Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homeless Jesus in the News Again.

Last April, I posted an article about Canadian sculpture Timothy Schmalz's statue Homeless Jesus. [Statue Provides Opportunity for Catholic-Bashing.] There was a mini-controversy surrounding the statue at the time. There were a number of reports that Schmalz had attempted to give the statue to two prominent Catholic churches, St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, only to have his statue rejected by the two cathedrals.

Liberal blogs & news sources had a field day bashing the Catholic Church with stories how Homeless Jesus had no home.

The truth was, St. Patrick's had to refuse the statue, not because the work too controversial, but because the Cathedral was undergoing extensive restorations at the time.

The Toronto archdiocese had even tried to help Schmalz find an alternative location, eventually finding a home at Regis College at the University of Toronto.

Fast forward to November, when it was reported that the statue was presented to Pope Francis. An article written in December reports that the statue was blessed by Pope Francis and returned to it's home at Church of Saint Stephen-in-the-Fields, in Toronto.
Now, the Christian Post is reporting that, after its trip to the Vatican, the statue was stolen.

Not being willing to leave the story there, I went to the Church of Saint Stephen-in-the-Fields website. I was surprised to discover that the church is not a Catholic church, but Anglican. The church's pastor is a female priest, no less. I was a bit confused as to why an Anglican church would want their statue blessed by the Pope. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to have it blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Looking further into the website, I come across the church's report on the the theft of the statue. As it turns out, their statue was not the Homeless Jesus  statue blessed by Pope Francis, but an entirely different one called Jesus the Panhandler .

Not quite certain what to make of all this. Perhaps it's just another case of poor Internet news reporting.


St. Stephen in the Fields Anglican Church said...

I am the "female priest, no less" of St Stephen-in-the-Fields ... and yes, the Christian Post story was simply confused. This appears to have become international news, and many of the stories are simply taking material from earlier media reports, and often getting details wrong.
However, the statue really was stolen, and the community really is grieving its loss ... it meant a lot to everyone here, and especially to the most marginalized members of our community.
best wishes
the Rev'd Maggie Helwig

Robert said...

Hello Rev'd Helwig,
There was never any doubt in my mind that the statue was stolen from your church and I can certainly appreciate the loss you all are experiencing. It just struck me as odd that the statue stolen from your church was different than the one blessed by Pope Francis - after reading that the two were one and the same.
As for the"female priest, no less" comment, well, in case you haven't heard, the Catholic Church does not allow women in the priesthood and I couldn't help but see the irony in Anglicans having a statue blessed by a Pope.

St. Stephen in the Fields Anglican Church said...

Hi Robert

Yes, some of the media reports have had strange distortions indeed. The idea of our statue travelling from Toronto to Rome and back again, only then to be stolen, is an odd one.

But actually, I would be perfectly happy to have my statue blessed by the Pope, in the unlikely event that a) we get it back and b) he happens to stop by Toronto. I admire and respect him, and although the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize my orders, I certainly recognize the validity of sacraments and sacramentals administered by Roman Catholic clergy, including the Bishop of Rome. I do consider myself a Catholic Christian, though obviously not Roman Catholic.

Robert said...

I hope that your respect and admiration for Pope Francis will one day lead you to Christ's one true Church.