The digital image by Mexican artist Alma Lopez shows Our Lady of Guadalupe wearing a floral bikini, with her hands on her hips in what some consider a provocative pose. She is standing on a black crescent moon held by a bare breasted female butterfly angel.
Most Reverend Dr John Buckley said: “Respect for Mary, the mother of God, is bred in the bones of Irish people and entwined in their lives.
“It is regrettable and unacceptable that this exhibition seeks to portray the mother of God in such an offensive way.”
The image is to go on display at UCC as part of a conference on Chicano culture — US citizens of Mexican descent — organised by the university’s Mexican Studies Centre.
Two art exhibits — one by Celia Herrera Rodriguez entitled EnAguas EnTlalocan/Prayer for Mother Waters and the other by Alma Lopez, entitled Our Lady and Other Queer Santas — will run concurrently with the conference.
But Lopez’s artwork, and her portrayal of Mary, has sparked controversy.
Bishop Buckley said: “True pluralism respects the beliefs of all faiths and does not seek to ridicule the faith and convictions of any believer.”
He was backed by Cork South Central Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer who said UCC should not be lending support to an event which is considered by many to be “overtly blasphemous and blatantly disrespectful”.
“Those in charge at UCC should reconsider whether or not it is appropriate to permit this exhibition to take place on its campus without affording others the opportunity to present an alternative and balanced point of view.”
Neither UCC nor Alma Lopez were available for comment last night.