A New York City artist has stirred up controversy by creating "Christian Popsicles," which he claims are made out of "frozen holy wine transformed into the blood of Christ" and miniature crosses with the image of Jesus Christ on them.
"I never heard of this guy until about 10 minutes ago, but I already know he is a bigot, a hypocrite and a rip-off artist," Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement.
The Chilean-born artist, Sebastian Errazuriz, told CNN last week that his plan was to distribute 100 of these popsicles at a party during New York Design Week over the past weekend. He claims the frozen wine was "inadvertently blessed" by a priest after Errazuriz loaded it into a cooler, took it into a church and kept it there through the Eucharist.
Roman Catholics believe the bread and wine used during the communion ceremony is literally transformed into the body and blood of Christ, and Errazuriz says the same thing has happened to his popsicles.
The artist says he was raised Catholic but is now a "practicing atheist." He says he respects his religious friends and family members but is opposed to those who try to force their beliefs on others. America is growing more dogmatic, he told CNN, and he is uncomfortable with the way our nation's leaders are being called upon to hold out their faith and "defend the ideology of the Bible over individual liberties."
The popsicles weren't created just to stir up trouble, however, but rather to show that religious fanaticism is not acceptable, he says. The popsicle-stick cross, which will remain stained after the wine is consumed, is meant to show the relationship between historical religious violence and fanaticism.
While Errazuriz says he hopes that Christians will appreciate the humor and irony of the popsicles, many Catholics have already expressed their disgust with them.
Donohue commented, "[Errazuriz] is a hypocrite because he says that although Americans should be 'rightly worried' about the threat that radical Muslims pose, he decided to stick it to Christians instead."
Jimmy Akin, an author and senior apologist for Catholic Answers, says Errazuriz is misguided in his understanding of how communion is transformed into the body and blood of Jesus according to the Catholic Church.
"Mr. Errazuriz may win today's award for most vile and offensive act you've heard of in a long time," Akin recently wrote in the National Catholic Register, "but fortunately there is a safeguard preventing this kind of thing from happening at the whim of a crazed artist: God has set it up so that the intention of the priest is necessary for the consecration and you can't just wander into the room with hidden bread or wine and get material for a planned sacrilege."
A spokesperson for Errazuriz told The Christian Post via email that the artist is no longer granting interviews about the popsicles so that his studio can focus on other projects.