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Lithuanian Culture Minister speaks against censorship following public outcry over "sacrilegious" Italian play

Arūnas Gelūnas
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Arūnas Gelūnas
Šaltinis: BNS

Following public outcry over a play by an Italian director involving a large image of Christ, Lithuanian Minister of Culture Arūnas Gelūnas spoke out against censorship and prejudice.

"On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God" by director Romeo Castellucci is part of the program of theatre festival Sirens.

In a statement on Monday, the minister invited people "not to have preconceived notions about an unseen performance and demand its ban."

"The minister speaks out against censorship which is incompatible with the foundations of a democratic state. The freedom of thought, speech, and expression in enshrined in the organic law – the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania," the Ministry of Culture said in the statement.

Gelūnas underlined that every person is free to decide to watch the performance or not, if it's against the person's convictions.

Earlier on Monday, Vilnius Archdiocese called upon believers to oppose desecration of God's portrait and other religious signs.

Signed by Vilnius Archbishop Cardinal Audrys Juozas Bačkis, the letter condemns advertisement of leisurewear with religious implications and the use of a Renaissance painting Salvator Mundi in presentation of an international theater festival.

Bačkis said the poster highlighted the play, which both the director and organizers presented as “a play and a sacrilege."

"The marginal attempts to draw attention at any cost sacrifices human decency and insults many people; they are not stopped by the ongoing global discussions about the tragic consequences of the provocations that infringed upon the feelings of believers," the archbishop said.

Alfa.lt news portal said on Monday that the Renaissance painting Salvator Mundi picturing Christ's face by Antonello da Messina would be tainted with faeces during the play "On The Concept Of The Face, Regarding The Son Of God" by director Romeo Castelluci at the National Drama Theater this weekend.

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