Exhibition of same-sex snogging in churches outrages the Vatican; ban is slapped on gallery

A LETTER from the Vatican demanding the removal of photos from a Rome gallery of gay men and women kissing in churches claims that they are in violation of the Italian constitution and:

Could harm the religious sentiment of the faithful.

Galleria L’Opera responded by covering up the “offensive” photographs, taken by talented Spanish photographer and artist Gonzalo Orquín, who said:

A letter arrived from the Vicariate of Rome, an organisation that is part of the Vatican, which said the church is against the exhibition. I spoke to lawyers and for security reasons we decided not to show the photos.

Two of the images in the Rome exhibition

Two of the images in the Rome exhibition

The Vicariate admitted sending the threatening letter. A spokesman, Cladio Tanturri, said the photographs went against the Italian constitution.

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.

Orquín said all but one of the sixteen photographs in the exhibition were taken in churches in the city, and that both gay and straight people volunteered to pose.

We went to churches, took the photos at the altar and ran off…it’s a bit like a flash mob.

Orquín, who is himself Catholic, added:

A number of times we left because there were a people praying. It wasn’t easy.

Lawyers are currently working on the case, said Orquín, but for the time being, the photographs would remain covered up.

Flavio Romani, president of gay rights organization Arcigay, described the Vatican’s reaction as “grotesque”.

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…The indignation of the Catholic Church, therefore, is extremely grotesque.

Orquín, who is Spanish, but has lived in Rome for eight years, said from his experiences, he found Italy to be “a very homophobic country”.

He is quoted here as saying:

I am a Catholic and I believe in God. When I was child I learned that God is love, and I learned it in a church! What kind of love? Who decides what love is OK and why? Pope Francis has said recently that he is not one to judge anyone and he also said that the Roman Church belongs to every one.

Hat tip: Angela K.