MANILA, Philippines – The “Kulo” exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has prompted the head of the Catholic Church to declare August 26 as a “Day of Penance.”
In a circular released on Tuesday, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales encouraged the faithful to perform sacrifice on the said date such as fasting and other forms of mortification “as an expression of remorse for the sins committed against God’s majesty.”
Despite the CCP’s defense of Mideo Cruz’s art installation “Poleteismo,” Rosales maintained that the artwork “is sinful” and a form of “sacrilege and blasphemy.”
“For us Catholics and Christians, the offense goes beyond visual senses; it strikes into our souls,” said Rosales. “It is a sin.” Like the many other critics, the prelate agrees that the work over-reached the boundaries of freedom of expression.”
“To them (Catholic and Christians) the work is trash. And we agree,” added Rosales.
The CCP has since closed down the gallery where the exhibit was featured following protests from various Christian groups.
Catholic lay organizations, meanwhile, opposed calls made by the faculty members of the University of the Philippines for the CCP to re-open to the public Cruz’s art installation.
Lawyer Jo Imbong of St. Thomas More Society said her group had opposed claims that the CCP should maintain autonomy by continuing to showcase the controversial exhibit.
“CCP is not autonomous. Its mandate is prescribed by law. Therefore, it has a mandate under the law, which is to foster positive cultural values. It’s a government agency,” Imbong said.
“If that would be abused… they are accountable to the Filipino people,” said Imbong, the lawyer of Christian groups who recently sued Cruz and CCP before the Office of the Ombudsman.