By Hilary White

VIENNA, Austria, May 6, 2008 ( – A Christian group in Vienna is asking for a renewal of protests against the display of a series of paintings in an art gallery attached to the Catholic cathedral that they say are blasphemous. In spite of thousands of protest letters and e-mails, the director of the Vienna’s Dommuseum, still refuses to remove artworks by Alfred Hrdlicka that depict Christ and his Apostles as homosexuals engaged in a homosexual orgy at the Last Supper.

The Catholic group, the Austrian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has asked faithful Christians to renew their protests by writing once again to the museum director. They say that while the Last Supper painting has been removed, others remain.

In early April, the online Christian news site, Gloria TV posted a video that showed Hrdlicka’s depiction of the flagellation of Christ with a nude Roman soldier performing a lewd act on the Lord’s body. When protests flooded into the gallery, director Dr. Bernhard Boehler said visitors have asked “in a more or less emotional way,” why the Apostles are depicted copulating. According to the director, the artist responded, “There were no women around”.

“This exhibition, which attracts numerous pupils and students, strongly contributes to promote relativism in regard to faith and morals, particularly among its visitors,” the Catholic group told media.

Citing the recent gruesome revelations of the Austrian man who imprisoned and raped his own daughter and an earlier case in which a young girl was abducted and imprisoned for 8 years, the TFP said, “At the very root of these monstrous cases are found a loss of faith and the increasing moral decadence of our society, particularly the dissolution of the family, which the TFP has long been struggling to defend.”

Alfred Hrdlicka is a self-professed atheist and Marxist who said that he was pleased but also surprised when the Cathedral’s museum agreed to exhibit his works.

Boehler said, “It was never our intention to hurt religious feelings, as we are also an institution of the Church. We understand that it is a provocative work of art. Provocation is a significant element of Arthur Hrdlicka’s works of art.”

He admitted that the words are “very provocative, problematic” and that “strong believers” would feel that they “might be blasphemous or obscene.”

Boehler also suggested that Christian protests against the exhibit were akin to the use of violence by Islamic extremists against the publication of the so-called Mohammed cartoons in some Dutch newspapers.

The astonishingly muted response and lack of firm action regarding the exhibit by the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, has stunned many Christians, especially considering the international furor that has been going on now for almost two months. The Dommuseum art gallery is attached to the historic Catholic cathedral of St. Stephen and is located adjacent to the Archbishop’s Palace.

To contact Dr. Bernhard Boehler:
Dom- und Diözesanmuseum
Stephanstplaz 6
1010 Vienna

To contact the Archdiocese of Vienna:
Wollzeile 2, A-1010 Wien, Oesterreich
Telephone: (01)515.52.3229
Fax: 515.52.3760

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