Pope Francis, in a pronouncement from this June, said that it is the moral duty of all people to take responsibility of the environment and prevent further climate change. So Connect4Climate initiative decided the best way to drive the pope's message home would be to go to his home. In a special public art project, the coalition of organisations projected images of endangered animals and nature on the facade of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on December 7. The move was meant to coincide with the start of an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, a year in which Francis has declared that Catholic churches everywhere will focus on remission of sins, pardons and forgiveness. It also was meant to be displayed around the same time as the United Nations climate change talks in Paris, where the countries of the world are discussing how to preserve our environment.
The projection itself was put together by Obscura Digital, the company that previously managed to project Goddess Kali on the Empire State Building and illuminate the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Featuring work by some of the most renowned photographs, the project completely transformed the facade of the Basilica earning much praise from around the world – and also some flak.
"The Vatican profaned,” a traditionalist blogger, Antonio Socci, wrote, according to the Washington Post. “The symbolic significance of the event is a Church immersed in darkness, but illuminated by the world, by the new climatist-religion-ideology.”
Although the "sickular" cries were not all that loud, there were many dissenters in the conservative Catholic establishment, already a little uncomfortable with Francis' willingness to engage with the outside world. Many conservatives called it irreverent and sickening, particularly because a sacred space had been used to send the world a secular message.
"This has gone beyond ridiculous," wrote conservative blogger John Zuhlsdorf. "Why not rent out the Sistine chapel too, while they’re at it?”