I spotted this on Twitter, with a great comment by Andrew Cusack:
Best headline on Catholic twitter? https://t.co/OXF9FHCMum
— Andrew Cusack (@cusackandrew) August 1, 2017
Ottawa archbishop surprised by negative reaction to robotic spider on cathedral
OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) — The archbishop of Ottawa expressed regret that several Catholics were shocked at the sight of a giant robotic spider perched on Notre Dame Cathedral.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he was surprised by the negative reaction to an artistic initiative after critics called the spider’s placement “sacrilegious,” “demonic,” and “disrespectful” of a sacred space.
“My cathedral staff and I anticipated that some … might object, but thought it would be minimal, as nothing demeaning was intended in the spider being near the church,” said the archbishop in an email interview with Canadian Catholic News.
“I regret that we had not sufficiently understood that others would see this event so differently. I say to those who were shocked that I understand that this would have been upsetting for them and that I regret that a well-intentioned effort to cooperate in a celebration was anything but that for them.”
The spider, named Kumo, is one of two giant robots created by a street theater company of artists, technicians and performers based in Nantes, France. The company, La Machine, was in Ottawa July 27-30 as part of celebrations marking Canada’s 150th birthday.
The spectacle of robots, music and other special effects drew tens of thousands to Ottawa’s downtown.
Not exactly Itsy Bitsy Spider.
Look. I don’t want to make this seem more serious than it is, but it reminds me of something I learned about during my individual instruction as I entered the Church… no, not in seminary, where you would think this would be taught. HA! Given that place and those days, that makes me chuckle. But I digress…
Once upon a time we paid a lot of attention to theological censures so as to protect the integrity of the Faith and prevent people from being mislead (in the case of falsehood) and confused (in the case of fuzziness).
One of the labels for something to be avoided was “offensive to pious ears” or piarum aurium offensiva. A verbal expression is piarum aurium offensiva when it shocks the Catholic sense and delicacy of the faithful.
Today we run into this all the time, don’t we? We hear dreadful statements like the one from the Superior General of the Jesuits who said that there was no tape recorder in the time of Jesus. HERE Hence, he suggested that we can’t know what Christ meant when Scripture records his words. That is something at least “offensive to pious ears”. Another category is male sonans, something that “rings badly”, that make you say, “That doesn’t sound right at all!”. Something is male sonans when improper words are used to express otherwise acceptable truths. An example of this is when the same Jesuit Superior said that the Devil was a “symbolic construct” HERE. Statements like that are imprudent and harmful, especially because an authoritative person said it. Mind you, it could be that the Superior’s words were even worse than that, but he attempted to walk them back a little.
In case you were wondering, on list in descending order of gravity
- hæretica (heretical)
- erronea (erroneous)
- hæresi proxima (next to heresy)
- errori proxima (next to error)
- temeratia (rash)
- ambigua (ambiguous)
- captiosa (captious)
- male sonans (evil-sounding)
- piarum aurium offensiva (offensive to pious ears)
Male sonans and piarum aurium offensiva were low on the list of censures, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t taken seriously.
That spider contraption is piorum oculorum offensiva … offensive to pious eyes, and they should have known that before putting it up.
Just because something is “really cool” or has that “wow!” factor, doesn’t mean that it ought to be displayed in or near the sacred precincts of the Church, which ought to be the porta caeli and ianua caelestis.