“Ridiculous and disrespectful!!!”; “desecration of religious articles”; “disappointing” are some criticisms to a billboard using symbols of the Eucharist – bread and wine and a crucifix for a Halloween ‘Street Festival’ held at MovieTowne’s Fiesta Plaza on October 28.
The image placed at the Zanzibar Restaurant with the title ‘The Church’ drew condemnation and threats of boycott. The restaurant was listed in the online promo for the first night of the Halloween party, ‘Zanzibar – The Church – Pray for your survival’.
“At the heart of the Eucharist celebration are the bread and wine, that by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit become Christ’s body and blood” (1333 CCC).
Vicar General Msgr Christian Pereira said “It was not very respectful to take sacred symbols and use it to advertise a party like that.” He explained, “The Host and chalice are central images in the Catholic faith; it is the core of our religion, the source and summit of Christian life.”
In a telephone interview Msgr Pereira said there is ignorance and indifference to sacred symbols “on a whole” adding this applied not only to the Catholic Church. “I know Archbishop Harris has spoken about reclaiming the sacred dignity of places to be sacred places. We have lost that sense of sacredness in our lives. This is all part somehow; the sacred is no longer important.”
An apology on Zanzibar’s Facebook page stated it was “in no way affiliated with the Halloween decor displayed above the entrance to our MovieTowne location. This was done by an external third-party event co-ordinator that did not consult with us on the decor to be used prior to installing same.” Apologising for any offense caused, Zanzibar assured customers the matter was dealt with as soon as it was alerted.
On Monday at 2.34 p.m., ‘Street Festival’, organisers of the party posted an apology on behalf of Zanzibar and MovieTowne on its Facebook page for “defaming and inappropriately portraying images of the church and holy symbols associated with the church”.
It clarified that Zanzibar and MovieTowne had no involvement in the graphics and had not seen the images until after they were installed. The statement continued, “It was not our intention to blatantly disrespect the church in any way. All of our members are God-fearing persons. We let our creativity get ahead of us and certain things were not vetted and scrutinised appropriately between graphics and marketing. We overlooked the effect this could have caused to the regular patronage of the MovieTowne and the Zanzibar establishments.” The organisers reiterated they were “truly sorry” and had learnt a lesson “about how we portray religious symbols in our events in the future”.
Reached via his mobile phone on Tuesday, MovieTowne Chairman Derek Chin stressed MovieTowne was “not involved” in the event and an apology had been issued by the promoter. Chin said MovieTowne will have to make sure when promoters have events they do not put up anything which can cause controversy. “MovieTowne is not meant to be that; it is meant to be a happy place,” he said. – LPG