Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, recently unveiled the logo for the Year of Mercy at the Vatican. The New Evangelization is in big trouble.
The Vatican has more magnificent, inspiring art than any place on earth. We can now add sad, insipid, embarrassing and troubling. My first reaction to the Year of Mercy logo was to make sure that I was not reading an article from The Onion about Woodstock Jesus. It appears that Jesus is a stereotypical extraterrestrial with big black eyes and a chin too narrow for the rest of his face, to which a dangling fu manchu mustache was added. Except that this Woodstock Jesus is two-headed, but with only three eyes, and is carrying a large, droopy bedroll over his back, (which unaccountably has hands and feet dangling from it), while doing the hokey-pokey (you know, putting his right foot in…). The color scheme is a tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I’ve not read anything about the artist, but can only assume he or she is either a) a 1970’s church architect who has now found a new medium with which to inspire us, or b) the winner of the drawing contest in Sra. Vitelli’s 3rd grade art class.
At the press conference to unveil the logo, the Archbishop said “We begin with the logo which represents a summa theologiae of the theme of mercy….” Breaking news from heaven – St. Thomas Aquinas is even now furiously scribbling an addendum to his ST to stay any association of his name or reputation with this monstrosity. “We must next consider whether this logo bears any resemblance to the great and merciful Lord of Creation and Savior of the World. I answer that, its hideous aspect is prima facie proof that no such resemblance exists.”
Regarding the totally weird sharing of an eye between the two heads, the official explanation is that “Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ.” Even if you think that is some kind of deep theological reflection, why choose to make the Incarnation look creepy and bizarre instead of noble and beautiful? All kidding aside, who is going to look at this logo and think of the unbearable beauty, majesty, mercy and love of God? How will this attract anyone to repentance and conversion? I sympathize with any atheists who are thinking “as if I needed another reason to reject Christianity.”
Maybe, just maybe, I’m being too hard on the Vatican. If their target audience for the year of mercy is alien conspiracy theorists, aging hippies and the blind, they’ve got it nailed. As for me, when it comes to images of our merciful Savior, I’ll stick with the Divine Mercy.