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Wisconsin artist creates portrait of former pope with condoms

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A Milwaukee-area artist is receiving strong feedback for creating a portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict XV constructed with more than 17,000 colorful condoms, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Niki Johnson, an instructor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, says the piece, called "Eggs Benedict," is a commentary on sex and Benedictine's statements on condoms, which includes a statement made in 2009 that condoms are making the African AIDS crisis worse.

The Roman Catholic church encourages sexual abstinence and fidelity to prevent the disease from spreading.

In her blog, Johnson also cites a statement from the former pope that the use of condoms by prostitutes "may be an indication that the prostitute is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity."

"Over the next few years Benedict’s fervent embrace of a more 'traditional' Catholic doctrine continued to make me wonder what time-machine he had fallen out of," Johnson wrote. "I had to do something."

The artwork certainly received mixed reviews.

"Disgusting" is how NewsBusters describes the piece. "Now would be the appropriate time to wonder if the National Endowment for the Arts kicked in for all those rubbers."

"Beyond the sheer insanity of it, one of the things I find interesting about the piece involves Catholic policy on contraception," a Reason.com blogger writes. "I always find it genuinely fascinating when seemingly bedrock truths for a given organization are opened up for potentially massive change."

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