The Catholic University of America, which refers to itself as the pontifical university of the Catholic Church in the United States, reportedly boasts paintings in its campus ministry office and outside the chapel at its law school which imitate Michelangelo’s immortal Pieta with one key difference: George Floyd is depicted as Jesus Christ.
The Pieta shows Jesus Christ being held by his mother Mary after his crucifixion. The Catholic University of America informed The Daily Signal that artist Kelly Latimore’s painting “Mama” shows “the Virgin Mary supporting the body of the dead Christ” but did not acknowledge the Christ in the painting was George Floyd.
Yet The Daily Signal photographed a description posted with the painting asserting, “Following the violent death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Latimore created this icon in June of that year.” And in an interview with The Christian Century in April, Latimore acknowledged, “It was commissioned by my partner Evie Schoenherr as a way to mourn George Floyd,” adding, “The common question that people asked was, ‘Is it George Floyd or Jesus?’ The fact they’re asking that question is part of the problem. My answer was yes. This nonanswer frustrated the hell out of a lot of people.”
Karna Lozoya, vice president for university communications, told The Daily Signal, “You can identify Jesus by the marks in the halo.”
A spokesperson for Latimore told The Daily Signal, “’Mama’ is done as a pieta. … A mother with her son of color who was unjustly murdered by the state.”
Some students at the university expressed their anger to The Daily Signal.
“The icon has no place at The Catholic University of America; it is blasphemous and an offense to the Catholic faith, but it is not surprising at all that it was put there,” one stated, “It is just another symptom of the liberalization and secularization of our campus.”
“There are many students, faculty, and staff who are concerned about this, but there is nothing we can do,” the student continued, “And if we sound the alarm, we will be labeled racists.”
Former President of the Catholic University College Republicans, Blayne Clegg, echoed, “George Floyd is not Jesus Christ. … He is not a saint, nor a martyr, and to, in any way, compare him to the sinless son of Almighty God is to do a damning disservice to the vast majority of Catholics and Catholic theology… It is damning anywhere, but especially at *THE* Catholic University of America, where this painting was purchased, unveiled, and hung up without input from student leaders.”
A third student said, “Nobody should be portrayed as Jesus except” Jesus. “It highly disappoints me that someone else is being depicted as Jesus Christ in the Pietà to begin with, [and] being right at the doors of a chapel makes matters worse. … Replace it with a photo of Floyd, I can care less, but to put up something clearly blasphemous defeats the mission of the university.”