I am in two minds about the Catholic theme at the Met Gala, which has so offended some Catholics but seemingly amused others. It is quite undeniable that Anna Wintour would not have got away with an Islamic or Jewish theme, but that much said, what really mattered was how respectful or otherwise the outfits were.

I found the angel wings and halos funny, but combining a papal mitre with a miniskirt a bit offensive. I did not see anything actually blasphemous, although I can take my impressions only from the press and media selection of outfits as I was not there. It is not as if the participants were staging a mock crucifixion or posing as Mary in a maternity gown.

There is nothing wrong with fancy dress and if it had been a historic theme and someone had gone as one of the Borgia popes or dressed as Cardinal Wolsey complete with huge pectoral cross, there would have been no controversy. Perhaps therefore we need to get a sense of proportion and even of fun.

Perhaps. Maybe we should even rejoice that the Catholic Church is still a source of inspiration to the secular world, given that Christian influence is in decline in the West, let alone in wild celebrity circles. If there are fewer Nativity scenes in the shops at Christmas then should we be grateful to find them painstakingly sewn into the much-photographed dress of a celebrity on fashion parade?

Maybe. At least it might have made those on parade stop and think about religious themes, considering that they think about nothing so deeply as their clothes.

Possibly. Yet I think there are wider issues here. As this would never have happened with an Islamic or Jewish theme we must ask why not. Is it purely because Christians are better able to laugh at themselves, or because other major religions are viewed with greater respect, or because a backlash from the adherents of such faiths would be less easy to brush off than a backlash from offended Christians?

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection