Vatican Seeks Legal Protection of Pope's Image

Secretariat of State Respond to Fake Photo in Benetton Ads

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2011 ( The Vatican secretariat of state is seeking legal protection for the Pope’s image after an advertising campaign in Italy made use of a fake photograph of Benedict XVI.

According to a statement from the Vatican today, «The Secretariat of State has authorized 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.»

The ad campaign portrays various world leaders kissing on the mouth those who are or could be perceived as their enemies. The image portrayed as Benedict XVI is kissing the image of Imam Ahmed el-Tayyeb of Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque. The mosque also protested the ad, calling it irresponsible.

U.S. President Barack Obama is portrayed kissing China’s President Hu Jintao. The White House also protested.

The director of the Vatican press office already responded to the ad when it was released Wednesday.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi’s statement said the Vatican «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.»

Benetton withdrew the advertisement showing the Pope and offered an apology.

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