Terry Mattingly notes the different reactions to “Body Worlds” and similar displays of plasticized dissected cadavers in macabre positions) in Baltimore and Cincinnati by both clergy and newspapers. The Cincinnati paper published a number of perspectives on the controversy, while the Baltimore Sun knows nothing of any controversy on the subject in recent history.
As I’ve mentioned before, in Houston there were differing views. At University of St. Thomas, Fr. Daniel Callam, CSB, preached a blistering sermon against such exhibits as a violation of the dignity of the human person and as an appeal to base instincts, while Msgr. Frank Rossi, the chancellor of the archdiocese, was happy to serve on the museum’s “ethics” committee for the exhibit, and praised it in glowing terms. Fr. Callam’s protest was heard only by those at mass that day. There was no hint of controversy in the newspaper or the archdiocesan newspaper. Dioceses in other parts of the US and in Europe roundly condemned the exhibit, in terms such as those used by Fr. Callam.
Update: Someone sent me the following links.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk: “The public exhibition of plasticized bodies, unclaimed, unreverenced, and unidentified, is a different matter entirely. It is unseemly and inappropriate.” No Catholic schools are to take field trips to it. Article.
Ditto for Bishop Roger Foys across the river in Covington.
Fr. Michael Seger: “The plasticized bodies of this exhibit rip a person from the context of her or his life story. They stand before us sadly anonymous: not mourned and not reverenced.”
From Pittsburgh last fall, Rabbi Danny Schiff:
To serve our voyeuristic pursuits, masked as edification or entertainment, we have allowed these bodies to have their skin flayed, their nervous systems dissected, their genitalia exposed and a host of other indignities. We have not treated them as “persons” who should be afforded the full dignity of the humanity that was once a part of them, but as “things” to be sliced and exhibited to serve our purposes. We have not allowed them to “rest in peace,” nor to have their bodily material returned to God.
Instead, the exhibit presents death preserved forever, stripped of all humanity and treated as a sensational spectacle. It is indeed a disturbing commentary on our society if we are really so cavalier about the use and abuse of the body in a way that denies the very humanity that the body once housed.