In Depth

Catholic school censors ‘suggestive’ priest statue

Blackfriars Priory School in Adelaide left red-faced after statue of saint and boy goes viral

A Catholic school in Australia has been forced to drape a sheet over a statue of a saint and a child in an unfortunate pose.

The private Blackfriars Priory School commissioned the sculpture for its campus in the suburbs of Adelaide.

The statue is intended to portray 16th-century monk St Martin de Porres handing a piece of bread to a kneeling child.

However, the image of the new statue quickly went viral on social media as users pointed out that the configuration was… regrettably suggestive:

According to school staff, the design “looked fine on paper”, the ABC reports, but when the artwork arrived from its sculptor in Vietnam, the problem became obvious.

"The two-dimensional concept plans for the statue were viewed and approved by the executive team in May but upon arrival the three-dimensional statue was deemed by the executive to be potentially suggestive," headteacher Simon Cobiac said in a statement.

"As a consequence, the statue was immediately covered and a local sculptor has been commissioned to redesign it."

Images of the statue wrapped in a black sheet only added to the mockery:

While others pointed out that it wasn’t the only instance of questionable positioning:

Child sex abuse by Catholic clergy and laypeople has been a major scandal in Australia in recent years, after a Royal Commission found that thousands of people experienced abuse in Catholic churches, schools, orphanages and hospitals between the 1920s and 2015.

The Australian Catholic Church has already paid more than Aus$300m (£171m) in compensation to victims, and says it expects to be liable for an additional Aus$1bn (£570m), The Times reports.

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