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Ottawa archbishop surprised by negative reaction to robotic spider on cathedral


  • A giant mechanical spider is seen during an art performance in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa July 27. (CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters)
  • A giant mechanical spider is seen during an art performance in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa July 27. (CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters)

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OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The archbishop of Ottawa expressed regret that several Catholics were shocked at the sight of a giant robotic spider perched on Notre Dame Cathedral.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he was surprised by the negative reaction to an artistic initiative after critics called the spider's placement "sacrilegious," "demonic," and "disrespectful" of a sacred space.

"My cathedral staff and I anticipated that some ... might object, but thought it would be minimal, as nothing demeaning was intended in the spider being near the church," said the archbishop in an email interview with Canadian Catholic News.

"I regret that we had not sufficiently understood that others would see this event so differently. I say to those who were shocked that I understand that this would have been upsetting for them and that I regret that a well-intentioned effort to cooperate in a celebration was anything but that for them."

The spider, named Kumo, is one of two giant robots created by a street theater company of artists, technicians and performers based in Nantes, France. The company, La Machine, was in Ottawa July 27-30 as part of celebrations marking Canada's 150th birthday.

The spectacle of robots, music and other special effects drew tens of thousands to Ottawa's downtown.

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