Jack Smith of my previous diocese has done some yeoman journalism work getting to the bottom of the Bodies Revealed exhibit. He’s uncovered deception in the claims that the Kansas City bodies actually belonged to people who had given permission for this use.
The form (on the blog post) was provided to The Catholic Key by Union Station months ago with the representation that it is a translation from Chinese and that all the bodies on exhibit at Union Station had signed it.
In fact, the form belongs to a legitimate medical donation non-profit called Anatomy Gifts Registry. Their name has been excised from the form provided by Union Station. The Key spoke with an official at AGR who wrote the form in English well after the bodies on exhibit at Union Station were deceased and diced. AGR is not affiliated with Bodies Revealed producer Premier Exhibitions and did not provide the form to them.
I withdraw my statement earlier this week that the Kansas City exhibit was totally above board with permission from the deceased. Not only is permission not available, but there was explicit deception to alleviate concerns. Not looking good for the exhibitors.
I maintain the practice is questionable for saints. I know people who derive meaning from the veneration of relics. And I have no problem with relics as such. The display of body parts, however, despite centuries of tradition, are also in my inner circle of deep doubt, but obviously not for the same malicious reasons of the Bodies Revealed display.
By the way, I’ve added the Key’s site to my blogroll. I applaud the effort to extend diocesan publications into the blogosphere. I had a few nice conversations with Jack when he moved to Kansas City. I lobbied (ultimately unsuccessfully) to steer him toward my old home parish.
I was musing today at Mass about the intimate connection of Christian locations of worship (especially altars) and the relics of saints – and the fact that the BVM is distinguished by the lack of first class relics, as they used to day, which is part of the factual background context to today’s solemnity (as I listened to an very elderly celebrant erroneously homilize that the Church has factual records that her body was taken to heaven…anyway, I digress).
The ancient Catholic-Orthodox understanding of churches (and specifically altars) is that they are places in the bounds of time and space where Earth transcends time and space to be raised to Heaven – they are not merely gathering places for worship. And as Mary’s body was an Ark of the Lord, so too in non-womblike ways are the bodies of those who die in the peace of Christ. And thus, while not assumed into heaven, by being placed at the altar, they too are signifying the ascent to Heaven that obtains there.
These are merely my private thoughts, but perhaps that will help.
use to say…typo.