.- The Catholic League is demanding that an image of Pope Benedict XVI surrounded by swastikas be removed from a Florida art exhibit at the Broward Art Guild.
The New York-based national organization argues that the piece should be removed because it is offensive to Catholics. The league says the action would be justified since another art piece considered offensive to homosexuals had been previously removed.
Catholic League president William Donohue said he was alerted to the issues regarding the art exhibit, called Controversy, May 31.
The Sun Sentinel had reported May 27 that one of the artists, Michael Friedman, had complained to Mary Becht, director of the Broward County Department of Cultural Affairs, about an entry by Alfred Phillips, depicting President George Bush being sodomized.
Becht agreed and told the guild’s director, Susan Buzzi, to move it to “a less prominent space within the gallery.”
It was subsequently “set near a corner of the gallery facing the wall.”
“The irony,” said Donohue, “is that Friedman’s own contribution was allowed to stand: it shows Pope Benedict XVI surrounded by swastikas.”
In a letter to Becht May 31, which Donohue both faxed and mailed, he wrote: “I would like to see equal treatment afforded the anti-Catholic art of Michael Friedman that you gave to the work by Alfred Phillips.”
Donohue said he left a message June 2 for Becht to call him with a response to his letter. She said she never received the letter, even though someone in her office had signed for the delivery June 1.
So Donohue faxed the letter again, and received what he describes as “an evasive letter that refused to come to grips with the request that I made.”
As a result, Donohue said, he is taking matters further and writing to the Broward County Commissioners; Broward Cultural Affairs Council Members; Broward County Administrator; President, Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau; Florida Arts Council Members; Secretary of State.
“The duplicity is sickening: gay bashing is out but Catholic bashing is in,” said Donohue. “That’s the message being sent and that is why justice must be done.”