Last week, my little country became a laughing stock of media across the world. Among others, The Daily Telegraph reported about mother of all ideas that left me and my fellow Croatians in a state of disbelief.
Željko Kerum, the mayor of Split, came up with a brilliant idea. If you don’t know him, let’s just say that he is well-known for his “brilliant” ideas. Well, Kerum wants to build a statue of Jesus. That’s just how he rolls, and he rolls with style. Modesty is not his strongest suit, so it has to be a really big statue. Precisely, the world’s biggest statue of almighty Jesus Christ.
Move over Rio de Janeiro, there’s a new statue in town anxiously waiting to spread its arms and embrace us with a divine blessing from above. And literally from above, since the planned location for a statue is Marjan hill. It’s not as big Rio’s but I assure you, if Kerum could construct a higher hill, he would. But you can’t fight the laws of nature, so 178 meters will just have to do.
The nation was getting ready for one giant collective, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” and tax payers armed themselves with rants against this idea. Oh, hell no (sorry, Jesus). As long as we are still driving on mid-20th-century roads full of holes and drinking water out of 100-year-old supply systems, our money won’t be spent on ridiculous projects. But then came a shocker: Kerum will pay for it all by himself.
See, when he’s not playing mayor or president wannabe, Kerum is a businessman. The origin of his multimillion kuna assets is unknown, as it often happens in transition countries that were severely afflicted with the privatization virus from the early 1990s. When he’s not playing businessman, he is a father of three who announced on television (on a station he owns) that he will be leaving his wife after 20 years of marriage to move in with his 25-year-old pregnant mistress. How very statuesque of him.
This is exactly why I flinched a bit when I saw how The Daily Telegraph described Croatia as “staunchly Catholic country.”
Don’t be fooled by the statistics that say 88 percent of Croatia’s population is Roman Catholic. Sure, they were all baptized and go to church on major holidays, but a large percent of them are simply living it up Kerum style and their Catholicism can’t be seen in their behavior or actions. That is until they start throwing rocks and pepper sprays on gay pride supporters, all in the name of God. Interestingly enough, that incident took place in Split. Afterward, Kerum briefly said that Split is extremely an conservative and Catholic city, so riots like that were to be expected. Maybe that’s why he is so determined to decorate town’s horizon with holy image, to establish it as God friendly.
Then again, maybe this project is just a way of redeeming himself for his faithless misdemeanors. The bigger the sin, the bigger the statue? The question remains: Is a 39-meter-tall Jesus actually big enough to make God rethink his stance towards poor Kerum and his actions? Can mistress and fishy money making techniques for a statue be considered as a good deal?
Whatever the case, I will not be the one to judge. Why? Because I am a practicing Catholic who supports gay rights, abortion and euthanasia
Or in other words, I’m not “the real one” either.
The article was originally written in English.
Photo: Artwork by Theo-Mass Lexileictous
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