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”.
The Vatican was right to object, but not for quite the right reason. The really damaging aspect was that this was a ‘manufactured’ image – not a genuine photograph. Most people on seeing it would assume it was ‘real.’
It’s hard enough to get a grasp of reality at the best of times, without people resorting to willful trickery.
Still, no real harm done. It might well have put the Pope off his breakfast, but he was probably a bit peckish by lunchtime..
And Benetton, having harvested a ton of free publicity (like here on CP&S) by running it, will now reap another equally rich harvest by withdrawing it.
(It does make one a bit nostalgic for the good old Inquisition. Thinks Toad.)
More offensive than seeing two men kissing, or a Catholic pope and a mullah kissing, is the caption on the photo, something like “End the Hate.” The presumption that these men are hateful. I would much rather be pictures as homosexual, or even ecumenically gay, than to be presumed hateful.
In their condemnation of hatred, the ad-makers were themselves hatefully presumptuous. Self-righteous, too.