September 17, 2006

My Letter to the U of MN: Pope and the Witch

Adoro posted her excellent letter to the University of Minnesota regarding The Pope and the Witch. My letter pales in comparison, but I thought it is important to show everyone how seriously the local Catholic community is taking the staging of this play. Also, to prove to you that I "put my money where my mouth is". When I call for activism I mean it. I prove I mean it by doing what I can to help.

September 17, 2006

Mr. Robert Bruininks, President
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Office Of the President
202 MorH
100 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Mr. Fred R. Friswold, CEO
Chair, University of Minnesota Board or Trustees
Tonka Equipment Company
13305 Watertower Circle
Plymouth, Minnesota 55441


I am writing to you both asking for enlightenment. As educators and leaders of one of the most highly respected public universities in the Midwest, I feel you are both eminently qualified to help me.

I fail to see how staging a play called The Pope and the Witch during the 2nd week of Lent 2007 supports the University of Minnesota's mission statement of "providing an atmosphere of mutual from...other forms of prejudice and intolerance". Lent is a period of fasting, abstinence and prayer leading up to the holiest day on the Christian calender, Easter.

This play by Mr. Dario Fo, a man who by his own public statements not to mention his work, is very anti-Catholic. He uses his art to express his biased and erroneous beliefs about the church's hierarchy, clergy, religious and teachings through buffonery. He attempts to belittle and riducule because the Church's teachings do not correspond to his beliefs. He plays upon centuries of the worst stereotypes of Catholics and Italian-Americans in an attempt to make his point. His point is if only the Catholic Church would repudiate centuries of teachings, teachings instituted by The Christ, the world will be a better place. If the Church would just go away, the major problems of the world would all be solved and everyone will be happy.

In the St. Paul Pioneer Press of September 16, 2006 ("U play outrages Catholic group" by Mr. Paul Tosto), Mr. Dan Wolter, Spokesman for the University, in response to being asked if the University would produce a play that satirizes Islam he says that the U has a long history of a wide range of debate. He gives two examples: one being the upcoming visit of a gay-Muslim, the other being the Humphrey Institute play: The Trial of Osama bin Laden.

Unless he was miquoted, If Mr. Wolter is implying that the University hosting events that may be considered equally offensive by a group other then Catholics should make The Pope and the Witch more palatable-it does not. I am not pleased that the University has events that may be offensive to Muslims, nor Jews, nor Hindus nor any other religious group.

I have no idea who the gay-Muslim is nor what he or she plans to speak about. However, I do know The Trial of Osama bin Laden. To me, there is no comparison between The Trial of Osama bin Laden and The Pope and the Witch.

The Trial of Osama bin Laden was about one man (Osama bin Laden) being confronted by individuals impacted by the attacks of 9/11. It was not a direct attack on bin Laden's faith, Islam. There was no spoof of the Prophet Muhammed in the play or allegations that Muslim clerics are all corrupt. Furthermore, the play was not staged at the University. It was staged by the Humphrey Institute (which is affiliated with the U), off campus, at Old Arizona in Minneapolis. Most of the actors were professional Equity members. In addition, the Humphrey Institute hosted a free discussion of the play with the writers, directors and a local Muslim scholar. I don't see anything similarly planned for the Pope and the Witch: An opportunity for local Catholic Apologists to explain the fallacies in Mr. Fo's play. The Pope and the Witch is going to be performed on campus via the College of Liberal Arts. I assume that means student actors are staging the play and acting in it.

I thought that reputable institutions of higher learning attempted to educate students with facts, not bias. Perhaps, I was mistaken about that being the practice of the University of Minnesota.

I am eagerly awaiting your response.



Blogger Adoro said...

I fail to see how my letter "pales in comparison" to yours! Awesome letter! You obviously did your research and you obviously know what you're talking about with regard to the theatres involved. Well done!

September 17, 2006 5:34 PM  

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