Benetton Offers Donation to Charity in Settlement With Holy See

Affirms Regret for Misuse of Pope’s Image

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2012 ( The Vatican press office today announced a settlement with the Benetton Group for its use of a fake image of Benedict XVI in an ad campaign.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the office, announced that Benetton on Friday “published a note … reaffirming its ‘regret for having offended His Holiness Benedict XVI and believers,’ and assuring that it ‘guarantees and maintains that all photographic images of the Holy Father have been retracted from commercial distribution and promises not to use the image of the Holy Father in the future without authorization from the Holy See.'” 

It ends with stating that “the Benetton Group will use its resources to stop the further use of the image by third parties on internet sites and in other places.”

The ad campaign portrayed various world leaders kissing on the mouth those who are or could be perceived as their enemies. The image portrayed as Benedict XVI was 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 was portrayed kissing China’s President Hu Jintao. The White House also protested.

“The communique of the Benetton Group,” Father Lombardi noted “represents the conclusion, based on an agreed settlement, of the conflict between the lawyers of the Holy See … and those of the Benetton Group, a conflict that took place, as announced, and has been open until now. The Benetton Group recognizes therefore … that the Pope’s image must be respected.”

“The Holy See did not seek monetary compensation. Nevertheless, moral compensation in recognition of the abuse committed has been sought as well as affirming the desire to defend, even by legal means, the Pope’s image. In place of monetary compensation it has asked and received from the Benetton Group an act of generosity, effective even if limited, toward one of the Church’s charitable activities.”

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