A CHAPTER of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) at the Catholic University of America (CUA) this week launched a petition to have two “blasphemous” paintings depicting murder victim George Floyd in the arms of the the Virgin Mary.
The identical paintings, simply titled “Mama”, are currently hanging in the Washington university’s campus ministry office and its law school. They were created by Missouri artist Kelly Latimore, whose works take the form of religious icons.
According to The Daily Signal a junior at CUA said in an email to the news outlet:
The icon has no place at The Catholic University of America; it is blasphemous and an offense to the Catholic faith, but it is not surprising at all that it was put there. It is just another symptom of the liberalization and secularization of our campus.
The student, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal from the university administration, added:
There are many students, faculty, and staff who are concerned about this, but there is nothing we can do. And if we sound the alarm, we will be labeled racists.
The petition, which garnered more than 3,500 signatures in three days says:
As students at The Catholic University of America, we believe that it is extremely grave that our university, the official university of the Catholic Church in North America, would cast another in the image of our Lord in this way, particularly for political purposes.
No political or social cause ever justifies depicting another in the place of Jesus Christ.
Latimore, who lives and works in St Louis, Missouri, said in an April interview that his painting was commissioned by his partner “as a way to mourn George Floyd.”
Floyd, a black man arrested for attempting to use a counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes, died on May 25, 2020, after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. A viral video of Floyd’s death, in which Floyd lay handcuffed and pinned to the pavement on his stomach, sparked protests and riots that summer across the nation.
Latimore said he receives death threats and “spiritual denunciations” over the painting about once or twice a week. Many of these threats come from Eastern Orthodox individuals in Russia or Ukraine.
Junior politics major and former Catholic University College Republicans President Blayne Clegg told The Daily Signal in an email:
I think it goes without saying that George Floyd didn’t deserve to die, and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of millions of Catholic Americans, who engaged in good-faith advocacy to advance policies that will prevent the use of excessive force by law enforcement. But George Floyd is not Jesus Christ.
He is not a saint, nor a martyr, and to, in any way, compare him to the sinless son of Almighty God is to do a damning disservice to the vast majority of Catholics and Catholic theology. It is damning anywhere, but especially at *THE* Catholic University of America, where this painting was purchased, unveiled, and hung up without input from student leaders,
Jared Jagiello, a student senator representing the university’s School of Architecture and Planning, added that “nobody should be portrayed as Jesus except” Jesus himself.
It highly disappoints me that someone else is being depicted as Jesus Christ in the Pietà to begin with, [and] being right at the doors of a chapel makes matters worse. Replace it with a photo of Floyd, I can care less, but to put up something clearly blasphemous defeats the mission of the university,” he said in the email.
Unveiling of ‘Mama’.
Catholic University unveiled the painting at the conclusion of Columbus Law School’s Black History Month programme. During the ceremony Law School Dean Stephen Payne recited the poem “Solidarity” by Maya Angelou and reminded those gathered that:
Diversity is a divine gift we should cherish.
Assistant Dean Shani Butts read “I Dream a World” by black poet Langston Hughes, who is believed to have been gay.
Father Jude DeAngelo, university chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, blessed Latimore’s painting with holy water, saying:
Almighty Father, we now ask you to sanctify and bless this icon which we will use in the adoration of the Blessed Mother. May all who look upon this sacred image come to know her protection and maternal care, tracing in their hearts the pattern of holiness.
If “Mama” is giving young conservative Catholic snowflakes fits of the vapours, imagine what effect this icon by Latimore would have on them: