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Naked Stations of the Cross prompt protest

Naked images of Jesus in new relief sculptures installed in Christchurch's Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament have attracted angry protests from parishioners.

About 20 parishioners holding placards reading "ugly" and "pornographic" protested outside the Cathedral last weekend.

The figleaf-free sculptures, by Christchurch artist Llew Summers, mark the 14 stations of the cross and were dedicated to celebrate the cathedral's 100th anniversary.

Parishioner Monica Reedy said there was a groundswell of concerned parishioners who felt the art depicting a naked Jesus was "inappropriate".

"I don't think the committee understands the passion we have as parishioners and as art critics in our own right. We should have been involved (in the decision) step by step." said Reedy. "(The works) look like Neanderthal man."

Modern art was inappropriate in a neo-classical building, Reedy said. She described the new stations of the cross as a sad milestone in the church's history which damaged the essence of the church.

"Can you imagine that they would be allowed to do that in any sophisticated and intact building in Europe?"

Summers, who is not a Catholic, welcomed the protests, saying they encouraged discussion around the artwork.

"There is almost no naked Christs in the world. It's a truth that you are bringing to it," he said.

Cathedral Trust committee member Professor John Simpson said the committee had carefully considered the selection of Summers for the difficult task of exploring "the drama, the poetry and the absolute pathos" of the last few hours of Christ's life.

Unclothed Christ draws protest ( 16/2/05)

Llew Summers Sculptor/Carver
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch
Diocese of Christchurch

17 Feb 2005