News / Ottawa

At La Machine, some saw robots, others saw blasphemy

Although bot battle garnered near-universal praise, a small — and colourful — section of the Catholic community took umbrage.

Kumo climbs atop the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica during La Machine

Alex Abdelwahab/Metro / Metro Web Upload

Kumo climbs atop the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica during La Machine

As a not-insignificant chunk of Ottawa residents gazed up at Kumo being lifted off the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica last Thursday night, there seemed to be an air of agreement: this was very cool.

But one person’s cool robot battle is, apparently, another’s sacrilege.

“How dare you allow that pagan spider to be placed on a place where the Lord resides,” wrote one commenter on the Cathedral’s Facebook page.

“That spider needs to be gone immediately!!” wrote another. “I wonder what HERETIC teachings preside here.”

That La Machine involved the cathedral has not sat especially well among some in the Catholic blogosphere.

“This is not a little detail, it’s just horrific. How could they do that to Our Lady?” said Dominique Boily, in an interview with LifeSiteNews. “There needs to be public reparation for that in some shape or form.”

Metro reached out to Boily for further comment, but has not heard back.  

La Machine’s executive director, Guy Laflamme, said that he doesn’t take such complaints especially seriously.

“We took care of approaching the archbishop and his staff, and they were very open to it from the beginning,” he said.

He added that archbishop’s staff even suggested using the cathedral’s organ.

“Kudos to the staff,” Laflamme said.

“I made it clear when I got calls from religious groups, religious publications, that there was no symbolic messaging around this,” said Laflamme. When asked about the number of direct complaints, he said he could “count them all on one hand.”

“Because of the cathedral’s location downtown opposite the National Art Gallery, the organizers thought it offered an ideal staging area for the set-up,” said the Archdiocese of Ottawa, in a statement.

The event, they said, “offers an opportunity for the archdiocese, the Catholic community and Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica to cooperate with the city and the organizers to foster a positive relationship with the community at large as well as with many tourists, especially with young families.”

For Archbishop Terence Prendergast, there was even some deeply theological symbolism in the whole thing.

“Our Lady who in Revelation defeats Dragon (& fulfills Genesis promise of crushing serpent) reigns again undisturbed,” he tweeted on Thursday night, while Kumo was being lifted off the roof.

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