadro went to Facebook to say that he “sincerely regrets if someone felt offended in their most intimate beliefs.”
He said that the images had been taken in the context of a private show of contemporary art.
“As a person, I have a very clear opinion in favor of freedom of expression, particularly when it’s related to issues that question us, that make us reflect or that oppose our own convictions,” he said.
“I also believe that the place of art is precisely to make us uncomfortable and to shake us. I understand, on the other hand, that public employees have a role that transcends what’s personal, and as such, we’re responsible for our actions. For this same reason, I want to apologize,” he said.
A petition created on the platform Change.org asking for Avogadro to be removed from his position was signed by over 8,000 people in less than 14 hours.