In a statement cited by the ABC, Vatican agency spokesman Fabrizio Mastrofini has denied any connection to the Black Lives Matter. “This is politicized manipulation. This image wants to be a 360-degree message against racism ”, explained Mastrofini.
The activist and teacher Beatriz Gomes Dias sees this anti-racist gesture as “quite important”. “By placing, in an iconic piece like Pity, a black man, who belongs to historically oppressed groups and who do not appear in representations of the Catholic Church – or, when they do, are always in a subordinate position – the Vatican contributes to the visibility of black people and their representativeness within of the Church, ”he told Public.
The deputy of the Bloco de Esquerda sees in this message from the Pontifical Academy the sign that the institution “is following the contemporary debates on representativeness, on the processes of exclusion, on the oppression that has historically affected certain groups”, and, at the same time, to be part of this debate, “the Vatican is broadening the field of analysis and discussion, and also countering the supremacist narrative that puts white people at the top of the social and human hierarchy”.
Father Anselmo Borges sees the Academy’s initiative as “very interesting”. To Público he said that “we have no photograph of the real Christ. Therefore, there are many possibilities to imagine him”, therefore, says the Philosophy professor, the photomontage of Pity it is a way of “saying that Jesus is the universal savior” and that, as “truly universal man, he has many faces”.
“We don’t know what he looked like; therefore, it is absolutely natural that in Africa they represent a black Our Lady and a baby Jesus, who in Asia represent them with an Asian face. The human being is always the result of a genetic inheritance and a culture, and the Gospel must be inserted in the various cultures ”, defends Anselmo Borges.
The priest and teacher sees no problem in associating with the Black Lives Matter movement: “All lives deserve respect. With this image, we are saying that the lives of black people are important ”, he notes, remembering that it was up to Christianity to call attention to“ human rights and the infinite dignity of every human being ”.