Protesters picket UCC as artist defends image

THE artist who created the controversial image of Our Lady hit back at critics last night as religious protesters picketed outside University College Cork (UCC).

Mexican-born Alma Lopez insisted her Our Lady of Guadalupe is not blasphemous as UCC confirmed it will go on display at the university today.

Ms Lopez blamed a Catholic fundamentalist group, America Needs Fatima, for “misrepresenting her works and her intentions”.

“This group is inciting some Irish Catholics to denounce me as a blasphemer,” she said.

“My response to them, to those Irish Catholics who think my intention was to slam the Catholic faith or insult their beliefs, and to the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Most Reverend Dr John Buckley, is that I am not portraying the Mother of God, and I don’t consider women’s bodies offensive, crude, or impure.

“I love women, just as I love the Virgin of Guadalupe. Our Lady was my way of communicating my love and respect for all women, including the Holy Mother.”

She spoke out after Bishop Buckley described the digital print as “offensive”.

Former MEP Kathy Sinnott described it as an insult and called on UCC to cancel the exhibit. Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer also criticised the university.

UCC responded to the controversy yesterday and issued a carefully worded statement, saying there was no intention to cause offence.

“Having given due consideration to all viewpoints, UCC has confirmed the conference will go ahead as planned and the image will be exhibited in a position where only those who personally choose to view may do so,” it said.

It is understood that notices will be placed on the doors of the room where it will be displayed, warning people that the exhibition features images that may provoke or offend.

Our Lady will be displayed in UCC over the next two days as part of an international academic conference on Chicano culture — US citizens of Mexican descent — organised by UCC’s Centre for Mexican Studies.

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