The Petrification of Christ in the Middle East
Pencil on Paper, 2009
[The Christian Messiah lies re-entombed across a map of the war torn states of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The face and hair of Christ emerge over Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. Iraq is shown partitioned into three fragments. The three Roman era nails of the crucifixion form the buttress of Israel’s so called ‘security wall’, incarcerating Palestinians from Palestine.]
The Middle East – birth place of Christ and the cauldron of Christianity – in recent times has evolved into a sarcophagus for both. In pursuit of the War on Terror, there have been countless crucifixions, but zero resurrections heralding the covenant of hope, compassion and lasting fraternity.
Pope Benedict XVI, who is looked upon by some as equally accountable for the sins of silence professed by his predecessors, should not be mummified deaf, dumb and blind to the trespasses perpetrated in the Middle East. If visiting his flock in Gaza is such a security risk, why doesn't the Pope simply divest himself of his material regalia and entourage, and stand in line at the checkpoint like any other Palestinian — hatless, barefooted, destitute, dehydrated . . . ! And if he is discovered, why not risk crucifixion? Christ would have, if he were around!
Such a compelling gesture by the Pope would not only help break the Vatican’s alleged seal of silence but also extend a fraternal embrace to people of all faiths, as well as spare his successor the ignominy of inheriting the contempt he is presently burdened with. To do otherwise, is to further distance Christ and the essence of true Christianity from an augmenting aura of hypocritical faith and partisan allegiance.