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To the right of the Broadway bridge, on the road from the Kansas City airport, near downtown Kansas City, Mo., large billboard letters spell out a hearty welcome to Archbishop James P. Keleher and Bishop Raymond J. Boland of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph respectively. In a seemingly unprecedented coincidence, two prelates in one metropolitan area were installed in successive evenings last week.

Keleher, 62, who comes from the Belleville, Ill, diocese, was installed Sept. 8 and succeeds retiring Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker. Boland, 61, who comes from the Birmingham, Ala., diocese, took his episcopal chair the following night, succeeding Bishop John Sullivan, who stepped down for health reasons.

Who does one feel worse for? The woman who portrayed Jesus in a mime performance of the Stations of the Cross during World Youth Day or the self-appointed keepers of faith who have castigated her and the troupe for it. Oh, to lead dreary, rigid, joyless lives!

The mime troupe performed the stations at Mile High Stadium Aug. 13 before 70,000, including Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The 23-year-old actor, Christina Brown, played Christ because, it was explained, she "looked very much like the standard Renaissance portrayals of Jesus." Read: art, not politics.

Hard-nosed Catholics demurred. It was an insult to the Holy Father, they knew well. "Many will be seriously misled," by the performance, they said, of (now get out your notepads) the Fountain Square Fools of Cincinnati.

Papal spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, disagreed. "A woman can represent all humanity and all humanity was represented by the death of Christ," he said, to his credit.

But what is he to know when up against the more orthodox-minded? The critics last week said, "The impression conveyed was that the masculine gender of Jesus is a matter of indifference." They added: We "must not capitulate to the destructive agenda of radical reformists who form the backbone of dissent and division in North American Catholicism." Holy art form!

Who are these keepers of faith? They include: Mother Angelica; Helen Hull Hitchcock, director of Women for Faith and Family; James Likoudis, president, Catholics United for the Faith; Philip Lawler, editor, Catholic World Report; Jesuit Fr. Joseph Fessio, publisher, Ignatius Press; and Eleanor Schlafly, director, Cardinal Mindzenty Foundation.
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Title Annotation:new Kansas City-region bishops; female portrayal of Jesus during papal visit to Denver
Author:Fox, Tom
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 17, 1993
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