NYC Chocolate Jesus Exhibit Canceled After Outrage



A chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ that's caused an uproar after it was scheduled to be displayed to the public in a Manhattan hotel's gallery during Easter week will no longer be on exhibit, New York City CBS television station WCBS-TV has confirmed.

The six-foot, 120-pound candy sculpture dubbed "My Sweet Lord" by creator Cosimo Cavallaro, was supposed to be unveiled to the public Monday night at a gallery inside the Roger Smith Hotel on East 47th Street in a window that faces the street. Criticism over the sculpture has come not only because of the medium of candy but because of the timing of its exhibition.

Cavallaro says Catholics shouldn't be offended by the chocolate creation. "I'm doing it as a celebration of Christ. It's food, it's nurturing, it's sweet, there's nothing menacing about it," he told WCBS-TV. "It tastes great. I love it and it's all about taste for me -- if I can taste it before I can touch it -- on a religious object, on an inanimate object, on anything."

In a statement to WCBS-TV, New York Archbishop Edward Cardinal Egan had this to say about the sculpture:

"The media have reported that a so-called 'work of art,' manifestly intended to offend the Christians of our community, will be displayed during Holy Week in the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan. It is a scandalous carving of Jesus Christ allegedly made out of chocolate. What the Roger Smith Hotel would hope to achieve by this sickening display, no one seems to know. The Catholic community is alerted to this offense of our faith and sensitivities. This is something we will not forget."

The sculpture had been temporarily housed inside a warehouse in Long Island City, but Cavallaro was asked to remove it after the warehouse's owner said he'd been receiving threats because of the sculpture.

Many were calling for the Roger Smith gallery to cancel the display, which they decided to do Friday afternoon. "We're getting a phenomenal human response here to this, to this question and to the piece of art," Gallery Director Matt Semler told WCBS-TV.

Other Catholic officials agreed with the Archbishop's sentiments.

"This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever," said Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, a watchdog group. "It's not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing -- to choose Holy Week is astounding."

The sculpture was created from over 200 pounds of milk chocolate, and depicted a completely nude Jesus with outstretched arms.

There is no word yet as to what Cavallaro plans to do with the sculpture now.

(© 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report. )