Selfless theologians, Rio needs you

Thomas Chu of the Los Angeles Times has written a vivid feature about the copyright battle involving the 125-foot Christ the Redeemer statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro. Chu explains:

The descendants of Paul Landowski, the sculptor who fashioned the statue's massive head and hands, say that a 1998 Brazilian law on artistic authorship entitles them to the rights to the use of the statue's image. Apparently concluding that the meek won't inherit much, the family has hired lawyers to press its claim, in court if necessary.

Chu mentions that the Catholic "lays claim to the statue but says it has no interest in charging for the commercial reproduction of its likeness." Knowing more about the basis of Catholic claims would have helped, but Chu's report is a good beginning.

Besides his allusion to the Beatitudes, Chu has a good ear for the wry quote that illustrates people's sense of priorities:

"It belongs to mankind," actor Bemvindo Siqueira said of the monument. If Landowski's heirs succeed in their quest, "you could start a never-ending claim of property rights," he warned. "After the Christ, the Statue of Liberty could be next."

Given all the debate surrounding Catholic bishops and John Kerry, at least there should be no anxieties that the Archdiocese of New York will attempt to claim a public-interest ownership of the Statue of Liberty.

Finally there is this funny quote, which is aimed at Landowski's relatives who live in France but sounds like an extreme version of the phrase "my God":

"When I walk down the street, people say, 'We support you. We're not going to send money to the French. Jesus Christ is ours,'" Siqueira said.

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