The Vatican has condemned plans to let children as young as 11 see a collection of erotic art so sexually explicit that it has been locked away since being dug out of the volcanic ash of Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii three centuries ago.
   The National Archeological Museum in Naples is to open its so-called "secret collection" of frescoes, mosaics and statues to the public next month. The 250 exhibits depict sexual activity involving gods and goddesses, satyrs, nymphs and pygmies.
   The museum decided to display the works, previously accessible only to scholars or with special permission from the director, after they were featured in books.
   But the initiative has been denounced by the Catholic church as an affront to public decency.
   "Whatever these things meant to ancient Romans, today they're obscene, full stop," said Father Bernard Ardura, secretary of the Pontifical Council on Culture. "It's outrageous to think children could wander in."
   The collection includes a series of frescoes showing sexual positions that decorated the town's baths.
   Meanwhile, the council of the City of Rome on Friday ordered an adult sex shop near the Vatican to close because it had violated zoning laws.
   A council spokesman said zoning laws forbid sex shops near the Vatican. Italian newspapers had reported the shop was targeted because of a regulation barring sex shops along routes used by pilgrims coming to Rome for Holy Year celebrations.
   Officials said the shop would either have to close or revert to its previous business of selling musical instruments.
Times &
CWN 14/2/00

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