National Catholic Register


U.S. Notes & Quotes

BY Jim Cosgrove

December 5-11, 1999 Issue | Posted 12/5/99 at 1:00 AM


Pigrim Statue Wows Chicago

MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL, Nov. 22—A larger-than-life sized statue of Our Lady of the New Millennium is drawing crowds of curious onlookers to Chicago, the Milwaukee daily reported.

Commissioned by Catholic businessman Carl Demma, 68, the 33-foot, 8-inch tall statue has acquired an even larger mystique since it began making pilgrimages to more than a dozen Chicago-area parishes this May aboard a blue flatbed truck.

“Chicagowide, the response has been incredible,” said Father Anthony Brankin, pastor of St. Thomas More Church on the city's southwest side. “I don't think anyone has been able to count the number of people who have come. It is a beautiful statue, and powerful in its ability to draw out the devotion of the people,” said Father Brankin, himself a sculptor. The statue's popularity has grown so much that it is booked for parish visits in the greater Chicago area through 2001, and there have been inquiries from several states, said Alejandro Castillo, director of the Millennium Office for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The archdiocese coordinates the visits. Demma funds the operation with his own money and donations, the Journal-Sentinel reported.

Cross Raises Furor in Idaho

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 29—A white, sixty-foot-tall cross that has overlooked Boise, Idaho, for 43 years is now being called “blatantly unconstitutional” by Chicago talk-radio host Rob Sherman.

Sherman, a former spokesman for American Atheists, a non-profit group that promotes separation of church and state, told the Times, “Whenever government editorializes about religion by putting a religious symbol on public land, it creates a climate of bigotry, intolerance, hatred and tyranny against non-Christians in general and against atheists in particular.”

But cross supporters haven't let Sherman's remarks slide by. On Nov. 27, 10,000 people marched down Capitol Boulevard carrying “Save the Cross” signs and singing hymns, the Times reported.

Larry Butler, a truck driver, got so angry when Sherman challenged the cross that he used donated lumber to make and distribute 7,000 small crosses, the Times article said.

The report added that Boise is not the only city fighting for the freedom to erect religious symbols. “The debate is not limited to Idaho. American Atheists is challenging a 109-foot cross on Mount Davidson in San Francisco. A cross on public land in Eugene, Ore. has already been removed after a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union.” In contrast, the Idaho cross is located on private land.