LEGAL ACTION AGAINST INAPPROPRIATE USE OF THE POPE’S IMAGE
VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2011 (VIS) – Made public today was the following communique from the Secretariat of State concerning a commercial advertising campaign which makes inappropriate use of an image of the Holy Father.
“The Secretariat of State has authorised its lawyers to initiate actions, in Italy and elsewhere, to prevent the circulation, via the mass media and in other ways, of a photomontage used in a Benetton advertising campaign in which the Holy Father appears in a way considered to be harmful, not only to the dignity of the Pope and the Catholic Church, but also to the sensibility of believers”.
On the same subject, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration yesterday afternoon.
“We cannot but express a resolute protest at the entirely unacceptable use of a manipulated image of the Holy Father, used as part of a publicity campaign which has commercial ends.
“It is a serious lack of respect for the Pope, an affront to the feelings of the faithful and an evident demonstration of how, in the field of advertising, the most elemental rules of respect for others can be broken in order to attract attention by provocation.
“The Secretariat of State is examining the steps that may be taken with the competent authorities in order to guarantee adequate protection for the figure of the Holy Father”.
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The campaign features digitally altered photos of world leaders kissing each other on the mouth, including Barack Obama with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Like most of the other images in the campaign, the fake photo of Benedict and El-Tayeb depicted two leaders whose relations have lately been marked by tension. In January, al-Azhar suspended interfaith dialogue with the Vatican to protest the pope’s call for better protection of Egypt’s embattled Christian minority.
Lombardi had called the image an “offense against the sentiments of the faithful” and evidence of how advertising can “violate the elementary rules of respect for persons in order to draw attention through provocation.”
Benetton has a long record of using shocking images — including photographs of death row inmates and a dying AIDS patient — in its publicity campaigns.
Read the USA Today Article.