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article imageCall for ‘phallic’ statue to be removed for Pope’s Malta visit

By Andrew John     Apr 14, 2010 in World
The Mayor of Luqa, a small village in Malta, has called on his government to remove a “phallic” statue ahead of a visit from Pope Benedict XVI this coming weekend.
The Pope-worrying statue, the Colonna Mediterranea, was created by the ceramic artist and sculptor Paul Vella Critien, and has stood at a roundabout in the village near to Maltaís International Airport since 2006. It is on the route that the Pope will take during his visit.
Mayor John Schembri believes that the sculpture is “vulgar” “embarrassing,” and “obscene,” and that it will be interpreted as a sign of disrespect by the pontiff. He has called for it to be removed, saying: “There is widespread cross-party consensus that the object placed at the entrance of Luqa is not the most fitting way in which to greet the Pope, especially by what is considered to be the most Catholic country in the world.” He said the council would appeal to the government to have the sculpture removed.
However, the Maltese government has said it has no plans to remove the artwork, and Critien has hit back at his critics, referring to them as “ignorant” and “uneducated.” He insists that the object isn’t a massive penis, but a work of art depicting an ancient Egyptian symbol that “points to eternity.” He added that the Pope “would look at it as a work of art. The Pope is not the man in the street. My mistake is that I threw pearls to swine.”
At the time of writing, on a usatoday.com poll, 76 percent of voters think the structure should remain. A Facebook group, “Save the Zobb Monument!”, already boasts nearly 4,000 members. The group is urging the Maltese authorities to safeguard the monument, saying it is ridiculous that “something which was being taken for granted for years is now the subject of hypocritical controversy just before the Pope arrives.”
Meanwhile, the Maltese Front Against Censorship said that, if the monument were removed, it would be “another obscene case of censorship,” adding that it regretted that the debate had made international headlines, “bringing ridicule upon our country.”
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