The Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte cancelled a theater performance called “The Coronation of Our Lady of the Transvestites” after the local Church protested the anti-Catholic nature of the show.
As the online Catholic news site Crux reported Tuesday, the archbishop of Belo Horizonte, Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, released a statement calling the production “a prejudiced and criminal action of disrespect of the Catholic Christian faith.”
The show was created by the artistic group Academia Transliteraria and featured transvestite, transsexual, and transgender artists. During the performance, which includes a mock procession, actors distribute leaflets to the audience with a prayer to “Our Lady of the Transvestites” and sing parodies of Catholic hymns, inviting the audience to join in.
“We demand and hope that the competent authorities and the organizers suspend the event, given that it is an indisputable encouragement to prejudice and discrimination, disrespectful of the values of the Catholic Christian faith,” the archdiocesan statement read.
The archdiocese said that the event was “seriously endangering the peace and the proper respectful relationship between citizens.”
It is “not acceptable to exploit the Virgin Mary, disrespecting her” in order to promote “an aggression” against the Catholic faith, the text stated, while calling on all Catholics to “protest, demanding respect and the immediate suspension of this criminal action.”
Along with the official statement from the archdiocese, an independent Catholic organization from Belo Horizonte called the Instituto Sao Pedro de Alcantara organized an online petition protesting the event, which garnered over 28,000 signatures.
Just hours after the release of the Church statement, the mayor of Belo Horizonte, Alexandre Kalil, announced the cancelation of the show, which had been scheduled to be performed on July 20 in a taxpayer-funded cultural festival organized by the city government.
Kalil posted the news on his Twitter account: “I defend all liberties. I’m a Catholic, devoted to Saint Rita of Cascia. Don’t worry, nobody will attack any religion. This is not culture.”
The theatrical company posted its own statement on Facebook, alleging that the show does not intend to “deny the faith of other people” and suggesting that it does not mock the Catholic Church. The group also accused the local government of censorship for cancelling the performance.
“This is not Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus, but another Lady, our transvestite, a lady that is daily excluded from society (she is looked at with horror and contempt), from the world of arts and culture (she is condemned never to have ideas or opinions), from the economy (only prostitution is left for her), from the streets (except for the corners where there is prostitution), and from religion (as if she was not part of the bigger mystery of life),” the group said.