Pope Benedict XVI has ruled out blasphemy in the piece of pop art on the nativity which caused a stir in Cebu, Vatican state secretary Tarcisio Bertone said in a press release we received yesterday.
Cardinal Bertone has also recently announced that Pope Benedict XVI is due to issue the second encyclical of his papacy, on the theme of “Christian hope.”
The tarp art allegedly has the faces of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Virgin Mary and former president Joseph Estrada as Joseph. “Don’t jump to conclusions,” the Pope reportedly wrote to Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, whom he fondly calls Brother Ricky, the press statement said. “Our interpretations are not infallible, for all we know the two could be attending a baptism.”
“But in the event, it is counterproductive to have the artist excommunicated,” the Pope was quoted further in the statement. It added that in the case of the Angono artists and the Philippine National Press Club (PNPc), the holy father stood squarely on the side of artistic freedom. More excerpts:
“We should leave it up to Him upstairs, because if he wants to he can always direct lightning at the ‘offensive’ cinema, which seems to be showing pornography…but we should take it as a sign that Cebu is being spared the ravages of typhoon Mina.”
“Finally brothers Ricky and Achilles (Fr. Achilles Dakay, ‘spokesperson’ of the Cebu Archdiocese–editors) your flock has much more important problems. Look at the bigger picture, the damage those two characters are continuing to inflict on the Filipino nation.”
In a phone interview last night, Cardinal Bertone revealed other details on how the Pope reached his position, indicating how closely the holy father has been monitoring developments in the Philippines, including the travails of Pampanga governor Ed Panlilio.
The good cardinal said that at one dinner, the Pope nearly fell off his seat laughing at his own joke on what the two characters could be saying to each other:
“I can’t be the father of this child, I was under house arrest for six years.”
“You idiot, you don’t know what immaculate conception means!”
Cardinal Bertone also cited events in scripture that were relevant to the decision, but these we could not independently verify.